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Category: entertainmentSource: thestandard thestandardOct 20th, 2020

CAMPEONE: Year of the Tiger (2010)

(This story was originally published on May 09, 2019) University of Sto. Tomas head coach Shaq delos Santos looked at his squad inside the dugout of The Arena in San Juan one last time. It was a cool Saturday afternoon. He took a glimpse at his graduating hitter Angge Tabaquero, who was all pumped up, but was feeling under the weather and could barely speak because of a sore throat. Delos Santos then shifted his eyes towards fourth-year team captain Aiza Maizo, Maika Ortiz, libero Jessica Curato, then to his prized rookies Dindin Santiago and Maru Banaticla. From their closed locker room, the Tigresses could hear the drums outside and felt the vibration that followed. The weekend crowd packed the venue in a sea of yellow and green. Excitement filled the air. It was electric. Less than an hour before, coach Emil Lontoc celebrated the Tigers’ conquest of Far Eastern University to complete a three-peat in the men's division. With his eyes closed, Delos Santos murmured one last prayer. Then there was a soft tap on their dugout door. It was time to march to the court for the official warm-up for Game 2 of the UAAP Season 72 women’s volleyball tournament.   THE YOUNG AND THE BOLD Delos Santos knew that they’re in for ride in Season 72.   They prided themselves with three pre-season titles, but those conquests meant nothing when it comes to their mother league. “Before mag-start (ang season), for me, hindi ko napi-feel na magtsa-champion agad kami,” said Delos Santos. “Kasi ang adjustment kailangan makita mo muna ang lahat ng naglalaro. So depende pa rin sa nilalaro ng every team na makakalaban mo.” And besides, the mentor will be navigating with a young crew, mostly in their early collegiate careers save for Maizo and returning Tabaquero, two of the remaining heroes of UST’s Season 69 championship run. Maizo was named team captain while Tabaquero, who skipped Season 71 for personal reasons, brought in the needed veteran presence to guide the squad. “Ako personally ang mindset ko sobrang hungry lang rin ako personally and I think si Aiza rin kasi halos pa-exit na rin siya nun,” said Tabaquero. “Ako sobrang gusto ko lang for myself na maka-graduate sa UAAP on a high note.” “On a high lang ako nun kumbaga, ‘Last playing year ko na ‘to wala na akong balikan pa, ibubuhos ko na lahat,’ she added. “Plus the fact na hindi ako nakapaglaro noong Season 71 dagdag gutom sa akin ‘yun.” But then again, the Tigresses remained relatively young. Dimaculangan was just in her third year, her first two saw the bitter memory of losing the title in the semifinals at the hands of the Rachel Anne Daquis-led Far Eastern University and then another Final Four heartache against the same tormentors the following year. Ortiz, Hannah Mance and Curato barely had enough experience on them so did Judy Ann Caballejo.   Then there were the young bloods. UST got a pair of blue-chip recruits in a small but high-flying power-hitter in Banaticla and a lanky 6-footer Santiago.   The Tigresses were parading a decent squad, but not a super team that they had before with Mary Jean Balse and Venus Bernal.       “Nagkaroon kami ng mga rookies noon,” said Dimaculangan. “Nu’ng time na ‘yun kumpiyansa naman ako sa team kasi bakit ka pa maghahanap ng mga wala o bakit ka pa hahanap ng mga naka-graduate na? So kung ano na lang ang meron kami siguro doon na lang.” Delos Santos, himself, was just on his second year as head coach after taking the reins from legendary mentor August Sta. Maria, who suffered a stroke in 2008. Expectations were high from the UST faithful. For the Tigresses, they just have to deliver.   STRUGGLE WITHIN The Tigresses began the season with an early litmus test. Their first game: against the defending champions De La Salle University Lady Spikers. UST faced a squad assembled to build a dynasty. DLSU was denied of a four-peat three years ago when the league suspended the school in Season 69 because of an eligibility issue with its men’s basketball team. In Season 70, the Lady Spikers were forced to forfeit games because of another eligibility issue with Jacq Alarca. The following year, in Manilla Santos’ final year, DLSU reclaimed the throne. Now, looking to for a repeat, the Lady Spikers just need to break the will of one of their threats. DLSU paraded a formidable team centered on its ‘Big Three’ in Alarca, skipper Paneng Mercado, daughter of Asia’s Sprint Queen Lydia De Vega-Mercado, and versatile hitter Cha Cruz. Then there’s the great wall of Michele Gumabao and rookies Aby Marano and Joanne Siy, who would eventually win the Rookie of the Year and Best Blocker awards. UST was facing a nightmare. But the Tigresses were undaunted. They clung on the confidence of bringing down the same giant they slew in the UniGames championship before the start of the season. With guns blazing and adrenaline in their veins, the Tigresses were able to control the match as they led, 2-1. Then comes their Achilles’ heel. UST was a determined team, but the Lady Spikers had in them the championship experience, the veteran composure of a battle-tested squad. The Tigresses had no answer to that. DLSU walked away with a 20-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 15-11, victory to start its amazing elimination round winning streak. UST recovered in the next three games, walking past University of the Philippines, a rebuilding FEU, and cellar-dwellers National University. Then came another big challenge. The Tigresses collided with a feisty young team in Ateneo de Manila University bannered by a hyped Fab Five of sophomores Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio, Fille Cainglet, setter Jem Ferrer and A Nacachi. The result was a shocker: the Lady Eagles upset the Tigresses. It may not show inside the court, but the Tigresses were struggling from the inside.   Delos Santos admitted that being a Tigress under his watch was not for the faint of heart. His relationship with the players was not smooth. He was a blacksmith trying to sharpen a deadly weapon. He needed to put his players into the blazing fire of his Spartan-like training, hammer them into shape and sharpen them into a weapon ready for brutal war.       “Napaka-strict ko kaya medyo ano sila sa akin pero at the end of the day na-realize rin nila na ang lahat ng sinasalihan naming tournament, lahat ng paghihirap namin, kapag naglalaro kami talagang quality,” he said. “’Yung pinaghirapan namin talagang nilalabas namin sa game.” Dimaculangan recalled that that season was marred with conflicts within the team. “’Yung year na 'yun ang dami talagang pinagdaanan. Ang daming naging issues,” she said declining to divulge what the problems were. “Lahat kami takot sa kanya (Delos Santos). Tapos my time din na feeling namin nabe-burnout na kami.” “Baliktad nga eh kasi kung kailan ang dami naming issue doon pa namin nasabi na ‘Ay kailangan nating mag-champion.’ Ganoon ang feeling namin,” Dimaculangan added. Tabaquero would simply describe that Tigresses team as ‘shaky’. “On the rocks ang team and noon may internal issues din,” she revealed. “Medyo magulo siya pero as players, ‘Kung may mangyari man dyan, labas na sa volleyball ‘yan. Kung ano ang pini-perform natin maglaro tayo ng maayos.’ Siguro yun na lang ang tumatakbo sa isip namin.” Whatever the issues were inside their team, the Tigresses were able to put them aside as they made an amazing run to close the eliminations. “Nagulat kami kasi sobrang nakasabay ang mga bata,” said Tabaquero. “Kami ni Aiza halos ang nag-lead sa team na ‘yun pero kasi experienced na ang mga bata na ‘yun kasi coming from UST program sila eh.” “So medyo kumbaga ang pinanggalingan nilang team mataas din so I guess doon na lang din sila humugot from their experience sa high school. Nadala na lang din siguro pagdating nila,” she added.   ENTERING THE END GAME Valentine’s Day. With most of the country looking forward to celebrate that special Sunday, the Tigresses were preparing for something bigger. It was their most-awaited rematch with the Lady Spikers, who heading into that game were already ravaging the league with 13 straight victories. One win and DLSU will enter the Finals outright armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage.   The Tigresses didn’t allow that. UST prevented a Lady Spikers elims sweep by slipping past DLSU in a thrilling five-setter. The Tigresses avoided a stepladder semifinals. UST ended the elims with a nine-game winning streak and second-best 12-2 win-loss record. From there everything changed. “Kasi nakuha nila (ang panalo) sa first round then February 14 tinalo namin sila so dun tumaas ang kumpiyansa namin na ‘Ah kaya namin itong La Salle,’” said Tabaquero. The Tigresses came in the Final Four armed with a twice-to-beat advantage against Ateneo. They split their elims head-to-head but now UST wanted to settle an old score. It was Maizo and Tabaquero who did most of the damage in the Final Four as the Tigresses crushed the Lady Eagles, 25-12, 25-23, 25-20, all while playing without starting libero Curato, who was out because of typhoid fever. “I guess kung ikaw mayroon kang chance na makapasok sa championship siguro ibibigay mo ang lahat. Laban kung laban,” said Tabaquero. “’Yun talaga ang mentalidad namin nu’ng time na yun. ‘Yun ang nag-push sa amin na, ‘For championship ito, ibibigay namin ang lahat 110%.’” Earlier that playdate, the Lady Spikers took the other Finals berth after booting out Adamson University, 16-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22.         "EH ANO NGAYON KUNG DEFENDING CHAMPION KAYO?" Maizo and Tabaquero were UST’s contrasting leaders. They're yin and yang. Maizo was a silent operator. She would rather let her work do the talking. Tabaquero was from a different world. She will get under your skin, play with your head and she was just plain nasty. “Season 69 pa lang salbahe na ako maglaro,” she admitted. “Dun lumabas ‘yung moniker ko na ‘Pamewang Queen’. Sobrang intense lang din ng game namin ng FEU nun. Parang sobrang thrashtalkan. Hindi mo man makita on-cam pero doon pa lang talagang may verbal.” She’s no different in Season 72. “Hindi naman sa mayabang ako pero nasa utak ko nu’ng time na yun, ‘Ay kaya namin kayo kasi tinalo namin kayo nu’ng eliminations,’” Tabaquero continued.  “Doon ako humugot ng lakas na, ‘hindi tayo papatalo rito.’ Sobrang inspired lang din siguro akong maglaro noon kasi ang daming tao nun. Grabe puno itong San Juan Arena,” she recalled.    Facing DLSU, Tabaquero knew they can rip the crown off the Lady Spikers’ heads. “Ako personally, ‘Eh ano ngayon kung defending champion kayo?” she said. It was 2010 and UST just needed to look at the Chinese calendar for an inspiration.    “Year of the Tiger yun, sumakto,” said Dimaculangan. “Iba ang kompiyansa namin na parang amin ‘to.” The Tigresses could see the stars aligning for them, the opportunity was there. Then came the best-of-three series opener. Delos Santos was not new to the Finals. He worked as Sta. Maria’s deputy before. But this was his biggest challenge. His shining moment. Looking back, he felt that Sta. Maria molded him for this situation. “Before nakakuha rin kami ng isa pang championship eh. Sina Bernal, Balse pero si Coach August ang head coach pa nun that time,” he said. “Ang ginawa niya that time sobrang gusto niyang mag-grow ako. Noong Finals namin against FEU, umalis siya. Hindi siya nagpunta ng game tapos nung mag-start na ang game hinahanap ko siya,” Delos Santos continued. “Tinawagan ko siya, sabi ko, ‘Boss nasaan ka?’ Nasa norte siya eh parteng norte." "Sabi ko, ‘boss nasaan ka?’ Sabi niya, ‘kayang-kaya mo na ‘yan. Ikaw ng bahala dyan,’” he said. “’Yung time na yun doon ko na-feel na grabe ang tiwala niya sa akin.” Against a taller Lady Spikers side, Delos Santos needed just one key to success: speed. “I think that time sobrang lucky ko rin kasi ang mga players ko. Yun nga sina Rhea na, sina Tabaquero, sina Aiza. So that time yung system na gusto naming mangyari, more on lalo na kailangang maging speedy kami. Mabilis kami, nakuha namin that time. Siguro yun ang naging key,” he said. “Kasi knowing La Salle ang no. 1 weapon nila is blocking eh. Bukod dun sa service nila na napakabigat, yung blocking. Mayroon silang malalaking players and ang ganda lagi ng line-up nila,” Delos Santos said. As the battle ensued, Delos Santos felt that they had the upper hand. “I think nu’ng time na ‘yun medyo na-feel ko na makukuha namin,” he said. “That time na naglaro na kami sabi ko, sa galawan na nangyayari nakuha namin yung magandang diskarte.” And that strategy was to exploit the height disadvantage of DLSU setter Kaye Martinez. For Delos Santos the best way to stop the Lady Spikers’ deadly arrows was to break their bow.  “That time malalaki sila pero meron silang maliit na setter. Maliit ang setter nila so more on dun kami nagsi-set play ng nagsi-set play,” he said. “Nagkaroon din kami ng magandang receive and then si Rhea nabibigay niya ng maayos sa mga spikers.”  It was shocker. UST recovered from a set down to beat DLSU, 24-26, 25-23, 25-16, 25-21.   For the first time in Season 72, the Taft-based squad got its back against the wall.   SHAQ THE WORLD The Tigresses were on a high as they arrived at the game venue in the last weekend of February just three days after shocking the Lady Spikers in the series opener.     Entering the venue, the Tigresses were greeted by a huge crowd of UST faithful, all hoping for the clincher.  Tabaquero was feeling ill that day. “Naalala ko may sakit ako nu’ng Game 2. Wala akong boses nun,” said the senior, who skipped Thursday’s practice to rest. But Tabaquero was determined to play one last time, give her team the firepower and angst it needed, to finish her collegiate career on top.   “Wala ng sakit-sakit, di pwedeng may sakit. Di ko na siya nararamdaman. Minsan napapagod pero wala kailangang magsakripisyo. Saka yung adrenaline ko sobrang taas nun,” said Tabaquero. As the Tigresses trooped to the court for the warm-up, they were showered by loud cheers from the UST fans. “Go USTe! Go USTe!” echoed inside the arena like a rolling thunder signaling the arrival of a storm. A serenade for conquering heroes. There was a huge banner that read: ‘Kami po ang University of Sto. Tomas.’ It added fuel to the Tigresses’ burning desire to reclaim the throne. The squad came into the venue brimming with confidence but with their supporters egging them on even before the opening serve, the Tigresses felt invincible. They were. UST dismantled the confused Lady Spikers in the first two sets, dominating DLSU with sharp angled attacks and frustrating its blockers. Defensively, the Tigresses were punishing DLSU’s attackers. “Dumipensa lang talaga kami noon saka nagkaroon kami ng first ball. ‘Yun talaga ang edge namin nun,” said Dimaculangan. “Kumbaga parang hindi ako masyadong nahirapang dumiskarte kasi alam kong darating sa akin ang bola.” The Lady Spikers’ defense was also in disarray. Even DLSU’s celebrated libero Mel Gohing, the rookie of the year the season before, was already struggling to keep up with the Lady Spikers’ net defense collapsing. “Yung mga spikers ko ang gagaling din dumiskarte and alam din nila kung ano ang gagawin nila sa bolang ibinibigay ko sa kanila,” added Dimaculangan. The Tigresses were already smelling blood.   But the Lady Spikers regrouped in the third as hitters Cruz and Mercado’s hits found their mark. Gumabao, Siy and Maarano were holding their own. DLSU took the third frame in dominating fashion. It may have turned the tides around for the Lady Spikers. It didn’t.      DLSU built an early five-point cushion in the fourth frame, but the Tigresses raced to a 16-11 lead before Gumabao stopped the bleeding with a crosscourt hit.  Maizo then landed an off speed hit over blockers Siy and Martinez, then the lefty again scored another heady off speed this time over Alarca for an 18-12 lead. Then came the deluge of errors by DLSU. The Lady Spikers crowd went quiet in the pivotal run of the Tigresses. A kill block by Ortiz put UST at championship point, 24-13, as the DLSU faithful froze, seemingly awaiting an inevitable defeat. “Parang pa-last point pa lang ata naiiyak na kaming lahat,” said Dimaculangan. An overexcited Tabaquero sent her serve long then Maizo’s attack was turned back. Two match points saved by DLSU. The Lady Spikers tried to hold on. But it was too late. Nerves got the best of Emeli Zuno as she made contact with the ball at the service line.       It sailed long. Pandemonium broke out. “Nagtatalon na kami nu’ng moment na yun, na ‘Heto na ang pinaghirapan natin.’ Ang sarap sa feeling na mag-champion ulit,” said Tabaquero after the final whistle of the season was called with UST completing the sweep with a 25-18, 25-14, 16-25, 25-15, victory.   For Delos Santos that championship was the fruit of their hard labor. “Sobrang happy kasi siyempre nagkaroon kami ng championship sa UST,” said Delos Santos of his only title for the Tigresses as head coach. “Sobrang memorable. Marami rin kaming pinagdaanan (bago makuha),” he added. UST accomplished a double-crown feat in volleyball that year, its fifth since the 1976-77, 1985-86 at 1987-88 and 1992-1993 seasons. As a reward the Tigresses earned a trip to Hong Kong. But even that trip had some good anecdotes for Delos Santos, Dimaculangan and Tabaquero. “Nag-trip to Hong Kong kami for two to three days sa Disneyland at Ocean Park,” said Delos Santos. “Sila lang mahilig mag-rides eh. Ako may phobia ako sa heights. Nung sumakay kami ng cable car para akong mahuhulog na ewan dun sa cable car.” Dimaculangan remembered vividly their flight. “Nag-Hong Kong kami noon tapos sakto pa na bumabagyo noong umalis kami noon. Buti nga natuloy kami noon eh,” she said. As for Tabaquero, unfortunately, she had to skip the trip. “Nagpunta sila ng Hong Kong pero ako di ako nakasama kasi late yung Hong Kong trip. Di ako nakasama kasi na-ACL (left injury) na ako nun sa Shakey’s V-League, yung sa championship ng San Sebastian,” she said. “Naka-schedule na ako ng surgery nun sa UST hospital kaya di ako nakasama.” “May incentive naman ako nun kahit di ako nakasama nun,” Tabaquero cleared. Ten years ago, UST ruled Season 72. It was the year of the Tiger. The year of the mighty, mighty Tigers.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 26th, 2020

