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Jazz back in groove; Pacers give OKC worst home loss in NBA history

The win came as a sigh of relief to the erstwhile league leaders as they remain in step with the Phoenix Suns with identical 45-18 records to top the Western Conference standings......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarMay 2nd, 2021

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

Always About the People

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

Philippine Sports History: U-Tex stuns Toyota for 1980 PBA Open Conference title

U-Tex defeated Toyota 99-98 in overtime to capture the @pbaconnect Open crown on this day in 1980. Coach Tommy Manotoc and the Wranglers won despite trailing by four with 16 seconds left in regulation. It was later described as “the PBA’s longest 16 seconds” Tommy Manotoc continues to feel a sense of accomplishment 40 years after steering U-Tex to one of the most incredible title victories in PBA history. “(Beating) Toyota was an achievement that we felt like we did a lot,” Manotoc said in June when he appeared in the Usapang Basketball webinar. The manner by how the Wranglers claimed the PBA Open Conference crown on Aug. 2, 1980 with a 99-98 overtime win at the Araneta Coliseum is a good reason why Manotoc should describe it in such a way. U-Tex was supposed to be on the losing end of the best-of-five series after being down by four points with 16 seconds remaining. But in a stunning turnaround, the Wranglers were able to force the game into overtime where they were able to complete the remarkable triumph. Toyota was supposed to have the title won when Francis Arnaiz scored a layup to make it 94-90. There was jubilation all around the Tamaraws bench and their fans while the Wranglers were on the brink of paying dearly for making a curious gamble in Game 4. U-Tex trailed by as many as 21 points, but tried to mount a comeback by pulling within nine early in the payoff period. But Manotoc chose to do the unthinkable by sitting out his starters, namely Bogs Adornado and even imports Glenn McDonald and Aaron James. Toyota would pull away to force a rubber match while Manotoc dealt with the responsibility of explaining his decision. “The game was totally lost for us and it was useless fighting when I knew we could not win anymore,” said Manotoc after the game, adding that U-Tex management supported his strategy. “I told management that if we could not lower Toyota’s margin to five points early in the fourth quarter, I will be forced to rest my top guns,” added Manotoc, then just 31. “We played badly. I’m happy it happened tonight.” Manotoc, according to newspaper accounts, later said that he quoted a Chinese proverb which stated: “One step backward and two steps forward.” Criticism spilled into the opinions section of the major dailies. “No amount of rationalization will convince basketball ‘aficionados to believe the U-Tex team did not throw the game away for a consideration,” wrote Bulletin Today columnist Jesus Bigornia.  “For their dispirited showing, compounded by the suspicion they have been ‘reached,’ the Wranglers became the butt of jeers and the object of balled-up newspapers thrown onto the hard court. Even the most ardent ‘Wrangler’ fans hung their heads in shame,” added Bigornia. There was determination for U-Tex to silence the critics with a crew powered by Adornado, who was looking to add a championship to his major comeback after joining the Wranglers following a rash of injuries that hounded him during his days with the Crispa Redmanizers. There’s also McDonald, who four years earlier played a key role in the Boston Celtics’ epic triple overtime win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, former New Orleans Jazz cager James, ex-La Salle star Lim Eng Beng and Fritz Gaston. But even that determined spirit looked like it would go for naught when Arnaiz’s layup gave he Tamaraws that 94-90 lead. Manotoc, however, was not giving up without trying. “Percentage-wise, medyo tapos na,” he said during the Usapang Basketball webinar. “But I said don’t give up.” James scored a quick basket on the return play to cut the gap to two. Prior to that, Manotoc, known for his emphasis on defense throughout his coaching career, had instructions to wait for the pass and go for the steal, with McDonald tasked to intercept the inbound given his athleticism. And lo and behold, McDonald got the interception off Tuadles’ inbound before getting fouled by Arnaiz, subsequently making two pressure-packed free throws that sent Game 5 into overtime. The Wranglers trailed again in the extension 98-96 but Lim Eng Beng hit a free throw off Ramon Fernandez’s sixth foul before Adornado delivered the go-ahead shot with over a minute to go. Adornado’s basket eventually became the match winner as U-Tex became a two-time champion, repeating the feat after its 1978 second conference triumph where it beat Crispa. Manotoc reflected on the previous game. “Who knows, maybe it was those six minutes of rest which gave my boys the extra strength to pull off that win. The victory certainly was a vindication on our part,” Manotoc said after being given a victory ride. For Toyota import Andy Fields, the loss still lingers to this day. “That was the worst loss in my entire career,” lamented Fields during an episode of An Eternity of Basketball weeks ago. Now 71 years old, it seems that Manotoc couldn’t still figure out how his Wranglers did it in the most unimaginable fashion. “In fairness to Toyota, they thought they had it won, which ordinarily you do with four points and 16 seconds (remaining),” he said, “The basketball gods favored us then. It’s a rarity in basketball, especially at those levels and playing a very high caliber team with very seasoned players.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

Alex Gonzaga, her parents, and fiancé Mikee recover from Covid-19

Despite plans that have been cancelled, the actress is still grateful for many things Earlier today, Alex Gonzaga shared an intimate and very personal documentary video of how life was the past three weeks since they found out that she and her parents, fiancé Mikee, and one household help Sophie, were infected with Covid-19.  She was contemplating if she should share how life was when Covid-19 hit them, and decided that she should, “so you can learn from our mistakes and to give you hope so that you know you can get better.” She started off by revealing that the virus infected their family because a member went out to buy food. The first one who got infected was her mom Pinty, and thankfully, both parents were asymptomatic.  It was her and Mikee who had it worse, and Alex was able to document how she felt on a daily basis and put it out in her vlog. She started with day three where one can see her crying, “My plans were ruined. I wanted to get married with my family and a few friends, so I needed to change my plans. I also have a new show, but I couldn’t attend. For the next two weeks, I’ll be staying here at home.” On the fourth day, she admitted that she was emotional because so many of her plans didn’t push through, including attending the birthday of her one and only nephew Seve. “Right now, no one leaves the house,” she added that it’s also important to take lots of rest, drink fluids, and take Vitamin C. She also shared the symptoms she was experiencing that time such as feeling weak, slight fever (37.7C), sore throat, loss of appetite, clogged nose, and loss of taste. They also taped a sheet of plastic over on each of the rooms so that they would not leave their rooms. Both her parents are also staying in different rooms. Thankfully, her sister Toni and family, along with her friends, tested negative.  On the fifth day, she didn’t have the appetite to eat and her mom suggested that she should go to the hospital but Mikee recommended to stay at home since things might worsen if she went to the hospital. She also started taking Melatonin, so that she can sleep better and get her much needed rest. True enough, on the sixth day, she woke up at around 10a.m. For the next few days, she added other ways to boost her immunity by eating more protein, opening the curtains and taking in the sun and savoring its warmth. She also kept an oxygenator by her side so she could check her oxygen level. On the eighth day, she was slightly back to normal except that she got tired more often. On the tenth day, she started getting emotional again, but felt very blessed. “God healed us, and my parents didn’t experience any symptoms, even if they’re senior citizens,” she continues. “And it just dawned on me that we survived Covid-19.” They had everyone, including the whole house staff, tested on the 15th day for Covid-19, with the negative results for everyone, even Mikee. It’s been three weeks and she shares in her vlog that she’s happy to be back and happy that they survived Covid-19 as a family. “You can survive Covid-19. Don’t panic. Consult with your doctor and really take care of your body. Boost your immune system. Drink your vitamins. Gargle with salt and water, and take lots of rest,” she reminds her viewers. “We should stop thinking about ourselves, we should really start thinking about others. It’s not about you, but the people around you. So that we can avoid infecting people during this pandemic.”.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 24th, 2020

