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Coffin stored in break room as Los Angeles funeral home overwhelmed

A corpse in the break room. Embalmed bodies in the garage.  During AFP’s visit, a casket topped with a small wreath of flowers occupied the funeral home employee break room beyond the front desk Boyd Funeral Home, a small family business in Los Angeles, is so overflowing with Covid-19 victims it has begun turning away customers for the first time in its history. “The weekend before I turned down 16 families that I couldn’t do services for,” said owner Candy Boyd.  “It’s sad. But that’s pretty much how it is now.” In the past two weeks, as coronavirus has slammed Los Angeles, some 80 percent of the deceased passing through her doors died from Covid. One-in-10 residents of the nation’s second largest city has been infected since the pandemic began, with nearly 300 people dying daily last week as the virus surges. At Boyd’s reception desk, the phones keep ringing, mostly going unanswered as her overwhelmed staff have abandoned setting appointments and now tell customers to just show up and get in line. She is even receiving calls from desperate families in other counties more than an hour’s drive away.  Many hospital morgues are also full, with local coroners using refrigerated trucks to accommodate the victim load and some cemeteries warning of two week waiting lists. “Things are getting more and more out of control,” said Boyd. During AFP’s visit this week, a casket topped with a small wreath of flowers occupied the employee break room beyond the front desk. It had been there for a week. “This room is our lunch area, however, we are having to use this room for space for caskets,” said the owner. “We’ve done the services but the cemetery is so backed up… we have to hold them here until they have time to do the burial.” – Bodies in the garage – Like much of surrounding South Los Angeles, the Westmont neighborhood is mainly inhabited by Black and Latino working class communities living in densely populated homes. These demographics have been hit particularly hard by Covid, with mortality rates two or three times higher than nearby affluent communities. Boyd’s funeral home cold storage room has been consistently full. Two weeks ago, Boyd brought in craftsmen to erect two large wooden structures in the company’s garage to store embalmed bodies. “He hasn’t even gotten a chance to really finish because we needed (to store) these,” she said, pointing to corpses wrapped in body bags lying on the rough shelves. “I would never imagined having to build that in my wildest dreams.” Some funeral homes have reported a shortage of coffins due to lack of wood, though Boyd’s supplier has kept up with orders so long as they are placed early enough. – ‘Nightmares’ – Worried about her five staff catching the virus at the start of the pandemic, Boyd initially refused to accept Covid victims. “I was having nightmares. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep,” she recalled.  Boyd has since created safety protocols and now feels comfortable dealing with the influx, although she insists it is “not about the money.” “It’s about helping families and helping them get through this crisis,” she said. “It takes a toll on me every day, I’m dealing with this,” Boyd added. “And I have to keep a stolid face because I have to be there for the family.”  Sometimes, customers are people she has long known personally. Other times, Boyd encounters families who still refuse to wear masks or respect physical distance, even as they make arrangements to bury their loved ones.  “The numbers don’t lie. It’s true. It’s real,” said Boyd of the disease. Cases in California have more than doubled since early December to 2.8 million. “If you don’t take it serious,” she warned an AFP journalist, “you could be one of the people that are in my back row back there, you know!”.....»»

Category: newsSource: mb.com.ph mb.com.phJan 17th, 2021

When We Were Volleyball Queens (Part 2)

(This story was originally published back in March 24, 2015) Back in 1993 the Philippine national team defied the odds by toppling the region’s women’s volleyball giant Thailand. Rosemarie Prochina, part of the national team sent to the 17th Southeast Asian Games, continues with her story of the things that transpired during the last shining moment of our Filipina athletes in the sport.    Buy gold? No, we’ll win them   Prochina revealed that they had an extra motivation in the championship match against Thailand after an incident involving her teammate Bernadeth Burcelis. A Thai tried to get into their heads. A warning shot of psychological warfare, perhaps an attempt to bully the Filipinas out of their wits.      “Actually yung team manager nila kinantyawan kami nu’ng mag-shopping kami,” Prochina said. “Sinabihan niya si Burcelis, sabi niya “Oh you buy many, many golds now because tomorrow you will only get silver.” The Filipina didn’t talk back, she and the national team simply let their game do the talking.      “Yun ang sabi niya. So kami parang di naman din niya sinabi sa amin (kaagad), pero sa kanya (Burcelis) OK lang yun. Basta maglaro lang kami,” Prochina said. During the game, Prochina said that everybody was doing their part even those sitting on the bench. “Yun ang maganda sa team namin na kahit na kaming nasa bench, di ako first six kasi,” she admitted. “Kaming nasa bench kahit parang di kami makakalaro nandoon kami sa bench nagpi-pray, lahat todo support. Tapos kapag may timeout, magma-massage kami sa mga teammates namin.” Zenaida Ybanez also won the Best Spiker and Most Valuable Player award while Leonora Escolante was named Best Setter.  For Prochina their feat showed the never-say-die spirit of the Filipinas. “So yun very (inspiring) ang pagkapanalo dun kasi underdogs kami,” she said.    Coach Tai, the lover boy?  SEA Games is not just about athletes trying to outplay their opponents for a podium spot. The biennial meet is organized for the purpose of developing friendship and camaraderie among nations. And some tried to take this fellowship into another level. Prochina gave away a secret that involves a name that is very famous in the volleyball circle today. Ateneo de Manila coach Tai Bundit did capture the hearts of local fans with his charm and heart strong mantra proven by the Lady Eagles’ back-to-back UAAP crown but 22 years ago the Thai had an early encounter with the Filipinos – and we are not talking about how he and his team demolished the PHI men’s squad. It was about something romantic. “Yung coach nila (Ateneo) magkasabayan kami sa national team,” said Prochina, who’s an Ateneo fan herself. “Yung coach nila na si Tai nagpang-abot kami.” The Thai women’s team looked at the Filipinas with fire in their eyes, but not Bundit as he glowed with sparks of stars and moonshine while focused on a Pinay whose name gives happiness to his heart.   Yes, before Bundit danced his signature ‘kitiki-Tai’ moves, he tried to tango.            “Kami yang (magkakasabayan) noong nanliligaw-ligaw pa yan sa teammate ko, si Joy Degoroztisa,” Prochina said in a chuckle. “Ewan ko kung nagkasagutan sila, huh!” she continued. “Naku baka (mapagalitan ako ni Joy) kasi nanligaw siya (Bundit) dun. Si Joy nasa Kuwait na siya ngayon.” Asked for more juicy details, Prochina said that her memory is a bit sketchy about the whirlwind romance.   “Actually, di ko masyado (nasubaybayan na yung nangyari) kasi nga yung laro di ba ilang weeks lang yun tapos hindi ko na alam kung anong nangyari,” Prochina added. And she really has no idea if Bundit got one through the block or totally got shut down. Bundit is now happily married while Degoroztisa is based in Kuwait.   “Masakit para sa amin”  After the team brought home the mint, the Pinays failed to win it all in the next SEAG editions paving way for Thailand’s domination in the region.  The Thais got their revenge on their turf in 1995 against the Filipinas in the finals. Again winning another gold after two years at the expense of PHI, who had bronze finishes in 2001, 2003 and in 2005 edition held in Manila.  Sadly, in the next four SEA Games no women’s team were fielded and the Pinays were overtaken by in terms of competitiveness by Vietnam and Indonesia.     “Masakit para sa amin kasi hanggang ngayon hindi pa rin na-break,” a regretful Prochina said. “Nag-20 years na hindi pa rin na-break yung record, nag-post ako sa FB sabi ko “Happy 20th year sa pagka-gold naming”, ganyan, pero napakasakit kasi wala pang pumalit,” she added. “Hindi ka-proud na kayo lang kasi siyempre parang anong nangyari sa programa ng volleyball sa Pilipinas?” A degradation of the sport she painfully watched. “Yung 1995 malakas pa rin yun kahit nawala na yung iba,” she said. “Maraming mga matatangkad gaya nina Cherry Rivera Macatangay, Roxanne Pimentel, si Joy Degoroztisa, Estrella Tan Enriquez na nag-convert na lang sa basketball kasi nawala na nga yung (volleyball program).”   New beginning  The dream of standing taller than Thailand may still be years away, but Prochina is happy that there is a rebirth of volleyball in the country. With the sport having an avenue outside of collegiate leagues with the Shakey’s V-League and Philippine Superliga and the interest of the nation to volleyball taking its roots again, the future looks bright. “Yung volleyball sa atin paangat na talaga saka sobrang happy kaming mga older players na nakikitang ganoon na ang progress ng volleyball sa Pilipinas,” she said. It’s a fact that we are not at par in skills and development wise with the Thais – a solid proof of it is having their players fielded as imports to raise the level of competition in our local leagues – but Prochina is glad that we are now taking small steps.      “Kasi lumayo na ang Thailand e, lumayo ng milya-milya and nawala tayo. Pero kaya yang (mahabol) wala namang imposible,” she said. “Pero mas malalaki nga tayo actually. Ang players natin may 6-foot-5, may mga ganoon. Yung mga players natin malalaki. “Sa atin lang siguro yung continuity ng training, at ng support.” Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas, Inc. as part of their volleyball program has formed an Under-23 men’s and women’s team that will compete in the Asian age group championships on May. After skipping volleyball events in four SEAG editions, the PHI will field both men’s and women’s teams for the meet in Singapore on June.            Promise of tomorrow          Prochina believes that PHI volleyball has a bright future and a repeat of their feat two decades ago is not far away.  “Of course. Malalaki and mas may advantage ang mga bata ngayon kasi sila yung skills at techniques nila meron na. Yung sa katawan, sa bilis, sa talon, meron,” she said. “Kami noon dinevelop pa. Ako personally dinevelop ako, kung hindi dahil sa coaches ko na sina coach Kid Santos and coach Emil Lontoc, na naniwala sa akin na gagaling ako at aabot ako sa level na ganoon, hindi ako tutuloy,” Prochina added. “Hindi katulad ngayon sobrang andami nating players na malalakas.” She is also overwhelmed by the fan base this generation of players built. “Marami talaga ngayon. Pero noong 2005 na naglaro kami ng V-League (for PSC (Lady Legends) nakakatawa lang noon na mayroong mga nagdadala (ng mga gamit) na mayroong mga signature naming na mga lumang players. Sinasabi nila na “Ay fan kami sa inyo.” Kami naman “Ay talaga, mayroon pala kaming mga fans,”” she said. “Mas malaki na (ang fanbase) kasi sa social media, alam na ng lahat ng tao ang nangyayari sa volleyball.”    Comparison Prochina picked Ateneo when asked if what team in her opinion mirrors the character of the 1993 team. “Kasi sila nag-start sila from scratch e. Tapos yung mga bata alam mong obedient sila sa nakikita mo sa laro. Hindi ko naman sinasabi na hindi obedient yun ibang teams ha,” she justified. “Pero kasi yung Ateneo galing talaga sila sa baba.” She also cited that long before Ateneo practiced meditation before and during games, they were already doing it as part of their routine. “Yes matagal na. Kasi nung nakita ko sila (Ateneo in meditation) sabi ko “Ah Ok. Kasi nag-coach din ako ng mga five years ago (in University of Asia and the Pacific) yun din ang itinuturo ko sa mga players na malaking bagay yung meditation,” she said. “Kasi sa SMAP (Sports Medicine Association of the Philippines) dati sa PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) sila ang nag-handle sa amin na nilagay kami sa isang room (for meditation),” Prochina added. “Tinantanong pa nga namin ang isa’t isa kung nakakatulong. Nakakatulong talaga siya tapos tinuruan nila kami na bago matulog, ayun, dapat may relaxation technique kami. Na dapat relaxed, alisin ang tension sa katawan tapos isipin mo na kinabukasan madali lang yung game. Yun talaga, malaking bagay siya." Just like Ateneo, they enjoyed every game. They are the original happy team. “Oo. Kasi yang si coach Emil Lontoc ang sinasabi niyan kapag maglalaro na kami “tiwala sa sarili at mag-enjoy sa game.” Yun yung sinasabi nila kapag magi-game kami. Kasi kung hindi ka naman magi-enjoy the game wala na, ano yun? E volleyball ito,” she said. And she agrees that Ateneo’s Alyssa Valdez is the new face of volleyball in the country – the phenom that was yet to be born a few days after they bagged the SEAG gold.  “Of course, siya talaga. Kahit asawa ko idol siya. Humble yung bata, bilib ako sa bata,” Prochina explained. “Nakikita ko yung eagerness niya. ‘Yung kapag umatras siya na papatay siya ng bola, makikita mo talaga yung killer’s instinct niya. Kapag naglaro na 100% talaga siya.” For Prochina, Valdez is Barina-Rojas of her time -- a sign of hope.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles          .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2020

