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Fired-up Djokovic makes perfect start

Melbourne---Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic got his season off to a perfect start with a battling win over hot-shot Denis Shapovalov in the ATP Cup Tuesday, but world number three Dominic Thiem crashed to defeat......»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardFeb 3rd, 2021

Federer says a star s legacy isn t at risk with late decline

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Roger Federer arrives for his interview at the precise appointed time, steering his white sedan into a parking spot in an industrial area dotted by art galleries about 15 minutes from his luxury apartment in this home-away-from-home. After obliging a selfie request from someone on the street, Federer makes his way up to a second-story loft area and sits. He crosses his legs, kneads his right calf and winces. “Just started training. I'm surprised I could walk the stairs as good as I have,” Federer says with a laugh. “My calves are, like, killing me. Just getting back into it. The shock on the body is, I don't want to say 'immense,' every time, but I've been on vacation for two weeks. The shock just hits you hard.” Ah, the ravages of age. Federer, who won the first of his men's-record 20 Grand Slam titles when he was 21 and now is 38, explains to The Associated Press that he must “go back to the drawing board” after “just missing out on The Big One,” a reference to his fifth-set tiebreaker loss to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final in July. So all of just two days into Federer's preparation for next season -- he flies to Melbourne on Jan. 9, a week before the Australian Open draw -- he is taking a 48-hour break, sitting out his two-a-day fitness sessions and not lifting a racket. No one this old has won a Grand Slam title in the professional era. As a younger man, Federer says, he didn't allow himself such a respite, working six or eight days in a row to get going. But now? The “waves,” he calls them, making an undulating motion with his famous right arm -- time on, then time off -- offer his body a chance to recover. They also let him “go through the wall” on the day before a rest period, because “otherwise, you maybe would hold back just ever so slightly, because you just don't know how you're going to feel the next day.” Federer recognizes that continuing to play tennis at a high level long past the age when many greats of the past were done (his idol, Pete Sampras, competed for the final time at 31) means he repeatedly faces questions -- from fans, from the media, from those around him -- about how long he will continue on tour. And while he can't provide a definitive answer -- because, quite simply, he says he doesn't have one -- Federer is willing to discuss this aspect of the subject: He does not consider it important to walk away at the top of his game and the top of his sport. When he's told about a newspaper opinion piece from way back in 2013 -- 2013! -- that posited he should quit then to avoid ruining his legacy, Federer just smiles and waves his hand. He knows, of course, that he's managed to reach another seven Grand Slam finals since the start of 2014, winning three. But he also says the notion that an older athlete could harm his or her status by hanging around too long is nonsense, no matter what the decline looks like. “I don't think the exit needs to be that perfect, that you have to win something huge ... and you go, 'OK. I did it all.' It can be completed a different way, as long as you enjoy it and that's what matters to you," Federer says. “People, I don't think, anyway, remember what were the last matches of a John McEnroe, what were the last matches of a Stefan Edberg. Nobody knows. They remember that they won Wimbledon, that they won this and that, they were world No. 1. I don't think the end, per se, is that important.” That doesn't mean, of course, that he isn't as competitive as ever or doesn't want to win a 21st major championship -- above all, No. 9 at Wimbledon, after it slipped away despite two match points in 2019 -- or his first Olympic singles gold at the Tokyo Games next year. Or win any tournaments, for that matter, which would push him closer to Jimmy Connors' professional era record of 109 trophies (Federer has 103). He's still good enough, after all, to be ranked No. 3 — having spent a record 310 weeks at No. 1, he is currently behind No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Djokovic — and to go 53-10 with four titles this season. If it seems as though the rest of the world is insisting it needs to know when and how retirement will arrive, Federer says it's not something on which he expends a lot of energy. Not anymore, anyway. “I mean, I don't think about it much, to be honest,” Federer says. “It's a bit different (now) that I know I'm at the back end of my career. But I feel like I've been toward 'the back end of my career' for a long, long time.” So much so that when he got sick while on a skiing trip in January 2008 with what eventually was diagnosed as mononucleosis, he vowed to stay off the slopes, a decision he stuck to, although not without some regret. His children -- twin daughters, 10, and twin sons, 5 -- all ski, and he and his wife, Mirka, have a home in a resort in his native Switzerland. Yet Federer sticks to his role as “the chief 'getting the kids ski-ready' operator guy.” “I was like, 'OK, you know what? That's a sign. I'm going to stop skiing, because I don't want to get hurt at the back end of my career. Maybe I have another four good years left in me. This was (12) years ago now. So it shows you how long ago I've been thinking: 'Maybe I have another four years. Maybe I have another three years. Maybe I have another two years.' ... I've been on this sort of train for long enough for me not to actually think about it a whole lot,” he says. “But sure, sometimes with family planning, discussions with my wife, we talk a little bit sometimes. But never like, 'What if?' Or, 'What are we going to do?' Because I always think, like, we have time for that and then we'll figure it out when that moment comes." Even his agent, Tony Godsick, who has represented Federer since 2005, raises the topic. “It would help make my job easier,” Godsick says in a telephone interview. “I don't want to know for my own personal travel. Or I don't want to know to have the scoop before anyone else. I want to know so I can plan. ... I mean, he won't go on a retirement tour, but I'd like to have some advance notice, maybe throw some more cameras around when he's out playing, so we can capture some more footage.” Godsick pauses, then spaces out the next five words for emphasis: “But. He. Really. Doesn't. Know.” “I really do think he has the flexibility to actually not decide ... until he feels like it's the time. And that will come when Mirka says, 'I can't do it anymore,' and 'I can't be on the road with the kids,' and 'The kids are not enjoying it.' Or his body might say, ‘Hey, Rog, stop pushing me so hard,'” Godsick says. “Maybe it's a time when he realizes on the practice court he doesn't either have the motivation or the ability to get better. And at that point, then maybe he says, 'I certainly have squeezed all the juice out of this lemon in terms of innovating and getting better.' And I don't think that time is there yet. Which is good news.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 19th, 2019