Aljun Melecio s never-ending quest to prove he belongs

Aljun Melecio has these hardware sitting pretty on his trophy case: UAAP 78 Jrs. MVP, UAAP 79 Rookie of the Year, UAAP 79 champion. Now heading into his fifth and final year in De La Salle University, he remains recognized as one of the best point guards in all of college. Well, recognized by just about everybody except himself. Asked if he feels worthy to stand alongside the likes of NCAA 95 Finals MVP Fran Yu or UAAP 82 Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy, he answered, modest as always, "Nope. I don't. Wala pa akong napapatunayan." Yes, the 5-foot-8 super scorer who was then head coach Aldin Ayo's "most-wanted recruit" feels he is yet to prove himself. Yes, the primetime playmaker who was once comforted by Tab Baldwin after the Green Archers had lost the championship despite his 16 points in Game 3 of the Finals feels he is yet to prove himself. That in itself is not necessarily surprising, though. And that's because all throughout his young career, Melecio has felt, again and again, that he has to prove himself. He had to prove himself even to La Salle, his home of nine years now. "Actually, 'di naman ako ni-recruit ng Zobel dati," he shared. "To be honest, my mindset at that time ay mag-Team B lang sa Zobel para pag may games, mas magagamit ako. Kaysa naman mag-Team A ako and nakaupo lang sa bench." BREAK IN Aljun Melecio, now a graduating guard, is La Salle's most recent homegrown product. Of the Green Archers' probable UAAP 83 roster, the now-22-year-old is the lone player to have come from the Taft-based school's Jrs. programs - and mind you, they have two in La Salle Zobel and La Salle Green Hills. In DLSZ, Melecio was a scoring dynamo who once dropped 42 points on archrival Ateneo de Manila High School. Did you know, though, that he wasn't even supposed to wear the green and white? "I was supposed to transfer sa UST nung high school," he recalled. "Pero napag-usapan naming family na since si kuya, nasa Zobel na nung time na yun, mas okay sigurong Zobel na lang din ako para magkasama kami." Aljun was referring to older brother Aleck who was also his teammate for three years with the Jr. Archers. If not for Aleck, however, Aljun would have suited up for University of Sto. Tomas High School where good friend Renzo Subido had already committed to play for college. After all, it was Subido, and dad Henry, who had convinced the Melecios to move to Manila from Bukidnon. "The reason talaga why we took the risk to come here was because of Coach Henry," Aljun shared, looking back at the time when all of them were repping Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. "They invited us to play basketball in Manila kaya malaki ang utang na loob namin sa Subido family." While Coach Henry and Renzo have been always there to lend a helping hand, that did not necessarily make the transition any easier - especially for a 10-year-old kid who was born and bred in Valencia City. "Grabe yung sacrifice na ginawa namin just for me to have more opportunities in life. That was a big adjustment not just for me, but also for my parents," Melecio said. He then continued, "Dumating yung time na ayoko nang bumalik sa Manila kasi na-homesick ako. Looking back now, normal lang naman siguro yun, lalong-lalo na bata pa ako." BREAKTHROUGH Make no mistake about it, looking back now, Aljun Melecio has no regrets. As he put it, "It was all worth it." Of course, he also had lady luck smile on him somewhat as, yet again following the footsteps of Subido, he transferred from Lourdes to DLSZ. And there, he found yet another mentor willing to believe in him. "Sina Coach Boris [Aldeguer], pagdating ko sa Zobel, they invited me to join yung practice ng Team A. Nagulat ako na kaya ko naman pala so doon na nag-start yung confidence ko," he said. Indeed, Melecio did not let Coach Boris down as in his first year, he proved to be a building block in their rebuild. While the boys from Alabang eventually ended outside the playoff picture, he had made more than enough noise to get the attention of the Philippine national youth team. There, DLSZ's top gun got his first taste of wearing the flag as part of the Batang Gilas training pool. "Masayang-masaya ako nun na makasama sa practice team dahil dream ko talaga maging part nun," he narrated. "May jersey lang and makasali lang ako sa practice, masayang-masaya ako." There, Melecio showcased his skills alongside other promising prospects such as Nieto twins Mike and Matt as well as Jolo Mendoza of Ateneo, Renzo Navarro of San Sebastian College-Recoletos, and Jollo Go of Hope Christian High School. And there, yet again, he knew full well he had to prove himself. During training itself, the new kid on the block believed he was doing so. At the same time, however, he had to come face-to-face with another beast altogether - how to get to practice in the first place. As it turned out, the then-13-year-old had to commute from south to north each and every time he participated in Batang Gilas training. How did his trips go? "From Alabang, mag-tricycle ako to [Alabang] Town [Center] then jeep going to Starmall [Alabang]. After nun, bus to Magallanes, MRT, then LRT, tapos jeep ulit," he shared. He then continued, "So papunta pa lang to Moro, pagod na ako. Then after practice, mag-commute na naman pauwi." Fortunately for him, there were also kind hearts like the Nieto twins who took him to the LRT station in Katipunan or Evan Nelle whom he rode with going back south. Still, around 33km and about an hour separated DLSZ in the south and Ateneo's Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in the north - indeed, that was some sort of workout already. BREAKDOWN In the long run, that was, unfortunately, much too much for young Aljun Melecio. While wearing the flag would have meant much, he also felt circumstances, such as that hell of a commute that cost him PHP 200 for a one-way trip, held him back from giving his all. Instead, Melecio felt he could do much more if he just rechanneled his energy to DLSZ. "After ilang weeks na ginagawa ko yung routine na yun, I started asking myself kung paano maayos yung priorities ko. Pinakiramdaman ko kung saan ako mag-iimprove so I talked to Coach Boris," he said. He the continued, "And I decided na mag-all in sa Zobel." All in for the Jr. Archers, he did, and boy, did it prove to be the right call. He was just getting started in UAAP 76, slowly but surely getting a grasp of both his capabilities and confidence as he helped the green and white barge back into the Final Four. Then in Season 77, it all clicked as he shot the green and white to the second rung of the stepladder all while putting up per game counts of 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.3 steals. Without a doubt, he willed his way into the Mythical Team that included the Nieto twins, his batchmates in Batang Gilas. The following year, with averages of 22.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.3 steals, he carried DLSZ all the way to the Finals where they stole one game from eventual champion Nazareth School of National University. And oh, he was the unanimous MVP of Season 78, besting the likes of future Gilas Pilipinas pool members Justine Baltazar and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Even then, though, he wouldn't call himself the best of the best. "I didn't think na I belonged kasi never kong gustong isipin na ganun ako," he said. He then continued, "Ang alam ko lang, I worked extra hard, I had extra motivation to play. Thankfully, coach Boris supported my decision and dahil dun, na-boost yung confidence ko." BREAK FREE From there, Aljun Melecio did nothing but go onto greater and greater heights in La Salle's Srs. squad. Never tell him he has accomplished anything, though, as he would be the first to tell you that you're wrong. Up until now, he feels that he is yet to prove himself. He hopes to prove that he has what it takes to be behind the wheel for the Green Archers' new era. He hopes to prove that he could bounce back following the worst statistical season for him. And he hopes to prove that he has every right to be mentioned in the same breath as his one-time teammates in the Batang Gilas pool and his batchmates who are now part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool. "Lahat naman, ginagawa kong motivation," he said. "May it be positive or negative, we all have our timing so I'm just being patient para sa kung anuman ang ibibigay na chance sa akin." If and when that next shot at wearing the flag comes along, Melecio only vows to do what he has never stopped doing. Asked about getting a golden opportunity at the Gilas pool, he answered, "That's still a dream for me. I know I still have a lot to prove." He then continued, "But I will give my all if given the chance to represent. I always do." If and when that time comes, there would be no more 33km distance, one-hour travel time, or PHP 200 cost. Still, Aljun Melecio would work just as hard - if not more - as he did when he once had to commute south to north just to get to practice. Don't forget, proving himself is already second nature to him. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

