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Kai Sotto commits to play for Atlanta-based basketball team

Sotto and the rest of the TSF basketball squad will be competing across different tournaments in the United States......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarNov 9th, 2019

No doubt, Monteverde has set a gold standard in National U

From last year to this year, Nazareth School of National University has just been a cut above the rest in high school. The Bullpups won the championship in UAAP 81 and then followed it up with more crowns in National Basketball Training Center, Palarong Pambansa, and ASEAN School Games. And then in UAAP 82, not only did they defend their title, they did so by sweeping the season. According to head coach Goldwin Monteverde, there is actually no secret to that sustained success. All National U did was keep its eyes on the prize. Asked what spurred them on in the face of all obstacles, the softspoken mentor answered, "On our part, it's more of yung commitment namin talaga." Of course, the 16 wins in 16 games is more than enough proof that the Bullpups' way works. Along with that, Coach Gold was just proud to have been a witness to his boys staying true to their identity throughout the tournament. As he put it, "Wala akong nakita sa team namin na selosan. It's all about the team, it's all about supporting each other." He then continued, "Never ko rin silang nakitaang playing for the crowd. Basta naka-focus lang sila sa goal nila." And that is why in the title-clinching Game 2 behind closed doors, the blue and gold just played its game all the way to a convincing victory. "Walang audience, pero si coach Gold, talagang na-train na kaming i-express lang yung laro namin na hindi dapat pang-impress sa ibang tao," Finals MVP Carl Tamayo shared. "Play lang kami para sa team. Ang importante sa amin, makuha yung goal namin na pinaghihirapan namin araw-araw." Now, the Sampaloc-based school is nothing but hopeful that Coach Gold brings over the same winning mentality as he transitions to its Srs. squad. National U has not made the Final Four since the days of Gelo Alolino, but with the moving up of the veteran tactician, that playoff drought may very well come to an end. In the same way that promising prospects Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano, Terrence Fortea, and Kevin Quiambao came together for a dominant two-year run, the Bulldogs are only looking forward to the coming together of John Lloyd Clemente, JV Gallego, and Shaun Ildefonso for a return to relevance. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 18th, 2020