Always About the People

“Solid!” That was the only reaction, or lack thereof, that I could muster after that first breakaway slam of Kiefer Ravena’s UAAP collegiate basketball career over the outstretched arms of UST’s foreign center, Karim Abdul. Moments before, you could see Kiefer was going to go hard, as it was a one-on-one breakaway and he had the speed advantage over Abdul, who was hot on his heels. Little did I know that he was going to go for that highlight that would announce his entry into college basketball. That reaction, that loss for words, can pretty much sum up my past 10 years of covering college basketball for ABS-CBN Sports.  They first asked me to write about my most memorable UAAP game coverage; but I must confess, I was never really good at remembering exact details of games, unlike some of my fellow sportscasters, or even coaches I know, who remember almost detail for detail, or play by play. My memories come in highlights, or sometimes even just flashes of good or memorable plays.  I remember a 6’8”, 18-year old Ben Mbala, whom we first saw a glimpse of while Anton Roxas and I were covering the CESAFI league in the hot and humid Cebu Coliseum, sometime around 2012. He was playing for the Southwestern University Cobras, wasn’t as built and polished as when he was with DLSU, but you could already see the raw talent and athleticism. Fast forward a few years, I remember well how he took the UAAP by storm, with his monster dunks, and how he piloted La Salle to a championship while winning league MVP in Season 79.  I remember the heralded rookie season of Kiefer Ravena in the men’s division, after a storied juniors career. Kiefer won Rookie of the Year honors and helped lead Ateneo to two more titles to round up their 5-peat, before it was Jeron Teng’s turn to lead the Green Archers to a championship over his elder brother Jeric and the UST Growling Tigers.  I remember Bobby Ray Parks Jr. and his back-to-back MVP seasons. He was arguably the most complete college player during that time. It was painful to see his team fall short especially during his second MVP year. The Bulldogs made history the year after though, with Alfred Aroga, Troy Rosario, and Gelo Alolino now at the helm, winning the school’s first ever championship after more than forty years. I would argue that the past decade saw some of the brightest UAAP college basketball stars, both local and foreign, take to the hard court. It would almost be unfair to start naming them because I’ll surely end up leaving some names worthy enough to be mentioned. But we all remember Greg Slaughter, Ryan Buenafe, RR Garcia, Terence Romeo, Mac Belo, RR Pogoy, Roi Sumang, Charles Mamie, Alex Nuyles, Jericho Cruz, Papi Sarr, Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, Aljun Melecio, Kiefer and Thirdy, Bobby Ray, Alfred Aroga, Kevin Ferrer, Karim Abul, Jeric Teng, Ange Kuoame, Matt and Mike Nieto, Paul Desiderio, Juan GDL, and the list goes on and on… all of them making their mark in the UAAP the past ten years. Aside from the highlights, there were the more mundane, behind-the-scenes memories, especially covering out-of-town games when we used to do the CESAFI and the PCCL. That was basketball coverage at its purest. There was a time we traveled to Lanao Del Sur to cover the Mindanao regional selection of the PCCL. Lanao was about another two to three hour drive from Cagayan de Oro along a dark highway with trees and mountains all around; and where there was only one mall in the entire town. Or when we traveled by van to La Union to cover the north regional selection of the PCCL… or even staying a whole week at the Cebu Grand Hotel, for the VisMin regional selection. Coverages then were bare bones: no real-time stats or live graphics, and I would even sometimes have to tally the points and rebounds of each player in-game on my notebook just so that I’d have some semblance of stats to mention on the coverage. Still, those games were so much fun because the players, getting their first shot at national TV coverage, would leave everything out on the floor.  In a year or so, both the UAAP and the NCAA will announce their respective new homes, and new broadcast teams will have the privilege of covering the best collegiate basketball players in the country. That’s how the ball bounces. I’m a firm believer that in life there are seasons, and a perfect time for everything. I’m just thankful for the opportunities thrown my way. If you were to ask me why the coverage of the UAAP helped build the league into what it is today, my answer would be simple: it was always about the people. At the end of the day, what makes the UAAP and its coverage great are the stories of the people that play, coach, officiate, cover, and run the games. It’s not really about the championships or the awards, but rather the challenges, hardships, and journeys of each of the individuals that brought them there.  And it is also about the directors, producers, cameramen, reporters and make-up artists that make sure that the audience sees what is supposed to be seen – the winning basket, a fan’s priceless reaction, the agony in defeat, and the glory of victory. It’s what Boom Gonzalez or Mico Halili would always say, that our job as anchors and analysts is to tell the people watching at home the story of what is happening in the game in the best way possible.  I just want to tip my hat to all the people that allowed us to do our jobs the best way possible. From our directors, producers, cameramen, floor directors, fellow panelists, courtside reporters, league officials, statisticians, make-up artists, and all those people behind the scenes whom we worked with, know that we were able to give our best because of you; and the UAAP coverage will not be what it is if not for all of your hard work and dedication.  It was, is, and will always be about the people. Marco Benitez was the team captain for the Ateneo Blue Eagles when they won the UAAP Season 65 men's seniors basketball title in 2002. Marco eventually covered collegiate basketball as analyst for ABS-CBN Sports starting in 2010. He is presently the President of the Philippine Women's University (PWU)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

WHAT IF… Ateneo didn t lose to La Salle for an elims sweep in UAAP 80

History lesson: Ateneo de Manila University is the first-ever team to sweep the season - both elimination and championship rounds. Winning each and every one of its 16 games in the eliminations and then winning back-to-back games in the UAAP 82 Finals, the Blue Eagles were perfect en route to being hailed as king for the third year in a row. It was a momentous milestone that let all of Isaac Go, Thirdy Ravena, Adrian Wong, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt to move on from their collegiate careers on the highest of highs. Only, they could have actually made history two years prior. In Season 80, the blue and white won 13 games in a row to start the season. And then, in the last game in the elims, they were thwarted by archrival De La Salle University, 76-79. And so, Ateneo fell short of an elims sweep and an automatic advance into the Finals. They were then upset in the first game of the Final Four by Far Eastern University before taking care of business in the do-or-die match. In the championship round, they went toe-to-toe with the Green Archers and ultimately prevailed - winning the first of their three-peat. However, how would the story have gone if and only if the Blue Eagles got an elims sweep? If so, they would have jumped straight into the Finals, therefore jumping over the Tamaraws who had always given them a tough time. If so, a stepladder playoff would have taken place, with Ron Dennison, Arvin Tolentino, and fourth-seeded FEU charging through third-seeded Adamson University led by Jerrick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti. If so, in the next rung, back-to-back Season MVP Ben Mbala and La Salle would have made quick work of the Tamaraws. If so, it would still be Ateneo-La Salle in the championship round for the second straight season. Still, if so, the Blue Eagles' record would have been perfect at that point. Then in Game 1, well-rested Ravena and company would then impose their will on their archrivals for a convincing victory. Mbala and Ricci Rivero would not quit just yet, however, and energize La Salle to a well-earned win in Game 2. Game 3 would then, pretty much, play out the way it played out in real life - a close contest that had Isaac Go hitting the win-sealing three. In the end, Blue Eagle, the king, still. And in the end, they still don't get a perfect season. Worse, however, is the fact that the story would have been a lot less interesting. Without having been challenged by FEU in the Final Four, Ateneo would not have witnessed the beginning of Go's rise Remember, it was the 6-foot-9 big man who fired a triple to send the do-or-die match into overtime. Then in the extra period, Go made good on an impossible short stab just as he was falling to the floor to ice the game. Put simply, a world without those shots is not a world worth living in. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2020

Tim Cone on winning a PBA Grand Slam: 'Everything has to work'

One of the greatest dynasties in PBA history was Alaska in the 1990s. In four seasons from 1995 to 1998, the Milkmen won seven championships in 12 conferences. Of course, the crown jewel came in the middle in 1996 with Alaska's Grand Slam win. As everyone knows, it’s not easy to win a Grand Slam in the PBA. The 1996 Alaska team was the fourth team to accomplish the rare feat. In the 45-year history of the league, only five teams have been able to complete as a season sweep. In a special reunion in the the 2OT podcast of PBA broadcasters Magoo Marjon and Carlo Pamintuan, several key members of the 1996 Alaska Grand Slam team reminisced about their heydays. Easily the most insightful is just how much it takes for a team to complete a triple crown. Coach Tim Cone went through what his Alaska team did to win the Grand Slam in 1996, and as a two-time Grand Slam winner, Cone is the one with the most authority to discuss the topic. “A lot of teams get there, but very few finish the job,” Cone said. “There’s a lot of teams that have won the first two conferences, and then for some reason, the chemistry is just hard to sustain all the way through the whole year. You saw what happened to San Miguel last year, they had a lot of pressure and kinda implode in that third conference,” he added. After the 1996 Alaska team, the 2014 San Mig Coffee also coached by Cone ended up as the last team so far to win a Grand Slam. The 2011 Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters came one win away from a Grand Slam but their Finals series against Petron showed a lot of cracks for what was supposedly a very composed squad. They lost Game 7 to Blaze Boosters pretty bad. San Miguel had a shot at the Grand Slam in 2017 and 2019, but the Beermen lost to Cone’s Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals of the Governors’ Cup each time. In 2019, San Miguel imploded in the third conference, with three local players suspended for a fight in practice with injured import Dez Wells. Having a strong team is not enough to win a Grand Slam, everything has to fall into place pretty much. “People kinda throw out the Grand Slam easily, but everything has to work,” Cone said. “The third conference is the hardest, because there’s just so much more added pressure. But what made this group special [1996 Alaska] was that pressure didn’t affect them because the chemistry was so tight and we were so comfortable with Sean [Chambers],” coach Tim added. The 1996 Alaska team was meticulously built for years ever since the Milkmen won their first-ever PBA title in 1991. For the Grand Slam season, Alaska broke through with a Philippine Cup title win against Purefoods before Sean Chambers returned and the team outlasted an underdog Shell team to win the Commissioner’s Cup in seven games. With Chambers back for the Governors’ Cup, Alaska struggled to start but ended up tearing the whole league up, rolling to a 4-1 Finals win over Ginebra to complete the triple crown. “Sean was like a baby’s blanket for us. When he came in, we all hugged that blanket and took it wherever we could,” Cone said. “We didn’t have a normal pressure that other teams went through with an import that doesn’t really understand what’s going on and how important this is to everybody. Sean knew, and he already won the second conference for us. It was a perfect storm,” Coach Tim added. The Alaska episode of 2OT can be watched in full here, with a lot of stories of how Coach Tim avoided being fired in the early 1990s as they built the eventual Grand Slam team, acquiring key pieces like Jeffrey Cariaso and Bong Hawkins.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2020