Rubio leads Suns over Jazz in his return to Utah

By MATTHEW COLES Associated Press SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Ricky Rubio always felt comfortable in Utah and hated to leave. He made sure his return was noticed. Rubio had 22 points, 11 assists and seven steals to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 131-111 victory over the reeling Jazz on Monday night. “I know their game and I played with them for a long time,” Rubio said, acknowledging he often knew where the Jazz wanted to go with their motion and their passes and stepped into the passing lanes. In his first game back in Salt Lake City after playing for the Jazz for two seasons, Rubio led an offense that shot 56% and seemed a step ahead of the Jazz all night. “That’s a tough game coming back here to play against your former team with so many emotions going through his mind. He dominated the game,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. Rubio used the All-Star break to get some rest and refocus. He also admitted he got extra juice in playing his former teammates. “I haven’t felt this fresh all year,” he said. “This was special for me.” Devin Booker had 24 points and a season-high 10 assists, Kelly Oubre scored 18 while Deandre Ayton added 16 for the Suns. “We were moving the ball. The ball moves faster than bodies can and we took advantage of that tonight. Ricky and I both had over 10 assists and when you have two people creating like that, we were making the game easy for everyone else,” Booker said. Donovan Mitchell scored 38 points and Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 for Utah. The Jazz made a season-high 37 free throws -- on 43 attempts -- but looked disjointed while committing 19 turnovers. The Suns made three 3-pointers in a row to get some breathing room, and then Jevon Carter made a layup and Oubre dunked to take a 99-88 lead into the fourth quarter. "That third quarter used to be lethal for us. That used to be a thing where we come out and that's where we'd make our push. The roles have reversed," Mitchell said. Oubre dunked over Rudy Gobert early in the fourth quarter and let him know all about it, drawing a technical foul. “We didn’t get complacent. Once we got the lead, we kept building on it and we haven’t done that a lot this year,” Booker said. Rubio made an off-balance 3-pointer from the corner that brought audible gasps from the Utah crowd. The knock on Rubio in Utah was that he wasn't enough of a perimeter threat to keep defenses from sagging. “It was an emotional game for him. To come out and play aggressive and play the right way is exciting for him. I know how badly he wanted this one,” Booker said. The Suns made their first five shots and set the tone early that if the Jazz weren't going to stop their drives, they were headed for a big night. The Suns outscored the Jazz in the paint 66-42. "It's all defense. It doesn't matter how many points you score if you can't guard anybody. We gotta go out there and do it -- myself included. No one is excluded from that,” Mitchell said. Rubio, who also had six rebounds, had 13 points in the first half as the Suns shot 59.5 percent and matched the Jazz at 62-62 at the break. Known for their defense over the past few years, the Jazz suddenly can't stop anyone as they dropped their third straight home game for the first time since early last season. "We're going to keep getting the same result if we don't focus and execute on the defensive end. This is a group that's done that, but that doesn't matter right now. (What) that should tell us is we're capable — at least on some level. But, right now, that's not who we are,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. BE LEGENDARY Booker attended the Kobe Bryant Memorial in Los Angeles earlier Monday and it inspired him. “All of those people in one building because of that man. It was a very important for all of us. I wouldn’t say closure, because we’re all missing a piece of us for the rest of our lives, but seeing Vanessa speak and seeing the girls there helped a lot of people,” Booker said. Bryant would tell Booker to be legendary. That’s what will motivate him as his career unfolds. “When you are out there emulating the same moves, same approach, same mindset that he passed on to us … that sticks with you,” Booker said. “But it’s not just basketball. ‘Be legendary’ is a message for life.” TIP-INS Suns: Ayton got a technical foul 8:00 before halftime. ... With their 24th win, the Suns have now tied their highest win total in the last five years. ... The Suns had 33 assists and made more baskets (33) in the paint than the Jazz had field goals (32). Jazz: Former Jazz point guard Deron Williams sat courtside. ... Snyder was hit with a technical with 7:11 left in second quarter. ... Mike Conley, Rubio's replacement at the point, had eights and one assist. UP NEXT Suns: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night to open a six-game homestand. Jazz: Host Boston on Wednesday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 25th, 2020