UAAP 81: When the sleeping giant named UP finally awakened

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

Ken Tuffin, Taranaki fight for right to advance in NBL playoffs

Having lost their last game in the elimination round of the 2020 Sal's New Zealand National Basketball League, Ken Tuffin and Taranaki find themselves in a do-or-die situation. Still, Far Eastern University's captain is nothing but upbeat that the four-seed Mountainairs will come out on top of five-seed Franklin on Wednesday. "Tomorrow is another opportunity to bounce back," he said, talking about his first playoff game in the Kiwi league tipping off at 3:30 PM (Philippine time) to be streamed live on Smart Sports Facebook. "I feel like when I play well, the team reflects my energy as well." Tuffin shone bright in his first nine showings for Taranaki as he normed 10.8 points on 51.5 percent shooting and 5.7 rebounds, but dimmed as of late with averages of 6.5 markers on 32.1 percent shooting and 4.0 boards in the last four games. That includes his most recent outing where he went scoreless as they bowed to the Bulls, 65-92, last Thursday. That loss forced them to settle for the four-seed in the playoffs, leading to a knockout bout with the five-seed for the right to move on to the semifinals. For him, though, this win or go home match opposite the very same squad that had downed them to end the elims is just another golden opportunity for the Mountainairs to send a statement they are for real. "Games are always going to be like that. You have good games, you have bad games," he said. He then continued, "I'm just looking forward to another opportunity tomorrow to bounce back. Hopefully, we can get it done." Even better, the 6-foot-4 versatile forward will be much more energized for his first playoff game as it will be steamed live for the benefit kababayans. As he put it, "That's awesome! Hearing about that makes me want to give that extra, knowing that people will be watching and supporting from the Philippines." Other players to watch apart from Tuffin are Taranaki's Derone Raukuwa, the league's leading scorer, and Marcel Jones, its leading rebounder, as well as Franklin's  Dominique Kelman-Poto and Isaac Davidson. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 28th, 2020

Filipino-American MMA star Mark Muñoz recalls retirement bout in Manila

In 2015, Filipino mixed martial arts fans’ prayers were answered when the UFC, finally brought the legendary Octagon to the Philippines.  UFC Fight Night Manila was headlined by Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber, two former world champions and two of the world’s best at the time.  But while the main event was indeed on worthy of a pay-per-view card, Pinoy fans flocked to the Mall of Asia Arena to see one of their own compete in the Octagon for the very last time.  The UFC’s inaugural card in Manila also featured the retirement bout of Filipino-American Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Muñoz.  (READ ALSO: Mark Muñoz ends career on the highest of notes) Muñoz was 37 at the time, and was already a veteran in the UFC, having fought 14 times for the North American promotion. During his peak in the UFC, the California-native won seven out of eight fights and came within a win away from becoming a title contender, before losing to eventual middleweight titleholder Chris Weidman.  Following the loss to Weidman, Munoz went on to drop three of his next four bouts.  In the final fight of his MMA career, Muñoz had the chance to go out on top and retire in front of his fellow Filipinos. In front of over 13,000 strong, Muñoz did just that, beating Luke Barnatt via unanimous decision and announcing his retirement durung the post-fight speech.  (READ ALSO: The MMA community reacts to Mark Munoz's final fight and retirement) On an episode of The Hit List Vodcast, Muñoz recalled that night and what it meant for him to end his career that way.  “Oh man. I would cherish that night forever,” Muñoz said. “Even when I came to the Philippines early and I visited my family, I still have four generations of my family still there and it was so cool to see my whole family and just to have the support there from everybody. It was amazing and for me, you know, I just felt the love.” “I loved it. And when I walked out, I heard just people cheering and as I was walking out, I slapped somebody’s hand and I started crying you know. Like, whoah, that’s crazy, I’m getting ready to fight and you know like, dude that’s nuts. For me to be able to have that impact on people because they love the sport I love and I’m able to do it in a high level, it made me just wanna give,” he continued.  Following the hard-fought three-round victory, Muñoz addressed the Pinoy crowd and gave a heartfelt message, thanking his fans and then expressing his desire to help the Philippines out in terms of wrestling, an aspect that has long been deemed lacking or inadequate among Filipino mixed martial artists.  “Like I said before, when I got on the microphone, they handed the microphone to me and they never do that, so when they handed the mic to me, I told everybody that I wanna go back to the Philippines and I wanna help in any way I can and so, right now I’m actually building a website that people could access from all around the world, so it’s a wrestling website and I have the best people on there.  Muñoz’s commitment to helping Filipino wrestlers remains to this day, saying that he would gladly fly out to the motherland if he was asked to do so.  “I have my wrestling room where you could have the capability of getting on there and learning from me, and if someone wants to bring me for a seminar out there, I’ll come. In a heartbeat. I’d love to go back to the Philippines and help my kababayan. Just be able to support and help everybody I can,” he said.  While Muñoz did decide to call it a career that night, the former collegiate wrestling star believed that he could still compete at a high level, especially since he was working with world champions and elite-level talent on a daily basis.  “I honestly felt that I was still in my prime,” Muñoz admitted. “I honestly felt that I could have fought more and I felt like I could beat still the guys that beat me. I trained with all the best guys. I trained with Lyoto Machida and fought him and I do very well with him inside the gym. Michael Bisping was a training partner of mine. Anderson Silva I trained with him for a very long time. I know that level and I can be at that level. I felt like I could still compete at that level.” The reason why he left the sport, Muñoz explained, is to be able to spend more time with his family.  “To answer your question, the reason why I stepped away from the sport was not because my body wasn’t able to do it. I stepped away because my family needed me more than me being in the sport. Because, I’m telling you it was hard for my wife, she was a single mom with all the kids for a long time so it was hard. Things at home was pretty rough for us and I didn’t like that at all. All the while I was coaching and travelling all the time so something has to give. I felt like yes, it was a storybook ending but a the same time, I can still compete with the best guys in the division.” Check out the full interview HERE .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie EJ Laure vs. rookie Eya Laure