Prepare for The Last Dance with these essential Michael Jordan pieces

The highly-anticipated Michael Jordan documentary series, The Last Dance is finally here. Over two decades after his final game as a Chicago Bull, the GOAT is once again ready to take the world by storm, especially during this time of great uncertainty. Showing on ESPN and Netflix, The Last Dance details Jordan’s last season in Chicago over 10 episodes. In 1998, Jordan’s Bulls completed their second three-peat in eight years, once again beating the Utah Jazz in an NBA Finals Rematch. The season was capped by “The Shot” and Jordan cemented his place as basketball’s greatest. Tuning in to The Last Dance for 10 episodes will surely be a treat, however, it’s not the first definite look at Michael Jordan’s work as a Chicago Bull. Hopefully, it won’t be the last as well. Just before everyone makes a deep dive in His Airness’ latest documentary series, here are some essential viewing and reading to truly appreciate Michael Jordan’s last dance.   Take Flight Before The Last Dance, these were the documentaries that made up the essentials if you wanted to get close with Michael Jordan himself. Come Fly With Me (1989) and Michael Jordan’s Playground (1990) both last less than 45 minutes, but they offer a great perspective on the man himself before he started his championship runs with the Chicago Bulls. Arguably the two best Michael Jordan documentaries, Come Fly With Me detail’s the GOAT’s beginnings all the way to his MVP award in the 1988 All-Star Game. Michael Jordan’s Playground is pretty straightforward, telling Jordan’s story from the start – from the playground. Michael Jordan: Air Time, came out in 1993 and it follows the GOAT’s first two championships from the previous two seasons. The 1996 piece, Michael Jordan: Above and Beyond, is pretty much the sequel to Air Time and it follows his time away from basketball after the 1993 championship. After the first three-peat, MJ tried his luck in baseball. However, it was also the time when MJ dealt with the murder of his father, James. Jordan’s time in baseball didn’t last long though, as two words delivered via the most iconic press release of all time announced the GOAT’s return to the court. 1999’s Michael Jordan: His Airness features the 1998 Finals against the Jazz, making it closer to what The Last Dance has to offer. It should be a nice review piece for every Jordan fanatic.   The Specials Another video worth the watch is Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame Speech in 2009. It’s much more than just the birth of the epic Cying MJ meme. Swear. Buzzfeed Unsolved also has an interesting Jordan piece, exploring the conspiracies of MJ’s first retirement after the 1993 title. It has been long rumored that Jordan’s first retirement was related to gambling. A more recent video is MJ himself appearing on Good Morning America to discuss The Last Dance. The rare interview is really the perfect preview for the upcoming docuseries.    Good Reads While waiting for new episodes of The Last Dance, catching up on some Michael Jordan books seems like a great idea as well. Sam Smith’s The Jordan Rules chronicles MJ’s first championship season in 1991, but it was definitely not all good propaganda towards Jordan as it showed a supposed different side to Michael. Arguably the most definitive book on the GOAT, Michael Jordan The Life by Roland Lazenby explores the man himself to the fullest. It is the story of Michael Jordan.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2020

Barca and Madrid lead in Spain at winter break despite flaws

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Even though Barcelona and Real Madrid have yet to dominate like in past seasons, the two heavyweights are at the top of the Spanish league for the winter break. Lionel Messi’s Barcelona will head into 2020 with a two-point advantage over second-place Madrid after completing 18 of 38 rounds. Barcelona got off to a slow start with only two wins in the first five rounds before newcomer Antoine Griezmann started to click with Messi and Luis Suárez, and the Catalan club ended the year without a loss in seven rounds. “There are times when you win the league by a wide margin and when everyone expects you to wrap it up months in advance that it loses excitement,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, who is seeking a third consecutive league crown with the team, said Tuesday. “It is better when you win the league on the last round and by one point.” Madrid has only one loss - a 1-0 defeat at Mallorca in October - but it has drawn seven games, including its last three. Its continued scoring problems since Cristiano Ronaldo left two summers ago have left it without a goal in five encounters. "We had difficulties at the beginning of the season, but now we are much better and strong defensively, improving every day,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said after Sunday’s 0-0 home draw with Athletic Bilbao. “Today we couldn’t score, but the important thing is to create the chances and we're going to turn this around in 2020 for sure.” A Sevilla side that has been revitalized by former Madrid and Spain manager Julen Lopetegui, and by the new players brought in by sporting director Ramón “Monchi” Rodríguez, is in third place at five points back. Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid has experienced trouble up front after losing Griezmann in the summer, but its revamped defense has kept it in fourth place, seven points behind Barcelona. PLAYER OF THE SEASON SO FAR Messi leads the league with 13 goals in just 13 appearances due to an injury that kept him out of the opening games. He is also credited with six assists by the league as he continues at age 32 to be the team’s best scorer and playmaker. An honorable mention goes to Karim Benzema for stepping up his play after the injury-hit Eden Hazard failed to make an impact since joining Madrid on a club-record transfer from Chelsea. Benzema is second in the league with 12 goals in 17 matches. SURPRISE OF THE SEASON The breakout player is Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Odegaard, who is playing at the Basque club on loan from Madrid. Odegaard has excelled as a precise passer and is leading one of the most attractive attacks in the league. Sociedad is in fifth place, just one point behind Atlético. Sevilla continues to introduce talented newcomers in powerful defender Diego Carlos and physical forward Lucas Ocampos, both of whom have stood out and are likely on the radar of bigger clubs. GOAL OF THE SEASON Suárez scored not only the best goal so far this season in Barcelona’s 5-2 rout of Mallorca on Dec. 7 but one of the best in his goal-studded career. The Uruguay striker wowed Camp Nou when he used an audacious strike with the back of his right heel to scoop the ball around the diving goalkeeper and just inside the far post from a tight angle. The goal put the perfect finish to a flowing passing combination between Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto to break down Mallorca’s tightly packed defense. It unquestionably goes into the annals of Barcelona’s most beautiful goals. WHO'LL BE CHAMPION? With Messi, defending champion Barcelona is favored to edge a Madrid team that has yet to replace Ronaldo’s missing firepower. Messi has led Barcelona to 10 league titles in 15 seasons. “We haven’t reached our ceiling,” Griezmann said after scoring the opening goal in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Alavés. “I am feeling good before the holidays. Messi is the best in the world. We have a great squad, and when we need a push, Messi provides it.” CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION While Barcelona and Madrid will surely get Champions League spots, Sociedad and a Valencia side that is coming on strong after a tumultuous coaching change could threaten Sevilla and Atlético for the other two berths. Getafe, which was in the running for a top-four finish last season until faltering late, cannot be ruled out despite its modest profile. WHO’S GOING DOWN? Espanyol earned Europa League qualification last campaign, but it has been in a mess since both top scorer Borja Iglesias and ex-coach Francesc “Rubi” Ferrer left for Real Betis in the summer. The Barcelona-based club is in last place after winning just two of 18 matches and it fired Pablo Machín, its second coach of the season, on Monday. Espanyol has yet to win at home in the league this season and its fans are asking for a goal-scorer - in addition to yet another coach - in the January transfer market. Leganés and Mallorca are likely to also feature in the relegation fight. Celta Vigo has been the biggest disappointment of the season so far and is also near the bottom. But with Spain striker Iago Aspas and former Barcelona midfielders Rafinha and Denis Suárez it has the talent to rebound if it shores up its defense......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2019