Soto lifts Nats to 4-3 comeback wild-card win over Brewers

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — After all the heartache and close calls, all the early exits, maybe it makes sense that a 20-year-old kid who had never been to the postseason, Juan Soto, would help the Washington Nationals finally advance in the postseason. And maybe, just maybe, it makes sense that it would be this particular edition of the Nationals, a club that went from 12 games under .500 in May to playoff participant, to demonstrate the necessary never-give-up fortitude when things looked bleak. Soto delivered a bases-loaded single against Milwaukee closer Josh Hader that scored three runs with two outs in the eighth inning, thanks in part to an error by rookie outfielder Trent Grisham, and the Nationals came back to beat the Brewers 4-3 in the NL wild-card game Tuesday night. "We started off horrible, as we all know, and we vowed that we wouldn't quit," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said, talking about the year as a whole but sounding like he could have meant this particular evening. "I told the boys, 'I promise you, stay with it, don't quit, this will turn around.' And it did. And here we are today." The Nationals carry a nine-game winning streak into their best-of-five NL Division Series against the league-best Dodgers. Game 1 is Thursday in Los Angeles, and some in the sellout crowd of 42,993 chanted "Beat LA! Beat LA!" as members of the Nationals lingered on the infield with family members. The Nationals, who moved to Washington from Montreal before the 2005 season, had been 0-3 in winner-take-all postseason games — all NLDS Game 5 losses at home, by a grand total of four runs. Indeed, eight of their past nine playoff losses had been by one run apiece. This time, it went the other way. "We've been here a bunch of times. Never kind of broke through," said Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals' first draft pick back in 2005, so someone who has been through all the disappointment. "Finally caught a break tonight." It was Zimmerman's broken-bat bloop single as a pinch hitter that helped load the bases in the eighth off Hader, who took the loss. Hader hit another pinch hitter, Michael A. Taylor, an initial ruling that stood up when the Brewers challenged, according to Major League Baseball, because there wasn't "clear and convincing evidence to overturn the call." Said Hader: "Definitely looked like it got the bat, but it also got his hand." Hader, who had 37 saves this season, also walked Anthony Rendon, filling the bags and bringing Soto to the plate. What was Soto thinking right then? "Just get a base hit up the middle," he said, "and try to help to tie the game." The runner-up for 2018 NL Rookie of the Year did more than that. Soto ripped a 96 mph fastball to right, and the ball skipped under Grisham's glove for an error. That allowed the go-ahead run to cross the plate and Soto to get to second, then turn for third. Eventually, Soto was caught in a rundown to end the inning, but that didn't matter: He had turned a 3-1 deficit into a lead, and so he clapped his hands, then pounded his chest and high-fived third base coach Bob Henley, before shouting "Let's go!" and its Spanish equivalent, "Vamonos!" "The inning was an ugly inning," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Crazy things happen." Grisham, who has appeared in only 51 games in the majors, said the ball "came in with a little topspin, took a funny hop." His teammates tried to console a tearful Grisham with a series of hugs in the clubhouse afterward. "It's gonna sting," he said. After Max Scherzer fell behind 3-0 by giving up homers to Yasmani Grandal in the first and Eric Thames in the second, Stephen Strasburg replaced him in the sixth and threw three scoreless innings to earn the win in the first relief appearance of his major league career, regular season or playoffs. Daniel Hudson pitched the ninth for the save, getting Ben Gamel to fly out to the warning track in center with a man on to end it. "Hats off for us to for continuing to fight, because we know if we could keep it close we could have a chance at the end," said Trea Turner, who got Washington within 3-1 with a solo shot off Brandon Woodruff in the third. It wasn't until the eighth, though, that the Nationals would push more runs across. Just the sort of dramatic turnaround they pulled off this season, going from 19-31 in May to playoff team. And now it continues. "Kind of sums up our season, the way this game went," Zimmerman said. "We'll take it and we'll move on." TRAINER'S ROOM Brewers: 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich, lost to a fractured kneecap on Sept. 10, was in the Brewers' dugout before the game. ... OFs Ryan Braun (calf) and Lorenzo Cain (ankle) were in the starting lineup despite late-season injuries. They came into Tuesday a combined 0 for 29 with 12 Ks against Scherzer and went 0 for 4 while he was in the game. Nationals: C Kurt Suzuki, who missed most of September because of a bothersome right elbow, played nine innings Tuesday. ODD FOURTH The fourth inning was bizarre. Fire alarms — false alarms, thankfully, the Nationals eventually said — rang out. The public address system went completely silent for several minutes, so the Racing Presidents mascot race in the middle of the inning went on without the usual play-by-play, and the initial two Nationals batters in the bottom half went to the plate without any walk-up music or announcement of their names. UP NEXT Left-hander Patrick Corbin will start Game 1 for the Nationals against the Dodgers, who eliminated Washington in Game 5 of their 2016 NLDS. LA won the teams' season series this year 4-2......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 2nd, 2019

UAAP 81: When the sleeping giant named UP finally awakened

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent of their potential when they play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost a podium finish to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure, but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.]   [Updated Notes: The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

What’s in style? Safe shopping.

Rustan’s goes all out with safety measures, including the latest in disinfection and sanitation. THANK YOU FOR SMOKING. Rustan’s utilizes Spanish technology Sanivir, which contains active ingredients proven to kill bacteria, molds, and coronavirus These extraordinary times have completely shifted the definition of so many ordinary words. Take, for example, “weekends.” What does a weekend even mean, when everyone is living their weekends day in, day out? People cooped up inside their homes, Netflix and chilling (or pacing, depending on current anxiety levels), wearing their Natori Fortuna Mandarin all day, as governments all over the world caution to shelter in place.  Or “homecooked.” Everything’s veritably homecooked now—whether it’s cooked in your home, by you, or cooked in somebody else’s home, by an upstart baker you support because she’s your niece, or by your favorite chef, who is left with no choice but to create his oeuvres from his home kitchen.  Or “luxury.” Let’s be honest. Luxury—its BC (before Covid) definition—contained overused keywords like glamour, opulence, indulgence, lavishness. But times, they’ve changed.  Fancy things now seem so unnecessary, so excessive, so out of touch, so…pointless—in a world that has hastily pivoted back to the basics. Sipping tea from a Royal Albert 1980 Roseblush cup doesn’t seem as luxurious as being able to score some actual, hard-to-acquire Gold Yen Zhen tea from TWG, even if you have to gulp it from those ubiquitous bamboo cups.  The pandemic has changed what luxury meant. Now, luxury is the feeling of being safely ensconced in our cocoons, safe from the virus, safe from the madding crowds. Safety is luxury. To be more accurate: Luxury is being safe, while experiencing as few inconveniences as possible. One Home, One HopeMarketers and entrepreneurs are now realizing, after putting in all necessary work to convince their clients to come back, that a sense of safety is beyond physical, it is psychological. It’s Plexiglass with perception, masks coupled with marketing.  Brands, to successfully ride out these challenging times, need to do more than just tick off government checklists—they need to bank on their legacies, their ethos, their abiding sense of connection to loyal clientele.  AT YOUR SERVICE. Rustan’s opened up a Sanivir desk to allow its customers to avail of its method In the travel industry, as it is in the retail industry, it’s about leveraging on your loyal clientele’s sense of home. “Home” is no longer just their place of residence, but their familiar zones. It’s about “feeling at home.” As people start to nervously and grudgingly go out, they will only want to stay and explore sacred spaces where they’ve “felt at home.” Luxury retailer Rustan’s understands this well. “Our goal for the past 70 years has always been to serve the community with great service and to provide a safe environment that feels like home,” Nedy Tantoco, chairman of Rustan Commercial Corporation, says. “In this new chapter, we are committed to the idea of ‘One Home, One Hope.’ As an establishment that has been a second home for many shoppers, we will stay dedicated in implementing thorough safety protocols to ensure that our employees and shoppers are protected and can visit us with ease of mind.” And this is why higher-end businesses like Rustan’s will flourish, despite the financial challenges Covid-19 brings. They have the space, and they obviously can very well afford to put stringent safety measures in place. Precise precautions are in their DNA. These are establishments that cater to the VVIPs, whose exacting standards they’ve always tried to meet.  And it’s not just loyal clients who will seek out these private spaces—the occasional and habitual shopper will gravitate toward businesses that offer them this hushed environment. Going inside cramped little boutiques have lost their novelty, and many will shirk away from places that tend to be crowd favorites.  At Rustan’s, shoppers have always counted on the intimacy of the shopping experience. Unobtrusive but alert sales personnel have always kept their distance as you scan the racks, and there’s always a sense of quiet order—a serene retail floor space, backed by an efficient team who anticipate your needs and who move with the fluidity of a well-directed orchestra.  This efficiency will be in full display when you visit the store again—that is if you still haven’t since it reopened in June.   Opened after three months of closure, the luxury retailer has implemented, in compliance with government regulations, security measures like foot baths, thermal scans, hand sanitation, and mandatory wearing of masks. You’ll also see staff repeatedly disinfecting touchpoints like escalator rails and elevator buttons, and alcohol dispensers are going to be ubiquitous.   RETAIL WONDER. Sanivir is perfect for retail spac-es as smoke is dry and won’t stick to clothing Managers, sales associates, security personnel, and cleaners are all wearing masks, face shields, and goggles. But it’s the little touches that will remind you how they’ve set the bar high—sanitation boxes are placed in fitting rooms for clothes that are not purchased, fitting rooms are sanitized after every use, and store personnel are required to steam the clothes before putting them back on display.  At the payment counter, all credit cards will be sanitized, and packages will be disinfected before being handed to the customer. At the store’s East Café, tables are separated with plastic shields, and so are the wash basins in the restrooms, which will each have a sanitary officer, whose only job is it to disinfect the toilet after every use.  And that’s just the stage. Backstage, it’s just as—if not more—exacting. Introducing Sanivir, the latest in disinfection technology “Even in our employees’ canteens we have placed plastic shields to protect each of our employees while they are having their lunch break,” Nedy says. The company has required all returning employees to be tested for Covid-19.  Rustan’s is also continually disinfected using Sanivir, a technology introduced in the Philippines by chemist Pinky Tobiano of KPP Powers Commodities, who is also CEO of Qualibet Testing Services. “Sanivir is a smoke disinfectant from Spain, which contains glutaraldehyde and orthopenyl phenol—two active ingredients have been tested that can kill bacteria, molds, and viruses that have been proven against coronavirus by laboratories in EU.” PINKY’S PROMISE. Pinky Pe Tobiano, the chemistwho brought the technology to the Philippines “It was great timing and serendipitous that we found the product right before the pandemic escalated to the level it is now,” Pinky tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Sanivir was both an innovative and unique product that addresses the problem we currently have—it is easy to use, cost-friendly, effective, and safe.” It is a perfect disinfectant for a retail space—it only utilizes smoke, is dry, and won’t stick to clothing. “When Pinky introduced to me her disinfection program, I immediately asked her to do my father’s house and my own house,” Nedy shares. “I was so satisfied with the service that I asked her if she could open a service desk at Rustan’s to allow our customers the chance to avail of this disinfecting method. It’s so easy. Any housewife can do it. It allows us the ease of disinfecting without a fuss. It also works for our cars. The service desk has been open for two weeks at Rustan’s Ayala Avenue. And I am happy to say that it has met full acceptance with quite a number of Rustan’s customers.” Its ease of use is an advantage. “Just open the can, remove the plastic cover of the wick, set on a flat surface, light the wick, and leave for the next six to eight hours. The smoking process lasts for only one to two minutes, then disinfection takes place for the next six to eight hours,” Pinky says. “That’s good for 14 days.” And the cost? Surprisingly very minimal.  “One can of Sanivir of 25 grams is P1,750 and it’s good for 14 days for a room of 30 to 50 square meters,” Pinky says. “The cost per day is only a P125 investment. If you have five people in the room, the investment per person per day is only P25.”    But for those who are not in the mood to shop in-store, Rustan’s online service has amped up its service. Apart from its website, fortuitously launched a year ago, you can also tap the Personal Shoppers on Call Service, where sales associates respond to you on Viber, after which you can have your items delivered to you, or picked up by the curbside. Nedy shares, “And very soon, we will launch our Rustan’s Concierge Service, where customers can call a single number, and will be immediately assigned a personal shopper to attend to their needs.”  Now, many ways words and concepts are redefined in these troubled times—but having your own personal shopper, one who’ll do your shopping for you as you leisurely read the latest Kevin Kwan Sex and Vanity book in the comfort of your home?  We’re guessing that that’s a definition of luxury that won’t likely ever change—unprecedented crisis or not.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

