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GREATEST PERFORMANCES: CJ Cansino s triple-double as a rookie

No rookie has tallied a triple-double in the UAAP since 2003. Enter CJ Cansino. The 6-foot-2 do-it-all guard showed University of Sto. Tomas and all of the league just how special he is as he collected 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists in their 79-68 romp over University of the East in the UAAP 81 Men's Basketball Tournament. Oh, he did all that, in just the 10th game in his collegiate career. That made Cansino the first - and thus far, only - rookie to tally a triple-double. Just for good measure, he also had two steals to his name, putting on display just how much of an all-around force he is. Together with fourth-year guard Marvin Lee, the then-18-year-old led the Growling Tigers in the 16-4 surge that erased a six-point deficit in the middle of the second and erected a 39-31 advantage late in the quarter. They would never look back all the way to their fifth win of the season. Even more impressive is the fact that according to Cansino, all he did was in the flow of the game plan of head coach Aldin Ayo. "Masaya, siyempre, dahil nakuha ko yung triple-double, pero sinunod ko lang naman yung sistema namin na sharing the ball. Thankful ako sa sistema dahil fit na fit sa akin," he said. Indeed, what made coach Aldin all the more satisfied with his prized ward's effort was that the latter was playing exactly how the former wanted him to. "CJ is full of potential and gusto lang naming mag-materialize yun. The good thing about CJ is he always responds whenever sinasabihan namin," he said. And so, Cansino tallied a triple-double, won a game, and got praise from his brilliant mentor - just in time for his birthday. "Siyempre, inspired 'di lang dahil birthday, pero dahil din sa mga taong grabe yung sinasakripisyo para sa team," he said then. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 18th, 2020

Scottie Thompson sees his spirit still living on in current Perpetual Altas

Even this early in his basketball career, Scottie Thompson may very well be the greatest player that University of Perpetual Help has produced. After leading the Altas' contention and winning MVP in the NCAA, the 6-foot-1 all-around weapon now has four championships and one Finals MVP under his belt with Ginebra in the PBA. For sure, he has set the standard for what Perps wants and needs from its main man. Fortunately for Las Pinas, Thompson sees himself in more than a few young talents donning the wine and gold. "Sina Razon, Peralta, sila talaga yung nakikita ko sarili ko dati. Talagang nakikita ko sa dalawang yun yung sobrang kayod, puro hard work yung puhunan," he said in The Prospects Pod. Jielo Razon is a 5-foot-11 guard who continued improving in his sophomore season while Tonton Peralta is a 6-foot-2 swingman who opened eyes in his rookie year. Those two, alongside Ben Adamos and Kim Aurin, comprise the core Perpetual hopes to ride back to the Final Four. And all of them, just like Thompson, do not necessarily do flashy and fancy things. Instead, they just do whatever it takes to help the Altas - you know, very much akin to how "Mr. Triple-Double" plays. Because of that, Thompson is only excited about what lies ahead for them - if and only if they keep at it. "Yung future nila, feeling ko magiging successful din sila basta magtuloy-tuloy lang sila. Huwag silang magbago kasi yun lang naman ang puhunan e, hard work," he said. He then continued, "At saka faith kay God. Yun lang naman pinaka-best armor mo sa career mo." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 16th, 2020

GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Alvin Pasaol s 49-point masterpiece

For 99.9 percent of the time, the Collegiate Press Corps' Player of the Week comes from a team with a win or a winning record. And so, the 0.1 percent chance of that not being the case has to be something so special. Alvin Pasaol's 49 points on October 9, 2017 was just that. First and foremost, let's just get it out of the way - Pasaol and University of the East bowed to De La Salle University, 100-106. Still, it was the burly forward who was the talk of the town as he became the first Filipino to breach the 40-point marker in over a decade. Make no mistake, he scored all of his points efficiently - going 20-for-30 from the field. He was so impressive, despite the loss, that Green Archer and eventual back-to-back Season MVP Ben Mbala could do nothing but sing his praises. Asked about an instance that had him tapping Pasaol on the head, Mbala answered, "I told him to keep working. He did a good job and when a guy plays well, you have to acknowledge him." He then continued, "It's a game of basketball after all . We have to enjoy and I have to congratulate him for his career-high." That game looked like it was going to be unremarkable in the earlygoing as "Big Ben" joined forces with Abu Tratter to power La Salle to a double-digit lead. After three quarters, it was actually all but over. Then with seven minutes remaining, UE's scoring machine got his 40th and 41st points - meaning he was two points away from tying the most points scored by a single player in a single game since 2003. He matched that milestone with an inside basket at the 4:13 mark of the final frame. Two minutes later, Pasaol made good on a triple to set the new scoring mark in the new era. Not long after, he added three more to his total. While it was the Alvin Pasaol show, after the game, the Davao native himself, humble as always, actually deflected all credit to his teammates. "Nag-stick lang naman ako sa game plan namin. Salamat din sa mga teammates ko kasi hindi ko naman makukuha yung 49 points dahil sa mga teammates ko." Whatever it is, then-head coach Derrick Pumaren said that what the Red Warriors’ main man did was something so special. “First time ata that I’ve coached a local scoring 49 kasi dati, import lang ang nakaka-score. I was really praying that he gets 50, but we’ll take 49,” he said while chuckling. The Collegiate Press Corps agreed. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 9th, 2020

GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Thompson-Jalalon s triple-double duel

Triple-doubles are rarities - and so, what is it called when two players each tally a triple-double in one game? A classic. Scottie Thompson and Jiovani Jalalon put on a show on September 4, 2015 as the former's University of Perpetual Help went at it with the latter's Arellano University in the NCAA 91 Men's Basketball Tournament. Of course, all of the Altas and all of the Chiefs were right there with them as the two teams duked it out every single second all the way through to double-overtime. When the final buzzer sounded, Jalalon and company triumphed over Thompson's crew, 84-77. At that point, Jalalon had turned in a 32-point, 15-rebound, and 10-assist masterpiece to edge out Thompson and his 24 markers, 12 boards, and 11 dishes. Yes, in that one game, two players put on a duel for the ages - a duel of triple-doubles. Even in the earlygoing, the contest was looking like it was going to be a classic as Thompson and Jalalon were firing on all cylinders right from tip-off. Perps was actually on the verge of winning, up 65-58 inside the last seven minutes before Jalalon had four points and an assist in Arellano's 10-3 rally at the end of regulation. Come the extra period, Jalalon only stepped harder on the gas, accounting for all of the points in the Chiefs' 11-2 run for a 79-70 lead. Thompson would not quit just yet and dropped five points in the last two minutes, but was turned back time and again by Jalalon who made good on all of his four shots from the stripe. In the end, Jalalon could only credit his triple-double to his will to win. As he put it, "Iniisip ko lang yung teammates ko. Hindi ko naman iniisip na habulin yung stats." He then continued, "Nagsipag lang talaga ako kasi kailangan naming manalo. Yun lang." And in the end, he came out on top of "Mr. Triple-Double" himself. For his part, Thompson had nothing but praise for the player who got the better of him in a duel of triple-doubles. "'Di naman talaga imposible yun kasi si Jio, all-around player. Gagawin din niya lahat para sa team," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2020

GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Afril Bernardino s almost quadruple-double

One more steal, one more steal and Afril Bernardino would have had the first and only quadruple-double in the history of the UAAP. National University's do-it-all guard tallied a triple-double of 17 points, 10, rebounds, and 10 assists at the end of their 78-42 demolition job of fellow contender Far Eastern University in the UAAP 79 Women's Basketball Tournament. At the same time, she also wound up with nine steals - falling just one shy of a feat as rare as available tickets in an Ateneo-La Salle game. Nonetheless, that game put on display all that made Bernardino one of the greatest talents the league has ever seen. As she always does, she made her presence felt all over the court from the get-go and made good on a free throw to cap off their 21-5 start. The 5-foot-7 playmaker would not let her foot off the pedal from that point and led the reigning and defending champions in a 31-9 third quarter tsunami that drowned the Lady Tamaraws once and for all. In the end, it was just another win, the 45th in a row for National U dating back to 2014. It was also just another evidence forwarded by Bernardino for the case of her being the undisputed MVP at season's end. Post-game, though, true to form, head coach Pat Aquino also made it a point to give credit to their total team effort. As he put it, "Afril almost had a quadruple-double, but without her teammates, hindi niya magagawa yun. The fact na palaging may Jack (Animam) and Gemma (Miranda), malaki yun." Indeed, Miranda had 21 points and nine rebounds while Animam had 15 points and 10 rebounds to provide backup. Still, that wasn't even the first time the then-21-year-old flirted with a quadruple-double. In an earlier game in that tournament, she collected 22 points, 11 steals, 10 assists, and seven rebounds in the Lady Bulldogs' 103-49 beatdown of University of Sto. Tomas. At the end of that game, Coach Pat could only sing the praises of his prized ward. "Siguro, siya yung pinakamagaling ngayon sa college," he said. Make no mistake, though, the multi-titled mentor again made it a point to mention Bernardino's teammates, "Again, I told her na without her teammates, she could not do this." Without a doubt, National U is a well-oiled machine that has churned six consecutive championships and 96 straight wins and counting. It was Bernardino who set the standard at how exactly that well-oiled machine should be run. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2020

Kai Sotto s greatest performances in the UAAP Jrs.