LeBron James, Anthony Davis bring new Heat to L.A.

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com The relationship they formed, nurtured and maximized to the championship fullest was captured in all its glory nine years ago this month on a sensational play that took maybe six seconds. Dwyane Wade grabbed a loose ball and ran up court, leading a rather routine fast break and then, chemistry happened. He gently tossed a short, no-look bounce pass that for a microsecond went to a ghost, at least until LeBron James, trailing the play in full sprint, appeared and scooped the ball. Wade didn’t see LeBron behind him … he just knew. LeBron didn’t call for the ball … he just knew. As LeBron elevated and cupped the ball for a tomahawk dunk, Wade kept running forward and spread his arms before the crowd, as if to say: This is how we do it. That finish was immortalized by an Associated Press photographer seated underneath the rim named Morry Gash. The image instantly went viral, causing witnesses to gasp at the image’s snarky, arrogant and amazing glory. Mostly, though, that sequence symbolized the blossoming bond between LeBron and Wade early in their time together with the Miami Heat. 9 years ago today. #L3GENDARY pic.twitter.com/Yc7iQDezlM — Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 6, 2019 And, it suggests what’s currently percolating in Los Angeles with the Lakers. LeBron has a new basketball boo, and the process with Anthony Davis is starting to look strikingly familiar. Theirs is an already devastating combo that has the Lakers scorching through the early NBA season with the best record in the West. ‘Bron and The Brow are both entertaining and effective, a combination that certainly works in L.A. (which expects both). This is more of the peanut butter-and-jelly variety than fingernail meets blackboard in terms of two forces blending in beautifully. They share the same ideas about how to play the game as one, when to defer (and when take over) and why there’s no need for ego or one-upmanship. It’s a tag-team, your-turn-my-turn type of existence, sprinkled with an ability to recognize each other’s tendencies. Oh, and it helps that they like each other as people. Longtime Laker witnesses might feel the urge to compare this to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, but a more apt linkage is LeBron and Wade, whose on-court kinship spilled over into their personal lives, and to this day they still refer to each other as brothers from other mothers. “We had something special,” James said. And now, with Davis? “Everything’s coming along great, maybe even quicker than we thought.” As the Lakers prepare to play Friday in Miami (Saturday, PHL time) -- the site of so many LeBron-Wade connections -- the NBA’s new combo is just getting ramped up. No All-Star duo in the league is generating more wins, sizzle and per-game production than LeBron and Davis, who average a combined 53.6 points, 15.8 rebounds and 14.1 assists per game. They’re durable, too: LeBron has played in every game while Davis has missed only one. Much of this was expected when the Lakers traded for Davis and gave LeBron someone who was arguably his equal in terms of talent. The pairing seemed ideal because Davis is a low-maintenance star who doesn’t always demand the ball and keeps his ego hidden -- necessary tools when one plays in LeBron’s orbit. They also tend to cover each other’s weaknesses. For example, Davis is a superior defender while LeBron, who turns 35 in a few weeks, picks his spots defensively. Davis took the Pelicans to the semifinals once, while LeBron has played in eight of the last nine Finals. One other critical element worth noting is this: LeBron is anxious to grab at least another title here with his third team, which would be unprecedented. Davis is hungry for his first. They share the same quest, then, but approach it from different angles. Given where they are in their careers, there was a hunch they were made for each other. After 25 games, this notion has proven correct. “They hit the ground running right from the start of training camp,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “Both on and off the basketball court, their chemistry has been seamless.” LeBron seemed determined to make this work after his first season in L.A. lacked a true co-star and was slowed by a groin injury. His basketball relationship with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland took a sharp turn three years ago when Irving demanded a trade, mainly to escape LeBron’s enormity and strike out on his own. LeBron, like almost everyone else, was stunned as to why someone was so willing to bail on an all-time great. That raised this issue: while LeBron is one of the most accommodating superstars in NBA history, other stars in their prime would rather be the lead singer on another team. Davis seems cut from another cloth, however. And besides, when LeBron eventually retires (he has two seasons left on his contract), Davis will become a solo king if he so desires. This process was months in the making as LeBron made a point to align himself with Davis off the court since last summer. He welcomed him into his home, inviting him to events and generally magnetizing himself to Davis, who in turn did the same. This same approach worked for LeBron and Wade in 2010, but back then, LeBron was joining Wade’s team and was careful not to overstep any boundaries. “What I’m seeing here is how much time they spent together away from the court last summer and how that has impacted what’s going on right now,” Vogel said. “Even in film sessions the two are always together. They’re just building that friendship that LeBron and Dwyane had. LeBron has done everything in his power to make sure he’s going out of his way to make Anthony comfortable.” Wade and LeBron became fast friends because their personalities were similar and therefore clicked. Wade admitted that, at times, it was difficult to ride shotgun that first season together. But he respected LeBron’s talents too much to make that an issue. It all worked as they won two championships and made four Finals together. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra recognizes what’s developing in L.A. and says about LeBron: “He’s able to morph into whatever he needs to be to bring out the best from other players. This just fits like a glove with LeBron and AD, the way they work well together. Their skill sets compliment each other.” The Bron-Brow combo is causing defensive hell for teams: Which one gets a double team? Do you put a big player on LeBron and a shorter one on Davis or vice versa? Last Sunday (Monday, PHL time), the two combined for 82 points against the Timberwolves, which came two nights after they dropped 70 on the Blazers. Scoring only tells so much, but the way they compliment each other is nearly perfect. LeBron handles the ball, Davis impacts the rebounding and defense. They can almost sense where the other is without looking. Together, their sneaker prints are all over the floor. “The more time you spend together, if you have the same goals in mind and you have the same drive, then organically it happens,” LeBron said. Much of this is new to Davis, who only got a half-season’s worth of playing time with an All-Star (DeMarcus Cousins) his six seasons with New Orleans. He welcomes the change of synergy because playing next to LeBron ups his championship odds. “I mean, he’s a tremendous teammate, great talent and takes a lot of pressure off not only me, but everyone else,” Davis said. “It’s fun to be on the floor with him.” That’s evident from everyone who has watched this relationship take root and grow. “It’s there, and I think it’s genuine, too, from what I can see,” said former Lakers great and James Worthy, now a TV analyst for the club. “They’ve known each other for a while now, and they have that same drive and vision about the game and how it’s played. I think they know how to monitor each other and the team constructively to where the cohesiveness remains tight.” What’s frightening is the process hasn’t even reached a half-season. The wavelength LeBron and Wade once enjoyed can be matched with Davis, and it’s on pace to be fully maximized by the playoffs. The better it gets for Bron and Brow, the better it is for their supporting cast. “For me and AD, it starts with us,” LeBron said. “If we’re on the same page it makes it easier for the rest of the ball club.” There’s an important duplication taking place in Los Angeles, from LeBron-Wade to LeBron-Davis. The initial results are decisively promising. If this all keeps up, might multiple championships also follow? Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 12th, 2019