Trail Blazers rally to force OT, beat Grizzlies 140-135

By The Associated Press LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — CJ McCollum scored 33 points, teaming with Damian Lillard for 11 of Portland’s 16 in overtime, and the Trail Blazers pulled out a desperately needed victory to resume their season by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 140-135 on Friday. Lillard finished with 29 points and nine assists to help the Trail Blazers boost their hopes for a seventh consecutive playoff appearance. Carmelo Anthony added 21 points as Portland moved within 2 1/2 games of the Grizzlies for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. McCollum started fast, scoring 19 points in the first half, and finished strong with two crucial 3-pointers in overtime. The first one to open the extra period gave Portland the lead for good, and he added six assists. Jaren Jackson Jr. had 33 points and rookie Ja Morant added 22 points and 11 assists for Memphis. Memphis rallied from a 13-point, third-quarter deficit to take an 11-point lead, then gave it away almost as quickly. When the Grizzlies recovered to take a 112-103 lead with 6:01 left in regulation, it appeared the Grizzlies might pad their lead in the standings. Instead, Anthony’s 3 with 37.5 seconds left tied it at 124 and Morant fell on a last-second fast break, sending the game to overtime. MAGIC 128, NETS 118 Evan Fournier scored 24 points, Nikola Vucevic had 22 and Orlando picked up where it left off before the NBA season was suspended, beating Brooklyn. Playing as the designated road team not far from their arena, the Magic looked right at home at Disney — whose name they wear as their jersey patch. They extended their winning streak to four and moved back ahead of the Nets into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn also won its last three before the stoppage, but the decimated team that returned is a shell of the one that beat the Lakers in Los Angeles in its final game. The Nets are missing Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince after they tested positive for the coronavirus. They are already playing without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who had season-ending surgery. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 24 points for the Nets. SUNS 125, WIZARDS 112 Devin Booker scored 27 points, Deandre Ayton added 24 points and 12 rebounds and Phoenix beat Washington. Booker made all nine of his free throws and the Suns hit 30 of 32 from the line. They shot 52% from the field, with Ayton hitting two of three 3-pointers and going 11 of 14 overall. Rui Hachimura scored 21 points and Jerome Robinson added 20 for the Wizards on coach Scott Brooks’ 55th birthday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 1st, 2020

Antetokounmpo, Bucks hold off Celtics in restart opener

By The Associated Press LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo converted a tiebreaking three-point play with 1:28 left on an overturned call that kept him in the game and helped the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Boston Celtics 119-112 on Friday night. Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in the Bucks’ first game in the restart. Milwaukee improved the NBA’s best record to 54-12 and moved within a victory of clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the second straight year. Boston overcame a poor start to tie it at 107. Antetokounmpo was then called for a charging foul, appearing to negate his basket and giving him a sixth foul. The call was changed to a blocking foul on Boston’s Marcus Smart after review, and Antetokounmpo made the free throw to make it 110-107. Khris Middleton then knocked down a 3-pointer for a six-point advantage. Middleton added 18 points for the Bucks, who played without Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton while they work on their conditioning after testing positive for the coronavirus. Marvin Williams sat out with a strained left groin. Smart scored 23 points for the Celtics and Jaylen Brown had 22, but star forward Jayson Tatum had a nightmarish restart. He had five points on 2-for-18 shooting — though he actually only made one basket. Kemba Walker scored 16 points but played just 19 minutes as the Celtics look to keep the All-Star guard healthy after he’s been battling a sore knee. TRAIL BLAZERS 140, GRIZZLIES 135, OT CJ McCollum scored 33 points, teaming with Damian Lillard for 11 of Portland’s 16 in overtime, and the Trail Blazers pulled out a desperately needed victory to resume their season by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 140-135 on Friday. Lillard finished with 29 points and nine assists to help the Trail Blazers boost their hopes for a seventh consecutive playoff appearance. Carmelo Anthony added 21 points as Portland moved within 2 1/2 games of the Grizzlies for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. McCollum started fast, scoring 19 points in the first half, and finished strong with two crucial 3-pointers in overtime. The first one to open the extra period gave Portland the lead for good, and he added six assists. Jaren Jackson Jr. had 33 points and rookie Ja Morant added 22 points and 11 assists for Memphis. Memphis rallied from a 13-point, third-quarter deficit to take an 11-point lead, then gave it away almost as quickly. When the Grizzlies recovered to take a 112-103 lead with 6:01 left in regulation, it appeared the Grizzlies might pad their lead in the standings. Instead, Anthony’s 3 with 37.5 seconds left tied it at 124 and Morant fell on a last-second fast break, sending the game to overtime. MAGIC 128, NETS 118 Evan Fournier scored 24 points, Nikola Vucevic had 22 and Orlando picked up where it left off before the NBA season was suspended, beating Brooklyn. Playing as the designated road team not far from their arena, the Magic looked right at home at Disney — whose name they wear as their jersey patch. They extended their winning streak to four and moved back ahead of the Nets into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn also won its last three before the stoppage, but the decimated team that returned is a shell of the one that beat the Lakers in Los Angeles in its final game. The Nets are missing Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince after they tested positive for the coronavirus. They are already playing without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who had season-ending surgery. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 24 points for the Nets. SPURS 129, KINGS 120 DeMar DeRozan scored 17 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to help San Antonio beat Sacramento. Before the game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and assistant Becky Hammon stood for the national anthem while the remainder of the coaches and players for both teams knelt. DeRozan shot 10 of 13 and had 10 assists, and the Spurs shot 53.3% from the field. Derrick White matched a career high with 26 points in San Antonio’s first game of the restart. The Spurs needed to find offense because LaMarcus Aldridge, the team’s No. 2 scorer, had shoulder surgery in April and will not play in the restart. De’Aaron Fox scored a career-high 39 points for the Kings. SUNS 125, WIZARDS 112 Devin Booker scored 27 points, Deandre Ayton added 24 points and 12 rebounds and Phoenix beat Washington. Booker made all nine of his free throws and the Suns hit 30 of 32 from the line. They shot 52% from the field, with Ayton hitting two of three 3-pointers and going 11 of 14 overall. Rui Hachimura scored 21 points and Jerome Robinson added 20 for the Wizards on coach Scott Brooks’ 55th birthday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 1st, 2020

Lapu mayor uses funeral sets to remind public of the dangers of COVID-19

CEBU CITY, Philippines — “Stay at home aron dili ka masulod sa lungon.”  (Stay at home so you don’t end up inside the coffin) These were the words printed on a black streamer that was carried by a funeral car while it paraded the streets of Lapu-Lapu City on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, in an […] The post Lapu mayor uses funeral sets to remind public of the dangers of COVID-19 appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 7th, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent when the play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.]   [Updated Notes: The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent when the play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.] The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2020