A look at the status of Olympic qualifying events

By The Associated Press As the IOC attempts to keep the 2020 Olympics on schedule, many of the events that determine who would compete in Tokyo have been postponed or canceled. Here is the status of U.S. or world qualifying in many of the Olympic disciplines: ATHLETICS The U.S. Olympic track and field trials are still scheduled for June 19-28 in Eugene, Oregon. Other countries use a variety of methods, including trials, world rankings, and appointment based on results. BASEBALL Four countries — Israel, Mexico, South Korea and host Japan — are in the six-team field. The final two spots are to be determined by tournaments that were postponed: An Americas qualifier in Arizona has been indefinitely postponed, and a last-chance qualifying tournament in Taiwan slated for April is now scheduled for June 17-21. BASKETBALL Men: Eight teams, including the United States, have already qualified. The remaining spots in the 12-nation field will be determined in four winner-take-all, six-team tournaments scheduled from June 23-28 in Serbia, Canada, Croatia and Lithuania. Women: The 12-team field was filled in February with four tournaments. Although defending world champion United States and the host Japanese were already guaranteed spots, both finished in position to qualify anyway. 3x3: FIBA has postponed the qualifying tournament scheduled for March 18-22 in India. A second qualifying tournament scheduled for April in Hungary is in limbo. Four women’s teams and four men’s teams have already qualified for the eight-country fields. BEACH VOLLEYBALL Most Olympic spots are earned over a two-year points race on the international tour. At least three of the final 10 events have been canceled or postponed, and the final event is scheduled for Rome on June 9-14. BOXING Two of the four regional Olympic qualification tournaments have already taken place, and the third for European fighters began Saturday in London. The Americas qualifier scheduled for March 26 in Buenos Aires has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, and organizers haven’t set a plan for the final steps in qualification, including the last-chance World Olympic Qualifying Tournament scheduled for May 13 in Paris. CYCLING The selection criteria is different for each discipline: BMX freestyle and racing, mountain biking, track cycling, and the road race and time trials. Each discipline has a series of automatic qualification standards, and a committee will choose athletes to fill out the U.S. team. The world championships May 30-31 in Houston is crucial for BMX, and at this point is still scheduled. The last Olympic qualification event in freestyle BMX, the World Series in Hiroshima April 3-5, has been postponed. Final rosters for each discipline are announced in June. DIVING Dozens of divers have already qualified based on their performances at last summer's world championships or other major meets over the last eight months. The last big qualifier is the Diving World Cup, set for the new Olympic aquatics venue in Tokyo on April 21-26; FINA is still considering whether to proceed. U.S. divers also must get through the national trials in Indianapolis on June 13-21 to confirm their Olympic spots. No decision has been announced on the Canadian trials scheduled for March 30-April 5 in Toronto. EQUESTRIAN All of the equestrian qualifying events have been completed in every discipline. None of the events was affected by the virus. FENCING Qualification was to be based on rankings set to be released on April 4, with some additional slots to be determined in zonal events from April 15-26. But the International Fencing Federation suspended all international competitions for 30 days, delaying five major competitions that must be completed before zonal qualifying. The FIE is requesting an extension of the qualification period. FIELD HOCKEY Tournaments to fill the 12-team men's and women's fields were completed in 2019. Ten countries qualified for both: Australia, Argentina, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the Netherlands and Britain. GOLF Sixty golfers are determined by the world rankings, two per country with a maximum of four if they are among the top 15. The PGA Tour and European Tour, which offer the most ranking points, have canceled or postponed all events at least through April 12. GYMNASTICS The team fields for both men’s and women’s gymnastics were set at last year's world championships. The remaining individual all-around and single apparatus spots are determined at World Cup events. The International Gymnastics Federation has cancelled an all-around World Cup event in Germany and postponed an apparatus World Cup event in Qatar from March until early June. HANDBALL The International Handball Federation has postponed the final qualifying tournaments until June. The host nations were Spain, Hungary and Montenegro for the women and Norway, France and Germany for the men. Six of 12 spots remain open for each field. JUDO The International Judo Federation has canceled all Olympic qualifiers through April 30, including a Grand Slam and two Grand Prix. Another Grand Prix last weekend, in Morocco, was canceled earlier. Qualifying ends on May 25. ROWING World Rowing has canceled a European Olympic qualifying regatta that was scheduled for April 27-29 in Varese, Italy, and relocation is being considered. US Rowing said Olympic trials in Sarasota, Florida, from March 16-21 and April 13-18 have been postponed and the organization will not hold a national team event for at least 30 days. SAILING Many spots in the 10 classes have been clinched. An Asian Olympic qualifier in Abu Dhabi has been postponed until mid-April, and a World Cup Series regatta in Genoa, Italy, that would have been a qualifier for African, Asian and European countries, has been canceled. The IOC has granted World Sailing an extension of the qualification period to June 30. SOCCER Men: Fourteen of 16 teams have already qualified. The tournament to produce the two teams from the North and Central American and Caribbean region was scheduled for March 20 to April 1 in Guadalajara, Mexico, but was indefinitely postponed. Women: Ten of 12 teams have already qualified, including the reigning World Cup champion United States. China and South Korea were scheduled to play in a two-legged playoff that has been pushed back to early June. Cameroon is set to play Chile in a two-legged playoff in early April but no announcement on those matches has been made. SOFTBALL The field for the six-nation competition was set in four qualifying tournaments in 2018 and 2019. SWIMMING Most Olympic berths will be determined at national trials. The U.S. meet is scheduled for Omaha, Nebraska, on June 21-28; Australia's is scheduled for June 14-19 in Adelaide; Japan's national championship is in Tokyo on April 1-8. The final two events on the TYR Pro Swim Series, a big part of pre-Olympic training, are scheduled for April 16-19 in Mission Viejo, California, and May 6-9 in Indianapolis. TABLE TENNIS The U.S. already wrapped up qualifying, with three men and three women earning spots in Tokyo. Qualifying elsewhere was still in progress and scheduled to continue through May. But the International Table Tennis Federation suspended all activities until the end of April and recommended that continental associations follow that decision. An emergency meeting of the ITTF executive committee is scheduled for Monday. TENNIS The International Tennis Federation says Olympic eligibility still will be based on the WTA and ATP rankings of June 8, even though more than a month of the tours' schedules in March and April have been scrapped. Requirements related to minimum participation in Fed Cup or Davis Cup remain in place — as does an appeal process for players who do not meet those standards. VOLLEYBALL The qualification was completed in January with the 12 teams for both the men’s and women’s competitions already set. WATER POLO Men's and women's qualification tournaments scheduled for this month have been postponed until May. At stake are the final three spots for the 12-team men's field and the last two openings in the 10-team women's competition. The U.S. men and women have already qualified. WEIGHTLIFTING Spots are decided by the world ranking. The continental championships next month were meant to be the last gold-level events offering extra qualifying points. However, the European, Asian and African championships have all been postponed along with another gold-level event, junior worlds. WRESTLING The U.S. trials that had been scheduled for April 4-5 in State College, Pennsylvania, have been postponed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 15th, 2020