When he was just 15-years-old, Kai Sotto recorded the first triple-double in the high school ranks since 2003. Not only that, he did it on the biggest stage and under the brightest lights he had been on at that point. With 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks, the 7-foot-2 tantalizing talent lifted Ateneo de Manila High School to an 86-70 Game 1 triumph over Nazareth School of National University in the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Finals. N????PE! WATCH! Every single block from Kai Sotto's triple-double performance vs NU! (22P 16R 11B) #UAAPSeason80Jrs pic.twitter.com/VZwusEMV42 — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) February 23, 2018 The Blue Eaglets needed each and every one of those as, early on, they found themselves down, 0-8, and then, 17-30. Come the third quarter, however, Sotto stood strong and got together with SJ Belangel, Jason Credo, and Dave Ildefonso for a white-hot 33-5 blast that erased the double-digit deficit and erected a 50-35 advantage for the blue and white. They wouldn't look back from there to move one win away from the championship. That power performance proved, once and for all, that the son of PBA veteran Ervin Sotto was the real deal. And look where he is now, about to see action in the G League and only one step away from the NBA. Right after that game, Ateneo was nothing but proud of its towering teen who answered the call of his head coach. "Actually, he (has been) playing subpar. Maybe, it's because he's not in shape, pero me and Kai, we have a personal relationship," then-mentor Joe Silva said. He then continued, “I text him, he texts me and he texted me, ‘Coach, abangan niyo. Eto na, makikita niyo yung totoong Kai Sotto.’ True enough, he proved to be a man of his word.” Apparently, in the eyes of the Blue Eaglets, Sotto's per game counts of 12.9 points in 57.4 percent shooting, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks before the Finals left much room for improvement. And in Game 1, he indeed answered the call en route to a championship and a Finals MVP. At 15-years-old, he had already been making history - so it's no surprise he's only continuing to do so now until the foreseeable future. Here are Kai Sotto's other power performances from his time as an Ateneo Blue Eaglet: Career-high 36 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 assists as Ateneo def. the University of the Philippines Integrated School, 77-60, in the UAAP 81 first round 27 points, 22 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks as Ateneo def. Far Eastern University-Diliman, 77-61, in the UAAP 81 second round 26 points, 20 rebounds, and 3 blocks as Ateneo def. De La Salle Zobel, 88-59, in the UAAP 81 second round 26 points, 25 rebounds, and 4 blocks as Ateneo bowed to National U, 53-64, in the UAAP 81 Finals Game 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2020

UAAP 82: Akhuetie shines bright as UP steals win from Adamson

Juan Gomez de Liano finally came alive in the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament, but it was Bright Akhuetie who carried the University of the Philippines to a gutsy 83-82 overtime decision against Adamson University, Sunday at MOA Arena. The Fighting Maroons were down by seven with 2:22 remaining in the extra period until the reigning and defending MVP made his presence felt with his four free throws bookending an 8-0 run that eventually ended as a bounce back win. Akhuetie wound up with an 18-point, 18-rebound double-double and his heroics were only flanked by Kobe Paras and Jun Manzo who willed in a short stab and a layup, respectively, in between those four free throws. Manzo wound up with four points while Paras had 20 markers on top of six rebounds and two blocks in his league debut. They wouldn't have had that chance, however, if Javi Gomez de Liano didn't finish off a setup by Paras late in regulation. That triple tied the tally at 73-all and ultimately forced overtime. There, State U saw the Soaring Falcons go up, 82-75, thanks to rookie AP Manlapaz. They kept coming, however, and put their opponents inside a pressure cooker, leading to three straight turnovers from Jerrick Ahanmisi and Jerom Lastimosa. At the other end, UP followed Akhuetie's lead back into the win column now at 2-1. Juan GDL was also a big part of that, turning in his best game of the season with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals while kuya Javi had three markers and three boards to help their side triumph over Adamson for the third time in a row dating back to last season's semifinals. The roller-coaster ride continued for the Soaring Falcons, meanwhile, as Ahanmisi and Lastimosa's late gaffes wasted Val Chauca's 21-point and Manlapaz's 17-marker performances. Lastimosa and Ahanmisi merged for 20 points in 7-of-19 shooting as well as 10 turnovers to see their squad drop to 2-2. BOX SCORES UP 83 - Paras 20, Akhuetie 18, Ju. Gomez de Liano 12, Murrell 6, Rivero 6, Spencer 6, Webb 6, Manzo 4, Ja. Gomez de Liano 3, Tungcab 2, Gob 0, Jaboneta 0, Mantilla 0, Prado 0. ADAMSON 82 - Chauca 21, Manlapaz 17, Douanga 14, Lastimosa 13, Ahanmisi 7, Magbuhos 4, Camacho 2, Flowers 2, Mojica 2, Fermin 0, Yerro 0, Zaldivar 0. QUARTER SCORES: 18-20, 25-41, 52-50, 73-73, 83-82. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 15th, 2019

UAAP 82: Abando announces arrival in UST s takedown of UE

Recruits and returnees alike came to play for University of Sto. Tomas as they came out on top of fellow upstart University of the East, 95-82, in the first game day of the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament, Wednesday at Araneta Coliseum. First-year player Rhenz Abando made quite the first impression with 22 points built on five triples, CJ Cansino and Brent Paraiso made quite the return, and the undersized Growling Tigers made quite the tournament debut with a convincing victory versus the Red Warriors even after they unleashed 6-foot-8 Alex Diakhite. Coach Aldin's wards were way ahead by 23 in the final frame, but UE rose up for a rally behind prized rookie Harvey Pagsanjan and Rey Suerte, nearing to just 10, 80-90, inside the last two minutes. It was at that point, however, that Mark Nonoy, another one of UST's ready rookies, hit a booming triple to put his side back up, 93-80. Not long after, they were celebrating a well-earned win to begin their quest for a return to the Final Four. In the end, that three was Nonoy's only points in the game to go along with eight rebounds. Cansino and Paraiso also brought big-time contributions with the former finishing with nine points, eight rebounds, and five assists in his first game back from an ACL injury and the latter ending with 10 markers and seven boards in his first game back since transferring from De La Salle University. Beninese Soulemane Chabi Yo also added a 19-point, 12-rebound double-double all while doing his best to hold his own against the bigger Diakhite. UE's Senegalese powerhouse posted a 20-point, 21-rebound double-double while Cebuano transferee Suerte chimed in 23 markers, eight boards, four assists, and two steals and Hope Christian High School standout Pagsanjan chipped in 15 points of his own. BOX SCORES UST 95 - Abando 22, Chabi Yo 19, Paraiso 10, Concepcion 10, Cansino 9, Subido 5, Cuajao 5, Cosejo 5, Ando 4, Nonoy 3, Huang 3, Pangilinan 0, Bataller 0. UE 82 - Suerte 23, Diakhite 20, Pagsanjan 15, Mendoza 10, Tolentino 6, Abanto 5, Manalang 3, Apacible 0, Antiporda 0, Sawat 0, Conner 0. QUARTER SCORES: 27-19, 51-39, 69-52, 95-82. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 4th, 2019