Rich Franklin, Miesha Tate share how it s like to work for ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong

With The Apprentice: ONE Championship edition getting set to premiere later this year, many people are probably wondering what it’s like to work for ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. Chatri’s story is one that has been well-documented. A self-made business mogul who eventually was able to turn his passion for martial arts into one of the biggest companies in the world. When the competition finally begins, the viewers and the contestants will get a taste, but while we wait for that, why don’t we ask those who already have experience in working for the man known as “Asia’s King of Martial Arts”? “One word that describes working for Chatri? Intensity,” said ONE Championship Vice President, ONE Warrior Series CEO and former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich “Ace” Franklin. The MMA legend was one of ONE’s earliest big name executives, along with his long-time coach and trainer Matt Hume. “He gives you the freedom to do what you need to do. He doesn’t say this, but he lives by this. You have 100% freedom with this company, but you also have 100% responsibility for what you do,” Franklin added. While he does give you freedom, Franklin says that it isn’t always easy to work for one of the most powerful men in Asia. “You need to have thick skin in order to work with Chatri, and if you have that kind of thick skin then you can not only be a productive person in this company, but you can really flourish and grow,” he continued. Frankin isn’t the only former UFC champion to transition into the ONE front office, as former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha “Cupcake” Tate joined the company in 2018, also as a Vice President. “He translates his passion and inspires you, to pull the most out of you,” Tate shared. ONE Championship Head of Athleisure Debbie Soon somewhat echoed Tate’s sentiments, saying that Chatri does bring the best out of people. “‘Life-Changing. He pushes me to do things I never thought would be possible,” Soon shared. “He has a massive temper and he’s not afraid to show it. I’ve come to appreciate all of that, after the storm has blown over.” ONE Championship Vice President and Head of Product Niharika Singh will play a major part in the upcoming reality series, as she will be serving as Chatri’s advisor. She says that the contestants will be in for quite the experience on The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition. “I often tell people that ONE Championship is the company with the most amount of passion and intensity per square foot of office area I have ever seen,” Singh said. The last man or woman standing at the end of The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition will have the opportunity of a lifetime to become the business protege of Chatri at the ONE global headquarters in Singapore......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

Dad-to-be Phil Younghusband switches focus from football to fatherhood

Since officially hanging up his football spikes back in November of 2019, Filipino football star Phil Younghusband has been pretty much focused on building a family. Reconnecting with former long-time Philippine Men’s National Football Team teammate Neil Etheridge on Etheridge’s Isolation Catch-Up show on Instagram Live, Younghusband talked about how married life has been. Younghusband married Margaret Hall back in July of 2019, and the two recently just moved in to a new house in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom.         View this post on Instagram                   Thank you to everyone that shared our special day with us. We are overwhelmed by all the incredibly kind and touching messages that we have received. We would like to thank all of our family and friends most sincerely for all their love, support and guidance during our engagement. To all of our wedding suppliers, we cannot thank you enough for all you did and all the help you gave. Our wedding day was magical and it felt like a true fairytale. We are looking forward to our future together. With all our love, Mags and Phil. ??????20.07.19 #Marriage #Husband #Wife #Love #Happiness #Family #Friends #Magical #Fairytale #Dreamy #Enchanting #Wedding #HappilyEverAfter A post shared by Phil Younghusband (@philyounghusband10) on Jul 23, 2019 at 3:53am PDT “Married life is…I feel I have more confidence,” shared Younghusband. “I feel I’m never alone, I’ve always got someone there to support me and be there by my side. It’s been great so far, I love it, I’ve really enjoyed it.” After two years of dating, Younghusband proposed to Hall in December of 2017. “Married life has been amazing, I’m so proud to introduce Mags as Mrs. Younghusband, when I’m filling out forms, when she’s filling out forms, to see her write ‘Margaret Younghusband’, I feel really proud with every little thing we do. We just moved to England and we’ve got a place together for the first time here in England, as a married couple, so I think just everything we do, I feel just a little bit more proud, I have a little bit more confidence, it’s an amazing feeling,” Younghusband continued. While Younghusband ended the chapter of his life as a football player, the Azkals’ top goalscorer and record holder in matches played is now preparing for a brand new chapter of his life: fatherhood. Phil and Margaret are expecting their first child, a baby boy, later this year.         View this post on Instagram                   @magshall_ and I are excited to let everyone know that we are expecting a new addition to the Younghusband family in the Summer of 2020 ???????????? Mags has just entered her 2nd trimester and so far, she is doing really well ???? It has been our dream to be parents for a long time now and for our wishes to come true, we feel truly blessed by the Lord ???????? We hope to be half as good as parents as our Mother’s and Father’s have been to us and those parents we have surrounded ourselves with. Thank you to everyone for the support and we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas filled with love and happiness ?????? Thank you to @niceprintphoto for capturing our special moments and @lindsaycoalog for the makeup ???????? #Love #Happiness #Husband #Wife #Blessings #Pregnancy #BabyYounghusband #Joy #Family #Christmas #Thankful #TheYounghusbands #Philippines #Manila #England #Kent A post shared by Phil Younghusband (@philyounghusband10) on Dec 22, 2019 at 12:43am PST “When we found out Mags was pregnant - we took three tests - and when we found out, it was very emotional. We cried a little, and, it’s hard to put into words,” Younghusband shared. “For me, on a personal level, 2019 was an incredible year. Not so much, professional, but personally, it was a fantastic year. I can’t put into words when we found out that Mags was pregnant. I think it was the most amazing blessing, that you can create a life.” Younghusband talked about being able to finally become a role model for his son after he himself had looked up to a number of role models when he was younger. “For me, it’s a dream. I mentioned it on a post before, you surround yourself with role models and father figures all the time…and to know that you’re going to be in the same position, you look up to them and try to think about their strengths as fathers, to know that I’ll be in the same position and have to feel the same emotions that my father did about myself and James and Keri, it’s incredible, it’s very exciting, I can’t wait.” “It’s an incredible feeling to know that you created this life,” he added. With Younghusband being the undeniable face of Philippine football for more or less a decade, the immediate expectation for his son would be to follow in his footsteps. Younghusband says that he’ll support his son in whatever he wants to do, but given how popular football is in the UK, there’s no doubt that he gets exposed to “the beautiful game.” “You how it is when you grow up in England, we’ve got football everywhere, so I’m sure he’ll be exposed to it. I’ll support him in whatever,” Younghusband said. So does this mean that Filipino football fans can look forward to another generation of Younghusband excellence? “Obviously, we’ll expose him to all kinds of sports, our priority is to make sure that they’re active, but I think, with the amount of football you’re exposed to in this country, it’s inevitable,” Younghusband concluded. While Phil has said goodbye to his days as a football player, the Filipino-British striker believes that he still has a lot to do in Philippine football, and would even be open to joining the Azkals coaching staff if the opportunity presents itself. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020