Bayern cuts gap behind Bundesliga leader Gladbach to 1 point

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — For once, Robert Lewandowski didn’t score. But it didn’t matter as Bayern Munich stayed perfect under interim coach Hansi Flick and cut the gap behind Bundesliga leader Borussia Mönchengladbach to just one point on Saturday. Bayern routed Fortuna Düsseldorf 4-0 away, while Gladbach lost at promoted Union Berlin 2-0. Lewandowski had scored in every Bundesliga game so far, but the Polish forward couldn’t stretch his league record to 12 games against Fortuna — still the only side remaining in the 18-team division against which he hasn’t scored. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Lewandowski sent one shot narrowly wide of the post and his powerful header was saved well by goalkeeper Zack Steffen. He even tried a scissor kick, without success. Goals from Benjamin Pavard, Corentin Tolisso, Serge Gnabry, and Philippe Coutinho gave Bayern its second straight 4-0 win in the Bundesliga after routing Borussia Dortmund before the international break. It stretched Bayern’s winning run to three games under Flick, Germany coach Joachim Löw's former assistant. Flick is filling in for the fired Niko Kovac and has yet to see his side concede. Bayern became the first visiting team since April to leave Düsseldorf with a clean sheet. UNION ENJOYING BUNDESLIGA LIFE Union players celebrated with fans long after the side’s fifth win from 12 games, its third straight in the league. Anthony Ujah’s 15th-minute header and another in injury time from Sebastian Andersson were enough for Union to end Gladbach’s three-game winning run across all competitions, and stretch the promoted team’s own run to five straight victories, including a friendly win over Holstein Kiel. Gladbach made a fine start with Denis Zakaria and Patrick Herrmann going close before Herrmann hit the post in the 12th. But Marcus Ingvartsen produced a fine cross for Ujah to score with Union’s first real chance. Buoyed by the goal, Union pushed on and almost made it 2-0 when Ingvartsen struck the post. Union fans rose to salute goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz for denying Alassane Plea in a one-on-one before the break. It was the visitors’ best chance before Andersson sealed Union’s win. LEIPZIG CLOSES IN Emil Forsberg scored twice as Leipzig stayed second, ahead of Bayern on goal difference, with a 4-1 rout of visiting Cologne. Cologne was hoping for a change of fortune under new coach Markus Gisdol, who replaced the fired Achim Beierlorzer during the international break, but Timo Werner got Leipzig underway in the 22nd and the home side powered on for its seventh win. Leipzig, which was formed only in 2009, looks a good prospect to take advantage of rivals’ travails and mark its 10th anniversary with its first major title. Also, Wolfsburg won 2-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt, where the home side wore jerseys with a message against racism. Schalke won at Werder Bremen 2-1, and Freiburg grabbed a draw at Bayer Leverkusen 1-1. ___ James Ellingworth contributed from Düsseldorf......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 24th, 2019

Thiem beats Federer at ATP Finals; Djokovic cruises

By Mattias Karen, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Dominic Thiem keeps getting the better of Roger Federer. Thiem beat Federer 7-5, 7-5 Sunday in their opening match at the ATP Finals for his fifth win in seven meetings with the Swiss great — and third straight this year. Thiem broke in the opening game of the match and again for a 6-5 lead in the first set after Federer had leveled at 2-2. The second set went with serve until Thiem broke at love for another 6-5 lead. Federer, a record six-time champion at the ATP Finals, then missed two break points in the next game before netting a backhand return on Thiem's second match point. Thiem also beat Federer at the Madrid Masters and in the Indian Wells final this year, but lost to him in the group stage at last year's ATP Finals. Novak Djokovic had a much easier start to the tournament, easing past Matteo Berrettini 6-2, 6-1 in their first round-robin match. But despite a near flawless performance, Djokovic still found a way to berate himself. Leading 4-0 in the second set against the Italian, Djokovic hit a backhand wide to concede a break to the Italian, and then angrily turned toward his player's box and shouted out his frustration. It was a clear sign that even at the end of another grueling season, Djokovic won't tolerate any dips in his game as he pursues a record-equaling sixth ATP Finals title. "There's no other reasonable explanation (to that reaction) than trying to play as perfect as possible," Djokovic said. "But I guess that's me, you know." It was certainly the same Djokovic that the O2 Arena crowd has become used to seeing. Although the second-ranked Serb — who won four straight titles at the year-end event in London between 2012 and 2015 — only needed to hit a total of 10 winners in the match as Berrettini's 28 unforced errors handed him an easy victory to start round-robin play. Berrettini's forehand was responsible for 18 of those errors, including two shots into the net to hand Djokovic the only two breaks of the first set. After giving up that lone break to make it 4-1 in the second, Djokovic broke right back and then clinched the victory with an easy forehand putaway at the net. "He missed a relatively easy forehand for him that gave me a break (in the first set)," Djokovic said. "And after that I started reading his serve better." Berrettini was making his debut at the event for the world's top eight players and had never faced Djokovic before. He also said he struggled a bit with the speed of the indoor hard court at the O2. "The ball is not jumping a lot, so it's tough to mix, especially my forehand," Berrettini said. "I think it's better when I have a little bit more time and the ball takes more spin. I think I started the match pretty good, but he was just better than me today." The other four-man group features Rafael Nadal, defending champion Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitispas and Daniil Medvedev. They begin play on Monday. Djokovic has a chance to overtake Nadal for the year-end No. 1 ranking with a strong showing in London. He trails the Spaniard by 640 ranking points, with a maximum of 1,500 points up for grabs......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 11th, 2019