For these athletes, this is a spring break they don t want

By ERIC OLSON AP Sports Writer OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Creighton right-hander Ben Dotzler was supposed to be in the bullpen at TD Ameritrade Park this weekend, readying himself to pitch against Northern Colorado. Molly Little, who plays lacrosse for Denver, expected to be on the road for a much anticipated match against Michigan, the team the Pioneers beat to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last year. Avrey Steiner thought she would be with her softball teammates for Illinois' first home games of the season against Bowling Green and Green Bay. Everything changed for thousands of college athletes when the NCAA announced Thursday it was canceling all spring sports championships, along with remaining winter championships, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Conferences followed, saying they were temporarily or permanently shutting down their regular seasons. Suddenly, athletes who put in long hours juggling commitments to their sports and academics had lots of free time. And they're miserable. “We didn't work a whole year,” Dotzler said, “to play 15 games.” Little said she woke up at 6:30 every morning to go to the training room to rehab an injury and stretch before lifting weights and running — all before going to a 2 1/2-hour practice and then her classes. “There's nothing that can prepare you for the feeling of your season being done, and it's not because you lost in NCAAs,” Little said. “I spent many hours crying with teammates. You work your whole life to get to this point, to play on this big stage, and to have it taken from you is devastating.” Steiner said she was doing fine emotionally until she started cleaning out her locker Friday. “That really got me,” she said. “A lot of people are going to say, 'Oh, yeah, this is like a week off or getting a couple days off. I guarantee you it's going to hit me and other people in the coming weeks.” Some good news arrived on Friday when the NCAA informed schools that spring athletes would be given another year of eligibility to make up for their lost season. Details must be worked out. States Fort, a senior on the Coastal Carolina men's golf team, hopes to return for another year even though he'll graduate in May. “I would try to make it work with grad courses,” he said. “I would do everything in my power as long as the finances are there. I would love to come back and play with these guys." Not all seniors will be able to take advantage of being granted an extra year. Some already have jobs lined up. Others have been accepted into graduate programs at other schools. There are athletes who currently are on partial scholarships, and they may not be able to afford paying the difference for another year. Though the eligibility extension offers some consolation, it will be impossible for athletes to duplicate the experiences of playing with their 2020 teams. The Richmond women's lacrosse team, for example, was off to a program-best 7-0 start and ranked in the top 20 nationally for the first time since 2008. “We just accelerated into the season and started off so hot,” senior goaltender Megan Gianforte said. "Personally, I thought I was peaking this year. I felt I was in the best condition for this season. That's why I was so excited for it. We brought in so much talent, which helps me defensively. “I'm leaving Richmond now with such unfinished business, knowing all the potential we could have had. I just know how much more we have to give.” Now the spring athletes are left to wonder what they'll do with themselves. “It is just heartbreaking to see these kids face this unfortunate situation,” longtime University of San Francisco baseball coach Nino Giarratano said. “They are too young.” Creighton sophomore Tommy Steier said he and Dotzler, his roommate, have been spending a lot of time hanging out with teammates, rehashing old stories and plotting their immediate futures. Creighton isn't allowing athletes to use the school's training facilities during the shutdown. Baseball players will work out on their own and prepare to join summer teams in a few months — if the summer leagues operate. Fort, the Coastal Carolina golfer, said a temporary sports stoppage would have been more appropriate, followed by a reassessment of the situation. He wishes the NCAA would have waited before canceling championships scheduled for months from now. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the virus. “Obviously I'm biased because I play a small outdoor sport where spectators aren't much of an issue,” Fort said. “It was kind of quick and a little rash and short-sighted on the NCAA's part, especially to blanket cancel all sports. "I can understand basketball. That's a spectator sport where you have a ton of people constantly rubbing shoulders. I can almost understand baseball. But sports like (men's) volleyball, softball, golf and lacrosse don't have as much of a pronounced fan base.” Creighton's baseball team was busing back to Omaha from Minnesota on Thursday when the players' Twitter feeds started showing conference basketball tournaments being canceled. An hour after the players got home they received a text telling them to return to campus for a meeting. Steier and Dotzler said everyone sensed what was coming. As coach Ed Servais broke the news, seniors, who wouldn't know for another 24 hours they would be allowed to come back next year, broke into tears. “It was hard to see all of them knowing they were losing what they love to do,” Steier said. Gianforte, the Richmond lacrosse goalie, said she and her teammates had a feeling as early as Wednesday afternoon their season might be in jeopardy. That's when the Ivy League announced it was closing down spring sports. “I think the other conferences were feeling some peer pressure,” she said. Then the NBA announced Wednesday night it was suspending its season. “That," Gianforte said, “is when we knew we were goners.” ___ AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 15th, 2020

Harden s 37 points leads Rockets over Knicks 123-112

By KRISTIE RIEKEN AP Sports Writer HOUSTON (AP) — For James Harden, it wasn't a choice. He had to be at Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial service in Los Angeles on Monday even though his Houston Rockets had a game that night. “It was everything just to pay my respects," Harden said. “To show my condolences to the family. Obviously it's a tough time for them, for the entire world, so it was a must that I be there and show my respects." Harden, Russell Westbrook and P.J. Tucker arrived at the arena about 70 minutes before tip-off after attending the memorial service. Harden scored 37 points, and the Rockets beat the New York Knicks 123-112 for their fourth straight victory. “It's unbelievable what he can do tired or distracted and not in his routine but he just keeps plugging away," coach Mike D'Antoni said. “That's why we value him. He doesn't miss games or minutes and he just plays." Harden had 31 by halftime, helping Houston to a 72-57 lead at the break. He cooled down eventually, but his first-half work put the Rockets in control against the struggling Knicks, who lost their fourth in a row. He looked worn out after the game as he prepared to spend his first night at home since before the NBA All-Star Game. “Long very, very emotional day," he said. Harden was asked what he'd remember most about Bryant, who was killed along with his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash last month. “Just his competitive spirit," Harden said. “He always talked about your ... path that you're on and how there's always going to be tough times. There's going to be times when you don't want to work hard or you just don't feel like it, but those are the times you have to push through." Harden, who had a career-high 61 points against the Knicks in January 2019, didn't score in the fourth quarter before sitting down for good with about three minutes left and the game well in hand. He also finished with nine assists and six rebounds. Westbrook was expected to play against the Knicks, but was scratched with a sore thumb. The Rockets were up still up by 15 to start the fourth quarter and pushed the lead to 111-91 with about 9½ minutes left after an 8-2 run, highlighted by five points from Austin Rivers. The Knicks got 21 points from RJ Barrett, and Julius Randle added 17 points with 12 rebounds. “You have a team that can attack you in so many different ways," Knicks coach Mike Miller said. “You have to make them earn everything and I think they got too many easy ones early." BIG-TIME BENCH The Rockets got 47 points from their reserves, led by Ben McLemore's 17. Starter Danuel House raved about the value of such contributions from the backups. “It makes your team very dangerous," he said. “If your starting five is capable of putting up points and your bench is capable (too), the team can stay consistent." TIP-INS Knicks: G Elfrid Payton missed his second straight game with a sore right ankle. ... Dennis Smith Jr. had 15 points. ... New York made 11 of 29 3-pointers. Rockets: G Eric Gordon started in place of Westbrook and had 16 points in his second game back after missing three games with a bruised left leg. But he left early in the fourth quarter with a sore knee. UP NEXT Knicks: Visit Charlotte on Wednesday night. Rockets: Host the Grizzlies on Wednesday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 25th, 2020

FIBA By the Numbers: The future is now for Gilas

Gilas Pilipinas' new era is off to a fine start thanks to the national team's impressive road win against Indonesia to open the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers. With a relatively younger group than that previous iterations, Gilas took a while to get going but got the job done without too much trouble in the fourth quarter nonetheless. Pending new announcements for their cancelled home game against Thailand, the Indonesia road win is Gilas' last game and we'll have to wait a good nine months before the national team takes the court again. [Related: FIBA: Thirdy stars as Gilas pulls away late in win over Indonesia] With that, here's a nice ol' By the Numbers to help ease us through a much-needed Gilas break.   23 Total points for Thirdy Ravena in his first game back in Gilas Pilipinas. Thirdy just added to his stock as the most coveted Pinoy prospect outside of Kai Sotto with this performance with the national team. Ravena led Gilas with 23 points, all in the first three quarters of the win against Indonesia. Up until the national team opened the floodgates in the fourth quarter, it was Thirdy that was getting buckets for Gilas, keeping Indonesia at bay. On top of his 23 points, Thirdy also had eight rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. The future is now for the former Blue Eagle.   11 Total players in the scoring column for Gilas Pilipinas in the win against Indonesia. Thirdy's scoring outburst kept the Philippines ahead, but Gilas' balanced attack eventually overwhelmed the hosts in Sunday's 30-point win. RR Pogoy got hot in the fourth and finished with 16 points while CJ Perez, Kiefer Ravena, and Juan Gomez de Liano all scored in double figures as well. Only Isaac Go didn't score for Gilas but he did have seven rebounds in almost eight minutes of action.   15 Total steals for Gilas Pilipinas against Indonesia. Interim head coach Mark Dickel likes his team to play defense and that was pretty evident in the way Gilas was aggressive in their first game to start the Asia Cup qualifiers. Gilas recorded 15 steals in a game where Indonesia had 16 turnovers. Seven players had at least one takeaway with CJ Perez and Kiefer Ravena leading the national team with four steals each. Dwight Ramos and Poy Erram had two apiece.   32 Largest lead of the night for Gilas Pilipinas. Indonesia was within four, 51-55, late in the third before Gilas ended the quarter with a 12-2 blitz for a 67-53 lead. Come the fourth quarter, RR Pogoy started out hot and Kiefer Ravena and CJ Perez helped add the finishing touches as the national team cruised to a big road win in the Asia Cup qualifiers.   26 Total fouls on Gilas Pilipinas. It wasn't all smooth sailing for Gilas as the Pinoys were called for a grand total of 26 fouls Sunday. Early penalty situation in the second and third quarters allowed Indonesia to stick around as they connected on 20 out of 23 free throws. Eight Gilas players had at least two fouls though no player fouled out.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 24th, 2020