UAAP Season 82: Rondina’s influence visible in current crop of Tigresses

Sisi Rondina’s dedication to step up and be a leader obviously rubbed off on her former University of Sto. Tomas teammates. The holdovers from last year’s runner-up squad especially sophomore Eya Laure are emulating the same passion and heart that the reigning Most Valuable Player displayed throughout her career and in the Tigresses’ campaign in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament.       UST plunged into an early test of character after losing its opening game via upset at the hands of National University. But the Tigresses were quick to lick their wounds as they bounced back mightily with a straight sets demolition of Far Eastern University on Sunday.   Laure, the Season 81 Rookie of the Year, stepped up for the Espana-based squad and played the leader’s role in rallying UST to a rousing victory.  “Siguro, tanggap ko naman siya [na pagiging leader] kasi si Ate Sisi pa lang, kung paano ako minold last year na di pwede na siya lang,” said Laure, who backed Rondina last season in carrying UST back to the Finals after eight years.  “Kailangan mahatak niya kami - at nahatak niya nga kami - at nadamay niya kami sa pagiging leader niya,” added the national team member. “Parang lahat gusto na maging leader na isang malaking bagay sa isang team.” Eya Laure also credited UST seniors like returning players Tin Francisco and EJ Laure, setter Alina Bicar and Caitlyn Viray for doing their part for the team.  “Ngayon, makikita mo eh, yung mga seniors ko pa rin eh.  Kumbaga ‘sige ate, tutulungan ko rin kayo hangga’t kayo kong i-lead to. Nandito lang ako,’” said Laure. Rondina, who is currently on an indoor volleyball hiatus to concentrate on beach volleyball, is proud of the current Tigresses performance so far. “Para sa mga babies ko na naglalaro sa UAAP ngayon, I’m pretty sure naman na lalaban at lalaban sila,” said Rondina, who was feted as Miss Volleyball during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Annual Awards recently. “Kahit wala na ‘yung mga seniors nila alam ko na pare-pareho lang kami ng nilalaruan and alam ko na mas aktibo sila ngayon and mas palaban sila. Kasi mas madami silang nakuhang experience eh.” Rondina knows that UST’s journey, just like last year, won’t be an easy one, but the former Queen Tigress has strong faith that the squad can hurdle any obstacle if they put their hearts into one common goal.      “Siyempre yung sabi ko sa kanila na mahalin nila ang UST the way I love UST and syempre yung pagiging palaban,” she said. “Sabi nga ni Eya, kapag nasusugatan ang tigre lalaban at lalaban sa huli. So sana madala hanggang matapos yung season.”     Show your school spirit. Get official UAAP university licensed merchandise from www.uaapstore.com. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 10th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: Ateneo tests rookie-laden DLSU in rivalry game opener

Defending champion Ateneo de Manila head coach Oliver Almadro doesn’t want to take archrival De La Salle University lightly despite the fact that the Lady Spikers will be parading a rookie-laden line-up this UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament. The second-year Lady Eagles mentor knows how dangerous DLSU is especially after surrendering the crown last year after a three-year hold of the throne. Almadro is also aware that the Lady Spikers have a crop of blue chip recruits. “Alam nyo, I don’t know why people are saying na maraming bago, maraming bago. But they’re blue chip recruits eh,” said Almadro. “Ibig sabihin, kahit mga bago, if they are expected to deliver, expected ‘yun.” So he expects nothing but a dogfight when his Lady Eagles battle the debuting Ramil De Jesus-mentored Lady Spikers on Saturday in Round 1 of the much-anticipated encounter at the MOA Arena. Game time is at 3:30 p.m. and it will air live 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 via livestream. Ateneo is coming into the game all pumped up after a morale-boosting straight sets, 25-13, 25-17, 25-23, demolition of University of the Philippines last Wednesday. Graduating hitter Kat Tolentino, who finished with 15 points last game, Jules Samonte and rookie Faith Nisperos, who debuted with 10 markers, are at the helm of the Lady Eagles attempt to seize the early solo lead. Helping the trio are returning Jho Maraguinot, who is expected to display a better showing after a quite four points in the opener, Ponggay Gaston, libero Dani Ravena and setter Jaja Maraguinot. Ateneo dropped all of its elimination games against DLSU last year. The Lady Spikers are sporting new faces this year led by 6-foot-2 middle Thea Gagate, 6-foot winger Leila Cruz and libero Justine Jazareno as support for holdovers Tin Tiamzon, Aduke Ogunsanya, CJ Saga, Jolina Dela Cruz and playmaker Michelle Cobb.      “They will not recruit kung di magaling. So you have to prepare and expect that those players will really deliver,” said Almadro of DLSU young guns.   Show your school spirit. Get official UAAP university licensed merchandise from www.uaapstore.com. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 6th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: Tigresses not crying over spilled milk

Although the opening day upset was a bitter pill to swallow, University of Sto. Tomas is not letting the stinging setback dampen its campaign in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament. The Tigresses, especially sophomore Eya Laure, want to treat the humbling defeat at the hands of National University as an early wake-up call to get their acts together.    “Hindi naman namin tine-take as negative tong pagkatalo namin,” said the Season 81 Rookie of the Year following UST’s 25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 20-25, 13-15, loss on Wednesday at the MOA Arena.   The Tigresses, who are looking to surpass their bridesmaid finish last year, were left stunned after collapsing in the last two sets of the first women’s match that went the full distance. Considered as one of top title contenders and pre-season favorites, UST was outhustled by the Congolese sophomore Margot Mutshima, Risa Sato and sophomore Ivy Lacsina-led Lady Bulldogs in the fifth set as they trailed as much as five points midway in the frame. The Tigresses did chase NU in the closing stretch but UST’s fightback came a bit too late. Despite the early misfortune, the Tigresses are keeping their heads up.       “Pero sabi nga ni coach kailangan lang naming mag-improve every training, every game and laging titignan ‘yung magandang side. Para hindi tayo ma-low morale kasi simula pa lang to eh,” said Laure, who dropped 20 points and 18 digs. The Espana-based squad will take on opening day winner Far Eastern University on Sunday.     Show your school spirit. Get official UAAP university licensed merchandise from www.uaapstore.com. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 5th, 2020

South Korea& rsquo;s & lsquo;Running Man& rsquo; dashes on local TV

The excitement of Kapuso fans ran high as GMA Entertainment Group inked a co-production deal with SBS Korea for the reality-comedy game show, Running Man Philippines, earlier today, Feb. 11, at GMA Network Center......»»

Category: entertainmentSource:  thestandardRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2020

Manny Pacquiao’s return to glory highlights Boxing in 2019

Apart from basketball and football, arguably no other sport dominates the global headlines quite like ‘The Sweet Science’. Such was the case once again in 2019, as the sport provided some pretty big stories, including a couple of returns to glory, some continued dominance, and even a pretty epic upset. Here are some of boxing’s biggest hits in 2019:   Manny’s Back! Well, okay, maybe it wouldn’t be right to say that he’s in his prime, but Manny Pacquiao definitely showed that in 2019, he can still hang with the best. The 41-year old eight-division world champion showed just that at the start of the year when he dominated Adrien Broner in Las Vegas to defend his WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Championship. Then, just six months later, Pacquiao did even better by dethroning the previously-undefeated Keith Thurman for the WBA (Super) Welterweight World Championship. With Pacquiao’s recent resurgence, so to speak, more and more possible big money bouts are being discussed, but the whispers that continue to be prevalent are those of a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. While ‘Money’ remains retired, he’s done more than enough to continuously fan the flames of a potential rematch, and 2020 could finally be the year that it becomes a reality. As always, we’ll just have to wait and see.   Donnie Nietes vacates WBO title From one Filipino boxing great, we jump to another, as Donnie Nietes made headlines early in the year, and then was pretty much never heard from for the rest of 2019. After defeating Kazuto Ioka to become the WBO Super Flyweight World Champion in the very final day of 2018, Nietes was once again a world champion and seemed to be in for another dominant year as one of the division’s top dogs. In a surprise move however, Nietes decided to vacate the title in March, without even defending it, citing his desire for bouts against big-name opponents in the division. With Nietes vacating the title, it set up a title bout against then-mandatory challenger Aston Palicte and Kazuto Ioka, with Ioka ultimately winning and taking the WBO title. As for Nietes, the longest-reining Filipino boxing, who last fought on December 31, 2018, he will go more than a year without competing for the first time in his storied career. Hopefully, 2020 features the long-awaited return of “Ahas”.   The dominance continues for Lomachenko, Crawford, Canelo, and Ancajas Some won titles, others vacated, and others just remained on top. This was the case for the likes of Vasily Lomachenko, Terrence Crawford, Canelo Alvarez, and our very own Jerwin Ancajas. 2019 was a relatively quiet year for Loma, who only had two bouts to his name. The Ukrainian boxing machine KOd Anthony Crolla in April to retain the WBA super and WBO World Lightweight World Championships. In August, Lomachencko defeated Luke Campbell via Unanimous Decision to retain his titles and win the vacant WBC World Lightweight Championship. “Bud” Crawford also had himself a two-fight year in 2019. In April, Crawford faced Amir Khan in a highly-anticipated bout, and ended up scoring a sixth-round TKO to retain his WBO World Welterweight crown. In mid-December, Crawford scored another TKO win to defend his title, this time against Egidijus Kavaliauskas Canelo Alvarez meanwhile, became a four-division world champion in 2019 after going up to light heavyweight and dispatching Sergey Kovalev in 11 rounds to capture the WBO title. This was after he opened the year with an impressive 12-round win over Daniel Jacobs to retain the WBC, WBA super and IBF Middleweight World Championships. Our very own IBF Super Flyweight World Champion Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas also had a good year, defeating Ryuichi Funai and Miguel Gonzales en route to eight successful world title defenses.   Andy Ruiz Jr. shocks the world In recent years, boxing’s heavyweight division belonged to the likes of Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua. That all changed when Joshua saw himself fall victim to the biggest boxing upset of the year. Following a failed drug test from his initial challenger Jared Miller, Joshua was matched up with Mexican heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr, who many didn’t take seriously due to his less than impressive physique. Ruiz quickly silenced the naysayers by using his speed and power to drop Joshua four times, twice in what would be the final seventh round, to shock the world and capture the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight World Championships. Ruiz also became the first Mexican heavyweight world champion in boxing history. In the rematch however, Joshua bounced right back and dominated Ruiz across 12 rounds to reclaim the titles. Part 3 could be something to watch out for this 2020.   Nonito Doniare Jr. and Naoya Inoue put on a war Many expected it to be a quick affair, but the World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight Finale between Nonito Donaire Jr. and Naoya Inoue ended up becoming a 12-round classic, worth of Fight of the Year honors. Donaire Jr. and Inoue both earned their spots in the tournament finale, but judging from their prior performances, it looked like ‘The Monster’ Inoue was set to make quick work of an aging, presumed-to-be-past-his-prime Donaire Jr. “The Filipino Flash” instead gave Inoue the fight of his life, putting the pressure on the Japanese star like no one else before has been able to do. Unfortunately for Donaire, the younger Inoue simply had more in the tank left, as he was able to grind out a Unanimous Decision win, but it was clearly the hardest win he had ever had. For Donaire’s part, his impressive performance in the loss earned him a mandatory challenger spot against WBC Bantamweight World Champion Nordine Oubaali in 2020.   Amatuer stars Eumir Marcial and Nesthy Petecio shine on the world stage and in the SEA Games It wasn’t just the Pinoy pros that had their time in the spotlight, as a pair of amateur pugs also made headlines in 2019. Filipino middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial finished with silver in the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Russia and then finished the year with a dominant run in the 2019 SEA Games, stopping both his opponents en route to a gold medal. Nesthy Petecio meanwhile, became a world champion after capturing gold in the 2019 AIBA Women’s Boxing World Championships, also in Russia. Petecio’s win earned her a spot as the torchbearer in the 2019 SEA Games, lighting the cauldron alongside Pinoy boxing legend Manny Pacquiao. Petecio also captured gold in the SEA Games tournaments.   Quadro Alas becomes a three-division champion For a while, it looked like Johnriel “Quadro Alas” Casimero was done. After an uninspired loss to Jonas Sultan in a super flyweight title eliminator, Casimero steadily got back on track and picked up win after win until he was suddenly a titleholder again, winning the WBO Interim Bantamweight World Championship in April. After a successful defense of the interim belt, Casimero became the mandatory challenger to reigning WBO World Champion Zolani Tete. Tete was coming into that fight as the heavy favorite, riding a 12-fight winning streak which included three successful title defenses. Casimero halted the Tete hype train with a third-round TKO win to once again become a world champion, his third in as many weight divisions. With the win, Casimero now sets his sights on a possible super-fight against Naoya Inoue in 2020......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2019