Scrubbed: March Madness leads long list of canceled sports

By EDDIE PELLS AP National Writer The world's sports schedule cratered at warp speed Thursday, with one of the biggest events on the U.S. calendar, the fun-filled and colorful college basketball tournament known as March Madness, becoming the first mega-event to be scrubbed due to fear of the spread of the coronavirus. Leaders at all levels of sports, including the NCAA, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, tennis and soccer, decided the risk of playing games with the threat of the virus hanging over them was too great despite the billions of dollars — to say nothing of the trophies, pride and once-in-a-lifetime experiences — hanging in the balance. By late in the afternoon of an extraordinary, headline-a-minute day across a pandemic-rattled globe, the NCAA, which regulates March Madness and virtually all major U.S. college sports, basically had no choice. With conferences and individual teams calling off their basketball seasons at breakneck pace, the NCAA followed suit. They scrapped all college winter and spring championships, the highlight of which is the men's basketball tournament — a three-week extravaganza that stands as the biggest event this side of the Super Bowl on the U.S. sports calendar. The cancellation leaves a massive hole in American sports — from campuses across the country, to a growing passel of sports-betting businesses that rely on college hoops money, to say nothing of the hearts of players who were poised to get their first, or last, or only chance to shine on the big stage. All of it was to be covered by CBS and its partners; about 80 percent of the NCAA's $1.05 billion annual budget is bankrolled by the money the networks pay to present the 68-team tournament over the air, on cable and online. “This is bigger than a sport or championship,” said Kansas University coach Bill Self, whose team would've been the likely favorite to win it all. Hours earlier, Kansas and Duke had each taken matters into their own hands, announcing they wouldn't be sending any of their teams to games, no matter the stakes. It wasn't even the most jaw-dropping moment of the morning. That came, fittingly, at one of the world's most renowned sports venues — Madison Square Garden — where at halftime of a Big East Conference tournament game, the PA announcer came on and said the tournament had been called. By then, every major conference, and virtually all of the minor ones, had done the same thing. They were prompted in part by the NCAA's decision a day earlier to hold all its tournament games — which had been scheduled to start next week in nine cities and close April 6 at a 71,000-seat stadium in Atlanta — in front of friends and family and limited “essential” personnel. Only 24 hours later, with the stock market tanking, mixed messages coming out of Washington and no promise of quick relief being offered by world health experts, it became even more clear that gatherings involving thousands of people were hard to justify. Also clear: The NCAA would have trouble assembling an equitable bracket for its tournament, given that most games designed to suss out the most-deserving teams and automatic qualifiers had already been scrubbed. “I’m not a researcher in immunology or infectious disease, but those who are engaged at the NCAA level provided some stark information yesterday,” said Greg Sankey, the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. The March Madness news meant it will be a world free of basketball for the foreseeable future. A day after the NBA put its season on temporary hiatus, a second member of the Utah Jazz — Donovan Mitchell — tested positive for the coronavirus. The league said its suspension would last for at least 30 days — possibly a conservative guess, as teams undertake the task of identifying any player or referee who has had recent contact with the Jazz, then putting them into isolation for the required two weeks. “What would kill the NBA season is if more players catch it,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said in an interview on CNBC. He called the hiatus a matter of “us being vigilant, as all businesses should be. Businesses are going to have to be incredibly vigilant, and that's hard.” The NHL also suspended its season, though it did not report any positives for COVID-19. Major League Baseball scrapped spring training and postponed the start of its season, currently scheduled for March 26, for at least two weeks. Before the start of one of the biggest golf tournaments on the calendar, the PGA Tour announced that the last three rounds of The Players Championship, best known for the rowdy gatherings around the island green on the 17th hole, would be played without fans. The same goes for the three events that follow, all of which lead into the Masters, which was, for the time being, slated to go on as scheduled the week of April 6. The LPGA postponed three tournaments, beginning next week, including its first major of the season. Tennis will also be canceling events. The ATP called off men's tournaments for the next six weeks; the WTA said its tournament in South Carolina, set for April 6-12, would not be held as scheduled, with decisions about the rest of the season to come in the next week. NASCAR announced it would race the next two weekends, in Atlanta and Miami, without fans, and IndyCar made the same decision for its race this weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida. Horse races were going on in several states, though without fans in the stands — leaving the parimutuel wagers to be made online; organizers of the Kentucky Derby were moving forward with plans for the May 2 race. The NFL, never off the radar even in the depths of the offseason, announced a number of changes and cancellations on its schedule of meetings, fan fest and scouting trips — all related to coronavirus. The U.S.-based Major League Soccer said it would shut down for a target period of 30 days. Earlier in the day, soccer leagues and teams scrambled to make changes: —Belgium's soccer league backpedaled on an earlier decision, and decided to close stadiums to fans. —A Champions League game involving Real Madrid was postponed after the Spanish team puts its players in quarantine. —Dutch soccer authorities canceled all matches through the end of the month, including friendlies against the United States and Spain. —Also, a second player from Italy's top soccer division tested positive. All sports in that hard-hit country have been suspended through April 3. For once, there were no major announcements coming out of Tokyo, where conflicting messages about the status of this summer's Olympics have come out of the country, and the IOC, for weeks. Instead, the IOC went ahead with its ceremonial lighting of the Olympic flame, an event held in front of the ruined Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia. "We are strengthened ... by the many authorities and sports organizations around the world which are taking so many significant measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” IOC president Thomas Bach said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 13th, 2020