Garoppolo throws 4 TD passes, 49ers beat Cardinals 28-25

By David Brandt, Associated Press GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — San Francisco's game-manager turned into quite the game-changer in an impressive performance. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns on a night his team's vaunted defense wasn't at its best, and the San Francisco 49ers reached the halfway point of their season undefeated, beating the Arizona Cardinals 28-25 on Thursday. For a quarterback who often gets the backhanded compliment of being a good game-manager, Garoppolo's stellar performance provided some proof that the 27-year-old might be a little better than people think. His teammates already knew. "Yeah, he's pretty good," San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle said. "I don't know why people don't think he is. He makes some pretty gutsy throws out there, doesn't he? Goodness gracious." San Francisco (8-0) fell behind 7-0 but responded with three touchdowns — one as time expired in the second quarter after Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury called a timeout and gave the 49ers a second chance on fourth down — to take a 21-7 halftime lead. The 49ers were in control until about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Andy Isabella caught a short pass and sprinted for an 88-yard touchdown to help the Cardinals pull to 28-25. But the 49ers were able to run out the clock on their ensuing offensive drive to end Arizona's comeback. Garoppolo had two crucial third-down completions to keep the final drive alive, including one to Emmanuel Sanders who caught seven passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. Garoppolo completed 28 of 37 throws including touchdowns of 30, 7, 1 and 21 yards. "Our team has done a good job of winning in different ways this year," Garoppolo said. "Whether it's offense, special teams, defense or mixing and matching all of them. That's how you create a good football team. You're not relying on one part and everyone's playing tomorrow. Complimentary football. "That's where we're at right now." Even in victory and at 8-0, Niners cornerback Richard Sherman was downright grumpy when asked about the defense. Arizona had 357 total yards. "It's not about the results. The results are going to be what they are," Sherman said. "Thank goodness our offense executed. But it's about the process, it's executing the way you're supposed to. It's about doing your job repeatedly, like with robotic consistency." Arizona (3-5-1) lost its second straight game. Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals came into the game without their top two running backs, David Johnson and Chase Edmonds, who were battling injuries. Kenyan Drake — who was acquired by the Cardinals on Monday in a trade with the Miami Dolphins — ran for 36 yards on the first play of the game and capped the opening drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. He finished with a team-high 110 yards rushing and 52 yards receiving. "That's what we expected from him, why we traded for him," Kingsbury said. "His skill set is perfect for what we do. He's explosive, he runs tough and to come and learn an entirely new offense, we didn't hold anything back. We knew we could call our best game." BAD TIMING Arizona looked as if was about to escape the first half trailing 14-7 after San Francisco's Jeff Wilson Jr. was stopped on fourth down just shy of the goal line with a few seconds remaining in the first half. But there was one major problem for the Cardinals: Kingsbury called a timeout just before the play began. The 49ers converted on their second chance when Garoppolo hit Sanders for a 1-yard touchdown pass and a 21-7 lead. Kingsbury said he was trying to get a "Kodak" snapshot of what the 49ers were trying to do. "Obviously looking back on it we would have rather gotten that stop," Kingsbury said. "It just didn't work out for us this time." ROAD WARRIORS San Francisco's off to an 8-0 start for the second time in franchise history. The Niners won 10 straight games to start the 1990 season. This year's streak has included five road wins. The 49ers have three straight home games starting with the Seahawks on Nov. 11. KITTLE SCARE The 49ers got a scare early when star tight end George Kittle left the game after taking a helmet to the knee. But the third-year star quickly returned and responded with a 30-yard touchdown catch late in the first quarter to tie it at 7. INJURIES 49ers: Defensive lineman Arik Armstead left in the first quarter with a throat injury but returned to the game. ... Linebacker Kwon Alexander had a chest injury in the second half and didn't return. Cardinals: Defensive lineman Clinton McDonald left with what the team called a "stinger" in the third quarter. UP NEXT San Francisco returns home to face Seattle on Nov. 11 for a Monday night game. Arizona travels to Tampa Bay on Nov. 10......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 1st, 2019

Lionel Messi and Liverpool shine in the Champions League

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Lionel Messi and titleholder Liverpool were in top form in the Champions League on Wednesday. Messi scored one goal and set up another as Barcelona beat Slavia Prague 2-1 to take control of Group F at the group stage's midpoint. Liverpool overwhelmed Genk 4-1 to end a four-game losing streak away from home in the group phase. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made the most of a rare start to score twice and Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah also got on the scoresheet for last season's champion. Still, Liverpool remained one point behind Napoli in Group E after the Italian club won 3-2 at Salzburg with a brace from Dries Mertens, who surpassed Diego Maradona for second spot on the team's all-time scoring list. Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund trail Barcelona by three points in a group where three heavyweights are vying for two spots in the knockout stage. Inter beat Dortmund 2-0 in the other Group F game with goals from Lautaro Martinez and Antonio Candreva. Messi floated a free kick to Luis Suárez at the far post and the Uruguayan's shot was deflected in by Slavia forward Peter Olayinka for Barcelona's winner. Earlier, Messi finished off a fast move he had started. It was the first goal for the Argentine in the campaign, taking his overall tally in Europe's top club competition to 113. TREMENDOUS TEENAGER Salzburg's 19-year-old forward Erling Haaland scored twice in the loss to Napoli, giving him six goals in three matches. That makes him only the second teenager in Champions League history to score in each of his first three appearances in the competition, after current Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema achieved the feat with Lyon. And he's the first player to score six goals in his first three Champions League appearances. Haaland now has 20 goals in all competitions for the Austrian club this season. Haaland's first goal came with a penalty, then he made it 2-2 by taking advantage of his 6-foot-4 (1.94 meter) frame for a precise header. He also had a score disallowed early on by the VAR for offside. SUPER SUBS Michy Batshuayi came off the bench and scored a late winner as Chelsea rode its luck to beat Ajax 1-0 and throw Group H wide open. The Belgium striker fired in off the underside of the bar from close range in the 86th, 15 minutes after coming on. United States international Christian Pulisic, another of coach Frank Lampard's subs, provided the cross. "It's what you want from subs," Lampard said. "Sometimes the toughest part of management is leaving out players that really want to play week in, week out, and you rely on them being positive, coming on and making an impact and they both did. Delighted for them both." The result left both teams on six points after three matches. Valencia, which drew 1-1 with Lille, is next with four points. It was another late Champions League stinger at the hands of a London team for Ajax, which lost the semifinal last season to Tottenham thanks to a Lucas Moura goal deep in stoppage time. LEIPZIG LEADS Leipzig leads Group G following a 2-1 comeback win over Zenit St. Petersburg and is in position to advance to the knockout rounds for the first time. Marcel Sabitzer scored with a sublime volley for the winner near the hour mark "It's without doubt one of the best goals of my career," Sabitzer said. Sabitzer also set up the equalizer for Konrad Laimer after Ukrainian defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy opened the scoring for Zenit. Leipzig has six points, two more than Zenit and Lyon, which lost 2-1 at last-place Benfica......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2019

PBA: Racal spat fuels McDaniels’ takeover in TNT win

ANTIPOLO — In a close game Friday here, KJ McDaniels took over late to push TNT past Alaska in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup. McDaniels finished with 37 points, eight each in the fourth quarter and overtime, to lead the KaTropa to a perfect 7-0 start. He scored the lay-up that pushed the game into OT and he drilled the triple in extra time that allowed the KaTropa to pull away for good. On top of everything, McDaniels also had 13 rebounds, six blocks, five assists, and three steals. McDaniels' late takeover was on Alaska’s Kevin Racal. “A little bit yeah, it fired me up,” McDaniels said after the win as the two got into a mini skirmish in the fourth quarter. With seven minutes to go, McDaniels got hit in the face by Racal but it was KJ that was called for a technical due to second motion. “I know it’s a competitive league and I was expecting that when I came here. Anytime anyone does that, it definitely puts a spark under me,” McDaniels said. McDaniels vows to keep his cool next time and let his play do the talking. TNT definitely wouldn’t pull this win off if KJ was somehow ejected. “Just gotta stay in my head and just keep fighting through and not react,” he said.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2019

PBA: Hot shooting TNT drops Phoenix to maintain perfect run

TNT shoots its way to a 3-0 start in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup. The KaTropa were on target from deep in the second half Wednesday, burning Phoenix for a 123-118 win at the Big Dome. In an incredible shooting performance, TNT connected on 13 triples in the second half, eight in the fourth, to finally put away the Fuel Masters. As a team, the KaTropa shot 18/30 from deep with Troy Rosario leading the pack at six triples. Rosario thus led the way for the KaTropa with 32 points as TNT once again grabbed a share of first in the team standings. NLEX is the other team with a 3-0 record. Import KJ McDaniels also finished with 32 points while also grabbing eight rebounds and six assists. RR Pogoy fired 22 points and Jayson Castro was good for 20 points. Matthew Wright was the high man for Phoenix with 30 points and Eugene Phelps added another 29 markers. The Fuel Masters dropped to 1-3 with the loss.   The scores: TNT KATROPA 123 — McDaniels 32, Rosario 32, Pogoy 22, Castro 20, Trollano 13, De Leon 2, Vosotros 2, Carey 0, Magat 0, Semerad 0, Washington 0. PHOENIX PULSE 118 — Wright 30, Phelps 29, Perkins 18, Jazul 15, Mallari 9, Garcia 6, Kramer 4, Marcelo 3, Napoles 2, Chua 2, Dennison 0, Potts 0. Quarters: 32-23; 61-57; 94-91; 123-118.     — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 2nd, 2019