Brown scores 30, Celtics beat Raptors 118-102

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Boston’s Jaylen Brown celebrated Christmas with something he had never enjoyed before: a road win at Toronto. Brown scored 30 points, Kemba Walker had 22 and the Celtics beat the Raptors 118-102 Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) in the first Christmas Day NBA game played in Canada. “It was good to get a win here on Christmas,” said Brown, who made five 3-pointers and shot 10 for 13 from the field. “I’ve never won here period, so it was great to just get one.” Enes Kanter had 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Celtics snapped an eight-game losing streak north of the border and became the first Atlantic Division opponent to win in Toronto in more than four years. The Celtics have won four straight to improve to 8-2 in December. Boston’s Gordon Hayward returned to the starting lineup after missing the past three games because of a sore left foot. He scored 14 points in 26 minutes. “It’s still a little sore but it’s playable,” Hayward said. “It’s good, it’s good.” Fred VanVleet scored 27 points in the Raptors' second straight loss, and Chris Boucher had a career-high 24. “We weren’t quite physical enough, I thought, for most stretches of the game,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. The Raptors are 2-2 since losing center Marc Gasol (left hamstring), guard Norman Powell (left shoulder) and forward Pascal Siakam (groin) to injuries. Nurse had no update on the status of the trio, but acknowledged their absence is making life difficult. “Scoring is not very easy for us right now,” Nurse said. “It’s tough.” Toronto had gone an NBA-record 34 games between home losses to division foes. The Raptors’ last home loss to an Atlantic team was a 111-109 defeat to the New York Knicks on Nov. 10, 2015. Kyle Lowry scored 14 points and Serge Ibaka had 12 for Toronto. The Raptors shot 8 for 23 from 3-point range. Kanter arrived dressed in a black t-shirt that read ‘Freedom for ALL’ in white letters. He played outside the United States for the first time since visiting Toronto with the Knicks on Nov. 10, 2018. “Definitely amazing,” a smiling Kanter said. “I just can’t describe it with words. Just going out there was more than just a basketball game. For me, it was just going out there and living this freedom.” Kanter’s outspoken criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an's government led to his passport being revoked in 2017. Turkish prosecutors have accused Kanter of membership in a terror organization and issued an international warrant for his arrest. Kanter did not travel with the Knicks to London last January because he feared he could be killed over his opposition to Erdo?an. After being traded to Portland in February, he did not join the Trail Blazers for their March 1 game at Toronto. The Raptors jumped out to a 10-0 lead as the Celtics missed their first five shots of the game, leading to a Boston timeout with 10:03 left in the opening quarter. After the stoppage, the Celtics outscored Toronto 28-9 to lead 28-19 after one. “They hit us early but I thought we recovered well,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. Brown made all five of his field goal attempts in the third, including three from long range, and scored 16 points. Boston led 88-69 through three quarters. TIP-INS Celtics: G Marcus Smart (eye infection) traveled to Toronto but was not active. Smart has missed the past seven games. … F Grant Williams dislocated his right index finger in the second quarter but returned before halftime. … F Jayson Tatum shot 1 for 10 in the first half. He finished 5 for 18 and scored 11 points. … Boston scored 11 points off seven Toronto turnovers in the first. Raptors: Toronto made a season-worst seven 3-pointers in a Dec. 9 (Dec. 10, PHL time) win at Chicago. … Toronto’s only previous Christmas Day game was a 102-94 loss at New York in 2001. HOME SWEET HOME The road team won a Boston-Toronto game for the first time in 13 meetings. TAKE A CHANCE Boston outscored Toronto 24-4 in second-chance points. HOT SHOTS The Celtics shot 46 for 92 (50%). Boston is 8-0 this season when shooting 50% or better. UP NEXT Celtics: Host Cleveland on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Raptors: Visit Boston on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2019

New Stars and New Eras: A look back at MMA in 2019

2019 was once again a pretty eventful year in terms of mixed martial arts, especially on the local front. In 2019, we saw Pinoy stars rise and fall, and some have managed to rise again before the decade’s end. Before we look forward to 2020, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest storylines in the world of Filipino, Asian and international mixed martial arts.   Team Lakay’s Troubles 2019 kicked off with not one, not two, but five world champions from the famed Filipino MMA stable Team Lakay. Pinoy MMA icon Eduard Folayang was on his second run as the ONE Lightweight World Champion, Kevin Belingon was enjoying his status as the ONE Bantamweight World Champion, Geje Eustaquio reigned over the flyweight division as the ONE Flyweight World Champion, and rising star Joshua Pacio, the ONE Strawweight World Champion, was the team’s youngest titleholder. Outside ONE, Stephen Loman continued on his reign as the BRAVE CF Bantamweight World Champion. And then, the dominoes began to fall. Pacio was the first to drop his title, losing a close split decision to Japan’s Yosuke Saruta. Eustaquio followed suit, dropping a controversial decision to rival Adriano Moraes, and then Folayang and Belingon would also lose their titles in heartbreaking fashion at ONE: A New Era in Japan. It was, to say the least, a rough start to the year for the Benguet-based team, but they would manage to bounce back before the year was done, with Folayang and Eustaquio both claiming wins to end the year.   The Rise of "The Passion" 23-year old prodigy Joshua “The Passion” Pacio was the youngest member of Team Lakay to hold a title heading into 2019, and heading into 2020, he remains the lone member of  Team Lakay to hold a ONE world title. After losing to Yosuke Saruta in January, Pacio was granted an immediate rematch and made good on the second opportunity by blasting Saruta with a head kick to score the KO and reclaim the ONE Strawweight World Championship. Pacio would then take on the clear-cut number one contender in fellow Pinoy Rene “D’ Challenger” Catalan, and make quick work of him as well, scoring a second-round submission win to retain the title. Even before the end of the year, Pacio already has his next assignment, as he’s set to face former champion Alex Silva at ONE: Fire and Fury in Manila on January 31st. A win for Pacio cements his status as one of, if not, the best ONE strawweight ever. While Team Lakay’s 2019 was, for the most part, a struggle, Pacio was no doubt the Team’s brightest spot.   A New Era 2019 proved to be another milestone year for Asia-based martial arts promotion ONE Championship, as they were able to penetrate new markets in terms of live shows as well as broadcast deals. ONE began the year with a new partnership with Turner Broadcasting, which gave North American fans access to ONE’s brand of martial arts through B/R Live and TNT. In terms of live events, ONE was able to finally plant their flag in one of the biggest markets for MMA in the world, Japan. In March, ONE put on their first ever show in Japan, ONE: A New Era in Tokyo, which featured some of the promotion’s biggest names including  Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Shinya Aoki, Angela Lee, Aung La N Sang, Eduard Folayang, and many more. To celebrate their historic 100th event, ONE returned to Tokyo for ONE: Century, their biggest card ever, featuring seven world title bouts and the promotion’s biggest stars, and then some.   In 2020, ONE plans to break through to even more new markets, possible including a show in the United States.   The ‘Return’ of Jon Jones While Jon Jones officially reclaimed his spot at the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division in December of 2018, it was in 2019 that he returned to his dominant ways. After stopping Alexander Gustafsson in 2018 to reclaim the UFC Light Heavyweight crown, Jones handily defeated tough challengers in Anthony Smith and Thiago “Maretta” Santos to retain the titles. While the Smith and Santos bouts were lackluster in the eyes of many, it showed that even on his bad days, Jon Jones is better than most people on their best days.   “Rush” Retires Again While it was something that was expected, 37-year old Georges St-Pierre officially retired from MMA, again, in February. The former long-time welterweight king and pound-for-pound great made a triumphant return to the UFC in 2017, dethroning Michael Bisping to become the new UFC Middleweight Champion. GSP would never get to defend the title, as he would relinquish it not long after due to concerns with ulcerative colitis. While GSP has remained inactive since, the whispers of a super-fight with reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov remain present, and 2020 could possibly see that coming to fruition.   Grand Prix Greatness In 2019, ONE Championship introduced a new and exciting attraction, the ONE Lightweight and Flyweight World Grand Prix tournaments.  Eight of the best fighters from each division would battle it out in a tournament-style competition, and the winner would become the ONE World Grand Prix Champion and earn a title shot against the division's respective titleholder.  Making their debuts in the lightweight and flyweight tournaments were former UFC champs Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson respectively, and as it played out the two would have very different outcomes.  Alvarez saw himself get upset in the quarterfinals by Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin. The former UFC lightweight king would get another chance in the tournament after defeating Eduard Folayang in a last-minute semifinal matchup, but another injury would keep him out of the finale at ONE: Century in Tokyo. Reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee ended up stepping in on short notice to defeat tournament favorite Saygid Guseyn Arslanalieve and become a double-champion.  Johnson, meanwhile, breezed through his quarterfinals and semifinals bouts to set up a finale showdown with Filipino star Danny Kingad. In the Finale, Kingad fought valiantly but ultimately fell to Johnson via Unanimous Decision, setting up a must-see matchup between DJ and reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes in 2020.    Baddest Motherf**ker Jorge Masdival has long been a staple in the UFC’s lightweight ranks for years, but it wasn’t until 2019 that “Gamebred” made headlines. After a hiatus in 2018, Masvidal returned with a bang in 2019, knocking out former title challenger Darren Till, and then followed that up with a 5-second flying knee knockout over former ONE Welterweight king Ben Askren. The popularity and momentum that Masvidal had garnered was enough to bring a certain Stockton star out of retirement and that set up one of the most talked-about UFC title bouts in 2019: Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz for the title of Baddest Motherf**ker. Masvidal lived up to the name and pieced Diaz up with strikes in the early rounds, before eventually opening up a cut that was just too big for the fight to go on. Much to the dismay of Masvidal, Diaz, and the crowd in New York, the fight was stopped. Still, it was nothing short of a testament to just how dangerous the new and improved version of Jorge Masvidal is. Expect him to challenge for a title in 2020.   MMA stars shine in 2019 SEA Games A number of Pinoy mixed martial artists showcased their skills in different battlegrounds during the recently-concluded 2019 Southeast Asian Games, which was held in the Philippines. from November 30 to December 11. Reigning URCC champion Mark “Mugen” Striegl took home gold in Combat Sambo, while former ONE title challenger Rene Catalan settled for Silver after an injury dashed his dreams of getting gold. Another URCC veteran in Ariel Lee Lampacan also took home SEA Games gold, this time in the Muay Thai competition. ONE Super Series veteran Ryan Jakiri took home silver. The SEA Games kickboxing event saw three MMA stars from Team Lakay take home gold medals, as Gina Iniong, Jerry Olsim, and Jean Claude Saclag all reigned over their respective divisions. Iniong, of course, is a ONE Women’s Atomweight contender, while Olsim is a veteran of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series. Saclag, meanwhile, is one of Team Lakay’s representatives in the Japan-based promotion Shooto.       .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2019