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 12th, 2019

All-Decade Team: Some names to watch in 2020s

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Picking the best players of the past decade can be a delightful process, a walk down memory lane that highlights the best of the NBA’s best from the most recently completed era. We took care of that for you earlier this week with NBA.com's All-Decade Team for the 2010s. Data and established success provide the context needed to make a strong case when you're looking back. But you can't rely on those conventions when trying to decide what, and perhaps more appropriately, who, comes next. Questions linger for the big stars of the 2010s who would normally transition into the next decade with similar status. How will Kevin Durant look when he comes back from a season lost to an Achilles injury? What will Klay Thompson’s game look like post-ACL injury? There’s no saying how the summer’s superstar free agent and trade shuffle will impact career trajectories for older stars like Durant (going from Golden State to Brooklyn) and Russell Westbrook (going from Oklahoma City to Houston). Young stars just entering the league (or still finding their way) are bound to emerge in the coming years. On the other hand, established veterans will see the inevitable fading of their star status. That uncertain future for so many is part of what makes today’s exercise so much fun. We are peering into our crystal ball and projecting the future, identifying the stars who, a decade from now, might find their names on the best-of-the best list for the 2020s. * * * * = players who made a 2010s All-Decade Team Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks * "The Greek Freak" finished off the 2010s with his first Kia MVP and should be poised to compete for more this decade. He’s only scratched the surface of his immense potential and should be in the thick of the race for best player of the decade. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors * One half of the sweetest shooting backcourts in NBA history, Curry and his fellow Splash Brother, Thompson, could make the next All-Decade Team, too. That would require them to prove they’re still playing championship-level basketball in the Bay Area post-Durant. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers * Davis is finally positioned to chase championships and will do so as he enters the physical prime of his career. With Davis and LeBron James leading the way, the Lakers begin the next decade poised for a return to legitimate contender status. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks The reigning Kia Rookie of the Year gave us all a preview of what’s to come. Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are the foundational players expected to fuel the Mavericks the way Dirk Nowitzki did the past two decades. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers If Embiid stays healthy, he’s good enough to challenge for the unofficial title of best player of the 2020s. His availability is the most critical component for a Sixers organization that believes it is on the cusp of championship contention. Paul George, LA Clippers * George has fully bounced back from his devastating leg injury in 2014, earning a place among the NBA’s elite by finishing third in the Kia MVP voting to close out the 2010s. The only thing left on his to-do-list is to make the championship dreams of Clippers fans a reality. James Harden, Houston Rockets * Finding a new groove alongside Westbrook will determine the Rockets’ championship fate and perhaps Harden’s legacy. Harden’s Hall of Fame status is secured. He just needs a title to complete his trophy case.   LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers * Could he win a Kia MVP in three different decades? LeBron has broken the mold in just about every way imaginable to this point of his career, so it would be foolish to doubt him. He’s also got a chance to add to his title haul in the next decade as well. As for Father Time … what does that matter? Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets After winning a title as the supporting star in LeBron’s homecoming story in Cleveland, Irving hopes to revisit that magic in Brooklyn once Durant is healthy again. While Irving has some repair to do to his reputation after his final season in Boston, his talent remains undeniable. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets Some would argue that Jokic (and not Embiid) finished the decade as the NBA’s best big man. The Nuggets are banking on it, as they’ve built their operation around the triple-double versatility of the 24-year-old All-Star known as “The Joker.” Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers * Leonard load managed his way to a title in Toronto but has already declared himself ready to play without limitations as he attempts to bring a championship parade to his hometown. He’s at the height of his powers right now and, with good health, will be for the foreseeable future. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Lillard was noticeably absent from the 2010s All-Decade Team, but he shouldn’t have to worry about that happening in the 2020s. The face and soul of the franchise in Portland, Lillard knows that the next step for he and CJ McCollum is a Finals berth. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz If the addition of veteran Mike Conley has the impact Utah’s braintrust expects, Mitchell is primed to rise any ranking of the West’s (and NBA’s) top players. Don’t be surprised if he snags a scoring title (or two) in the next decade. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics With Kyrie Irving gone, Tatum and the Celtics can get back to the performances he provided during the 2018 playoffs as a rookie. The Celtics have refused to trade Tatum for a reason. He’s got the array of skills that a team values in a wing scorer. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks Any pre-Draft trepidation about Young was overturned after his strong finish to his rookie season. A splendid passer with Splash Bros.-type range, Young will grow and mature physically into the leader of a franchise revival in Atlanta. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 NewsAug 8th, 2019

No need for Malone to sell Nuggets: Their time is now

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — Give Michael Malone credit, the Denver Nuggets coach is as relentless a salesman as there is in basketball. Whether it’s moving speeches delivered to his own team or pleading with television audiences to stand up and take notice of the splendid compilation of talent the franchise has stockpiled in recent years, he refuses to let up. From building the legend of Jamal Murray or waxing poetic about the virtues of Nikola Jokic, the nimble giant prone to triple-doubles on the regular, Malone is prepared to use the bully pulpit to make sure no one overlooks the Nuggets. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] A seven-game series win over San Antonio in the first round produced some of Malone’s best stuff to date, including him trumpeting Jokic as not only a legitimate Kia MVP candidate (true, this season) but also a surefire future Hall of Famer (could be, the way he’s playing). So you had to know Malone was going to be on his Nuggets informercial grind after they refused to lose Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in Portland, bouncing back after losing a grueling four-overtime thriller to the Trail Blazers here Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) with a gritty 116-112 triumph to tie this series at 2-2 headed back to Denver for Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) critical Game 5. “I’m so proud of our group,” Malone said, after his talented crew showed off the chops needed to regain the homecourt advantage they surrendered in their Game 2 loss at Pepsi Center. “And in the closing moments, I really was confident because in close games this year we were 13-3 [in games] decided by three points or less, best record in the NBA. We’re 12-1 in the second nights of back-to-backs, best record in the NBA. Our guys are tough; to come in here and win this game some 36 hours after losing a four-overtime game speaks to just how tough we are. So I wasn’t worried, we had our starting group out there. “Jamal, who I thought was phenomenal tonight, goes 11-for-11 from the foul line in a hostile environment and really kind of with the series hanging in the balance. You go down 1-3, and we all know how that story ends. I think the confidence of doing the same thing in the first round against San Antonio helped us, but our guys stepped up. We never frayed. We stayed together. And I can’t speak enough about the resiliency and toughness of our team.” And he shouldn’t. The Blazers had won 12 straight games at home dating back to the regular season and were 22-2 on their home floor since January 5. When the Nuggets saw their 10-point lead shrink to just a point with 3:02 to play as Portland closers Damian Lillard (28 points) and C.J. McCollum (29) led the charge, Denver could have easily folded up under the emotional weight of Game 3 and their current predicament. But they proved to be as resilient and tough as Malone said they were. Jokic was brilliant again, collecting his fourth triple-double (21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists) in his first postseason, second only to the five Magic Johnson piled up during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers. And Murray was even better, finishing with a game-high 34 points and draining six straight free throws in the frantic closing seconds to seal the win for a Nuggets team that didn’t allow fatigue, a raucous and sellout Moda Center crowd or the pressure to avoid that 3-1 hole rattle them. “It wasn’t the first time,” Murray said of his embrace of the pressure with the game on the line at the line. “I think free throws are my thing. My dad and I do a lot of training [on] free throws. Blindfolded, he’ll talk to me just like how the crowd is, put pressure on me. I take 1,000 free throws in practice to make or or two … and tonight, it ended up being six.” The number Malone focused on afterwards was 11, as in the number of playoff games Murray and Jokic have played in as they continue to establish themselves as postseason stars. “You think about how young we are and and what we are doing, going on the road and winning a tough game in a hostile environment,” Malone said, “and for Jamal to be the centerpiece of that has been phenomenal. If you’re a Denver Nuggets fan, how excited are you about this team now. More importantly, how excited are you for our future? We have a chance to be a really good team for many, many years and Jamal is going to be a big part of that.” The same goes for Jokic, obviously. He’s already an All-Star and is going to end up on the All-NBA first or second team as well as the top five of the voting for Kia MVP after the regular season he put together. That might explains why the entire Nuggets bench froze as they watched him limp to the sideline in the final moments after being kneed in the leg in the final seconds. “Your heart skips a beat,” Malone said. “Nikola is the face of our franchise, but he just got kneed, it was nothing serious and and we were able to hold on for the win.” For all of Malone’s bluster about his group, it’s not even necessary at this stage of the season. The Nuggets earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase on the strength of a talented and deep roster that might not resonate with casual NBA fans, but is celebrated by those in the know. Touting their accomplishments in real time makes sense for a coach trying to empower his team to believe in themselves in what could and perhaps should be a nice stretch of playoff runs in the future. But anyone paying attention can tell that the future could be now for these Nuggets. A trip to the conference finals one year after they failed to make the postseason field on the final night of the season in what amounted to a play-in game in Minneapolis last April, is a hell of a start. Malone knows it. His team knows it. And so do the Trail Blazers, who are well aware of the opportunity they squandered in a series where wavering confidence by the Nuggets might have been the only advantage they could exploit. “The good thing for us is that we won a game on their court,” Lillard said. “So it’s not like we lose both games there. We’re in a good space, 2-2, we know we’re capable of winning on their floor and that’t what we’ve got to get done. Obviously, it’s disappointing … we didn’t want to let an opportunity like this slip, but it happens. It’s playoff basketball and we’ve got to move forward.” So do the Nuggets, which is where Malone the master motivator comes into play. And just so we’re clear about something, his sell job is genuine. He knows of what he speaks in assessing a young team on the rise, having spent time coaching in Cleveland and Golden State during the formative stages with what would turn out to be teams that made it to The Finals (2007 in Cleveland). He was on Mark Jackson’s Warriors staff when they turned the corner from a lottery team to  playoff outfit (2012-13 season), helping nurture the core group of a team that has won three of the past four NBA titles and become a potential dynasty that no one saw coming at the time. So if Malone sees special things in his current team, it’s his responsibility to shout about it every now and then, both to the basketball public and especially internally. Youngsters like Jokic and Murray, Gary Harris and Malik Beasley, Torrey Craig and Monte Morris and even veterans like Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee and Game 4 hero Will Barton, who knocked down huge shots to help seal the deal, need to hear the positive reinforcement from their coach. And that’s not even taking into account what absorbing these moments means for Michael Porter Jr., who is spending his rookie season recovering from back surgery, and is certainly going to be a part of that bright future Malone is so passionate about. If anything, this Nuggets team is ahead of schedule, two wins shy of a trip to the Western Conference finals with three games to play. Two of those are coming on their home floor, where Denver compiled the best record (34-7) in the league during the regular season. Maybe Malone is right to speak the Nuggets’ success into existence rather than wishing and hoping for it to come to fruition without a word otherwise. But he won’t have to go all car salesmen on the final day of month much longer. A couple more performances like the one the Nuggets put on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) and this whole thing, the refurbished franchise with all the boxes checked on the roster -- now and for the foreseeable future -- sells itself. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