Kai Sotto invited to NBA s Basketball Without Borders Global Camp

Sotto, who is currently playing for Atlanta-based club The Skill Factory, will be part of the camp from February 14 to 16 at Quest Multisport in Chicago as part of the 2020 NBA All-Star weekend......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsFeb 9th, 2020

Bryant death draws tributes from Asian fans, politicians

BEIJING (AP) — Kobe Bryant was a hugely popular figure in Asia, no more so than in China where basketball rivals soccer as the most popular sport. However, his death Sunday in a helicopter accident comes at an awkward time between the country and the league. National broadcaster CCTC pulled all NBA games off the air following a tweet in October from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressing support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests. The Chinese Basketball Association, led by former Rockets MVP Yao Ming, announced it would suspend all cooperation with the Texas-based team. Yao and the association have yet to comment on the crash that killed Bryant, daughter Gianna and seven others. Bryant's popularity among Chinese fans was rivaled only by Yao, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. His playing appearances, including the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics won by the U.S., were far exceeded by his promotional appearances in the country, both on behalf of his own brand and basketball generally. At a 2013 Lakers preseason game against Golden State in Beijing, the arena rang out with chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” despite the injured super-star not even having suited up for the game. Commemorations begin rolling in online, many of the accompanied by photos of Yao and Gianna with the letters R.I.P. Others showed the two dressed in uniform walking away into clouds under a basketball net. “For our generation, our memories of the NBA begin with Jordan, and move through Kobe and Yao Ming. You were a part of our youth. Already missing the bright sun of Kobe. Go well,” wrote commentator “ZhanHao” on the popular Twitter-like Weibo messaging service. “Your willpower has inspired a generation. Thank you,” wrote “Teacher Kai Ting.” “I hope there is basketball in heaven. Kobe just went to another world to play basketball with his daughter,” wrote “Cici’s green paper.” In Taiwan, where the NBA also is an enormous draw, President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted that her “thoughts go out to the Bryant family & the families of all those who lost loved ones today." “Kobe inspired a generation of young Taiwanese basketball players, & his legacy will live on through those who loved him," Tsai wrote. Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo noted that Bryant had been a frequent visitor to the Philippines . “He was well-loved by his Filipino fans," Panelo said in a statement. “On the hard court, he was a sight to behold with his dexterity and accuracy in sinking that ball in the ring. He was a master of his craft. The basketball world has lost one of its legendary greats," Panelo said. “The Palace extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, loved ones and fans around the globe who Kobe left behind. We share in their grief." In Japan, Tetsunori Tanimoto, an official at the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association, in Kobe, central Japan, expressed his deep condolences for Kobe Bryant’s death. “He helped make Kobe Beef known throughout the world,” he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press Monday. Kobe got his name, the legend goes, after his father ate Kobe beef during a visit to Japan and loved the taste. Tanimoto, who watches NBA games on TV but has never met Bryant, said people know the story about how Bryant got his name. “We have always felt a closeness to him,” he said. “It is so sad. And we offer our deepest condolences.” ___ Associated Press reporters Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo and Kiko Rosario in Bangkok, Thailand contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2020