Jaguars fire Coughlin amid 3rd season, following NFLPA shot

By Mark Long, Associated Press JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars fired top executive Tom Coughlin on Wednesday, parting ways with the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach a little more than a day after the NFL Players Union took a sledgehammer to his reputation. Coughlin served as executive vice president of football operations since 2017. It was his second stint with Jacksonville, the expansion franchise he helped build from the ground up in the mid-1990s. The unbending taskmaster had been in trouble for weeks because of the team's sagging record and several questionable roster moves. The NFLPA seemingly forced Khan's hand after an arbitrator’s decision to undo millions in fines imposed by Coughlin himself. The NFLPA said Monday that more than 25% of player grievances filed in the last two years have been against the Jaguars. The union's take: “You as players may want to consider this when you have a chance to select your next club." “I determined earlier this fall that making this move at the conclusion of the 2019 season would be in everyone’s best interests,” Khan said in a statement. "But, in recent days, I reconsidered and decided to make this change immediately. “I thank Tom for his efforts, not only over the past three years but for all he did from our very first season, 25 years ago, to put the Jacksonville Jaguars on the map.” Khan said general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone will each report directly to him on an interim basis. “My expectations, and those of our fans, for our final two games and the 2020 season are high,” Khan added. The NFLPA grievances are a product of Coughlin’s peccadillos, many of which come from a good place — that of an old-school coach who always believed that football was more than just a business. But the rules that once seemed trifling — no sunglasses, all meetings start 5 minutes early — took a more sinister tone since Coughlin's return. He was still basking in the glow of two Super Bowl titles during his in-between stay as coach of the New York Giants that painted him as a man who had truly changed his ways. He fined defensive end Dante Fowler more than $700,000 in 2018 for missing “mandatory” appointments at the facility during the offseason. Problem was, the appointments weren't really mandatory — a reality cooked into the rule book after some hard-fought wins by the union in collective bargaining about how much time players were obliged to spend at team headquarters in the offseason. Coughlin and the Jaguars have been on the wrong end of other high-profile battles against players — involving running back Leonard Fournette, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and now-retired defensive end Jared Odrick. All involved fines or criticism of players who didn’t act the way Coughlin liked, or failed to show up to voluntary sessions that the old coach always believed weren’t really voluntary. The pushback against Coughlin was as much a sign of the attitudes of players in the late 2010s as it is of their willingness to blindly follow a leader who hadn’t proven himself to them — regardless of whatever message those Super Bowl rings might have delivered. As much as creating a mindset, ultimately, Coughlin was brought back to build a championship roster. In his first year back, it was trending that way, much the same as it was in the late 1990s, when he took the expansion franchise to the AFC title game twice in four years. Led by a smothering defense that Coughlin helped build, Jacksonville fell to New England in the 2017 AFC title game after leading by 10 in the fourth quarter. Since then, however, Coughlin’s moves to try to bridge the gap have looked like massive cases of bad judgement and overreach, the likes of which mired the final four seasons (2000-03) of his first stint with the Jags. The three most notable mistakes came at quarterback: the Jaguars drafted Fournette over Deshaun Watson, gave clearly flawed Blake Bortles a three-year, $54 million contract and then handed $88 million ($50.125 guaranteed) to Nick Foles. There were other problems raging throughout the roster, the locker room and the entire building. Coughlin has developed a rift with coach Doug Marrone over Marrone’s insistence on reducing the intensity and pace of practices at training camp, which came in direct conflict with what Coughlin has preached over his five-plus decades in football. Marrone also wasn't pleased that Coughlin dealt Ramsey, a mercurial-but-talented player who was supposed to be a cornerstone of the franchise, to the Los Angeles Rams earlier this year after multiple flareups between the player and the VP. Meanwhile, assistant coaches grew tired of receiving second-hand guidance that goes right down to the nuts and bolts of game-planning from a man who hasn’t taken much time to get to know them. All of this has turned one of the league’s up-and-coming teams into a loser. The Jaguars have dropped 19 of their last 26 games, 11 of which have come by double digits, and six of those by 20 or more......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 19th, 2019

Folayang promises a & lsquo;landslide& rsquo; in Manila return

Former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang’s road back to the top of the division gets underway early next year. On January 31, the 36-year-old battles Ahmed “Wolverine” Mujtaba of Pakistan at ONE: FIRE & FURY, the first ONE Championship show in the Philippines for 2020......»»

Category: techSource:  thestandardRelated NewsDec 18th, 2019

Usman batters Covington, Volkanovski claims title at UFC 245

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kamaru Usman brutally stopped Colby Covington with 50 seconds left in the fifth round at UFC 245 on Saturday night, retaining his UFC welterweight title with a spectacular finish to their grudge match. Alexander Volkanovski took the UFC featherweight title from Max Holloway and became the second Australian champion in the promotion's history with a tactical unanimous-decision victory. Amanda Nunes defended her bantamweight title with a grinding unanimous-decision victory over Germaine De Randamie at T-Mobile Arena. Usman (16-1) closed out an occasionally slow fight with Covington (15-2) in thrilling fashion, knocking down the challenger twice with precise punches and then finishing him on the ground. Usman and Covington took a personal animus into the cage, and the Nigerian-born Usman made good on his vow to derail the career of the divisive Covington, whose grating personality and eager embrace of President Donald Trump have made him a sharply polarizing figure in mixed martial arts. "This one is not just for me," Usman said. “This is for the whole entire world.” Volkanovski (21-1) picked apart Holloway (21-5) with leg kicks and movement for five frenetic rounds, controlling the bout with style and persistence. The 31-year-old challenger born in a tiny coastal town in New South Wales joins New Zealand-born middleweight Robert Whittaker as UFC’s only Aussie champs. The judges favored Volkanovski 48-47, 48-47 and 50-45. Holloway struggled to land consistent strikes while dodging Volkanovski’s barrage of leg kicks, but the long-reigning champ still appeared surprised and disappointed by the judges’ verdict in just his second loss since 2013. “It means the world,” Volkanovski said. “I have two kids at home. Everything is about my family. Spending time away from them kills me, but this is for them, a little early Christmas present for them.” Volkanovski became just the fourth featherweight champion in UFC history, joining Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor and Holloway, who had reigned since 2016. Volkanovski earned his title shot with 17 straight victories, including seven since joining the UFC, capped by a win over Aldo in May. “Featherweight has always had great, respectful champions who always fight the next contenders in line, and I appreciate that,” Volkanovski said. “There’s a lot of people who have earned their shot and aren’t given it, so I’m going to make sure everyone who earns it, gets it.” Holloway has been one of the UFC's most popular and most durable fighters of the 2010s, winning 13 consecutive bouts before he moved up to lightweight and lost a decision to Dustin Poirier for an interim title last April. He returned in July with a featherweight defense over Frankie Edgar before agreeing to a shot for Volkanovski. Covington and Usman started with two busy rounds of striking in which Covington appeared to be landing more blows, but Covington poked Usman in the eye during the third. Usman responded by bloodying Covington in an impressive third-round flurry, and Covington subsequently told his corner that he thought his jaw was broken. Usman took control from there, gradually finishing Covington in his first defense of the belt he took from Tyron Woodley earlier this year. Covington (15-2) won an interim title last year, but then missed a full year of competition due to injuries. Nunes (19-4) earned her 10th straight win and fifth bantamweight title defense over a half-decade of UFC dominance, but the two-division champion had to rely on her wrestling skills to dominate her 135-pound rematch with De Randamie (9-4), the former 145-pound UFC champion. “My game plan was to go five rounds and work the takedown,” Nunes said. “I almost got two submissions, but I made some mistakes and I have to fix that. Just a little bit of the technique was off, but I will fix it and next time I will get it.” After Nunes nearly finished in a one-sided first round, De Randamie surprised Nunes with several effective strikes in the second. Nunes wisely landed multiple takedowns to control the rest of the bout, keeping De Randamie on the mat and unable to land a home-run strike. The judges favored Nunes 49-46, 49-45 and 49-44. “Honestly, I was a little bit off tonight,” Nunes said. “But I’m the champ. I always have Plan A, B, C and more.” Nunes added the featherweight belt last December with her 51-second thrashing of Cris “Cyborg” Justino, cementing her place among the sport’s greats. Still only 31 years old, Nunes has said she will defend that 145-pound belt in her next fight, which would make her the first UFC fighter to defend two titles simultaneously. De Randamie was the first UFC women’s featherweight champion in 2017, but she moved down to bantamweight after she was stripped of the belt. The Dutch kickboxer was stopped by Nunes in the first round of their first meeting in 2013, but she tested Nunes much more extensively this time out. Earlier on the pay-per-view portion of the show, Aldo (28-6) lost a split decision to fellow Brazilian contender Marlon Moraes (23-6-1). Russian bantamweight contender Petr Yan stopped Urijah Faber with a single head kick in the third round. Yan (14-1) battered and bloodied the 40-year-old veteran with two knockdowns in the second before finishing Faber and then calling out two-division champ Henry Cejudo afterward......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 15th, 2019

Several world-ranked stars will light up Dubai once again at Rotund aRumble 2 on November 22.

The #MTKFightNight – promoted by D4G Promotions in association with MTK Global and Round 10 Boxing Club – hosts a range of huge names including WBO world super-lightweight No. 1 Jack Catterall, India’s highly-ranked icon Vijender Singh, Pakistani boxing hero Muhammad Waseem, WBO world bantamweight No. 4 Thomas Patrick Ward and many, many more. A busy undercard kicks off with two local debutants in Fahad Al-Bloushi and Sultan Al-Nuaimi – moments of history for the sport in Dubai. Fighters from no fewer than 15 countries make up a lengthy bill ready to delight a packed audience at the luxurious Caesars Palace, Bluewaters as well as those tuning in on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank and on iFL TV. Here’s a sneak preview of what you need to know…   JACK CATTERALL vs. TIMO SCHWARZKOPF (10 rounds) With a stunning undefeated record of 24-0, 13 KOs, Catterall is already seen as a super-lightweight world champion in waiting. Chorley’s ‘El Gato’ has systematically destroyed all put before him since turning professional in 2012; claiming the Central Area, the WBO European, the WBO Inter-Continental and British crowns. As the No. 1 challenger in the world to WBO and WBC world champion Jose Ramirez, Catterall is in line for a career-defining world title shot in 2020 but standing in his way is the high-class Schwarzkopf. Germany’s Schwarzkopf (20-3, 12 KOs) is a former IBF International welterweight and EBU European super-lightweight champion and is likely to push Catterall into producing his very best on the night.   VIJENDER SINGH vs. CHARLES ADAMU (10 rounds) Undefeated Singh (11-0, 8 KOs) is a sporting icon in his home country and regularly rubs shoulders with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar. Having already picked up the WBO super-middleweight Asia Pacific super-middleweight title and the WBO Oriental crown, Singh continues to gather an entire nation behind him on his quest to reach world champion status. In Ghana’s vastly-experience Adamu (33-14, 26 KOs), Singh takes on a man who has been in with the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, Rocky Fielding, George Groves and Carl Froch. Singh said: “For me these fights are going to be a build up to the world title which I am aiming for in 2020. I am sure my debut fight in Dubai is going to be an exciting one and I’m looking forward to a knockout win in the early rounds.”   MUHAMMAD WASEEM vs. GANIGAN LOPEZ (8 rounds) In Pakistan, world-class Waseem (9-1, 7 KOs) is another huge national hero and is supported by compatriots such as Shoaib Akhtar. ‘Falcon’ enjoyed a stellar amateur career that included two Commonwealth Games medals and went on to challenge for the IBF world flyweight title in just his eighth fight as a professional. Although Waseem was narrowly denied the world crown by now MTK Global team-mate Moruti Mthalane, he takes the next step back towards the top against tough Mexican Lopez (36-10, 19 KOs). Waseem, whose last performance was a stunning first-round stoppage on #RotundaRumble, said: “I’m confident of stealing the show once again. I’m very happy to be handed the chance to perform in Dubai for a second time in a row.”   THOMAS PATRICK WARD vs. MARTIN CASILLAS (8 rounds) The fighting pride of the north-east and a super-bantamweight king in waiting, unbeaten Ward (28-0, 4 KOs) is ready to announce himself to Dubai fans in style. The skillful 25-year-old has already made his name in the US by outclassing Jesse Hernandez back in February and is eager to accelerate his march towards world honours having recently signed with MTK Global. Ward said: “I’m very excited to be fighting in Dubai. It’s new for me. I’ve been all around the world but it’s always nice to showcase your skills in front of brand new audience.”   ROHAN DATE vs. JUSTICE ADDY (6 rounds) Dubai-based Irishman Date (10-0-1, 8 KOs) snatched headlines on his last outing on #RotundaRumble when he decimated Pardeep Kharera inside a single round. As he continues to move towards title shots, the 26-year-old will be looking for a similarly spectacular display against Ghana’s heavy hitting Addy (16-6-1, 14 KOs). Having already fought in Dubai four times since turning professional in mid-2016, Date is amassing a substantial following and is looking to charge up the 147lb rankings.   JAYR RAQUINEL vs. JACK AMISA (8 rounds) Raquinel (11-1-1, 8 KOs) is an emerging star of Filipino boxing and has already challenged WBC Silver flyweight honours last year. At the age of just 22, the man from Cauayan has the chance to make a name for himself on the big stage against the experienced Amisa from Indonesia.   HASIBULLAH AHMADI vs. DETNARONG OMKRATHOK (6 rounds) A teen sensational proudly representing Afghanistan, Ahmadi has impressed in blasting his way to 7-0 as a professional. A product of the local Round 10 Boxing Club, Ahmadi recorded an entertaining points win over China’s teak-tough Shidong Cai (10-4-1, 2 KOs) on the last #RotundaRumble show and will look to follow up in front of a growing fanbase.   FAHAD AL-BLOUSHI vs. SANDRO TUGHUSHI (4 rounds) Along with team-mate Sultan Al-Nuaimi, 23-year-old lightweight Al-Bloushi will be making history in joining Majid Al-Naqbi as Dubai’s only professional boxers when he makes his debut in the paid ranks on the night. Al-Bloushi said: “I’m proud to say that this is a stepping stone for us to use our talents further beyond and show the world what the UAE is made of. It’s a blessing to be able to start off the right way, in my home country and to showcase my talent to the boxing community and the community of the UAE.”   SULTAN AL-NUAIMI vs. CHARLES LATUPERISSA (4 rounds) Another man looking to cause a stir on his first outing as a professional is super-flyweight Al-Nuaimi, who won two national titles and represented UAE on numerous occasions. Al-Nuaimi said: “Being a professional boxer representing the UAE is a huge honour that I can’t describe. We can show the world that we are capable of achieving great things and making our nation proud.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2019