University of Sto. Tomas fans waited a long time to see sisters EJ and Eya Laure play together for the Tigresses after their explosive tandem won it all for the school during their stint with the girls' team. UAAP Season 82 saw the reunion of the Laure sisters albeit brief – two games to be exact – before the tournament was scrapped because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  One could just imagine what impact the Laure siblings would have brought to the Tigresses if not for the cancellation of the season. Skills-wise, both can contribute on points as well as provide support on defense. They have already proven it during their respective rookie seasons. In fact, both earned Rookie of the Year awards. But which Laure played better in her maiden stint with the black and gold? For this week’s ‘Super Showdown: Volleyball edition’, we compare the two well-rounded siblings based on their offense and defense, impact, competition and lasting impression for the Tigresses.        OFFENSE AND DEFENSE EJ brought the much-needed firepower for the then Odjie Mamon-mentored Tigresses in Season 77. In her first year, EJ averaged 11.7 points per game while providing help on net and floor defense. However, her main role in that UST batch was to contribute on points at the wing. She had a 32.17% success rate in attacks. On the defensive side, EJ contributed 13 kill blocks while playing a decent role on floor defense.     Eya, on the other hand, gave UST an added scoring option to a squad that already had veteran Sisi Rondina and 6-foot-2 Milena Alessandrini.     Eya averaged 16.4 points per outing behind Rondina’s 18.5 points per game in the elimination round of Season 81. Eya placed second in UST kill blocks with 19 during the elims behind Kecelyn Galdones’ 23. Eya also punched in 35.90% of her attacks.    TEAM IMPACT EJ gave UST faithful a ray of light when the highly-recruited talent decided to remain with UST after powering the Junior Tigresses to the girls’ title the year before.   The Season 76 Girls’ MVP adjusted well with setter Alex Cabanos and showed good chemistry with veterans Pam Lastimosa, Mela Tunay and Ria Meneses. EJ’s presence also brought back the UST crowd that in the past two years slowly dwindled after lumbering at fifth and sixth place in Season 75 and 76, respectively. Just like her older sister, Eya brought excitement to the Tigresses supporters. UST was then coming off its worst finish in decades – landing at seventh place in Season 80. Eya, Rondina and Alessandrini formed the deadly trio that brought great promise for UST heading into the season. The former high school MVP, Best Setter and two-time Best Opposite Spiker winner did not disappoint right from her debut game.   COMPETITION Although the favorite for the RoY award, EJ had to contend with one of league’s best batch of rookies. She played alongside another promising freshman in Rondina, who delivered UST’s first gold medal of the season in beach volleyball while bagging the rookie of the year and MVP awards. Ateneo had a prized recruit in middle Bea de Leon while De La Salle University's rookies were Eli Soyud and Aduke Ogunsanya. Far Eastern University also introduced solid young guns in ChinChin Basas, Heather Guino-o and Jerrili Malabanan. National University had Jorelle Singh and University of the Philippines got then rookie libero Ayel Estranero. Adamson University recruited a solid middle in Joy Dacoron while University boasted of skilled newcomers in libero Kath Arado and Judith Abil. EJ did pocket the RoY award as expected. But for the first time in the last two decades EJ shared the recognition with another impressive freshman in Arado – the first libero to receive the award since Mel Gohing of DLSU in Season 71. Just like her older sister, Eya came in as the odds-on favorite for RoY, considering the implementation of the K-12 education program. However, she still had to work to lay her claim. Eya faced her high school rivals Princess Robles, Ivy Lacsina of Jen Nierva of National University. Jolina Dela Cruz made immediate impact as DLSU’s leading scorer while Far Eastern University got Lycha Ebon, who unfortunately had her rookie year cut short after sustaining a knee injury.   LASTING IMPRESSION While EJ did give UST the boost it needed, the Tigresses still closed Season 77 outside of the top four. UST finished the elimination round with 6-8 win-loss record tied with FEU at fourth to fifth spot. Actually, UST came one set win away to a bus ride to the stepladder semifinals. EJ in the most important game for the Tigresses went cold, scoring only five points in just three sets of action. She started in the first two frames that UST yielded, sat out the third and fourth sets with Rondina playing better, before playing off the bench in the fifth.       It would take EJ two more years for a taste of a Final Four appearance. Unfortunately, EJ suffered a shoulder injury that forced her to sit out two seasons. Eya was a vital cog in the Tigresses’ rise in Season 81. She was consistent and her all-around game was a plus for the Kungfu Reyes-mentored team, which closed the elims with a 10-4 mark tied with the Lady Spikers. Eya’s heroics during the playoff against DLSU for the semis twice-to-beat advantage, where she dropped 17 points in the Tigresses’ four set win, pushed UST on the brink of ending an eight-year Finals stint drought. Eya erupted for 25 points in the Final Four to dethrone the four-peat seeking Lady Spikers in five sets. She backed Rondina in UST shocking Game 1 sweep of Ateneo in Game 1 of the Finals. Eya also showed big heart and great character in Games 2 and 3 despite playing hurt only to close her first year with a heartbreak after losing to the seasoned Lady Eagles. She averaged 10.6 points per game in the Finals.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