Tight-knit Timberwolves relishing fresh start

By Dave Campbell, Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The tension that the Minnesota Timberwolves lugged into last season has been long stamped out, replaced by talk of creating culture, establishing process and building relationships under a new regime. This team will be flying under the radar in the star-bursting Western Conference, facing a steep climb to the fringe of the playoff picture after finishing in 11th place in 2018-19. How much impact a fully healthy roster, an upbeat mood and a modernized on-court strategy will ultimately have on performance remains a mystery, but for now it’s clear at least that these players have been enjoying each other’s company. Whether through a trip to the Bahamas led by center Karl-Anthony Towns or the well-attended informal workouts on the court at team headquarters, the Timberwolves didn’t have to share how-they-spent-their-summer-vacation stories when they showed up on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) for the start of training camp. They spent so much of the offseason together they already knew the details. “They’ve been so responsive to sacrifice some of their summer, which is not an obligation by any sort,” Towns said. “It’s a voluntary thing to do, and every single person has stepped up to the plate and said they want to be great.” The trade demand made by Jimmy Butler shrouded the dawn of last season until he was sent to Philadelphia for a package highlighted by Robert Covington. Two months after that, president and coach Tom Thibodeau was fired just halfway into his five-year contract. Gersson Rosas and Ryan Saunders were appointed to fill Thibodeau’s dual title, and several role players were swapped out in the first steps toward establishing a more collaborative and empowering environment with schemes on offense and defense designed to mesh better with the current state of the NBA. Nobody in the organization could ever recall so many players around the practice facility throughout the offseason. “Every year I’ve been in the league, really, I would see a lot of guys at training camp. That’s when the whole team would show up. But this year was more special,” forward Andrew Wiggins said. Point guard Jeff Teague at age 31 is the oldest of the 20 players on the roster to start camp. “It’s more upbeat. I was telling someone earlier it kind of feels like New York City right now. Everything’s fast paced, everyone’s moving around, everyone has somewhere to be. Everybody’s focused,” Teague said. “Last year was more like Indiana: Everybody was chill and relaxed. Kind of my vibe. It’s exciting to see, though. I think everyone around here is happy with the way things are going.” Here some other takeaways from the Timberwolves, on the eve of training camp to start the franchise’s 31st season in the NBA: HITTING THE ROAD For the first time in five years, the Timberwolves will hold a portion of training camp in Mankato, the small riverside city about 90 miles southwest of Minneapolis where owner Glen Taylor got his college degree in 1962 from what is now called Minnesota State University. Though the team will practice there on Tuesday and Wednesday (Wednesday and Thursday, PHL time) before returning to home base, the out-of-own trip allows for a little more bonding time. It also restores the tradition of a team dinner at the Taylor house, with his wife Becky’s lasagna as the menu feature. “We can really just focus on the work, the task at hand, and really set a tone for everybody,” Saunders said. OPENING UP Covington played in only 22 games for the Wolves after arriving in the trade due to a bone bruise on his right knee. The injury he believed would be minor proved to be anything but that, and the angst of being unable to play for his new team clouded his mind to the point that Saunders recommended Covington see a therapist to help with his mental health. “It made me get to the point where I had to send my family away from me, just because I couldn’t put them through that energy that I was feeling up top,” Covington said, crediting the sessions for not only improving his mood but accelerating his rehabilitation. BIG WIG Beginning the second season of his five-year maximum contract, Wiggins will again be under plenty of scrutiny as a $27 million player who has yet to fulfill the potential he came with as the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. Rosas and Saunders have taken the positive approach while trying to encourage him to ditch the mid-range jumpers for more 3-pointers and layups. “That gives me confidence, and it makes me believe that this is my year,” Wiggins said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 1st, 2019

Fans call for Neymar s departure as PSG beats Nimes 3-0

PARIS (AP) — Fans expressed their anger at Neymar with chants and banners demanding his departure as Paris Saint-Germain started the defense of its French league title with a 3-0 win over Nimes on Sunday. Neymar, who reported late to training from his summer holidays and has been linked with a move away from PSG to Barcelona or Real Madrid, was not included in coach Thomas Tuchel's squad. Some PSG hardcore fans mocked Neymar's behavior with one banner at the Parc des Princes saying "Get lost Neymar". Neymar, who became the most expensive player in the world when he moved from Barcelona to PSG for 222 million euros (about $250 million) in 2017, has made clear in recent weeks that he wants to leave the club. In his absence, PSG dominated from the start and monopolized possession to camp in Nimes' half of the pitch. Edinson Cavani put the hosts in the lead from the penalty spot in the first half before Kylian Mbappe scored his 63rd league goal near the hour mark and then set up Angel Di Maria's goal. Mbappe was in superb form with his trademark dribbles and bursts of speed, while new signing Pablo Sarabia worked well with his teammates and delivered several good passes from the right flank which destabilized the visitors' defense. Nimes held out until Pablo Martinez was sanctioned for an unintentional hand ball in the box following a VAR review. Cavani took the penalty and beat goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni with a powerful strike in the 24th. Sarabia was dangerous again in the 34th with a fine volley at the far post that drew a spectacular save from Bernardoni, and Cavani missed an easy chance from close range with a poor touch from Mbappe's cross. Mbappe fired the ball into the top left corner in the 57th for 2-0 after connecting with a cut-back pass from Juan Bernat, and then delivered a perfect assist to the unmarked Di Maria inside the area. The Argentina forward, who came on as a substitute, controlled the ball and beat Bernardoni with a left-footed shot for his 40th French league goal. OSIMHEN SCORES 2 Lille forward Victor Osimhen scored twice on his French league debut to help the northern side to a 2-1 win over Nantes. Runner-up last season behind Paris Saint-Germain, Lille hired the Nigeria striker this summer to compensate for the loss of Nicolas Pepe, who joined Arsenal. The 20-year-old Osimhen, who scored 20 goals for Belgian side Charleroi last season after starting his professional career in the Bundesliga, showed both his athletic abilities and technical skills to put the hosts in the lead. After Nantes gave the ball away in Lille's half of the field, Osimhen collected a lofted pass with perfect chest control, pushed the ball forward with a fine touch, surged past a defender with a burst of speed and scored from close range with great composure. After Zeki Celik's own-goal put Nantes back in the game soon after the interval, Osimhen was decisive again with nine minutes left with a near-post finish from Celik's cross. Turkish international Yusuf Yazici also made his league debut for Lille after completing his move from Trabzonspor. Although he did not score, Yazici came off the bench as a replacement for Timothy Weah to add a dose of creativity in midfield and came close with a menacing free kick which went just over the bar in the 78th minute......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 12th, 2019

Kaya FC shoots down Air Force, makes it five straight in PFL

KAYA FC–Iloilo’s perfect start to the 2019 Philippines Football League continued on Saturday, with a 5-0 shutout of Philippine Air Force at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Goals from Jordan Mintah, Alfred Osei, Jovin Bedic, and Darryl Roberts ensured a comfortable victory, which pushed the club’s winning streak to five. Philippine Air Force set out to […] The post Kaya FC shoots down Air Force, makes it five straight in PFL appeared first on Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsJul 1st, 2019