UP, UE share 2019 s king of recruiting crown

Who was our King of Recruiting in 2018? Find out here. --- Last season, the University of the Philippines, at long last, broke through in the UAAP. Behind the leadership of Paul Desiderio and key contributions from Season MVP Bright Akhuetie and Mythical selection Juan Gomez de Liano, the Fighting Maroons made their first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals in 32 years. Now, even without the iconic Desiderio, State U is nothing but confident it could build on its breakthrough. The reason? Well, because two of the brightest young stars in Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero are now orbiting Diliman. Paras has all the physical tools to take any league by storm and now in maroon and green, he is out to continue the legacy of his father Benjie who delivered the school’s first and only championship. Meanwhile, the Euro-stepping Rivero already knows a thing or two about taking the UAAP by storm, having been chosen for the Mythical Team when he was still playing for De La Salle University in 2017. Add big man J-Boy Gob, another transferee, to that and, indeed, UP is only equipped to keep contending. On the strength of the transfers of Paras and Rivero alone, the Fighting Maroons would have been worthy of the title of 2019 King of Recruiting. Right up there with them, though, in terms of getting a big boost in the offseason is University of the East. Absent from the Final Four in the last decade, the Red Warriors will be heading into the upcoming season with a fully stocked arsenal. Now up front for them – alongside stalwart Philip Manalang, of course – will be 6-foot-9 Senegalese Adama Diakhite, three-time champion and two-time MVP in the CESAFI Rey Suerte, and college-ready Harvey Pagsanjan, the no. 7 high school player in the 2019 NBTC 24. Diakhite is a hulking presence who will prove to be a tough matchup even for the likes of reigning MVP Akhuetie and last year’s Rookie of the year Ange Kouame. Suerte, a gifted scorer from anywhere on the court, fills right into the hole left behind by scoring dynamo Alvin Pasaol while Pagsanjan can continue making all the right plays he had been doing as the longtime beacon of hope for Hope Christian High School. Also flanking them are former Ateneo de Manila University forward John Apacible, defensive stopper Neil Tolentino, Filipino-Kiwi swingman Richie Rodger, and Filipino-Australian point guard Jasper Rentoy. And with that, UP and UE will have joint custody of the crown of the 2019 King of Recruiting. They dethrone National University which claimed the crown a year ago behind a big-time recruiting class that included Ildefonso brothers Dave and Shaun, John Lloyd Clemente, and John Galinato. Just like last year, there remains no doubt that the new Fighting Maroons and Red Warriors will make their respective sides forces to reckon with come UAAP 82. Still, several squads also made it a point to be better in the offseason. In fact, the graduating players in the 2019 NBTC 24 have been spread out among eight different teams. From the 2019 NBTC 24, the annual ranking of the best high school players in the country, 14 are moving on up to the Seniors. Adamson University is the biggest winner in terms of recruits from that ranking, with three of the top 15 players now in San Marcelino. Ninth-ranked Aaron Fermin is a double-double machine in the NCAA Jrs. and is nothing but determined to realize his potential as a two-way force under multi-titled mentor Franz Pumaren. In CESAFI standout Joshua Yerro and UAAP Jrs. Mythical selection Joem Sabandal, coach Franz also has young blood to bolster the backcourt that will no longer have Koko Pingoy. The Soaring Falcons also scored four other former Baby Falcons in big man Lorenz Capulong and wings Adam and Andrey Doria and AP Manlapaz. When it comes to reaping the rewards of its high school program, though, nobody could still touch Mapua University which again got two keep its Jrs. studs in Clint Escamis and Dan Arches, both of whom made it into the top two-thirds of the 2019 NBTC 24. Escamis and Arches are offensive guards who will give much-needed firepower to a promising core comprised of fellow Mapua HS products Warren Bonifacio, Eric Jabel, Noah Lugo, and Laurenz Victoria. Also, the Cardinals are the favorites to land NCAA 94 Jrs. Finals MVP Paolo Hernandez, another Red Robin. Also bagging two prized prospects from the 2019 NBTC 24 is La Salle which is now the place where the talented tandem of Joel Cagulangan and Joshua David get to work. Cagulangan has long been a star in the making and the NCAA 94 Jrs. MVP is, without question, Taft Avenue’s point guard of the future. The even better news is that he will still have wingman David, a tried and tested glue guy, to grow with. Also set to debut for the Green Archers are Filipino-Americans Jordan Bartlett, a speedster guard; Tyrus Hill, a high-flying forward; and Kurt Lojera, a big-bodied swingman. In all, there are six graduates from the top 10 of the 2019 NBTC 24. All of them would be on different teams in the Srs. Two players from 2019 NBTC 24 are yet to commit to any school, but there is no doubt that Red Robin Hernandez and Greenie Inand Fornilos will be able additions to any collegiate team. For the second straight year, Aldin Ayo will be adding a top three recruit out of high school as incoming sophomore CJ Cansino will now join forces with another triple-doubling talent in Mark Nonoy, a rookie who plays way beyond his years. But wait, there’s more as UST also welcomes with open arms its newest foreign student-athlete in Beninese Soulemane Chabi Yo whose speed and skill will make him a problem for the other foreign student-athletes more used to being powerhouses. Sprinkle in stretch four Sherwin Concepcion as well as versatile forwards Rhenz Abando and Brent Paraiso and there’s a reason why the Growling Tigers are now very much a darkhorse contender. L-Jay Gonzales and RJ Abarrientos remain FEU’s backcourt for tomorrow, but in the meantime, the former is poised for a breakout just as the latter is poised to wrap up his K-12 schooling. Yes, Abarrientos is not yet good to go come UAAP 82, but his steady hand is still the perfect pairing for the burst of energy that is Gonzales. Make no mistake, however, the Tamaraws have gotten help in the form of 6-foot-10 Cameroonian Patrick Tchuente as well as former Baby Tams Daniel Celzo and Jack Gloria. Letran is already the biggest it has ever been up front with NCAA 94 Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang alongside Jeo Ambohot, Christian Balagasay, and Christian Fajarito. Now, the Knights have also beefed up at the wings with Allen Mina and Mark Sangalang as well as former Red Warrior and Growling Tiger Jordan Sta. Ana. LPU will have to prove it could continue contending even without NCAA 93 MVP CJ Perez, but the good news is that now backtopping Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee are former San Sebastian College-Recoletos key cogs Alvin Baetiong, Jayson David, and Renzo Navarro. That’s still a pretty solid lineup in our books. Just like last year, the now two-time UAAP champions are mostly intact, only losing team captain Anton Asistio as well as reserve guard Aaron Black. That doesn’t mean, however, that there are no new faces in Ateneo. Geo Chiu, Kai Sotto’s twin tower, decided to stay in Katipunan just as fellow ex-Blue Eaglets RV Berjay and Jason Credo are now seeing minutes in head coach Tab Baldwin’s rotation. And oh, there is a possibility that double-double machine Fornilos, who placed no. 13 in the 2019 NBTC 24, is bound to be a Blue Eaglet. Perps is nothing but determined to build on the triumphant return to the NCAA of head coach Frankie Lim and to do that, they will be leaning on former San Beda University pillar Ben Adamos as well as ex-Adamson HS workhorse Jefner Egan. Count out the Altas at your own risk. JRU is just on the first phase of a grand rebuild, but there is no doubt that things are looking up for Kalentong. In John Amores, they now have an end-to-end force who is all set to make an immediate impact as a rookie. These are the new names to watch for the teams: Baste CSB National U San Beda --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2019