Golf makes a conservative return with an eye on the long run

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan went from wondering if any golf would be played this year to a schedule that resumes next week with a calendar filled through Thanksgiving. What hasn't changed is his belief that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic isn't over just because golf is back. “I don't think it's over," Monahan said Friday in a telephone interview. “I'm really confident in the plan. But you spend a lot of your time, given the uncertainty, thinking through scenarios that could play out. That's what we'll continue to do. We won't be comfortable until we're told we can be comfortable. That will be when we have a vaccine and there's no risk.” Golf is the second major sports league to return behind NASCAR, which began racing three weeks ago and ran nine national series races in a span of 14 days. The Charles Schwab Challenge next week in Fort Worth, Texas, has one of the strongest fields in Colonial's rich history, starting with the top five players from the world ranking. There will be no spectators for at least a month, even though Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this week moved the state to Phase III in the recovery that allows outdoor events at 50% capacity. “We've developed a safety plan that doesn't include spectators. That's what we stand by,” Monahan said. “We want to have a sustained return. If you think about a run to go through the FedEx Cup, we want to make sure week to week we're not taking on unnecessary risk.” Monahan said he is “not the arbiter of confidence,” rather it comes from guidance of health experts at all levels and a plan that involves testing players, caddies and essential personnel as much as twice a week — trying to create a bubble for the traveling circus that is golf. Players were mailed a test kit and were recommended to use it before they travel. They will be tested when they arrive at tournaments and before they leave if they're on charter flights the tour has arranged, and then the process is repeated at the next tournament. Thermal readings and health surveys are required daily, along with sanitizing and social distancing. “It's the only manner we could return,” he said. The tour added another layer this week in a deal with South Dakota-based Sanford Health to have mobile labs at every tournament, with capacity to get results in a matter of hours without taking away resources from the markets where they play. Monahan said CBS Sports is creating its own bubble for the telecast, with Jim Nantz the only person in the booth and other analysts working remotely. Ninety days will have passed from the opening round of The Players Championship, which was canceled the next day, until the first tee shot at Colonial. “We all went home dealing with the same questions,” he said. “How do I get a complete understanding of where we are with the virus and all the elements? How do we recognize that we're turning off (canceling) 11 events? How do you think about resumption and at the same time develop a safety and testing program, not our area of expertise?" The reset began with the majors picking new dates — the British Open was canceled — with the PGA Championship in San Francisco moving to Aug. 6-9, the U.S. Open in New York on Sept. 17-20, and the Masters on Nov. 12-15. “At that time it was very unclear where we would be with safety and testing,” Monahan said. “It could have been earlier than we are, it could have been through points of next year. Information was changing by the minute.” Now that golf is returning, Monahan couldn't predict when spectators would return. He said the tour has worked with tournaments the last several years on building a reserve fund for a crisis such as this. “If you’re not selling tickets, and there’s not hospitality, you don’t have the pro-am experience or the honorary observer program for the sponsor ... that’s a significant financial impact on those tournaments, and the impact on the way tournaments connect with their communities,” he said. Tournaments and their title sponsors still have managed to raise money for their local charities. The Zurich Classic matched last year's donation of $1.5 million to a children's services foundation. The John Deere Classic expects $10 million in donations, even though it canceled its July event. The pandemic is not the only talking point as golf tries to get back on track. The tour on Friday posted Monahan's letter to staff and players on the nation's civil unrest, which the AP first reported on Tuesday. He had a 10-minute video conversation with Harold Varner III, one of three PGA Tour members of black heritage, who wrote passionately on social media on George Floyd, killed when a white police officer held a knee to the back of Floyd's neck while the black man was handcuffed. The conversation was scheduled before the protests began, and Varner was chosen because he's on the Player Advisory Council and golf was ready to resume. “We'll be talking about COVID and civil and social unrest for some time,” Monahan said. “Next week will not be an exception on that front.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2020

Bucks blowout Hawks to even Eastern Conference Finals series

A game where the Bucks never trailed, the home team was able to bounce back from their series opening loss against the fifth-seeded Hawks on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 26th, 2021

Home Base: Freestyler Scalia Nethanial is hometown hero for Pangasinan town

Scalia Nethanial, a five-time Freestyle champion based in Malaysia, always makes sure to give back to his Filipino community in Basista, Pangasinan......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 15th, 2021

Pacers make history in 152-95 whipping of Thunder

Domantas Sabonis had 26 points, 19 rebounds and a career-high 14 assists to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 152-95 blowout win over the host Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. The result was a home team’s largest margin of defeat in NBA history. The Pacers’ 152 points were the most in franchise history since the […] The post Pacers make history in 152-95 whipping of Thunder appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2021

Jazz end skid vs short-handed Rockets; Lakers overcome Pacers

Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz dominated the Rockets and didn't give up the advantage save for the opening moments of the game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMar 13th, 2021