PVL: Cool Smashers grab eighth straight win

Repeat-seeking Creamline shook off a cold start as the Cool Smashers turned back PacificTown Army, 16-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-16, on Wednesday to keep their winning streak alive in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Behind Kuttika Kaewpin of Thailand, Alyssa Valdez and Venezuelan Ale Blanco, Creamline stretched its winning romp further with its eight straight victory in nine outings to join PetroGazz at the top spot with 8-1 win-loss record. Kaewpin fired 16 attacks and had three kill blocks for 19 points and added 16 digs for teh Cool Smashers, who will close their elims campaign on Saturday against also-ran BaliPure. Blanco added 16 points off 10 attacks, four kill blocks and two aces while Valdez got 11 markers for Creamline, which had 47 attack points behind setter Jia Morado's 287 excellent sets.  “For our team it was really a bad first set, for Army it was a perfect set for them from the service line, from their attacks to their floor defense and their blocking talaga,” said Valdez. “Our errors were too many to count, lampas ata sa daliri during the first set. So going to the second set, coach Tai (Bundit) was asking us to compose ourselves and stay focus.” The Cool Smashers regrouped after a sluggish opening frame outing that saw Creamline fall into a 14-24 hole following an ace by Lady Troopers setter Alina Bicar. Creamline got its rhythm going in the second set but had to weather PacificTown Army’s late third set uprising. The Cool Smashers saw its 23-20 lead in the third frame cut to just one with Ukrainian import Lena Lymareva-Flink scoring off an attack and an ace. Lymareva-Flink committed an attack error before Kaewpin scored on a kill block to wrap the frame. It was all Creamline in the fourth as the Cool Smashers sent the Lady Troopers to their second straight defeat for a 4-5 slate. Lymareva-Flink posted 22 points built on 19 spikes and three aces while Jovelyn Gonzaga and American Jenelle Jordan finished with 10 and six markers, respectively, for PacificTown Army.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 26th, 2019

PBA: Parks after 3-0 Blackwater start: “We’re for real”

Sunday marked the first time 2018 top picks CJ Perez and Ray Parks Jr. faced off against each other in the PBA. Parks, the no. 2 pick, got the last laugh this time as his Blackwater Elite maintained a perfect start in the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup by taking down Perez’s Columbian Dyip. Ray fired 23 points, five rebounds, and five assists while Perez was good for 17 points and seven rebounds. However, the win was the only important thing says Parks, downplaying his showdown with the no. 1 pick of last year’s Draft. “At the end of the day, my thing is I just want to lead my team to a win,” Parks said. “It ain't really about one person. I want the task of guarding the best player on the other team, but at the end of the day, I just gotta do my best to help my team win. I mean, at the end of the day it's still team defense, it's still team offense, so it's not just about one person,” he added. At 3-0, the Elite have been the best surprise of the conference so far. Blackwater has huge tests coming up with games against Phoenix and Rain or Shine but regardless of those games, Parks says they’re for real right now. “We're for real. We're for real. That's one thing I can say, we're for real. It just goes to show the hard work that we put in. We're young, like what I said. It's a different type of Blackwater right now,” Parks said. “It's a testament to the hard work, all the way from the coaches, to the ball boys, to us, to the management, and we're just reaping the benefits right now,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 26th, 2019

Nadal opens bid for 12th French Open title against qualifier

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal will start his campaign for a record-extending 12th title at the French Open against a qualifier. And if he makes it to the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam, another qualifier will be waiting. The defending champion was handed what looked like quite an easy draw Thursday at Roland Garros stadium, where the Spanish player attended the ceremony and said he was happy with his form. Nadal won his first title of the season last week at the Italian Open, where he looked close to his best after some uncharacteristic struggles on clay. "It was an important title for me," Nadal said. "I played very well throughout the tournament, I'm very happy to find myself in this situation." In the women's draw, Simona Halep will open the defense of her title against Ajla Tomljanovic. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka, who seeks a third consecutive major championship, will be up against Anna Karolína Schmiedlová. Coming to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was drawn into the top half of the draw with Osaka and Halep. She will take on Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round. Osaka will be up against a tough opponent if she gets past Schmiedlova, facing the winner of a first-round match pitting 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko and former top-ranked player Victoria Azarenka. Nadal, who last year became the first male player to win 11 titles at the same Grand Slam tournament, could meet his old foe Roger Federer in the semifinals. Federer, in his first French Open match since 2015, will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and could face Stefanos Tsitsipas in a potential quarterfinal matchup. Federer is back on clay after skipping that part o the season for the past two years. He reached the quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome, where he withdrew because of a right leg injury. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will begin his run against Hubert Hurkacz. The Serb has been enjoying a good run of form during the clay season, winning the title in Madrid before losing to Nadal in Rome. Organizers announced before the draw that Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic had withdrawn from the tournament, which starts on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Phil Mickelson set to return at CareerBuilder Challenge

JOHN NICHOLSON, AP Sports Writer br /> LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Phil Mickelson is set to play in the CareerBuilder Challenge, returning from two sports hernia surgeries a week earlier than he originally expected. 'I feel good and I want to play,' Mickelson said Wednesday in a statement. 'I don't know where my game is, but I figure the only way to find out is to play.' He'll face an unusual wet and chilly start in the desert, with rain expected overnight and Thursday morning and then again Friday. The forecast high for Thursday was 62 degrees, dipping to 59 on Friday. The 46-year-old Mickelson had surgery Oct. 19 — three days after tying for eighth in the season-opening Safeway Open — and again Dec. 12. He has been hitting balls for a week and played a practice round Wednesday. In his first year as the tournament ambassador, Mickelson stuck to his normal routine of playing and practicing at The Madison Club instead of one of the three tournament courses. He wasn't available for comment beyond his short statement. The Hall of Famer was scheduled to open Thursday morning at La Quinta Country Club, then head to PGA West to play the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course on Friday, the Stadium Course on Saturday and, if he makes the cut, the final round Sunday. Mickelson won the 2002 and 2004 events and tied for third last year. Winless since the 2013 British Open, the 42-time PGA Tour winner plans to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week in his hometown of San Diego and the Waste Management Phoenix Open the following week. Jason Dufner won last year, beating David Lingmerth with a par on the second hole of a playoff. 'Possibly going to have some weather issues this week, which will make it a little bit more challenging,' Dufner said. 'But just excited to be back, excited to be back playing again. Took some time off at the end of the year, so played a couple weeks in Hawaii.' Patrick Reed is the top-ranked player in the field at No. 9. He won the 2014 tournament. 'I never played here when it rained before; it's always sunny and beautiful and perfect,' Reed said. 'The golf courses aren't that long, by the numbers, but if it starts getting cold, now the ball's not traveling. If it gets wet, ball's not going to travel, either. Then also, if it's raining while you're playing, not having that friction on the golf club, the ball's not going to go as far as well. So, it's just going to make it a lot longer.' In 2014, he shot 63-63-63-71 to break the PGA Tour record for relation to par for the first 54 holes at 27 under and become the first player in tour history to open with three rounds of 63 or better. Two other PGA West courses were used that year in the pro-am event. 'These two golf courses are harder than the other two,' Reed said. 'And I don't think it's as much as length as it is you can get away with some golf shots on the other ones. Here, you can get penalized for hitting a poor tee shot or poor iron shot. And the biggest difference I feel like is for the amateurs. The amateurs over there, they could hit some loose shots and they're fine. Over here, when they hit a loose shot, they're really struggling and it just seems to make the rounds a little longer. And now if you're adding weather, some of these amateurs are going to struggle.' Brendan Steele, the Safeway Open winner from nearby Idyllwild, played the PGA West courses as a junior. He also played in a rain-plagued Golden State two-man team event. 'That two-man team event, it actually dumped and we got cut down to 27 holes and barely got in nine holes the second day,' Steele said. 'So, it was really, really bad. So, I have seen them that way. I may be one of the few guys in the field that has seen them that way.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017