Sleepwalking Warriors snap to behind ultimate weapon Durant

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES -- The only sound in a basketball game that mimics an alarm clock blaring is the final buzzer, but by then the score is official and it’s too late to wake up. And maybe the Warriors needed seven months and 88 games to recognize this, because when you’ve won three championships in four years and bring four All-Stars in their prime and play nightly against the rank-and-file, there’s a tendency to doze off just to, you know, make things interesting. Well, nap’s over. After Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) 129-110 victory over the Clippers, the buzzer has shifted to the opening tip, and suddenly the Warriors are aware of where they are and who they’re up against and what time it is. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] At least, those are the signals they’re giving off now, on the eve of the second round of the playoffs, when there is no better moment -- to paraphrase the noted prophet Kevin Durant -- to let folks know who you are. They’ll be led into their next basketball battle by Durant, fresh off a fiddy, which of course is basketball slang for 5-0 points, which finally silenced the Clippers and made the basketball world revisit the belief that the Warriors are not to be denied. This of course will be put to the test by the Rockets, arguably the biggest threat facing the Warriors between now and a June champagne sip. But really, now: If Durant plays like he has the last few games, does it really matter what James Harden and Chris Paul bring in this upcoming best-of-seven? “He’s in a groove right now,” said Steph Curry. “Special to see.” With the exception of last year’s Western Conference finals, when Houston took Golden State to the limit, the Durant Warriors have been one level above all others in the playoffs. The Clippers just took two from them -- despite Durant -- and nobody else claimed more than one victory in a best-of-seven. Overall, excluding that Rockets’ series, the Durants are 32-5 in the postseason, a clean 9-0 in series play. Everything that the Warriors were projected to do once Durant signed up for duty two summers ago has come true. They’re three superstars ahead of good teams and two superstars ahead of very good teams. Right now, they’re alone on the island, the only true great team in the league, even on nights when they don’t play the part. With all due respect to Damian Lillard, no one has has drawn more awe lately than Durant, who’s on pace to cause major problems for whomever crouches in a defensive stance before him. In the last four games, he averaged 42 points on 55 percent shooting, and at times was a singular force against the stubborn Clippers. Remember, Steph Curry is trying to climb out of a fog, stifled and troubled by missed jumpers in the last week and momentarily sidelined Friday (Saturday, PHL time) by a tweaked right ankle, which always causes the Warriors to hold their breath. Klay Thompson, as is his pattern, went ballistic for one game, then was rather tame by comparison in the others. “I just play my game through it all,” Durant said. “I definitely don’t want to go away from my teammates if they’re struggling to shoot the ball. But at the same time, I have to be aggressive and try to win the game as well.” Given how leaky the Warriors’ defense looked and how carelessly they handled the ball, the one constant in the first round was Durant drilling shots from all angles and distances, especially once he confined his chatter to making shots instead of taking them at Pat Beverley, the Clippers’ All-Star instigator. Warriors coach Steve Kerr called it “one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen” and this is someone who rode with Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan. Whether Kerr was simply caught up in the moment, it doesn’t minimize what Durant did to close out the Clippers and what he’s capable of doing against the Rockets. “He's the ultimate weapon because there's no defense for Kevin,” Kerr said. “No matter what anybody does, he can get a good shot. And he knew we needed him badly. And he just took over the game in the first half and set a great tone.” Durant appears to be locked in and on a mission, and if this is his last run with the Warriors, it’s morphing into a gallop. His 50 points Friday (Saturday, PHL time) were a personal playoff high and his 38 in the first half tied Charles Barkley for second on the all-time list. And this came on the heels of the 45 points he delivered in a losing Game 5 effort. “Sometimes you come across special people and it doesn’t matter what defense you send to them,” said Clippers guard Lou Williams. “There is no scheme. There’s nothing you can do with special people. He’s one of them and he showed it. He put them guys on his shoulders. He proved exactly who people think he is, who he thinks of himself, and he did it.” The Warriors finished with the best record in the West this season, almost on reputation or cruise control. Once again, there were lapses that seemed suspiciously like a team bored with the schedule and awaiting a summer coronation. This breezy attitude seeped into the opening round, when the Warriors choked away a 31-point lead and then lost another home game to an eighth-seeded team devoid of All-Stars. This doesn’t happen unless the heavily-favored one-seed is taking their championship rings for granted. “I think I made a joke like this first round felt like it was two months,” said Curry. “It was just the emotional part of it, I mean, losing (DeMarcus Cousins) and a 31-point lead and trying to come back on the road and the mental investment you put into it. We’ve got to be able to flip the switch from one team to the next and that will be the biggest test.” Well, and this might be a stretch, but expect the Warriors to show the Rockets a lot more respect. Deep down, Kerr knows losing a pair to the Clippers was perhaps the face-slap his team needed, and at the right time. The Warriors know any lapse in this series will likely be their last, and a fatal one as well. “We know what Houston's about,” said Kerr. “We know how good they are. We've got to be ready.” There are positive signs beyond Durant. Thompson will be the first line of defense against Harden, the league’s leading scorer this season, and Thompson is coming off a lockdown of Williams, who finally cooled and went 3-for-21 Friday (Saturday, PHL time). This will be of major importance, of course, given Harden’s usage rate and relentlessness. “If you’re not focused,” Durant said, “he can drive past you, he shoots floaters now, he’s a strong finish with either hand and obviously the step-back three-pointers is one of his staples. He can score in a variety of ways so you have to be locked in from the beginning. You’ve got to be ready to play tough all game.” Draymond Green is coming off a triple-double, while the aging Andre Iguodala seems springy and active, usually his profile this time of year. Yes, there’s finally perhaps a sense of urgency or at least an understanding of what’s at stake and more of an emphasis on staying woke for the Warriors. “Obviously we would love to win every series 4-0,” said Durant. “That would be ideal. But we know it’s not really going to happen that way.” Perhaps not. But the Durant Warriors, based on their track record, are convincing enough. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or 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 NewsApr 27th, 2019

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

Fight mars A s 9th straight win, 7-2 over Astros

By The Associated Press Benches cleared and even the stands emptied during Oakland’s 7-2 victory over the Astros on Sunday, tempers flaring at last between the AL West rivals months after Houston’s sign-stealing scandal was brought to light by Oakland pitcher Mike Fiers. Oakland’s Ramon Laureano got hit by a pitch — for the third time in the three-game series — this one by Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh. Laureano began exchanging words with animated Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron, then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward him. Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder reached Cintron, and a wild scene ensued. Players rushed out of both dugouts to join the fray. A’s and Astros players who were sitting in the seats, observing COVID-19 social-distancing protocols, also rushed onto the field. Laureano was ejected by plate ump Ted Barrett. Oakland won its ninth straight, and Houston lost its fifth in a row. Matt Olson hit a three-run homer in the third and Matt Chapman connected the very next pitch, taking the score from 1-0 to 5-0 on consecutive offerings from Astros starter Cristian Javier (1-1). Robbie Grossman also homered and Mark Canha contributed an RBI single. A’s rookie left-hander Jesus Luzardo (1-0) earned his first major league win in his second career start. BRAVES 5, PHILLIES 2, 1st game; BRAVES 8, PHILLIES 0, 2nd game PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ronald Acuna Jr. homered twice and Freddie Freeman also went deep to spoil Spencer Howard’s big league debut and Atlanta Braves completed a sweep of the doubleheader with an 8-0 win in the second game. Acuna also homered in Atlanta’s 5-2 victory in the first game. He had four hits in the second game and added his his fourth career multihomer game. The Phillies had waited since the restart to send Howard (0-1) to the mound. Freeman hit a two-run homer in the third for the early lead and Acuna had a solo shot to the opposite field in right for a 3-0 lead. Atlanta’s Max Fried (3-0) hummed along against the Phillies until needed to get out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth. Acuna hit a two-run shot off Trevor Kelley for a 6-0 lead in the sixth. In the first game, Acuna hit a two-run homer off Deolis Guerra (1-1) and Adam Duvall had a three-run double to lead the Braves. Tyler Matzek (2-0) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the win, and Mark Melancon worked a scoreless ninth for his third save. INDIANS 5, WHITE SOX 4, 10 innings CHICAGO (AP) — Delino DeShields snapped a tie with a perfectly placed squeeze bunt in the 10th inning to lift Cleveland. DeShields’ bunt drove in José Ramírez, who started the inning on second as part of baseball’s extra-inning rule for the pandemic-shortened season. Mike Freeman added a two-out RBI single that gave Cleveland a 5-3 lead. Veteran left-hander Oliver Perez got the final two outs following a 46-minute rain delay for his first save. It was just the fifth save of his 18-year career. Phil Maton (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning for the win. Jimmy Codero (0-1) allowed two runs, one earned, in the loss. José Abreu and James McCann homered for Chicago. ROYALS 4, TWINS 2 KANSAS CITY, Mo (AP) — Hunter Dozier hit a two-run single in his first at-bat since testing positive for COVID-19, and prized prospect Brady Singer earned his major league win to lead Kansas City. The Royals won their fourth in a row overall. The Twins lost all three at Kauffman Stadium and have dropped four straight. Dozier hadn’t played this season while recovering from the virus. He quickly delivered, putting the Royals ahead 2-0 in the first inning. Singer (1-1) allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. The Kansas City bullpen threw four shutout innings with Scott Barlow closed for his first save. Jose Berrios (1-2) went 5 1/3 innings giving up four runs. He allowed Maikel Franco’s leadoff homer in the sixth. RANGERS 7, ANGELS 3 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Los Angeles Angels right fielder Jo Adell was charged with a rare four-base error when a fly ball from Texas’ Nick Solak popped out of the rookie’s glove and flew the few remaining feet over the fence in the Rangers’ win. The play was initially ruled a home run for Solak, but the official scorer changed it to an error after consulting with the Elias Sports Bureau. Texas completed a three-game sweep as Lance Lynn (2-0) earned his 100th career win, losing a shutout on Tommy La Stella’s two-run homer in the fifth. Shin-Soo Choo capped a four-run fourth with a two-run single that chased Angels starter Andrew Heaney (1-1). Rougned Odor ended an 0-for-18 skid with an RBI single for the first run in the fourth. BREWERS 9, REDS 3 MILWAUKEE (AP) — Christian Yelich homered, tripled and drew a bases-loaded walk Milwaukee got its first home victory. The Brewers avoided falling to 0-5 at home for the first time since 1970, the franchise’s inaugural season in Milwaukee. Justin Smoak broke out of a slump and delivered hits from each side of the plate during a six-run rally in the sixth that put the Brewers ahead for good. Milwaukee poured it on in the seventh with back-to-back homers from Keston Hiura and Yelich. Sonny Gray (3-1) gave up three hits to the Brewers’ first four batters of the sixth and left with the score tied and runners on the corners with one out. Michael Lorenzen replaced Gray and didn’t retire any of the four hitters he faced as the Brewers eventually built a 7-2 lead. Brent Suter (2-0) earned the win with two innings of shutout relief. METS 4, MARLINS 2 NEW YORK (AP) — Jacob deGrom dodged trouble for five innings, rookie Andrés Giménez had three hits and scored three runs, and New York won a home series for the first time this season. DeGrom (2-0) allowed two runs and seven hits, marking the 25th time in his past 27 starts he permitted three runs or fewer. Jesus Aguilar hit a two-run homer in the fifth for the Marlins, who lost their second straight after getting off to a 7-1 start despite 18 players testing positive for the coronavirus. Seth Lugo tossed a scoreless ninth for his third save. Pablo Lopez (1-1) allowed three runs — two earned — and five hits in five innings. RED SOX 5, BLUE JAYS 3 BOSTON (AP) — Mitch Moreland hit two home runs, including a walk-off shot over the Green Monster to lead Boston. Xander Bogaerts drew a two-out walk from Thomas Hatch (0-1) to set up Moreland’s game-winner. Matt Barnes (1-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to get the win. The Blue Jays now head to Buffalo, New York, where they’ll play their remaining home games at the site of their Triple-A affiliate across the Niagara River from Canada. Rafael Devers also homered for the Red Sox. RAYS 4, YANKEES 3 ST. PETERSURG, Fla. (AP) — Michael Perez had an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning to lift Tampa Bay. Mike Brosseau started the ninth with a double off Zack Britton (0-1) but was thrown out at third on Brandon Lowe’s grounder. Lowe advanced to second on a wild pitch before Manuel Margot walked. After both runners advanced on Willy Adames grounder to first, Perez lined a single to right as the Rays took three of four from the AL East leaders. Brosseau and Lowe both homered in the seventh, when the Rays tied it at 3. Ryan Thompson (1-0) worked a perfect ninth for his first major league win. TIGERS 2, PIRATES 1 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Spencer Turnbull pitched seven strong innings and Miguel Cabrera singled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth for Detroit. Cabrera’s single to left-center field off Richard Rodriguez (0-1) scored Jonathan Schoop, who was hit by a pitch with two outs and took second on a wild pitch. Turnbull (2-0) allowed only one run and five hits while striking out four and walking two. Buck Farmer pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Joe Jimenez retired the side in order for his fifth save. PADRES 9, DIAMONDBACKS 5 SAN DIEGO (AP) — Dinelson Lamet was brilliant in taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning and Fernando Tatis Jr. continued his remarkable power surge with a two-run homer off winless Madison Bumgarner, who allowed four of San Diego’s club-record six long balls as the Padres beat Arizona. Manny Machado homered twice off Bumgarner. Wil Myers, Francisco Mejia and Ty France also went deep for San Diego. Lamet (2-0) had allowed only one baserunner, on a hit by pitch, until Kole Calhoun homered leading off the seventh. The right-hander struck out 11 and walked none in 6 2/3 innings. The Padres remain the only major league team without a no-hitter, having played 8,154 games since 1969 without one. With the Padres leading 9-1, Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly pitched a scoreless eighth. Bumgarner (0-3) has struggled with the Diamondbacks, who gave him an $85 million, five-year contract in December after he spent a decade with the San Francisco Giants, helping them win three World Series titles in five seasons. He allowed six runs and five hits in two innings. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said the 31-year-old lefty exited after experiencing back spasms. DODGERS 6, GIANTS 2 LOS ANGELES (AP) — AJ Pollock and Mookie Betts each hit a three-run homer to rally Los Angeles past San Francisco. The Dodgers have won nine of 12, and they took two of three in the series from their NL West rivals. Their 29 long balls lead the majors. With the Dodgers trailing 2-0, Cody Bellinger singled off Giants starter Kevin Gausman with one out in the seventh inning and Justin Turner followed with a single off submariner Tyler Rogers (1-3). Max Muncy took a called third strike, but Pollock sent a full-count pitch to left-center for his fourth homer and a 3-2 lead. Betts’ shot in the eighth made it 6-2. Jake McGee (1-0) got the win with a hitless inning. Mike Yastrzemski had a two-run single in the fifth for the Giants. MARINERS 5, ROCKIES 3 SEATTLE (AP) — Justus Sheffield pitched six shutout innings for his first major league win, Dylan Moore hit a two-run homer and Seattle slowed down Colorado. Sheffield (1-2) gave up four hits without a walk and struck out seven in his longest stint this season. He worked his way out of a jam with a strikeout to end the fifth, then sat down two more Rockies in the sixth before reaching his pitch limit. Charlie Blackmon extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a first-inning double for Colorado. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Rockies, who had won seven of eight in August -- including two straight over the Mariners. Colorado starter German Marquez (2-2) allowed six hits in seven innings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Angels recover after giving up late lead, beat Astros in 10