Magic snap Lakers 9-game winning streak in 119-118 thriller

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Markelle Fultz hit two big layups in the final minute while scoring 21 points during his second career triple-double, and the Orlando Magic snapped the Los Angeles Lakers' nine-game winning streak with a 119-118 victory Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Fultz added 11 rebounds and 10 assists, while Aaron Gordon had 21 points and a late go-ahead basket as the Magic became the first sub-.500 team to beat the Western Conference-leading Lakers this season despite blowing a 21-point lead in the second half. Wes Iwundu scored a career-high 19 points, and Nikola Vucevic scored seven of his 19 points in the fourth quarter of the Magic's eighth win in 12 games. LeBron James had 19 points and matched his career high with 19 assists before missing a tying 3-pointer with 3 seconds left for the Lakers (33-8), who hit the halfway point of their regular season with their first loss since Christmas. Quinn Cook scored a season-high 22 points, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer, while Troy Daniels added a season-high 17 for the Lakers. Los Angeles finally lost in its fourth straight game without injured superstar Anthony Davis. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also scored 17 points for the Lakers in their final home game before a five-game road trip while the Grammy Awards take over Staples Center. The Lakers erased an 87-66 deficit early in the fourth quarter with an impressive rally, but the Magic answered and traded big scores down the stretch. Gordon's basket with 2:03 left reclaimed the lead for Orlando. Cook and James hit late 3-pointers that trimmed the Magic's lead to one point, but Fultz drove for a clutch layup with 15 seconds left to put Orlando up 118-115, and James' tying attempt went in and out. The Magic played without injured regulars Evan Fournier, Michael Carter-Williams and D.J. Augustin in their third stop on a six-game road trip. Davis remained out of the lineup since he bruised his backside eight days ago, but the six-time All-Star likely won't be sidelined much longer. Iwundu was outstanding for Orlando while starting in place of Fournier, who sat out with a bruised right quadriceps. The speedy guard surpassed his previous career high early in the third quarter. Orlando jumped to a 20-point lead in the second quarter with an impressive scoring flurry against the Lakers' normally solid defense. The Magic had seven players with at least seven points in their exuberant first half. The Lakers trimmed their deficit to seven points at halftime, but then gave up a 21-4 run by the Magic. The Lakers responded with a 28-6 rally, but couldn't finish. TIP-INS Magic: Fournier's unavailability was determined shortly before game time. ... Augustin sat out for the second time in three games with a bruised left knee. ... Carter-Williams has missed 12 straight games with a sprained left shoulder. Lakers: G Rajon Rondo missed his second straight game with a broken right ring finger. ... Alex Caruso went to the locker room after he got accidentally smacked in the face while stealing the ball from Mo Bamba in the second quarter. A concussion evaluation was inconclusive, and the valuable backup guard didn't return to the game. He will be re-evaluated Thursday (Friday, PHL time). UP NEXT Magic: Stay at Staples Center to face the Clippers on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). Lakers: Visit the Houston Rockets on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) to open a stretch of five road games in eight days......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2020

Lakers block 20 shots, hold off Pistons 106-99 in wild 4th

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James had 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, and Anthony Davis had eight of the Los Angeles Lakers' 20 blocked shots in their fifth straight victory, 106-99 over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Davis scored 11 of his 24 points in the final 3:40 and added 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who blew a late 11-point lead in a wild fourth quarter and nearly lost to a team with a losing record for the first time all season. Instead, Alex Caruso scored 13 points and the Lakers finished one blocked shot short of their franchise record while they hung on to remain unbeaten since Christmas, when they had a four-game skid. Los Angeles had 21 blocks against Denver in April 1982. James finished with his 90th career triple-double, his ninth of the season and his second in five days. Derrick Rose scored 28 points and former Lakers guard Svi Mykhailiuk had 14 — one off his career high — for the Pistons, who have lost nine of 11 despite a strong effort against the Western Conference leaders. Andre Drummond added 12 points on 2-of-13 shooting and 18 rebounds before fouling out late, and the Pistons finished the California portion of their six-game road trip with a heartbreaker. The Lakers scored the first 15 points of the fourth quarter in a rally spearheaded by James and Caruso, turning a four-point deficit into a 90-79 lead. After finally scoring nearly five minutes into the quarter, Detroit strung together nine straight points and a 13-1 run to reclaim the lead with 4:51 left. James' driving, two-handed dunk put the Lakers up 96-92 with 3:22 left, and Davis was unstoppable down the stretch. After Rose hit a 3-pointer with 1:52 left to trim LA's lead to one point, Davis replied with a corner 3, and Dwight Howard got the Lakers' 20th blocked shot moments later. Howard finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Avery Bradley sprained his right ankle shortly before halftime and didn't return for the Lakers. The starting guard missed 13 games earlier in this season with a hairline fracture in his leg. The Lakers blocked eight shots in the first quarter alone, including four by Davis and three by JaVale McGee, who finished with six. Los Angeles blocked 12 shots and held Detroit to 35% shooting in the first half, but Rose and Drummond still kept the Pistons close. Detroit also stayed in it by making its first 21 consecutive free throws until Drummond missed midway through the third quarter. The Pistons still took their first lead late in the third on back-to-back 3-pointers by Mykhailiuk and Langston Galloway. TIP-INS Pistons: Blake Griffin missed his fourth straight game with knee soreness. The injury forced the longtime Clippers star to miss both of Detroit's games at Staples Center this season. ... Coach Dwane Casey got a technical foul in the third quarter for arguing the severity of a foul call against James. ... Detroit again had five players out with injuries, leaving an 11-man active roster. Lakers: Caruso had a strong game off the bench after missing Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) game with tightness in his right calf. ... Ohio State defensive end Chase Young watched the game from courtside next to agent Rich Paul, who represents Davis and James. Young announced Friday (Saturday, PHL time) he'll enter the NFL draft, where he could be the first overall pick. ... Coach Frank Vogel got a technical foul between the third and fourth quarters. INJURED LAKERS Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both went to the Lakers' locker room shortly before halftime after apparently rolling their ankles. Caldwell-Pope walked it off and returned in the third quarter, while Bradley's sprain raised worries about the Lakers' perimeter depth, although X-rays were negative. UP NEXT Pistons: Visit Cleveland on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) to begin a home-and-home set with the Cavaliers. Lakers: Host the New York Knicks on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2020