ONE Championship: Andun pa yung fire - Eduard Folayang highly motivated as he begins his comeback

After absorbing back-to-back defeats for just the second time in his professional mixed martial arts career, Filipino star Eduard “Landslide” Folayang once again finds himself on the comeback trail as he tries to once again have his hand raised in victory inside the ONE Circle.  The former two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion dropped the title to Shinya Aoki in the first defense of his second run as champion back in March, and then followed that up with a loss to Eddie Alvarez in August.  At 34 years of age, there really isn’t much left for Folayang to prove. A professional since 2007, Folayang has a respectable 21-8 professional record which includes championships in regional promotions and two world championship runs under the ONE banner. As it stands, he is already the face of Filipino MMA.  If he were to, say, hang his gloves up and dedicate his life to coaching future champions from Team Lakay, it’s highly unlikely that anyone would take it against him.  Yet, Folayang is gearing up for a return to action at ONE: Masters of Fate this coming Friday, November 8th at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Manila, Philippines. He faces Mongolian up-and-comer Amarsanaa “Spear” Tsogookhu in the co-main event. When asked what keeps him motivated, even after back-to-back losses, the former Philippine Wushu National Team Member and multiple-time SEA Games gold medalist says that he believes there’s still a lot for him to show.  “Yung pakiramdam na alam mong mayroon ka pang potential, hindi mo pa nai-uunleash yung full potential mo, yun yung parang nagpapalakas sa akin, na hindi pa dapat mag-give up, kasi still, andun parin yung fire na mag-rise up again,” Folayang told ABS-CBN Sports. “I think purposely, inallow ni God [yung mga losses ko] para makita ko yung mga areas na kailangan kong ayusin and yung mga pagkakamali talaga na kailangan kong iwasan sa mga future bouts ko.” For Folayang, the Alvarez bout in Manila last August is one that stung quite a bit.  A former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion, Alvarez’s signing with ONE was met with lots of hype and anticipation. As early as then, a potential matchup with Folayang was already something that fans of the Asian martial arts promotion were intrigued to see.  When the bout was finally going to take place, it was billed as a must-see matchup between two of the division’s biggest stars.  Indeed, the bout lived up to the hype as it included a little bit of everything that a fight fan would want to see. Folayang, a striking expert, was the more aggressive fighter on the feet and was able to use his best weapon - his tree-trunk legs - to do damage and chop Alvarez down.  Once he had dropped “The Underground King” Folayang went in for the kill, and that eagerness to get the finish was what ultimately led to the Pinoy hero’s downfall in the match.  While obviously hurt by the chopping leg kick he had absorbed just moments earlier, Alvarez remained composed as he tried to survive the landslide of strikes coming from Folayang. The American found his opening and flipped Folayang over for the reversal before taking the Filipino’s back and finally getting the Rear Naked Choke Submission, forcing the hometown bet to tap out.  “Gina-gauge ko yung sarili ko eh, alam mo yun? Yung expectations ko sa kanya, hindi ganun eh. Sobrang taas, tapos nung laglaban kami, naramdaman ko, pero siyempre, nakalimutan ko siguro na magaling din siya sa ground, or either nang-gigil ako na gusto kong tumayo ulit para tapusin na namin yung laban sa taas,” Folayang explained.  “Siguro yun yung naging mga pagkakamali ko that time, na ayaw ko maulit. Hindi ako naging composed sa sarili ko, nakalimutan ko na yung laban ay mixed martial arts, kung saan lahat ng angle, kapag dun ka kinuha, kahit nananalo ka na sa isang area, hindi yun yung laban eh. Yung laban ay yung kung natapos na. Siguro yun yung parang nakita ko na nagkamali ako,” he added.  Had Folayang won, he would have advanced to the Finals of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix at ONE: Century in Tokyo, Japan.  Alvarez ultimately pulled out after an injury had barred him from competing in the finale against Turkey’s Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev. Arslanaliev ultimately lost to Christian Lee, who stepped in as Alvarez’s replacement.  Throughout his career, Folayang has had some rather heartbreaking losses, but the Alvarez one has to be up there as one of the most, especially since he was quite dominant in the opening moments of the bout.  Folayang admits that it took quite a bit for him to get over that.  “Hindi [ako agad naka-get over] eh, kasi everytime, may makaka-salubong na na ireremind sayo, ‘Sayang!’ yung ganun,” But it was also that bout against Alvarez - specifically that sequence that nearly ended the fight in his favor - that somehow made him realize what he is still capable of.   “Dun ko din talaga nakita na, kung yung ganung level ni Alvarez, sa kalakasan niya, nasurpass ko, I think mayroon pa talaga eh. Hindi ko pa talaga nare-reach yung full potential ko eh, may mas maipapakita pa ako na mas magandang performance, lalo na kapag idinagdag ko yung mga experience ko na kagaya nung mga ganung experience.” To help move past the loss, Folayang returned to the gym to help his teammates who were getting ready for their big matches in Tokyo.  Hardly taking any damage in the loss to Alvarez, Folayang was pretty much in shape to get back in action, and a small window of opportunity appeared when it was announced that Alvarez had pulled out.  According to ONE Championship Chairman Chatri Sityodtong, Folayang was the first option to replace Alvarez, but with just around two weeks left before fight night, visa issues prevented the Filipino star from stepping in, opening the door for Lee to do so.  “Siyempre, hindi naman natin alam kung ano yung mangyayari, kasi professional na tayo, kailangan lagi parin tayong handa, although siyempre, yung nasa utak natin talaga ay gusto natin lumaban, kaya nagte-training pa din. So nung sinabi yung late replacement kay Dagi, nag-oo ako, pero unfortunately, hindi talaga siguro time,” Folayang said.  The time for Folayang’s comeback, as it turns out, was the month after.  Facing a relatively unknown opponent in Tsogookhu, Folayang has the chance to get back on track and pick up a solid win, but it could also prove to be a high-risk challenge, as Tsogookhu was impressive in his debut against veteran Shannon Wiratchai.  Folayang says that he fully understands the risk behind the fight, but to be able to get back to the top of the division, he must be able to face risk head on.  “Yun yung maganda sa MMA, the more na naiintindihan mo na it’s high risk, alam mo yun. Kasi kahit sabihin mo na more experienced ka, kung mag-commit ka ng single mistake, kakainin ka eh, so, yun. We are fighters, as much as possible, kung sino man yung mag-sstand dun sa way natin, kailangan natin i-face para makabalik tayo doon sa inaasam natin.”   Catch ONE: MASTERS OF FATE live on Friday, November 8th LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23 on LIVESTREAM via the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook Page and on iWant starting at 8:30 PM. ONE: MASTERS OF FATE will also air on Sunday's Best on November 17th, Sunday, at 11:30 PM with local commentatry from Anton Roxas and Theo Castillo  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 7th, 2019