Coffin stored in break room as Los Angeles funeral home overwhelmed

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

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsJan 17th, 2021

Coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown dead at 78

By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — John Thompson, the imposing Hall of Famer who turned Georgetown into a “Hoya Paranoia” powerhouse and became the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men’s basketball championship, has died. He was 78 His death was announced in a family statement released by Georgetown on Monday. No details were disclosed. “Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on but, most importantly, off the basketball court. He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else,” the statement said. “However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear everyday.” One of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport, Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and molded it in his unique style into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by center Patrick Ewing in 1984. Georgetown reached two other title games with Thompson in charge and Ewing patrolling the paint, losing to Michael Jordan’s North Carolina team in 1982 and to Villanova in 1985. At 6-foot-10, with an ever-present white towel slung over his shoulder, Thompson literally and figuratively towered over the Hoyas for decades, becoming a patriarch of sorts after he quit coaching in 1999. One of his sons, John Thompson III, was hired as Georgetown’s coach in 2004. When the son was fired in 2017, the elder Thompson -- known affectionately as “Big John” or “Pops” to many -- was at the news conference announcing Ewing as the successor. Along the way, Thompson said what he thought, shielded his players from the media and took positions that weren’t always popular. He never shied away from sensitive topics -- particularly the role of race in both sports and society -- and he once famously walked off the court before a game to protest an NCAA rule because he felt it hurt minority athletes. “I’ll probably be remembered for all the things that kept me out of the Hall of Fame, ironically, more than for the things that got me into it,” Thompson said on the day he was elected to the Hall in 1999. Thompson became coach of the Hoyas in 1972 and began remaking a team that was 3-23 the previous season. Over the next 27 years, he led Georgetown to 14 straight NCAA tournaments (1979-92), 24 consecutive postseason appearances (20 NCAA, 4 NIT), three Final Fours (1982, 1984, 1985) and won six Big East tournament championships. Employing a physical, defense-focused approach that frequently relied on a dominant center -- Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo were among his other pupils -- Thompson compiled a 596-239 record (.715 winning percentage). He had 26 players drafted by the NBA. One of his honors -- his selection as coach of the U.S. team for the 1988 Olympics -- had a sour ending when the Americans had to settle for the bronze medal. It was a result so disappointing that Thompson put himself on a sort of self-imposed leave at Georgetown for a while, coaching practices and games but leaving many other duties to his assistants. Off the court, Thompson was both a role model and a lightning rod. A stickler for academics, he kept a deflated basketball on his desk, a reminder to his players that a degree was a necessity because a career in basketball relied on a tenuous “nine pounds of air.” The school boasted that 76 of 78 players who played four seasons under Thompson received their degrees. He was a Black coach who recruited mostly Black players to a predominantly white Jesuit university in Washington, and Thompson never hesitated to speak out on behalf of his players. One of the most dramatic moments in Georgetown history came on Jan. 14, 1989, when he walked off the court to a standing ovation before the tipoff of a home game against Boston College, demonstrating in a most public way his displeasure against NCAA Proposition 42. The rule denied athletic scholarships to freshmen who didn’t meet certain requirements, and Thompson said it was biased against underprivileged students. Opposition from Thompson, and others, led the NCAA to modify the rule. Thompson’s most daring move came that same year, when he summoned notorious drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III for a meeting in the coach’s office. Thompson warned Edmond to stop associating with Hoyas players and to leave them alone, using his respect in the Black community to become one of the few people to stare down Edmond and not face a reprisal. Though aware of his influence, Thompson did not take pride in becoming the first Black coach to take a team to the Final Four, and he let a room full of reporters know it when asked his feelings on the subject at a news conference in 1982. “I resent the hell out of that question if it implies I am the first Black coach competent enough to take a team to the Final Four,” Thompson said. “Other Blacks have been denied the right in this country; coaches who have the ability. I don’t take any pride in being the first Black coach in the Final Four. I find the question extremely offensive.” Born Sept. 2, 1941, John R. Thompson Jr. grew up in Washington, D.C. His father was always working — on a farm in Maryland and later as a laborer in the city — and could neither read nor write. “I never in my life saw my father’s hands clean,” Thompson told The Associated Press in 2007. “Never. He’d come home and scrub his hands with this ugly brown soap that looked like tar. I thought that was the color of his hands. When I was still coaching, kids would show up late for practice and I’d (say) ... ‘My father got up every morning of his life at 5 a.m. to go to work. Without an alarm.‘” Thompson’s parents emphasized education, but he struggled in part of because of poor eyesight and labored in Catholic grammar school. He was moved to a segregated public school, had a growth spurt and became good enough at basketball to get into John Carroll, a Catholic high school, where he led the team to 55 consecutive victories and two city titles. He went to Providence College as one of the most touted basketball prospects in the country and led the Friars to the first NCAA bid in school history. He graduated in 1964 and played two seasons with Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics, earning a pair of championship rings as a sparingly used backup to Bill Russell. Thompson returned to Washington, got his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia and went 122-28 over six seasons at St. Anthony’s before accepting the job at Georgetown, an elite school that had relatively few Black students. Faculty and students rallied around him after a bedsheet with racist words was hung inside the school’s gym before a game during the 1974-75 season. Thompson sheltered his players with closed practices, tightly controlled media access and a prohibition on interviews with freshmen in their first semester -- a restriction that still stands for Georgetown’s basketball team. Combined with Thompson’s flashes of emotion and his players’ rough-and-tumble style of play, it wasn’t long before the words “Hoya Paranoia” came to epitomize the new era of basketball on the Hilltop campus. Georgetown lost the 1982 NCAA championship game when Fred Brown mistakenly passed the ball to North Carolina’s James Worthy in the game’s final seconds. Two years later, Ewing led an 84-75 win over Houston in the title game. The Hoyas were on the verge of a repeat the following year when they were stunned in the championship game by coach Rollie Massimino’s Villanova team in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Success allowed Thompson to rake in money through endorsements, but he ran afoul of his Georgetown bosses when he applied for a gambling license for a business venture in Nevada in 1995. Thompson, who liked playing the slot machines in Las Vegas, reluctantly dropped the application after the university president objected. Centers Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo turned Georgetown into “Big Man U” under Thompson, although his last superstar was guard Allen Iverson, who in 1996 also became the first player under Thompson to leave school early for the NBA draft. “Thanks for Saving My Life Coach,” Iverson wrote at the start of an Instagram post Monday with photos of the pair. The Hoyas teams in the 1990s never came close to matching the achievements of the 1980s, and Thompson’s era came to a surprising and sudden end when he resigned in the middle of the 1998-99 season, citing distractions from a pending divorce. Thompson didn’t fade from the limelight. He became a sports radio talk show host and a TV and radio game analyst, joining the very profession he had frustrated so often as a coach. He loosened up, allowing the public to see his lighter side, but he remained pointed and combative when a topic mattered to him. A torch was passed in 2004, when John Thompson III became Georgetown’s coach. The younger Thompson, with “Pops” often watching from the stands or sitting in the back of the room for news conferences, returned the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007. Another son, Ronny Thompson, was head coach for one season at Ball State and is now a TV analyst. ___ Joseph White, a former AP sports writer in Washington who died in 2019, prepared this obituary. AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2020

Protesting Trump supporters reject results, allege conspiracy

While the streets of many American cities erupted in joy Saturday at the news of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, hardcore Donald Trump supporters refused to accept the result, alleging fraud and conspiracy. Trump supporters protested in Phoenix, Arizona and other American cities on November 7, 2020 after Joe Biden was elected US president (AFP/ MANILA BULLETIN) In cities including Phoenix, Philadelphia and Atlanta, the outgoing president’s loyalists gathered under the slogan of #StopTheSteal, repeating Trump’s unfounded allegations that Biden’s win was based on cheating. They wore red Trump hats, held signs reading “Stop The Steal” and waved American flags or Trump banners bearing the slogan: “Keep America Great.” The scenes were familiar to anyone who has attended or tuned in to a Trump rally. Hundreds gathered in front of the Arizona state capitol building in Phoenix, Arizona, some with their dogs dressed in Trump shirts. “I think they’re way too early,” said Donna McCollum, a retired 77-year-old who said she can trace her family history back to the American revolution. “The electoral college is the one to decide. And that has not been decided just yet. And there’s a lot of fraud here. It needs to be either redone totally or recounted.” She added: “Look at these people out here. There’s no way Biden won Arizona.” Two news organizations have projected Biden as the winner in Arizona, but others have been more cautious with the vote totals close and counting continuing. But either way, Biden has already obtained more than enough electoral votes to win, according to US media projections based on vote counts. – ‘Ground zero for cheating’ – Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes was the state that put him over the 270 needed for victory, and Trump supporters there also baselessly alleged fraud, following the lead of the outgoing president. In Philadelphia, the biggest city in Pennsylvania, around 40 Trump supporters were outside a convention center where counting had been underway, blasting hard rock and staples of Trump rallies like “YMCA” and “God Bless the USA.” Nearby Biden supporters were happily dancing to the same music. “This is ground zero for cheating in this election. I thought it was important to be here,” said Steve Padgett, a 57-year-old who works in sales. Sophia Rotunno, a 52-year-old administrative worker, said: “I have faith that our President Donald Trump did win a fair election.” “But the Democrats are not allowing a fair election to be had,” she said, falsely. “So I feel it has to go to the courts.” Despite his loss, Trump inspired a fervent, loyal following among many in the United States as he shattered norms with his bombastic populism. But there was also a darker side to some of his support that Trump could at times encourage by retweeting conspiracy theories and declining to forcefully condemn white supremacy. With the election occurring at a fevered time that has seen waves of protests over the police killing of minorities and Trump often inflaming tensions, there had been fears of election-related violence in some cities. But those fears have not been realized, and many supporters from both sides on Saturday appeared intent on keeping the peace. – ‘Too much smoke’ – On Saturday afternoon, a group of Biden supporters in Atlanta were armed — which is legal in Georgia — as they stood across from a pro-Trump protest, but there had been no violence. Trump supporters have regularly shown up at rallies armed, but guns could not be seen among Saturday’s pro-Trump crowd in Atlanta. “There’s too much smoke and some fire in a lot of places,” said Huff Croxton, a 51-year-old who wore an American flag as a cape, referring to groundless allegations of electoral fraud. “I want to see all this settled out and let’s see at the end who wins. And if Biden wins fair and square, then I’ll jump on board with the media.” In Phoenix, Shannon Morris, a 51-year-old trauma recovery life coach, said she would “fight” for Trump, but in a “peaceful way.” “I think that Trump fought for our country, and I’m going to fight for him,” she said. “Not in an inappropriate way, in a peaceful way, in a good way, in an honest way. I want my voice heard. It’s wrong to win elections by fraud.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsNov 8th, 2020