San Francisco roars back into playoffs as NFC s top seed

By Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press For the first time since 1997, the San Francisco 49ers are the top seed in the NFC playoffs, a stunning turnaround for a team that owned the second overall pick in the NFL draft just nine months ago. After four straight losing campaigns, including only 10 wins in coach Kyle Shanahan's first two seasons, the 49ers went from 4-12 to 13-3 this season. They emerged as the top team in the NFC thanks a big-play offense and a vastly improved defense sparked by Nick Bosa, whom they chose with that No. 2 draft pick. They earned the top seed with a thrilling finale at Seattle when rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw made a stop inches from the goal line, earning his team a week off and up to two home games in the 49ers' quest to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in seven years. "It feels good to get where we're at," Shanahan said. "Our goal was to get in the playoffs, it feels much better with being the one seed. By now everyone knows there is only one team that is happy at the end of year." The Green Bay Packers secured the other first-round bye. The Seahawks visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and the Minnesota Vikings visit the New Orleans Saints in the other NFC wild-card game. 1. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (13-3). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 3. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 29, 49-26 over San Diego Chargers on Jan. 29, 1995. Last year: 4-12. First trip to NFC playoffs since 2013. YEA: The 49ers have won different ways with the defense dominating early and the offense playing better late. The returns of edge rusher Dee Ford and S Jaquiski Tartt should help the defense return to its early season form. If QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense can maintain its play from the second half when the team ranked second in plays of at least 20 yards, the Niners should be tough to beat. NAY: The Niners will still be missing at least one key defensive piece at the start of the playoffs in LB Kwon Alexander and several depth pass rushers also are out for the year. That could limit the improvement on defense and there is little playoff experience on offense with WR Emmanuel Sanders the only key skill position player who has been in the postseason. Garoppolo has improved the past few weeks but still has a propensity for turnovers, which could prove costly. SAY: "We knew going into the year we had a chance to be pretty good with what we had on paper and watching the guys throughout training camp. We knew that pretty well after the first five games, we could feel it. Then you go through a number of injuries and stuff and you never know how you're going to be able to fully handle that. That's what I have been impressed the most with the guys, no one has wavered." — Shanahan. 2. GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 5. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 45, 31-25 over Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 6, 2011. Last year: 6-9-1. First trip to NFC playoffs since 2016. YEA: RB Aaron Jones is the team MVP. The third-year pro is Green Bay's first 1,000-yard rusher since Eddie Lacy in 2014 and his 19 total touchdowns (16 rushing, three receiving) tied Carolina's Christian McCaffrey for the league high. In the Packers' three losses this season, Jones averaged fewer than 42 scrimmage yards. If first-year coach Matt LaFleur gets Jones the ball early and often and QB Aaron Rodgers can add in a splash of his old magic, Green Bay could find itself in Miami in February. NAY: Though Rodgers has had flashes of his old greatness, the 36-year-old two-time MVP has played far below his soaring standards. Rodgers had a passer rating of less than 80.0 in each of his last three starts and had a career-high 16 overthrows against Detroit in the regular-season finale. If the Packers are going to win another Super Bowl, they're going to need the Rodgers of old, not the old Rodgers. SAY: "We haven't always made it easy and we haven't always made it pretty, but for the most part, we've found a way to win every game. You have to say a lot about the resiliency of this team, because we've gotten ourselves into a lot of different scenarios, but we always believe we can go out there and put up a bunch of points in a hurry." -- WR Davante Adams 3. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-3). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 2. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 44, beat Indianapolis 31-17 on Feb. 7, 2010. Last year: No. 1 seed, beat Philadelphia Eagles 20-14 at home in divisional round, lost to Los Angeles Rams 26-23 (OT) in NFC championship at home. Third consecutive trip to NFC playoffs. YEA: QB Drew Brees, who'll turn 41 on Jan. 15, has been in vintage form lately with a big assist from the NFL's top WR Michael Thomas. Brees has passed for 1,188 yards and 15 TDs in the past four games, evidence of his strong comeback from a thumb surgery that sidelined him five games. Thomas racked up a single-season record 149 catches for 1,725 yards and nine TDs. The Saints' eight turnovers are an NFL record low for a season. New Orleans had 51 sacks, third most in the NFL and ranked fourth against the run. NAY: While the Saints don't have many weaknesses, they can be their own worst enemy. Their 120 penalties for 1,036 yards ranked sixth worst in the NFL in both categories and their minus-323 net penalty yards ranked second worst. New Orleans' secondary has been beset with late-season injuries. Both starting safeties and a starting cornerback did not play in Week 17. SAY: "Down the stretch here I think we've been an ascending team. We've been playing a little bit better each and every week, despite the fact that we have had some guys go down." — Brees 4. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-7). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 11. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 52, 41-33 over New England Patriots, Feb. 4, 2018. Last year: No. 6 seed, beat Chicago Bears 16-15 in wild-card game on road, lost to New Orleans Saints 20-14 in divisional round on road. Third consecutive trip to NFC playoffs. YEA: The Eagles are hungry and Carson Wentz is determined to do what Nick Foles did in his absence two years ago — win a Super Bowl. If Wentz continues playing at the MVP level he displayed in December, the Eagles are dangerous. They have a strong rushing attack that can control the clock and an experienced defense that shuts down the run and forces teams to be one-dimensional. NAY: Seattle beat the Eagles in Philadelphia 17-9 on Nov. 24. Russell Wilson is 4-0 against Philly. The Eagles have been riddled by injuries and finished the regular season without seven starters on offense. Three of those players could return to face the Seahawks but it's likely two will be game-time decisions. SAY: "In the last couple games, (Wentz) has really put this team on his back and said, 'Hey, follow me.' And I think that's a sign of growth, a sign of maturity. I spent eight years in Green Bay with Brett Favre, and that's what Brett did. Brett just put the team on his back when the chips were against us and just said, 'Follow me.' And that's what Carson can do." — Coach Doug Pederson. 5. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 6. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 48, 43-8 over Denver Broncos on Feb. 2, 2014. Last year: No. 5 seed, lost to Dallas Cowboys 24-22 in wild-card game on road. Second consecutive trip to NFC playoffs. YEA: Unlike years past, if the Seahawks are going to make a deep playoff run, it's going to be because of QB Russell Wilson. He's coming off the second-best season in terms of passing yards, completion percentage and a career-low five interceptions. Wilson's never been asked to carry Seattle in the playoffs but if he can rediscover the success from when he was in the MVP conversation with Lamar Jackson, Seattle has enough other parts to make some noise. NAY: Injuries have stacked up for Seattle. The Seahawks lost their top three running backs, a starting edge rusher, tight end and center to season-ending injuries. Jadeveon Clowney is playing through a painful core muscle injury. Bobby Wagner has a bad ankle as does safety Quandre Diggs. Left tackle Duane Brown underwent knee surgery after Week 16. Eventually the lack of some key stars is likely to catch up with Seattle. SAY: "We have everything we want in the locker room. We have everything that we could need. We have everything that it takes. So it's been a tremendous season. It's been a battle so far. It's been a long one, but it's been a great one so far. The good thing is it's a refresh button, you get to hit the refresh button, start over, 0-0, see how far we can go." — Wilson. 6. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6). AP Pro32 Ranking: No. 8. No Lombardis. Last year: 8-7-1. First trip to NFC playoffs since 2017. YEA: The Vikings have an experienced, accomplished defense that can pose problems for elite QBs and clever play-callers on the other side. The Vikings were sixth in the NFL with an average of 18.9 points allowed and fourth with 31 takeaways. Their play-action passing attack with Pro Bowl RB Dalvin Cook poses a dual threat and QB Kirk Cousins throwing deep to WR Stefon Diggs, can be awfully dangerous, too. NAY: The downside on defense is the erosion of the pass coverage. After ranking in the top three in passing yards allowed in the league in each of the past three years, the Vikings dropped to 15th in 2019. They also fell to 19th in the NFL in third down conversions allowed after leading the league in 2017 and 18. The offense carries its own reasons to doubt a playoff run, with Cousins never having won a postseason game in the NFL and a recent dud at home against division rival Green Bay. SAY: "I know it's been done before. Why not us?" — coach Mike Zimmer on the prospect of winning three road games to reach the Super Bowl. ___ AP Pro Football Writers Josh Dubow, Rob Maaddi and Dave Campbell and AP Sports Writers Tim Booth, Brett Martel and Keith Jenkins contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2020