No promises for Kai Sotto in Mighty-Pilipinas, says coach Charles

Kai Sotto is yet to join Mighty Sports-Pilipinas even as the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament looms larger and larger. The 7-foot-2, 17-year-old remains in Atlanta with The Skills Factory and will head directly to Dubai where the invitational tourney will begin on January 22. "We thought he'd be here last week, but he had some commitments and some tournaments he still had to fulfill there," head coach Charles Tiu said. "It's going to be tough, to be honest." Make no mistake, however, Sotto will see through his commitment in wearing the flag and helping the Filipino representatives improve on their third-place finish from a year ago. "Kai messaged me that he wants to be here. He has already asked me to send over some stuff on game plans," coach Charles said. Still, the Philippine team's youthful mentor said that Sotto will have to earn his spot in the rotation - especially as he is the only player not to have practiced yet. "As much as I want to help him, we still have to win this tournament. That's our first priority," he said. He then continued, "He needs to work his way to be a part of the team." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2020

Young Veterans look to lead Mighty Sports-Pilipinas in Dubai

This year's iteration of the Mighty Sports-Pilipinas basketball team that will participate in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament is made up of some of the brightest young basketball stars, some of them suiting up for Mighty Sports for the first time.  While exciting young stars like Thirdy Ravena, Kai Sotto, Dave Ildefonso, Jamie Malonzo, and Gilas veteran Andray Blatche are some of the fresh new faces set to banner Mighty Sports, it will be key returnees such as Gab Banal, Mikey Williams, and Juan Gomez De Liano that will serve as the team's 'veteran leaders' so to speak.  While not exactly among the teams elders, Juan GDL, Banal, and Williams are ready and willing to fulfill their role as leaders.  "[I told them to] basically just play your game and come in and do what you have to do," Williams told The Score's Denice Dinsay. "As long as you listen to the coach, ask questions, you'll continue to get better and flourish in this tournament."  "A lot of these college players are the star players of their respective college teams, but they're coming into a veteran team with three imports and Andray, so it's not like their college team anymore, we have a lot of veterans, especially ex-NBA guys. They just need to apply their fit into the team, check their egos, and play for the betterment of the team," said Banal.  Apart from the trio of returnees, the other leader will be none other than Alab Pilipinas and Mighty Sports veteran and former PBA import Renaldo Balkman.  "We have a savvy vet that knows the game very well," Williams said of Balkman. "He's played at a high level and his IQ is at the top of the charts. As you long as you follow his lead and do what he does, everything will fall into place."  Check out the full video below:  The invitational tournament kicks off on January 23rd. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2020