Success didn t come overnight for Yulo, Petecio and Obiena

What makes every victory sweet are the compelling stories behind the most glorious of triumphs. Beyond the statistics, the points, the records, it’s always the journey that make sports conquests inspiring.  For Olympians and champions pole vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo and world championship gold medalist female boxer Nesthy Petecio, success didn’t come overnight. They shared the same experiences where they bled, shed tears, felt pain, experienced regret and lost. It was never easy.   “’Yung sports kasi it can be brutal for us,” said Obiena, who was the first Filipino to book a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last month. “That kind of makes winning sweet. It’s a series of ups and downs.” “I think everybody here… now we’re champions but we lost a lot of times before we actually won,” he added.   TOUGH ROAD The 23-year-old vaulter remembered how devastated he was when he sustained a knee injury in 2017. Obiena just jumped to a new national record prior to that injury. From there, he needed to work his way back up again. Just like Obiena, Petecio also faced a tough road. The lowest point for the Davaoena was when she lost via a controversial 2-3 split decision to Chinese Yin Jun Hua in the 2018 Asian Games featherweight match that could’ve catapulted her to the gold medal bout.        “’Yung experience ko sa Asian Games sobrang na-down po ako nun kumbaga sabi ko sa sarili ko noon baka hindi para sa akin ang boxing,” Petecio said. “Kasi pinaghirapan ko po yung apat na gold po ako sunud-sunod po doon para i-prepare ang sarili ko sa Asian Games tapos ganoon po ang nangyari. Down na down po ako nun.” It was so painful that the 27-year old pug thought of hanging her gloves for good. “Alam po ni Coach Boy [Velasco] yun, sinasabi ko po kay coach na magtatrabaho na lang po ako kasi naka-graduate naman din po ako ng associate course sa University of Baguio. Sabi ko sa sarili ko kaya ko pala maghanap ng ibang work.” Meanwhile, Yulo was just 16 then when he left his family in Manila to train for three years under the tutelage of Japanese coach Munehiro Kugiyama. One could just imagine what goes through the mind of a teenager in a foreign land away from his parents and friends.     “Sa Japan, nu’ng unang taon ko po dun, actually nu’ng three months ko po dun OK naman po siya di masama,” Yulo recalled. “Pero nalulungkot na po ako noong mga sumunod na araw, nami-miss ko na po ang family ko.” His Japan training did wonders for Yulo as he became a consistent medalist in the 2018 world cup series last year winning medals in Melbourne and Baku in vault and in Doha and Cottbus in floor exercise.   But homesickness and the difficult routine training, Yulo admitted, almost broke him. “Yung mga trainings ko po dun hindi siya masaya, sobra pong hirap. Araw-araw po naiyak ako kasi di ko po siya kaya, susuko na ako,” he said. “Last two years po sinabi ko rin sa coach na magku-quit na ako kasi sobrang wala po eh parang tae di po maganda sobra ang training.” “Pauli-ulit lang po ang araw. Parang hinihintay ko lang po matapos ang araw,” added Yulo. Then Yulo suffered a big blow in 2018 Asiad when he crashed to 7th place in the floor exercise. “Sa Asian Games din po wala ako sa kondisyon nun,” Yulo said. “Pumunta lang ako ng gym para mag-training pero hindi po talaga galing sa puso.” “Hindi po ako makapag-focus nun tuwing competition. Marami rin po kasi akong pagkakamali bago yung preparation ko sa Asian Games din po,” he added. “Hindi po ako nanalo ng medals dun, naka-finals po pero di ako nanalo ng medals. May chance po pero hindi po para sa akin siguro yun.”   REDEMPTION For the three sports heroes, it was when they hit rock-bottom when they realized that they were actually on solid ground where they could stand up and rise above the adversities they faced. It is in the darkest of nights where the stars shine the brightest. After a seventh place finish in the Asian Games, Obiena cleared 5.71 meters in the Asian Championships in Doha, Qatar last April. He then set a new national record of 5.76 meters to rule the Universiade in Naples, Italy last July. Obiena went on a roll as he cleared 5.81 meters in a tournament in Italy last month to secure a berth in the Tokyo Games. “We're very lucky to have the Philippines as the country we represent,” he said. “Sometimes I compete and I'm the only Filipino there in the stadium then I see a tiny flag waving and it's just nice and that kind of makes me happy and makes me feel lucky that I get to show the world that there is a Filipino vaulting here and we actually exist.”    Yulo, on the other hand, needed a short talk with her mother, Angelica, and a trip to the church to clear his mind. “Umuwi po ako at kinausap ko po ang mama saka papa ko. Sinabi ko po sa kanila na nahihirapan na ako, gusto ko na mag-quit. Sinabi ni mama sa akin na, ‘Ikaw, pero sayang kasi ang mga pinaghirapan mo. Nasimulan mo na ba’t di mo pa tapusin?'” “Kinabukasan nagsimba kami tapos nag-sink in po sa utak ko na grabe ang dami ko na ring pinagdaananan sobrang nakaka-stress pala,” he recalled. Clinging on the vow to surpass his bronze medal in the world championship last year, Yulo made sure that he’ll be ready in the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship in Stuttgart, Germany. “Ngayon tinarget ko talaga na di na maulit ang nangyari dati na umi-stop ako na walang magawa parang naiiyak na lang. Gusto ko lumaban at ipagmalaki sa lahat na kaya ko,” he said. Late Saturday night in the Philippines, Yulo made his historic stride on the other side of the world. Yulo bagged gold in the floor exercise final with a score of 15.300, besting Israeli Artem Dolgopyat (15.200), who dropped his shoulder when the Filipino's score flashed on the screen, and Ruoteng Xiao (14.933) of China. All-around, Yulo wound up 10th in the competition. “Hindi ko ini-expect na maka-medal ako kasi nung nakita ko ang score ng kalaban 15.2 po siya, hindi ko pa po nari-reach ang score [na yun],” said Yulo. After his routine, Yulo sat beside the Israeli gymnast and waited for his score. “Na ano ko na lang sa sarili ko na parang training lang ‘to. Gusto ko ipakita sa buong mundo na maganda ang gymnastics ko, na kahit matalo ako nu’ng araw na yun iniisip ko na lang na ginawa ko ang best ko,” he said. He then made history. Less than 24 hours after Yulo’s feat, on the Eastern Front, a Filipina carried the nation’s pride on top of the boxing ring in Russia. “’Yung mga kalaban ko po hindi po basta-basta po kasi nakikita ko rin po sa kanila na willing na willing din po nila na panalunin ang laban po,” Petecio recalled. “Kung gaano kadami ang suntok ko, dinadamihan din nila. Dinadaan ko na lang po lakas kasi alam kong mas malakas ako sa kanila.” She was a favorite during the prelims up to the semifinals, with the crowd in Ulan-Ude cheering her on. But the complexion changed when she entered the ring before the gold medal match. She was up against the hometown bet.    Despite fighting in hostile territory, Petecio bested Liudmila Vorontsove to annex the gold medal via split decision.    The victory was doubly sweet for Petecio. It was her long-awaited payback.            “Bago po yung final bout ko po, sabi ko po sa sarili ko na ‘Akin na ‘to’. Di ko na ibibigay ito,” she said. “Kasi noong 2014 last world championship nag-silver lang ako tapos Russian ang nakatalo sa akin. So sabi ko hindi ko na ipapaulit po na tatalunin ako ulit ng Russian. Akin na ‘to. Kini-claim ko na po sa sarili ko.” Having the gold medal finally on her neck, Petecio was just happy that she made the right decision just when she thought that her career was already bleak with the stinging Asian Games loss. ”Iniisip ko that time kung ano ang purpose ko kung bakit nag-boxing ako. Binalikan ko po ang insipirasyon ko, yung pamilya ko,” said Petecio, who once lived in a house made of tarpaulin and was financed by then Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to fly to Manila to pursue amateur boxing.     ”Nagdasal po ako kay God nung time na yun na, ano ba talaga ang dahilan kung bakit di niya ibinigay sa akin ang inaasam kong gold sa Asian Games,” she added. ”Nagpursige po ako ulit, bumangon po ako paunti-unti sa tulong ng mga coaches ko din and ito po nakuha ko na ang ginto sa world.” Looking back, the trio now had a clear understanding why they had to go through trials that tested not only their character but also their faith in themselves. “Part of our life is challenges, everyday struggles and its just a series of good memories that makes us who we are now,” said Obiena. The new breed of Filipino heroes are now enjoying the fruits of their hard work and sacrifice. The accolades came pouring in left and right. However, the trio agree that they are just at the beginning of their journey. They still have to make a home stand in the 30th Southeast Asian Games next month. For Petecio, a Tokyo Games ticket also awaits early next year in her attempt in the Asian qualifier in China. Obiena and Yulo also gun for podium finishes in Tokyo.   The road ahead is still long. It will never be a smooth and easy ride. But they will be ready. For flag and country.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2019

Harden-Westbrook duo ready to do something really special

By Michael C. Wright, NBA.com HOUSTON -- Well-dressed men in the Texas heat scurried, snatching keys and pointing directions to the visitors arriving, car after car. On the third floor, down the hall from a mezzanine overlooking a lobby, sparkling with custom Calcutta marble flooring, they all gathered in a quiet, dim room, just steps away from two Rolls-Royces bathing in the sun gushing through floor-to-ceiling glass. Here in Uptown, at Tilman Fertitta’s Post Oak Hotel -- a 38-floor, $350 million property housing a Rolls-Royce showroom and Bentley and Bugatti dealership, below a heliport -- the Houston Rockets' owner has turned the team’s annual media day into a posh, star-studded event. With good reason, too. Houston’s blockbuster July trade that sent Chris Paul off to the Oklahoma City Thunder for picks and pick swaps for Russell Westbrook reunites MVPs and former Thunder stars with James Harden already in the fold for a squad now at the forefront as favorites in a now suddenly wide-open Western Conference. “I think we are a better team,” Fertitta said. “It’s gonna be extremely exciting to have one of the greatest scorers of all time, and one of the most athletic people that has played the game. I know I’m really excited. I hope they don’t let me down.” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey thinks this all-star pairing “could be really special.” “It’s so exciting because James Harden is like the best half-court player I’ve ever seen, honestly,” Morey said. “Then, Russell is maybe the best transition player, one of the best of all time as well. If you put those things together, I think we have a chance. Now, you’ve got something really special.” Searching for same goal The reality is it’s been seven years since Westbrook and Harden last teamed with Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA Finals, and while both have developed into MVP winners and perennial All-Stars, neither has made it back to The Finals. So, burning hotter than the pomp and glitz at the Post Oak Hotel this hot summer day is the question of whether this will all work for a pair of ball-dominant stars, accustomed to running their own respective shows. They’ve certainly got a believer in former Thunder teammate Kendrick Perkins. “They’ve played together in OKC. These two former MVPs still are in their primes. There’s no way that it’s not going to work,” Perkins told NBA.com. “Am I guaranteeing they’re going to win a championship? No, I’m not doing that. But I still believe this might be the most dynamic backcourt we’ve ever seen in NBA history. We probably haven’t seen a point guard and a shooting guard like this on the same team in forever. You can’t really name one going into the season that’s better than these two guys. I just think it’s going to work.” Now retired from the NBA, Perkins joined a 21-year-old Harden and a 22-year-old Westbrook in 2010-11, when he was traded there in the middle of the season from the Boston Celtics to OKC. Perkins describes the childhood friends and former Thunder teammates as “two guys that were still trying to find their identity” back then. Still, both were destined to reach the levels they currently occupy, he says. “When I first got there, those guys were working, man. They turned out to be some beasts, dog,” Perkins told NBA.com. “Gym rats, I’m telling you. It was unreal the amount of work those guys were putting in. Russ was always the heart and soul of the team. There was no debate about it to me. He gave the team swagger. With James, we just knew it was only in due time. People always say they should’ve kept that team together in OKC. But James wouldn’t have been able to be the player he is today if he hadn’t left. Plus, James was deserving of having his own team.” Now that he’s had it since joining the Rockets in 2012-13, Harden welcomes Westbrook, who like himself, began playing the game as a child at the Challengers Boys & Girls Club in South Central Los Angeles. Interestingly, Westbrook and Harden are the only players over the last five seasons to score more than 10,000 points. Westbrook nodded in agreement with the notion his new uniform provides somewhat of a new lease on life, after spending the first 11 years of his career in Oklahoma City. Harden, meanwhile, pointed out how his new teammate “doesn’t have to stress or worry about the pressure of carrying an entire organization,” because that responsibility now falls on them both. “I think it’s good for both of us because we understand the amount of energy and effort, time and commitment it takes to be able to do that for an entire season,” Westbrook said. “Now, being together on the same team, I think it’s important that we can lean on [one another], sacrifice, and not do as much to still have an impact on the game. I think [what] a lot of people don’t know is we have a friendship first outside of basketball. I think me and him communicate and understand each other. In the games, it’s going to be easy.” 'Sit back and watch the show' Perkins saw signs of maturity from Westbrook last season, when the guard at the detriment of his own stats, deferred to Paul George in crucial situations. But both Westbrook and Harden in 2018-19 ranked in the top 15 in usage rate. So, the phrase uttered most often at media day above the guests clutching cold drinks at the hotel pool was “figure it out.” Everyone, whether Fertitta, Morey, coach Mike D’Antoni or the players, seems confident in the duo’s ability to do so. Harden already said he’s willing to take a backseat to Westbrook. “If Russ has got it going, and Russ is having one of those games that we’ve all seen before, guess what I’m going to do?” Harden asked. “Sit back and watch the show, and vice versa. You can’t sit up here and say, ‘Oh, Russ is going to have the basketball for the first half, and I’m going to have the ball the second half.' No, things happen through the course of the game that you just flow with and go with.” Perkins believes that Harden welcomes the opportunity to defer to someone else, given the physical demands of his playing style. Harden ranked No. 3 last season in minutes per game (36.8), while Westbrook was fourth (36.0). “If you’ve watched James throughout the course of a game, the things he did, he had to do because nobody else was stepping up at the time. James wants somebody else to step up so that he can take a backseat sometimes,” Perkins told NBA.com. “If you watched Russ on the court last year, what a lot of people don’t realize is that he deferred to Paul George a lot. Russ took a backseat. You’ve got to understand, too, that he’s matured, man. He’s starting to show that he can be a better leader. Think about it. When you have kids, man, and you start having a family, sh--, your whole thought process changes. You know what I mean? I just see the maturity in Russ. To me, they have to just get it done. There’s no debate about it. Like, to me, the most pressure is on Mike D’Antoni.” Entering the final year of his contract after extension talks broke down over the summer, D’Antoni will proceed cautiously throughout the preseason implementing Westbrook (who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery). D’Antoni and Morey believe Westbrook, one of the game’s most lethal penetrators, will excel in D'Antoni's wide-open offense (which focuses on keeping shooters posted on the perimeter as guards drive in). Morey mentioned that under D’Antoni, guards have historically produced career years. “You look historically at players that have worked with Mike, guards especially, they always play better,” Morey said. “I think it’s just the way he sets up the team, sets up the offense. He finds ways to get people to do the things they do well more, and again, like he said, we’re not here to change anybody or do anything. Historically like pretty much every guard that’s worked with, Mike has had their career year. That’s gonna be a little tough with Russell, given that he’s had so many.” Wearing a salmon-hued polo shirt, D’Antoni discussed plans to stagger the minutes of Harden and Westbrook throughout the season. The expectation is Harden rests in the neighborhood of 13 minutes per game, while Westbrook sits 16 minutes. In his first preseason game -- a 134-129 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Tokyo -- Westbrook logged 20 minutes, finishing with 13 points, two rebounds and six assists. D’Antoni said the final five minutes of games are “the most important thing” for Westbrook to figure out as the team approaches the regular season. “They both want to do this. So, we’ll just sit down and work it out,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t have to tell someone they have to do this, or they have to do that. We’ll figure it out together. But just the vibe of being able to discuss things, the respect they have [for one another] will translate. We’re in a good spot. Right now, it’s great. All we’re trying right now is to win a title. That’s the only agenda that anybody has, and we’ve just got to figure it out.” When word first spread about Houston’s acquisition of Westbrook, opinions naturally flowed about how he’d fit alongside Harden. Westbrook is a career 30.8% 3-point shooter on a squad that has led the league in 3-point attempts four of the last five seasons. He’s also a ball-dominant, high-usage player just like Harden. Still, everyone, insists they won’t ask Westbrook to change his style of play. That puts the pressure squarely on D’Antoni to tweak what Houston does on the floor. “The system they’ve run, just shooting layups and shooting threes with no in-between game, you have to change that with Russell Westbrook, because one of his main things is his mid-range pull-up,” Perkins explained. “The pressure is on Mike D’Antoni. Does he have to change up his style of play? Yes, he will, in order for Russell Westbrook to be who he is. We all know that Russ is not a three-point shooter. Bottom line is they’ve got two of the top 10 players in the league now, if not top 15. "These guys get it done. Back in the day when they were in OKC, they were trying to find out who they were as players. Now, it’s a whole lot different. Now, they know who they are. They’ve done everything to accomplish all the individual accolades. They only thing they haven’t done is win a championship. It’s not the players. Houston has all the players.” In addition to the glitz, glamour and star power for a franchise starving to add more Larry O'Briens to its trophy case. Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. 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 NewsOct 9th, 2019