US votes on Trump’s fate under threat of election turmoil

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Americans vote Tuesday in an election amounting to a referendum on Donald Trump and his uniquely brash, bruising presidency that Democratic opponent and frontrunner Joe Biden urged supporters to end, restoring “our democracy.” US President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally at Fayetteville Regional Airport November 2, 2020, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. – The US presidential campaign enters its final day Monday with a last-minute scramble for votes by Donald Trump and Joe Biden, drawing to a close an extraordinary race that has put a pandemic-stricken country on edge. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) The United States is more divided and angry than at any time since the Vietnam War era of the 1970s — and fears that Trump could dispute the result of the election are only fueling those tensions. Despite an often startlingly laid-back campaign, Biden, 77, leads in almost every opinion poll, buoyed by his consistent message that America needs to restore its “soul” and get new leadership in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 231,000 people. “I have a feeling we’re coming together for a big win tomorrow,” Biden said in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a vital electoral battleground where he was joined by pop superstar Lady Gaga. “It’s time to stand up and take back our democracy.” But Trump was characteristically defiant to the end, campaigning at a frenetic pace with crowded rallies in four states on Monday, and repeating his dark, unprecedented claims for a US president that the polls risk being rigged against him. After almost non-stop speeches in a final three-day sprint, he ended up in the early hours of Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Michigan — the same place where he concluded his epic against-the-odds campaign in 2016 where he defeated apparent frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Despite the bad poll numbers, the 74-year-old Republican real estate tycoon counted on pulling off another upset. “We’re going to have another beautiful victory tomorrow,” he told the Michigan crowd, which chanted back: “We love you, we love you!” “We’re going to make history once again,” he said. Packing Trump’s bags While Tuesday is formally Election Day, in reality Americans have been voting for weeks. With a huge expansion in mail-in voting to safeguard against the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly 100 million people have already made their choice. Biden has the wind in his sails after indications that Democratic enthusiasm in the early voting may be matching the more visible energy at Trump’s impressive rallies. In one of US history’s great political gambles, Biden stuck to socially distanced gatherings with small crowds right up to the last moment, in stunning contrast to Trump’s constant, large rallies where few supporters so much as bothered with masks. But the Democrat, making his third attempt at the presidency, clearly senses that his calmer approach and strict attention to pandemic protocols is what Americans want after four tempestuous years. “It’s time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home,” Biden told supporters in Cleveland. “We’re done with the chaos! We’re done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility.” In chilly downtown Pittsburgh, Justine Wolff said she had cast her ballot for Biden already and was cautiously hopeful he would carry Pennsylvania, which along with Florida may be the tightest of all the swing states that decide close national elections. “I hope that people have seen the writing on the wall,” said the 35-year-old nurse. “We need some kind of change because this isn’t working for anybody.” But where many early votes are believed to have been cast by Democrats, Trump’s side is hoping for a massive wave of Republican supporters voting in person on Tuesday. “Whether he wins or loses, this is history,” said Kolleen Wall, who turned out to cheer Trump in Grand Rapids. But “when you come to one of these rallies, all you think is, how could he not win?” The first polling stations opening were in two New Hampshire villages, Dixville Notch and Millsfield, starting at midnight. Most polling stations on the East Coast were to open at 6:00 am or 7:00 am (1100 or 1200 GMT). A tiny hamlet of 12 residents in the middle of the forest, near the Canadian border, Dixville Notch has traditionally voted “first in the nation” since 1960. The vote took minutes, as did the count: five votes for Biden, and none for Trump. Warning of violence Trump himself is planning to visit his campaign headquarters in Virginia on Tuesday, while Biden will travel to his birthplace of Scranton, the scrappy Pennsylvania town where Trump also visited on Monday. There are worries that if the election is close, extended legal chaos and perhaps violent unrest could ensue — not least because Trump has spent months trying to sap public trust in the voting process in a nation already bitterly divided along political fault lines. He ramped up these warnings in the final days, focusing especially on Pennsylvania’s rule allowing absentee ballots received within three days after Tuesday to be counted. In a tweet flagged with a warning label by Twitter on Monday, he said this would “allow rampant and unchecked cheating.” “It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!” Trump tweeted......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2020