By The Associated Press ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Matt Thaiss scored on Michael Hermosillo’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the 10th inning, and the Los Angeles Angels snapped their three-game skid with a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night. Jason Castro delivered a tying RBI double in the ninth for the Angels, who improved the majors’ worst record to 3-6 despite blowing a two-run lead in the ninth. David Fletcher hit a leadoff single in the 10th off Nivaldo Rodriguez (0-1), sending Thaiss to third. After the Astros walked Anthony Rendon to load the bases, Thaiss scored on Josh Reddick’s inaccurate throw from medium right field. Angels reliever Noé Ramirez got two outs in the 10th, and Ryan Buchter (2-0) struck out Abraham Toro with the bases loaded in a rare bright moment for the Halos’ struggling relievers. YANKEES 5, RED SOX 2 NEW YORK (AP) — Gio Urshela hit his first big league grand slam, Aaron Judge homered for a career-high fourth straight game and New York won its fifth straight. Nick Nelson (1-0) pitched three hitless innings to win his major league debut. At 6-1, the Yankees are off to their best start since 2003. Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka made his season debut after recovering from a concussion sustained when he was hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive during practice on July 4. Tanaka lasted just 2 2/3 innings and 51 pitches, tiring in his second time through the order. David Hale finished the six-hitter for his third career save, his first this year. Judge homered in the first inning off Zack Godley (0-1), a 455-foot drive to left-center. Urshela hit his second homer of the season an inning later for a 5-0 lead. TWINS 3, INDIANS 0 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Miguel Sanó homered twice and Kenta Maeda pitched six scoreless innings in his home debut for Minnesota. Eddie Rosario added a solo homer for the Twins, who got another strong start from a veteran newcomer to its starting rotation. Maeda (2-0) retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit until Bradley Zimmer beat out a weak ground ball to second base in the fifth inning. Carlos Carrasco (1-1) gave up six hits in six innings for Cleveland and was done in by three solo home runs from the Twins. Maeda, acquired in an offseason trade from the Dodgers, was one of three key additions to strengthen Minnesota’s rotation along with Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. BRAVES 7, METS 1 ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuña Jr. shook off a slow start by driving in two runs with two hits, including his first homer, and Atlanta won its fourth straight. The Mets have lost four straight, including the first two games of the four-game series between the NL East rivals. Marcell Ozuna hit a two-run homer, his third, off Michael Wacha (1-1) in the first inning. Acuña led off the game with his 18th strikeout, the most in the majors, before emerging from his funk. He doubled in a run in the second for his first RBI as the Braves stretched the lead to 5-0. Acuña lined his first homer into the left-field seats in the sixth off right-hander Franklyn Kilome. Josh Tomlin (1-0) pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings with three strikeouts for the win. WHITE SOX 11, ROYALS 5 KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gio Gonzalez made his first start for the hot-hitting Chicago White Sox more than 16 years after they drafted him, and the veteran responded by holding the Kansas City Royals scoreless into the fourth inning. Eloy Jimenez hit a three-run homer and finished with a career-high four hits, and rookie Luis Robert had four hits while finishing a triple shy of the cycle, leading a White Sox barrage of 21 hits in all. Leury Garcia also pounded out four hits, Yoan Moncada added three and Yasmani Grandal had a pair of hits while driving in two runs. That was plenty of support for Gonzalez, who scattered five hits and three walks while striking out six in 3 2/3 innings. Matt Foster (1-0), one of six White Sox relievers, got the win. Much of Chicago’s damage came off spot starter Ronald Bolanos (0-2), who allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings. Whit Merrifield hit a two-run homer for the Royals. Ryan O’Hearn drove in their other two runs. ROCKIES 6, PADRES 1 DENVER (AP) — Kyle Freeland pitched six innings of two-hit ball and was backed by the superb defense of Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado as Colorado beat San Diego. Freeland (2-0) allowed a two-out single to Tommy Pham in the first and then retired 13 in a row before Francisco Mejia’s double in the sixth. The left-hander struck out four and walked one in throwing an economical 83 pitches. Story contributed at the plate as well with a solo shot in the fourth. It was his second straight game with a homer. Matt Kemp hit a solo homer in the third for the Rockies. Padres lefty Joey Lucchesi (0-1) had a forgettable outing in going 1 2/3 innings and giving up three runs. Trent Grisham homered to center in the eighth off Rockies reliever Yency Almonte. DODGERS 11, DIAMONDBACKS 2 PHOENIX (AP) — Chris Taylor hit a three-run homer, A.J. Pollock and Edwin Ríos added two-run shots and Los Angeles rolled past Arizona. The bottom of the Dodgers' order showed big power in the fourth inning when Ríos — who was hitting seventh — smashed a two-run homer over the 413-foot sign in center field. Two batters later, Matt Beaty ripped another homer that barely stayed fair down the right-field line. D-backs starter Luke Weaver (0-2) took the loss after giving up six runs in four-plus innings. The Dodgers broke the game open with a five-run fifth when the first six batters reached base on Weaver and reliever Yoan López. Justin Turner hit a two-run triple and Pollock added a two-run homer as Los Angeles pushed its lead to 8-2. Taylor’s three-run homer in the eighth made it 11-2. Dodgers starter Julio Urías (1-0) gave up two runs over six innings while striking out five......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