Denver Nuggets guard Monte Morris looking forward to playing the LA teams next season

Denver Nuggets' shooting guard Monte Morris is coming off a breakout year during the 2018-2019 NBA season.  The third-year man out of Iowa State averaged career highs of 10.4 points and nearly 4 assists in 24.0 minutes of action per game, helping the Nuggets to surprising second-seed finish and a Western Conference Semifinals appearance.  It was a gigantic leap for the 24-year old who appeared in just 3 games for the Nuggets the previous season. Last year, Morris played in all 82 games.  "Really, I think it was just my hunger to show people that I was playing at this level," Morris said of his rise from a G-Leaguer to a key rotation player on a playoff contender. "I’m not the biggest, I’m not the quickest or the fastest, I just put in the time behind the scenes as much as I could, with film work and working on how I can help the Nuggets all around, staying on the court and making an impact, I think that was the biggest thing for me." Heading into the 2019-2020 season, the Nuggets are once again pegged to be a playoff team, but with the whirlwind of offseason moves, the team from the Mile High City isn't getting too much attention, and Morris says that being slept on is nothing new to the team.  "There’s been a lot of crazy trades in the West, so, not a lot of people are talking about us. It’s nothing new, I know last year we shocked a lot of people. We knew going into training camp - we missed the playoffs by one game the year before - our goal was to make the playoffs, and when we got it rolling real early, the coach was like, ‘Forget making the Playoffs, let’s try to get the 2-seed, let’s try to be a 1-seed!’ and that was our challenge." While other Western Conference teams made noise with their off-season moves, the Nuggets are banking on continuity and chemistry with the core of All-Star Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris all returning to the team next season. Not to mention the addition of forward Jerami Grant, who was acquired from the now-rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder via a trade. "With everybody back and adding Jerami Grant from OKC, it feels like our chemistry is going to be very well and we know what we got to do to get past where we lost last year." With all the new faces and superstar duos in the West, which team is Monte looking forward to playing with the most?  "I’d say both the LA teams. My best friend plays for the Lakers, and I know Paul George and Kawhi have the Clippers," he responded. "I’m looking forward to playing them two the most, but the West is so loaded every single night that we can’t take a game off, because you’ve got Mike Conley, Damian Lillard, Steph Curry, all those guys in the West, every night, it’s going to be a battle." The best friend that Morris is referring to is Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma. Both Morris and Kuzma grew up in the same area in Flint, Michigan.  "Everytime me and him play each other because we try to go at it because we’re from the same part of Michigan, so it’s a good thing to give back to our hometown," Morris shared. "We grew up together, playing on the same AAU teams and everything, going to different camps. Our stories are a little different growing up. Kyle was more of a late bloomer and got his opportunity at Utah, whereas I went and won Mr. Basketball in Michigan an he went Prep, so our stories are a little different, but we always wanted to play in the NBA, and it’s crazy to see it all unfolding now, and when we play against each other, we talk a lot of trash to each other but it’s all love and we know we’re doing it for our bigger cause, and that’s to show that where we’re from, it’s possible." Apart from Kuzma, another Laker that has had an impact on Morris' youth is none other than the team's franchise star LeBron James. Morris shared that LeBron was someone that he looked up to as a kid.  "I would say, growing up, I looked up to LeBron James, for sure. Just the way he grew up with just a single mom and they moved a lot, and he stayed at the top of his game, his mom was his best friend, he didn’t have much of a father figure, like myself in my life, so I took his story and kind of implemented it in my lifestyle and what I stood for, how hard he worked, and I knew that anything was possible." Morris is currently in the Philippines for an NBA 3X event at the SM Mall of Asia on August 3-4, along with NBA legend Muggsy Bogues.     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 31st, 2019

Durant s return looms large heading into potential clincher

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com TORONTO — Let us dismiss the tasty-yet-faulty comparison folks will try to make regarding Game 5 and Kevin Durant and the fate of the Warriors in these NBA Finals: In 1970, when Knicks center Willis Reed famously limped out of the tunnel at Madison Square Garden for Game 7, he only hit two jumpers and was done, too gimpy to go any further. The Warriors, starved for points against a toothy Raptors defense, will require plenty more than that from Durant before he’s done. Back then, it was winner-take-all, New York vs. L.A. Durant and the Warriors are trailing 3-1 and face elimination at Scotiabank Arena. They’re staring down a far deeper and darker tunnel. This is the stark reality for a would-be savior and his recuperating calf and the desperate two-time defending champions. Durant was upgraded to questionable for Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), which means it's likely he’ll at least be on the floor. Whether he stays long enough to break a sweat or plays well enough to make the Raptors perspire is the real issue. Perhaps never before has an injury to a superstar of this magnitude been this mysterious – and perhaps costly – in the history of The Finals. Remember, with Reed, the Knicks won at the end. Maybe there's more in common with Magic Johnson pulling a hamstring in 1989 during Game 1, but again, Magic was finished for the series, and so were the Lakers, swept by the Pistons. Durant is trying to return and in the process squelch the innuendo swirling about his recovery and also trigger a historic comeback. Can he pull this off after not playing since May 8 (May 9, PHL time), and practicing for the first time only Sunday? It was a practice, but only in the tamest sense. Durant joined his teammates and took part after the media was hustled off the court, leaving no outside witnesses or sneaky TMZ footage. The Warriors, this time of year, only conduct light drills. And it was over within an hour. To recap: Durant is supposed to step into an intense basketball game after missing a month, and battle a Toronto defense led by Kawhi Leonard, and thwart a championship bid by a team and city bracing for a maddening celebration around midnight, and … rescue the Warriors? OK, then. “I think it’s pretty easy to realize we obviously miss him out there and he’s propelled us to two championships in two years,” said Warriors guard Klay Thompson. “So it would be pretty storybook if he could come back and help us do the same.” If it sounds like the Warriors are so stretched for answers and solutions that they’re banking on Durant being close to normal after a lengthy layoff, well … maybe they are. When you’re facing elimination, there’s really no other choice. And the Warriors haven’t been able to solve the Raptors without him. Yet Durant has set himself a high bar. Before his injury, which occurred in the conference semifinals against Houston, he was on another level, nearly galactic. He averaged 34 points, five rebounds and five assists in 11 games and was a finalist for everyone’s “best player in the playoffs" honors with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Since then Leonard, the postseason leader in points, and rebounds, and minutes, has yanked that praise for himself. The Raptors, as a result, are heavy favorites to lift the trophy. Durant may not be 100 percent, leaving what he can possibly do an open question: Will he be more of a decoy than a legitimate offensive threat? And on defense, how can the Warriors cover for him, since the Raptors will surely try to exploit the situation by running Durant through screens? Without Durant, the scoring burden had to be carried by Thompson and Steph Curry, and while both have done fairly well, the Warriors have had little margin for error. Whenever Draymond Green or Andre Iguodala or DeMarcus Cousins failed to lend support for Thompson and Curry, the results have been disastrous for Golden State. Coach Steve Kerr feels Durant’s presence will be enough to cause a ripple effect that influences what both teams do when he’s on the floor. “The game plan changes if Kevin is out there, or if he’s not,” Kerr said. “So you adapt accordingly. It changes matchups, it changes rotations, all that stuff.” It’ll be a surprise if Durant’s return causes issues within the Warriors and the system that was tweaked in his absence. Although they’ve been without him for nine games, he did play three seasons with the club, so there shouldn’t be any adjustment problems. Quite the contrary, says Curry. “We’ll be able to adjust in transition pretty smoothly,” said Curry. “He’s been in plenty of Finals and has played well. No matter what the percentage he’s at, I’m sure he’ll be impactful and effective.” It’s always tricky to play doctor and determine how much time Durant should’ve missed, although that never deters anyone from doing so. Taking it a step further, while none of his teammates or coaches publicly questioned the depths of Durant’s injury, dealing with the daily dose of “is he or isn’t he?” became tiring to some. They all suspect that if Durant could’ve played, he would. What possible motive would encourage him to stay out longer than necessary? To show everyone how much the Warriors need him? That seems a stretch for someone who craves a championship. Possibly not his pending free agency either; if anything Durant would get bonus points for playing through pain and would have all summer to recover in the event of re-injuring the calf, which is not considered career-threatening. Injured players have no obligation to speak to the media, and Durant hasn’t, with his silence only feeding speculation. “I feel for Kevin,” Thompson said. “I know what type of competitor he is and we obviously miss him dearly. But whether it’s tomorrow or Game 6, we just have to do everything in our power to help him get back. He will be very welcome, I’ll say that much. Kevin’s (injury) is serious and I know how badly he wants to be out there. He’s one of the best competitors I’ve been around.” The stretchy shooting range, the high release of a shot that’s nearly impossible to block or discourage, the energy and determination and ability to make plays in tense moments, those are the elements Durant brings and the Warriors have missed in The Finals. They’ll take whatever he can give, whatever that might be.   “I would like to think he would make a difference,” Shaun Livingston said. “Again, it’s just any time a player of that caliber comes back or goes out of the lineup, it’s going to be felt certain ways. We’ll see what happens.” And if Durant is unable to play extended minutes or sputters around the floor, making mistakes and dogged by rust and fatigue and inefficiency? Then it’ll fall on his teammates, a group that couldn’t beat the Raptors in two games at Oracle Arena yet somehow must thrive in a Canadian madhouse that awaits Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). “You’re going to see a resilient Warriors team,” Thompson said. “We’ve had our backs against the wall with this same group. Obviously, it’s a little more daunting being down 3-1 but usually when our backs are against the wall, we respond the best.” Question is, will Durant have their back? Or will he and that wall crumble under pressure from these hungry Raptors and the long odds? 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: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 10th, 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