The King reigns: LeBron James is AP’s male athlete of decade

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press He left Cleveland for Miami, finally became a champion, went back to his beloved northeast Ohio, delivered on another title promise, then left for the Los Angeles Lakers and the next challenge. He played in eight straight finals. No NBA player won more games or more MVP awards over the last 10 years than he did. He started a school. He married his high school sweetheart. “That’s all?” LeBron James asked, feigning disbelief. No, that’s not all. Those were just some highlights of the last 10 years. There were many more, as the man called “King” spent the last decade reigning over all others — with no signs of slowing down. James is The Associated Press male athlete of the decade, adding his name to a list that includes Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky and Arnold Palmer. He was a runaway winner in a vote of AP member sports editors and AP beat writers, easily outpacing runner-up Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. “You add another 10 years of learning and adversity, pitfalls, good, great, bad, and any smart person who wants to grow will learn from all those experiences,” James, who turns 35 Monday, told the AP. “A decade ago, I just turned 25. I’m about to be 35 and I’m just in a better (place) in my life and have a better understanding of what I want to get out of life.” Usain Bolt of Jamaica was third for dominating the sprints at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, soccer superstar Lionel Messi was fourth and Michael Phelps — the U.S. swimmer who retired as history’s most decorated Olympian with 28 medals, 23 gold — was fifth. James was revealed as the winner Sunday, one day after Serena Williams was announced as the AP’s female athlete of the decade. In his 17th season, he’s on pace to lead the league in assists for the first time while remaining among the NBA’s scoring leaders. “When LeBron James is involved,” Denver coach Michael Malone said, “I’m never surprised.” Including playoffs, no one in the NBA scored more points than James in the last 10 years. He started the decade 124th on the league’s all-time scoring list. He’s now about to pass Kobe Bryant for No. 3. No. 2 Karl Malone and No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are within reach. Is Abdul-Jabbar in his sights? Is catching him the new decade’s goal? “I would be lying if I said I don’t see it,” James said. “Obviously I’m not trying to say, ‘OK, well if I play this amount of time, if I average this’ ... I’m not doing that because I’ve never done that with my career. I’ve always just kind of let it happen. Whatever happens, happens. But I see it. I do see it.” His work ethic, even now, makes even those closest to him marvel. Here’s a typical day this past summer for James, who remains obsessed with working even though fame and fortune found him long ago: He’d wake up at 3 a.m. and be at the Warner Bros. lot by 3:45 — where a weight room and court, built just for him, were waiting. He’d be lifting by 4 a.m., getting shots up by 5:30 and be ready to start another day of shooting the remake of “Space Jam” that he has been planning for years by 7 a.m. “That’s who he is,” said Mike Mancias, one of the longest-tenured and most trusted members of James’ inner circle, tasked for more than 15 years with keeping James fit. “He does whatever it takes when it comes to fulfilling his commitments to everything — especially his game and his craft.” The 2010s for James started with “The Decision,” the widely criticized televised announcement of his choice to leave Cleveland for Miami. (Lost in the hubbub: The show raised more than $2.5 million for charity.) He was with the Heat for four years, went to the NBA Finals all four times with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, finally won the title in 2012 — “it’s about damn time,” he said at the trophy celebration — and led the way in a Game 7 win over San Antonio to go back-to-back the following year. “He grew immensely here as a leader,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He impacted winning as much as with his leadership as he did with his talent. I think that was the most important thing he learned with us. And he’s been able to take that to different franchises and continue using that as a template.” Cleveland was devastated when he left. It forgave him. James returned home in 2014, took Cleveland to four consecutive finals, then led the Cavaliers to the 2016 title and came up with one of the biggest plays of his life by pulling off a chase-down block of Golden State’s Andre Iguodala in the final seconds of Game 7 of that series. And in 2018, he was off to LA. Going Hollywood made so much sense — he’s making movies, has a production company, has a program called “The Shop” as part of his ‘Uninterrupted’ platform featuring an array of guests from Drake to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed a bill on the show that will allow college athletes to get paid for the use of their likeness and sign endorsement deals. “There’s a lot of moments from this decade that would be up there, winning the two Miami championships, winning a championship in Cleveland, the chase-down block,” James said. “But the best moment? Definitely marrying Savannah. That would be No. 1.” James and longtime partner Savannah Brinson got married six years ago. They already had two sons — both are very good basketball players already — and added a daughter in 2014. James also spent most of the last decade as a lightning rod for critics. He used his voice often on social matters, speaking out after the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and campaigning for Hillary Clinton. He supported Colin Kaepernick’s methods of protesting police brutality and racial injustice. Most recently, he was criticized by many — including top U.S. lawmakers — for his remarks after Houston general manager Daryl Morey sparked a massive rift between the NBA and China by sending out a tweet supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. “I don’t live in regret,” James said. “There’s no moment in this last decade that I wish I could have back. If a situation was bad or you feel like you could have done better, then I learned from it.” He doesn’t know how much longer he’ll play. He laments missing time with his children. His “I Promise” school that opened in 2018 in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, has been an immediate success story, and he wants to see that enterprise continue growing. Some love him. Some don’t. He doesn’t mind. “When you believe in your calling or you believe in yourself, then it doesn’t matter what other people say or how other people feel,” James said. “And if you allow that to stop you or deter you from your mission, then you don’t get anywhere.” And in the 2010s, nothing deterred James......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2019

EPL festive spirit in short supply amid anger over VAR calls

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Festive spirit was in short supply from video assistant referees in the Premier League on Saturday as three goals were ruled out for marginal offside calls, exacerbating frustration about the technology being used for the first time in England this season. On a day when Manchester United moved up to fifth place with a 2-0 win at Burnley and West Ham fired manager Manuel Pellegrini after a 2-1 home loss to Leicester, much of the debate in stadiums and on social media centered on disgruntlement at the forensic geometry being used to call on tight offside decisions - even if the correct calls were ultimately made. “If VAR was a manager, he’d have been sacked weeks ago,” former England captain Gary Lineker tweeted to his 7.5 million followers after Norwich striker Teemu Pukki had a goal disallowed for offside that required the VAR in a room outside London to apply lines and dots on the screen to judge. That came hours after Brighton defender Dan Burn was adjudged offside by a matter of millimeters before scoring in a 2-0 win over Bournemouth, and then Wilfried Zaha had the same call against him - or rather his armpit - after he set up Max Meyer's ‘goal’ for Crystal Palace in a 1-1 draw at Southampton. “This is nonsense and it’s damaging the spectacle,” tweeted Arlo White, who calls matches for NBC in the United States. Narrow offside calls, and the microscopic way they are judged, have been the most contentious part of the VAR system brought in this season. "It's small margins but those are the rules they're using. It's the procedure that they go on so it's either it is or it isn't, so there isn't much you can say,” Palace manager Roy Hodgson said. "I was never one to be banging the drum for VAR. But if the mass media want it, and the public want it, once again you have to be mature enough to accept it.” Rotation was rife Saturday as managers juggled their resources to deal with a second game in a 48-hour span for most teams during a hectic festive period that will see another match in the middle of next week. Not for Pellegrini, though, whose 18-month spell in charge of West Ham is over. SECOND-STRING LEICESTER Second-place Leicester made nine changes for the match against West Ham - Jamie Vardy, the league’s top scorer, was one of the stars missing after his wife gave birth - but still had enough to win at the Olympic Stadium in Pellegrini's last match with the Hammers. Kelechi Iheanacho and Demarai Gray scored for Leicester, either side of an equalizer by Pablo Fornals, as the visitors moved 10 points behind Liverpool having played two games more. After the game, West Ham announced Pellegrini had been fired, with co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan saying “a change is required to get the club back on track in line with our ambitions this season.” West Ham is just a point and a place above the relegation zone. UNITED ON THE RISE Anthony Martial picked up his third goal in two games to help Man United to a 2-0 win at Burnley as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team climbed to fifth, a point behind Chelsea. United profited from a defensive error by left-back Charlie Taylor as Andreas Pereira played in Martial to score in the 44th minute. The French forward also grabbed two goals in the win over Newcastle on Thursday and now has 10 goals in all competitions this season. Marcus Rashford added the second goal on the break deep into stoppage time. Chelsea plays its game in hand on United against Arsenal on Sunday. PROBLEMS FOR MOURINHO Known for coaching teams with well-organized defenses, Jose Mourinho hasn’t managed to sort out Tottenham’s error-prone back line. Mistakes led to both of Norwich’s goals at Carrow Road, with goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga letting a tame shot by Mario Vrancic in for the first and Serge Aurier scoring an own-goal for the second. Tottenham came from behind twice via a free kick by Christian Eriksen and a penalty by Harry Kane, and is two points behind fourth-place Chelsea having played a game more. ANCELOTTI EFFECT It’s two games and two wins for Carlo Ancelotti since taking charge of Everton. The second victory came at Newcastle, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring twice as Everton won 2-1. Watford had defender Adrian Mariappa sent off in the 57th minute but still beat Aston Villa 3-0 to move within three points of escaping the relegation zone. Villa is in third-to-last place, two points ahead of Watford, with Norwich last, a further three points adrift......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2019

Nuggets beat LeBron-less Lakers 128-104 for 6th win in row

By Beth Harris, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul Millsap scored 21 points and the Denver Nuggets dominated the second half in defeating the Los Angeles Lakers, who were without LeBron James, 128-104 on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) for their sixth win in a row. Gary Harris added 19 points, Nikola Jokic had 18 points, Malik Beasley had 16 points and Will Barton had 14 points and a career-high-tying 13 rebounds for the Nuggets, who pulled away to a 23-point lead early in the fourth. James missed his first game of the season because of a thoracic muscle strain. That left the Lakers without his 25.8 point average. With James looking on in street clothes, Anthony Davis did his best to make up for it with 32 points and 11 rebounds. He scored 11 points playing all 12 minutes of the first quarter. Kyle Kuzma was the only other Laker in double figures with 16 points, having returned after missing five games with a sprained left ankle. Western Conference-leading Los Angeles lost its third in a row since winning seven straight. Millsap was questionable to play because of a left knee contusion, but he consistently scored with Davis and Kuzma in the lineup late in the second quarter. His 3-pointer put the Nuggets up 55-53 at the break. The Lakers successfully challenged a goaltending call against Davis midway through the third that took a basket away from the Nuggets. But Denver responded with a 23-11 run to take a 91-78 lead into the fourth. Seven players scored during the spurt, led by Millsap with seven. The Nuggets opened the fourth with a 17-7 run with Harris and Beasley doing all the scoring that gave them a 108-85 lead. Beasley had nine points, making two 3-pointers, and Harris had eight. TIP-INS Nuggets: Improved to 4-0 in the first game of a back-to-back. ... Their three-game road skid ended. Lakers: They fell to 10-3 at home. ... Rondo made his first start of the season and had five points and eight assists. ... There was a pregame moment of silence for JoAnn Buss, the former wife of late Lakers owner Jerry Buss and mother of their four children, who now own the franchise. The team said she died last Monday (last Tuesday, PHL time) at 86. Jerry Buss died in 2013. UP NEXT Nuggets: At Phoenix on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in the second game of a back-to-back to conclude a two-game trip. Lakers: Host the Clippers on Christmas (Dec. 26, PHL time) in a match-up of the top teams in the West standings. The Clippers won by 10 points as the home team on opening night in October......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2019