Nationals beat Blue Jays 4-0 in 10 in road game at home

By The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Adam Eaton’s bases-loaded chopper broke a scoreless tie in the 10th inning on a close play and Asdrúbal Cabrera followed with a three-run triple, helping the Nationals snap a three-game losing streak by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 Wednesday night. In a quirky game befitting this pandemic-altered, upside-down season, Toronto’s team played its “home opener” at Washington — batting in the bottom half of each inning, wearing its white uniforms, playing its players’ walk-up music and even blaring the song “OK Blue Jays,” the club’s traditional seventh-inning stretch staple. Toronto’s Nate Pearson, in his big league debut, and Washington’s Max Scherzer, in his 358th start in the majors, put up plenty of zeros. So did the relievers that followed. In the top of the 10th, though, Washington moved ahead on an odd-looking play. After starting with the automatic runner on second base Washington loaded the bags with two walks from Toronto’s sixth pitcher, Shun Yamaguchi (0-2). After two strikeouts, Eaton bounced a ball off the mound. Second baseman Cavan Biggio grabbed it and tried to dive glove-first at the bag, but was edged out by runner Andrew Stevenson. After a replay review of more than two minutes, the “safe” call was upheld, making it 1-0. Cabrera then homered. Daniel Hudson (1-0) got five outs for the win. DODGERS 4, ASTROS 2, 13 INNINGS HOUSTON (AP) — The Dodgers and Astros showed no carry-over from a fracas in the series opener that led to suspensions, and Edwin Ríos hit a two-run homer in the 13th inning to lift Los Angeles over Houston. No pitches were thrown above or behind any batters, nobody made any ugly faces and everyone remained in their respective dugouts. The loudest noise was the crack of Ríos’ bat when he took Cy Sneed (0-1) deep for a leadoff homer — a two-run drive under the new extra-innings rule that starts with an automatic runner on second base. The Dodgers played without manager Dave Roberts, suspended one game for his part in Tuesday night’s testy matchup that saw the dugouts clear. Bench coach Bob Geren managed the team in Roberts’ absence. Los Angeles used nine pitchers, but not Joe Kelly. The reliever was suspended for eight games by Major League Baseball after buzzing a fastball behind the head of Alex Bregman, then striking out Carlos Correa and mockingly taunting him by sticking out his tongue and pouting his bottom lip. TIGERS 5, ROYALS 4 DETROIT (AP) — JaCoby Jones hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning, and Detroit’s bullpen came through again to beat Kansas City. A night after pitching six scoreless innings in a win over the Royals, the Tigers’ relievers held Kansas City without a baserunner for four. Detroit rallied from a 4-0 deficit thanks in large part to Jones, who doubled twice before connecting off Ian Kennedy (0-1) for his third homer. Jonathan Schoop also went deep for the Tigers. Maikel Franco hit two doubles and a single for Kansas City, and Whit Merrifield had two hits and scored twice. Bryan Garcia (1-0) earned his first big league win, one of four Detroit relievers who pitched in the game. Joe Jimenez worked the ninth for his fourth save. YANKEES 9, ORIOLES 3 BALTIMORE (AP) — The New York Yankees stepped in for the Miami Marlins and ruined Baltimore’s home opener, hitting three home runs to back right-hander Gerrit Cole. The Orioles were originally slated to launch the home portion of the abbreviated 60-game schedule against Miami, but the Marlins were ordered to take a hiatus after several players and coaches contracted COVID-19 over the weekend. New York was scheduled to play Philadelphia on Wednesday, but the Phillies’ season was put on hold as a precaution because they were Miami’s opponent in the opening series. So Major League Baseball thrust the Yankees and Orioles together while the Marlins and Phillies recover. Cole (2-0) gave up three runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings to win his 18th straight decision. After DJ LeMahieu homered off Asher Wojciechowski (0-1) on the game’s second pitch, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks both went deep in the third for a 5-1 lead. GIANTS 7, XXX 6 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Mike Yastrzemski homered twice, the second a towering solo shot into McCovey Cove in the ninth inning, lifting San Francisco past San Diego. Donovan Solano had a three-run home run in the eighth and Alex Dickerson also went deep as the Giants rallied to beat the Padres, who entered the the game tied for the best record in baseball. Brandon Crawford added three hits for San Francisco. Manny Machado and Trent Grisham homered for San Diego. The Giants trailed 6-3 with two outs in the eighth before rallying. MARINERS 10, ANGELS 7 ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Kyle Seager drove in three runs, Dylan Moore hit a three-run homer and Seattle rallied from two late deficits. Moore connected during the Mariners’ five-run sixth, and Seager put the Mariners ahead for good with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning of Seattle’s second victory of the season. Shohei Ohtani had a three-run homer, Mike Trout got three hits and Justin Upton hit his 300th career homer for the Angels, who have lost four of six. Brian Goodwin homered and added a two-run double that put the Angels ahead in the sixth. Seattle surged back in front by battering Los Angeles’ bullpen, which flopped mightily in a game featuring four lead changes. The Angels’ bullpen yielded eight runs — one more than it had given up in LA’s first five games combined. The Mariners made their decisive rally in the seventh against Jacob Barnes (0-1). Bryan Shaw (1-0) allowed five baserunners and gave up three runs in the sixth. Dan Altavilla pitched the ninth for his first save. WHITE SOX 4, INDIANS 0 CLEVELAND (AP) — Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jiménez hit sacrifice flies and Chicago scored four runs in the ninth inning — three charged to ineffective Cleveland closer Brad Hand. The Indians got eight terrific innings from No. 5 starter Zach Plesac. He struck out a career-high 11, shut out the White Sox on three hits and continued a strong run of Cleveland pitching to start the season. Rookie Luis Robert hit a two-run single in the ninth as Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak and salvaged one game in the series. Chicago starter Lucas Giolito matched Plesac pitch for pitch through six, holding the Indians scoreless on four hits. It was a nice bounce back by the All-Star right-hander, who gave up a home run in Minnesota on his first pitch of the season and was touched for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. RED SOX 6, METS 5 NEW YORK (AP) — Christian Vázquez hit a tying home run off Seth Lugo in the seventh inning and a two-run single against Justin Wilson in a three-run eighth, rallying Boston. Boston had lost four in a row following its opening day win over Baltimore -- the equivalent of 11 straight over a full season -- that included a pair of defeats to the Mets at Fenway Park. New York closed with a run in the ninth, when a diving stop by third baseman Rafael Devers helped Brandon Workman strand the bases loaded. Workman recovered for his first save of the year by striking out Yoenis Céspedes and retiring Robinson Canó on a soft liner to shortstop. Jacob DeGrom, throwing at up to 101 mph, extended his consecutive scoreless streak to 31 innings before allowing a pair of runs in the fourth but got his second straight no-decision, allowing two runs and three hits in six innings with four strikeouts. He left with a 3-2 lead, but Vázquez tied the score when he drove a hanging curveball from Lugo for his second home run this season. RANGERS 7, DIAMONDBACKS 4 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) —Joey Gallo hit a tying, two-run homer in the eighth inning and Texas scored three more runs after that to snap a three-game losing streak. After Gallo lined an opposite-field shot to left off Andrew Chafin (0-1) for his second homer of the season, the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs. Elvis Andrus then hit a two-run single before Nick Solak added an RBI single. Todd Frazier hit his first homer and had two doubles for Texas, whose five-run inning accounted for only one run fewer than it had scored combined in their first four games in the new $1.2 billion stadium with a retractable roof. Jonathan Hernandez (1-0) got the win despite giving up two runs in the eighth, and Nick Goody worked a perfect ninth for his first save. ROCKIES 5, ATHLETICS 1 OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — German Márquez struck out eight over six impressive innings to bounce back after losing on opening day, and Colorado wrapped up a successful season-opening road trip. Charlie Blackmon delivered an insurance run with an RBI double in the eighth, then reached on an error in the ninth that led to a pair of runs. Garrett Hampson hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fourth to help back Márquez (1-1). Carlos Estévez relieved Márquez and escaped the seventh unscathed with the tying run on second. Jairo Diaz struck out Robbie Grossman with the bases loaded in the eighth, putting Oakland at 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position during these two games. Matt Chapman homered in the bottom of the first for the A’s. Colorado came right back when Tony Wolters hit a tying single in the top of the second against Frankie Montas (0-1). BRAVES 7, RAYS 4 ATLANTA (AP) —Freddie Freeman homered and drove in three runs on a four-hit night, leading Atlanta in its home opener. Freeman, stricken with the coronavirus before the shortened season and became so ill that he feared for his life, has quickly reclaimed his place as one of the game’s most feared hitters. He hit his first homer of the season in the third, a two-run shot into the empty seats in right field, and added an RBI single that capped a three-run sixth after Tampa Bay pulled ahead with three runs in the top half. The Braves snapped Tampa Bay’s four-game winning streak. Tampa Bay scrapped out an unearned run off Mike Soroka in the fifth and pulled ahead for the first time in the sixth, doing the bulk of the damage after Darren O’Day (1-0) took over for the Atlanta starter. With two outs, Kevin Kiermaier drove in the tying run and Hunter Renfroe followed with a two-run single that put the Ray ahead 4-2. But the Tampa Bay bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Andrew Kittredge gave up back-to-back doubles, retiring only one hitter before giving way to Oliver Drake (0-1). The funky right-hander had a chance to escape with the lead intact, but Willy Adames bobbled a high chopper by Ozzie Albies that was ruled an infield hit. Freeman followed with his fourth hit of the night, lining an RBI single to right-center. Albies was thrown out at third to end the inning, but Ender Inciarte had already crossed the plate with the go-ahead run. BREWERS 3, PIRATES 0 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff allowed one hit and struck out 10 while working into the seventh inning as the Brewers beat struggling Pittsburgh. Woodruff (1-1) retired 19 of 21 batters, allowing a swinging bunt single to Phil Evans in the first. Pittsburgh didn’t manage another baserunner until Evans walked leading off the seventh. Woodruff threw 92 of his 61 pitches for strikes against a lineup that is struggling to produce. The Pirates are hitting a majors-worst .171 during their 2-4 start. Ben Gamel gave Woodruff all the support he would need with a third-inning two-run homer over the right-field seats off Joe Musgrove (0-2). REDS 12, CUBS 7 CINCINNATI (AP) — Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel homered in their returns from a COVID-19 scare, Nick Castellanos added a grand slam, and Cincinnati ended a four-game losing streak. Sonny Gray (2-0) extended his major league record to 35 consecutive starts allowing six hits or fewer. He gave up only Ian Happ’s double and fanned 11 as he pitched into the seventh inning. Moustakas and Senzel missed the last three games after feeling sick a day after teammate Matt Davidson went on the injured list because he tested positive for the coronavirus. After passing tests, they returned and helped the Reds to their best run total of the season. Kyle Hendricks (1-1) threw a three-hit shutout against the Brewers in the season opener but couldn’t make it through the fifth inning against Cincinnati. Moustakas had a two-run shot in the fourth, and Hendricks left after Eugenio Suárez’s bases-loaded single an inning later. TWINS 3, CARDINALS 0 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rich Hill pitched five scoreless innings in a smooth Minnesota debut, backed by Eddie Rosario’s homer and Nelson Cruz’s RBI double. Alex Avila, another Minnesota newcomer, had an RBI single. Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect ninth for his first save, and the Twins finished a two-game sweep to improve to 4-1. Currently the second-oldest player in the majors, the 40-year-old Hill needed only 68 pitches to pick up his first victory for a Twins team that signed him this winter with the assumption he’d be ready around midsummer after his recovery from elbow surgery. The Cardinals, after winning their first two games against Pittsburgh, have scored four runs on 15 hits over a three-game losing streak. Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-1) struck out eight over 3 2/3 innings......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 30th, 2020