Lady Gaga, car horns trumpet Biden’s grand campaign finale

PITTSBURGH  (AFP) – Honking horns, huge American flags, and pop superstar Lady Gaga: on the eve of the presidential election, Joe Biden brought an air of spectacle to workers’ stronghold Pittsburgh as he capped a campaign largely curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic. US singer Lady Gaga performs prior to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaking during a Drive-In Rally at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 2, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) “The power’s in your hands, Pennsylvania!” the Democratic White House nominee thundered late Monday to several hundred supporters gathered for a drive-in rally in what has become the pivotal state in Biden’s battle against President Donald Trump. “It’s time to stand up and take back our democracy,” the 77-year-old added, prompting a crescendo of car horns outside the stadium that is home to the Pittsburgh Steelers American football team. In the biting November cold, Biden took up the clarion call of a campaign that he launched 18 months ago: “This is a battle for the soul of America,” he said. “We have to win this.” Lady Gaga, clad in a white sweatshirt with “Joe” printed on the front, listened and applauded from her stage. Minutes earlier she had peeled off her gloves and sat down at a white piano to give a short but inspired musical warmup to the Biden headliner. “Gloves off because it’s a fight — a fight for what you believe in,” she said before launching into her hit “Shallow.” The 34-year-old Grammy winner called on the audience to vote for Biden because “we needed somebody that was going to bring us all together for this moment, for this very important moment.” “No matter who wins tomorrow, we’re going to have to do this together. Tomorrow’s got to be peaceful,” she added somberly, in an allusion to the tensions that have swelled in the United States ahead of the poll. The singer, who once lived in Pennsylvania, has been in this position before. In 2016, she helped close out the campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton, who lost in a shocker to Trump. ‘End of Trump era?’ Dancing in the parking lot was Jamie Scafuri, a 26-year-old hairdresser, who came with friends invited by someone who works for the campaign. “We’re hoping that it’s the end of the Trump era,” Scafuri told AFP. “We’re hopeful. That’s why we’re here.” These drive-in rallies have become a staple of the Democrat’s mostly low-key campaign, which has scrupulously adhered to social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines to guard against the coronavirus, which has already killed more than 230,000 Americans. But despite efforts to put on a show at least partly resembling concert-infused mega-rallies that have traditionally marked the end of a campaign, the cars parked at distance, sparse spectators and few journalists allowed to enter makes it clear: the pandemic has upset the face of American politics in 2020. “Stay close to your cars!” urged an announcer as fans rushed forward for the arrival of Lady Gaga, in scenes far removed from the massive Trump rallies that often bring thousands of supporters packed together, very often without wearing masks. But here, Biden’s supporters understand the constraints. “I feel safe being here around our car with masks on, but it’s a great opportunity to celebrate life for sure,” Scafuri said. Biden is “a pro-science, pro-healthcare candidate, so it makes sense that he would want to protect his constituents,” added Scafuri’s friend Katie Soulen, 32, who owns the salon where they work. Trump ‘don’t care’ about us Biden is coming full circle with his campaign. The former vice president launched his White House candidacy — his third, following disastrous bids in 1988 and 2008 — in April 2019 in this blue-collar city. Even then, in the cradle of the American steel industry now remaking itself as a tech hub, Biden predicted that a victory against the Republican president would “happen here,” in Pennsylvania. Biden has a slight lead in the pivotal state, which Trump won by less than a percentage point in 2016. But the polls have tightened in recent days, and after the brash billionaire’s shock victory four years ago, some Democrats are nervous. But Bob Wilson, born and raised “right where we stand” in Pittsburgh, is confident that Trump will be defeated. “No, we’re gonna crush him… We’re gonna beat him in every state,” the 68-year-old retired truck driver, now a union official, said as he waited for Biden in the large parking lot at Heinz Field, named after the giant food processing company founded here in the 19th century. Trump is “not qualified” and “don’t care about nobody but himself,” he added......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2020

Coke PH expands Balik Pinas program for repatriated OFWs

Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI)—the bottling arm of Coca-Cola in the country—has expanded its Balik Pinas program to national scale to reach more repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and help them start their own business at home. Gareth McGeown, CCBPI President and CEO. “Coca-Cola’s commitment to Filipinos has only grown stronger, in weathering this crisis together,” said Gareth McGeown, CCBPI President and CEO. “We will help and support where we can. Through Balik Pinas, our goal is to help repatriated OFWs who have lost their livelihood abroad to start anew, via owning and operating their own business and be successful here, at home, with their families.” With the help of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), CCBPI aims to reach more OFWs who are interested to start their own business through Balik Pinas. Data from the Department of Foreign Affairs show that as of September 2020, over 190,000 overseas Filipino workers have been repatriated. Balik Pinas gives opportunities to OFWs to be part of the Coca-Cola family as a distributor, wholesaler, or a community reseller. Balik Pinas is a journey that the company and new entrepreneurs take together at every step—from setting up the business, to sustaining it, to ensuring growth. Coca-Cola assists former OFWs in choosing a suitable business model for their area, helps in managing their cash flow and inventory, and sees to it that they are given proper guidance and training until they are fully ready and equipped to operate on their own—all in all, a sustainable and profitable business founded on practical support from a global beverage brand. According to Carlos Rivera, CCBPI Territory Sales Team in Naga City, the Balik Pinas Program started as a small-scale initiative in Naga City to help former OFWs. Just a couple of months after returning home, Carlos Manzano and his family was able to set up their business as Coca-Cola distributor through the Balik Pinas Program, which Carlos said has reshaped his life and outlook forever. IN PHOTO: Carlos and their family’s multi-cab routing unit with the Coca-Cola Naga Sales team. When the program’s pilot rollout started, the Manzanos—brothers Carlos and Jazz, and their father Lito—were among the pioneer members. Carlos and Jazz had both been working for several years in Qatar until the COVID-19 pandemic shook the trajectory of their career and, consequently, the well-being of their families. Together with their father, Lito, who also used to be an overseas worker, they set up a beverage distribution business in their hometown Naga City. Their optimism, as with any new business venture, was tempered with anxiety over how it would all turn out—especially with the considerable challenge of launching during such tenuous times until Rivera offered them membership to the Balik Pinas Program of Coca-Cola. Now, the Manzanos are running a profitable business as Coca-Cola distributors. “Even when I had to leave Qatar suddenly because of the lay-offs, I always envisioned that I would head back to work there when things settle. But with Coca-Cola’s Balik Pinas, I have a livelihood that doesn’t take me away from my family as being an OFW had,” said Carlos.  Lito can still remember his first order of 60 cases of Coke products. Now, the Manzano  family business has grown to an average of 4,000 cases a month, just five months after they started—a feat magnified for it being in the middle of a pandemic and strict quarantine measures. The Manzanos have also since invested in routing units to augment their business’s capabilities—a multicab and a tricycle. Since starting his business in 2019, Billy Belleza (left), is now one of the prominent Coca-Cola distributors in his area and has added another mini truck to serve more routes and deliveries. Billy is one of the pioneers of Coca-Cola’s Balik Pinas program. Another Balik Pinas program pioneer member is Billy Belleza who decided to return to the country after working for 20 years in Brunei. “I am really thankful that Coca-Cola reached out to me to be a part of this. They have never failed to present opportunities for me and my business to grow since I decided to take part in the Balik Pinas Program. My sales actually soared this year,” said Belleza, who is also based in Naga City. According to Rivera, Balik Pinas Program was really designed for returning OFWs like Billy, Carlos, and Jazz and their families to set up and run a viable business at home. “With their success and in light of current events, this program was expanded to operate on a national scale, so the company can lend assistance to repatriated OFWs and their families as they weather through new challenges brought on by the pandemic,” Rivera said. Coca-Cola has consistently sought to create programs to support MSMEs, more so now with the COVID-19 pandemic having disrupted countless lives and livelihoods. With programs like Balik Pinas, Coca-Cola remains firm in their commitment to help local communities, contributing to the restart of the national economy—by way of reaching out to Filipinos.  To know more about the program, you may reach Coca-Cola’s contact center at (02)-8813-COKE (2653). For SMART/PLDT users: toll-free number: 1800-1888-COKE (2653); and for GLOBE users: toll-free number: 1800-8888-COKE (2653). You may also contact 0919-160-COKE (2653) via SMS......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 24th, 2020