Rahm s wild day ends with Memorial win and No. 1 ranking

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — The drama was more than Jon Rahm wanted. The result was what he always imagined. Rahm became the No. 1 player in the world Sunday with a victory in the Memorial in which he watched an eight-shot lead at the turn shrink to three shots with three holes to play, and then hit what he called the greatest shot of his life that turned into a bogey because of a penalty. All that mattered was that fist-bump — not a handshake — with Jack Nicklaus, and taking his place along his idol Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to reach No. 1 in the world. With a two-shot penalty for his ball moving the length of a dimple on his chip-in behind the 16th green, Rahm closed with 3-over 75 for a three-shot victory over Ryan Palmer. Rahm got up-and-down on the final four greens, which made it feel even sweeter. “One of the best performances of my life,” Rahm said. “Yesterday was probably one of the best rounds of my life, and finished today with some clutch up-and-downs. As a Spaniard, I'm kind of glad it happened that way.” The fiery emotion is his hallmark. He showed it with a tee shot that sailed left into a creek on the 11th hole, Rahm slamming his club into the ground in a pique of anger. And it was evident with that ferocious fist-pump when his flop shot from deep rough behind the 16th green rolled into the cup. Birdie or bogey, it was a winner, a shot that would have made Ballesteros proud. “I still can't believe it, I'm not going to lie,” he told Nicklaus off the 18th green. With the penalty — Rahm had no idea it was an issue after his round, but accepted the penalty when he saw a video that zoomed in close on the ball — he finished at 9-under 279 for his 10th career victory, fourth on the PGA Tour. Muirfield Village played its toughest in 42 years, with only five players under par, the fewest for the final round since this tournament began in 1976. Rahm's 75 was the highest finish by a winner since Roger Maltbie shot 76 the inaugural year. The rough wasn't cut all week. The greens were allowed to go to the edge because they are being replaced. Crews already had stripped the entire fifth green as the leaders were on the back nine. Rahm looked to be playing a different course. He played bogey-free on the front nine with birdies on the two par 5s. That put him eight shots clear on his way to No. 1. And then he made bogey on the 10th. Not a problem. He yanked his tee shot into a creek on the par-5 11th, and that was a bigger problem based on how hard he slammed the club into the ground in a pique of anger. He made double bogey. Palmer made birdie on the 12th, and then Rahm made another bogey from the bunker on the 14th. Just like that, the lead was three shots. Only a week ago at Muirfield Village for the Workday Charity Open, Justin Thomas had a three-shot lead with three holes to play and wound up losing in a playoff to Collin Morikawa. Rahm was worried his tee shot might find the back bunker, though the rough was not a great option with how fast the greens were running. Rahm was thinking anything inside 10 feet would be good. This was perfect, the ball landing on the fringe and sliding down the slope into the cup. As for the penalty? “It doesn’t change the outcome of the tournament,” he said. “It just puts a little bit of an asterisk in it in the sense of I wish I could just keep that birdie because it was one of the greatest shots of my life, right?” The chip was similar — but from a different angle — to Tiger Woods chipping in from behind the 16th green when he won the Memorial for the fifth time in 2012. Woods, in his first competition since Feb. 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, shot 76 and tied for 40th. “Tough, tough conditions to start out my first week back, Thursday and Sunday,” Woods said. “But it was good to get the feel and the flow of competing again.” Matthew Fitzpatrick had a 68 for the low score of the final day to finish third. The consolation prize went to Palmer (74) and Mackenzie Hughes (72), who earned spots in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September as the leading two players from the top 10 who were not already eligible. Henrik Norlander could have taken the final spot with a par on the 18th, but he missed the fairway well to the right, couldn't reach the green and made bogey. Norlander and Hughes tied at 3-under 285, but the spot went to Hughes because he had the better world ranking. That ranking now starts with Rahm, who only four years ago was at the Memorial to receive the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's best college player. Now he's the best in the world, a ranking that McIlroy had since Feb. 9. “He deserves it,” McIlroy said after his tie for 32nd. “He's been playing great for a long time. Even the display this week, it's pretty impressive.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2020

GREATEST PERFORMANCES: Joel Cagulangan s NCAA 93 playoff run

Joel Cagulangan was, hands-down, the best player in all of the NCAA Jrs. in the Season 93 playoffs. And he had to be because College of St. Benilde-La Salle Green Hills lost five of its last six games in the elimination round and had to win a knockout bout against San Sebastian College-Recoletos just to get into the Final Four. There, they had to down powerhouse San Beda High School not once, but twice before moving on to a date with defending champion Mapua High School. Safe to say, the odds were all against the Jr. Blazers in that playoff run - but one player, one player who only stood at 5-feet, 8-inches willed them to do the impossible. That was no more evident than in the winner-take-all Finals Game 3 where LSGH was trailing by one with less than a minute remaining. After getting a defensive rebound, Cagulangan got a foul for his troubles and was sent to the line where he coolly converted both free throws. Not long after, two defensive stops by partner-in-crime Joshua David finished off an improbable championship. In the end, the Butuan native had 19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and four steals to his name - unquestionably recognized as the Finals MVP. Inand Fornilos, the green and white's tireless forward then, perhaps put it perfectly when he said, “Pag wala siya, parang magiging imposible. Pag nandun siya, kayang-kaya.” And yet, that wasn't even Cagulangan's most impressive game. In another do-or-die game, this one, Game 2 against the top-seeded and twice-to-beat Red Cubs, the Jr. Blazers found themselves all even with their opponents at 103-all with less than a minute remaining in the third overtime. It was at that point, that the pint-sized playmaker sliced and diced his way to a left-handed layup. That proved to be the go-ahead basket en route to a 110-108 decision in the classic contest. There wasn't even supposed to be a third extra period as LSGH was down by three with 11 ticks to go in the clock in the second overtime before Cagulagan buried a booming triple to emphatically exclaim that the game was far from over. In the end, he had 29 points to go along with nine assists, nine rebounds, and two steals and played all but three of the possible 55 minutes in a matchup that had 22 lead changes and seven deadlocks. That performance will always be known as the first and foremost show of just how great his will to win is. Fortunately for the University of the Philippines, it will be getting to know just that as Joel Cagulangan is now its point guard of the future. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 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