It s halftime in the NBA, and time to look at some trends

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press It’s halftime. The midway point of the NBA regular season arrives this week -- there are 1,230 games between October and April, and after Thursday night’s (Friday, PHL time) slate goes into the books 618 games will have been played with 612 left to go. Making statistical judgments after a few games, or even a few weeks, isn’t the wisest thing. But with 50% of the season done, it seems like appropriate enough of a sample size to point out a few trends. 3’S, AGAIN The league records for 3-pointers made and attempted are going to get broken for the eighth consecutive year. But the growth rate in that department seems to be slowing down. First, the numbers: NBA teams combined to make 27,955 3-pointers last season and attempt 78,742, both of which are records. That was an increase of 8.3% on makes from 2017-18 and an increase of 10.4% on attempts. This year, the league is on pace to make more than 29,000 3-pointers and attempt nearly 83,000 of them. Both would be records, of course, but the increases over last season are on pace to be only 4.7% on makes and 5.1% on attempts. And while the league’s love affair with the 3-pointer is nothing new, it’s still a bit mindboggling to put it in perspective. When this soon-to-be-eight-year run of record-setting began, NBA teams made 17,603 3’s and attempted 49,067 of them. How much has it changed? This year’s projected final numbers, compared to those -- up 66% percent on makes, up 69% on attempts. SCORING DOWN (SORT OF) Maybe defenses have caught up to the offense-friendly officiating emphasis that went into place at the start of last season. Scoring is down a tiny bit from last year. In 2018-19, teams averaged 111.2 points per game. This year, it’s down to 110.4 per game. But that is still on pace to be the 15th-highest scoring season in the NBA’s 74-year history -- and the second-highest in the last 35 years. JAMES HARDEN Any look at numbers must include what Houston guard James Harden is doing. He’s averaging 37.7 points per game, putting him on pace for the fifth-highest mark in NBA history. Wilt Chamberlain owns the top three (50.4 in 1961-62, 44.8 in 1962-63 and 38.4 in 1960-61). Elgin Baylor is fourth, at 38.3 per game in 1961-62. Harden’s scoring will be (and already has been) a rallying cry for his MVP candidacy, just as it was last season when he averaged 36.1 points per game -- and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award. Precedent is not in Harden’s MVP favor. Chamberlain didn’t win MVP in his three highest-scoring seasons, nor did Baylor when he had his best scoring year. In all three cases, Boston’s Bill Russell won the award -- without averaging more than 18.9 points per game in that stretch. He did average nearly 24 rebounds in each of those seasons, and the Celtics won the NBA championship in all three of those years as well. Harden, however, could seriously challenge the 3-point single-season record. Golden State’s Stephen Curry made 402 in his unanimous MVP season of 2015-16; Harden is on pace for 414 this season, provided he plays in every Houston game the rest of the way. LEBRON’S ASSISTS LeBron James is well on his way to winning his first assist crown, leading the NBA with 10.7 per game entering Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) -- more than one assist per game ahead of Phoenix’s Ricky Rubio. Like so many other things James does, an assist crown would be historic. James is 35. He would become the second-oldest assist champion in NBA history; Steve Nash was 37 when he won that title for the final time. As far as first-time winners, James would become the oldest. Jerry West won his lone assist title when he was 33. Lenny Wilkens and Mark Jackson were both 32. Wilt Chamberlain and Rod Strickland were both 31. Even Utah’s John Stockton -- the king of assists -- was 34 when he won his final assist title. A LOT OF GOOD ... There is a chance that there could be as many 50-win teams as the league has ever seen. At the midway mark, there are 12 teams with realistic chances of getting to 50 wins this season. If they all get there -- and it’s not exactly improbable, either -- it would tie the record for most teams reaching that standard in a single season. The mark is 12 set in 2009-10. That season, Boston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Cleveland, Phoenix, Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah, Portland, Orlando, Denver and Atlanta all won between 50 and 61 games. ... AND A LOT OF BAD Meanwhile, there are 17 teams on pace to finish with losing records. As of now, there are the 12 teams with a great shot at 50 or more wins. Then there’s Oklahoma City, the lone team in the middle, on pace for about 46 wins. And then there is everyone else, all with records below .500 at this point. Call it an erosion of the NBA’s middle class. The last time the league had only one team finish between 41 and 49 wins -- including adjustments for labor-issue-related shortened seasons -- was 1966-67. Of course, the NBA only had 10 teams then, with two (Philadelphia and Boston) having winning percentages of .741 or better, the San Francisco Warriors at 44-37, and then the other seven teams all with losing records. THE WEEK AHEAD A game (or two) to watch for each of the next seven days (PHL times listed) ... Wednesday, Houston at Memphis: Don’t look now, but the Grizzlies are really in the West playoff mix. Thursday, San Antonio at Miami: Impossible for these teams to play and not think of 2013 and 2014. Friday, Boston at Milwaukee: A matchup of two of the best in the Eastern Conference. Saturday, Portland at Dallas: It should be an elite guard showdown, Damian Lillard vs. Luka Doncic. Sunday, Sacramento at Utah: In what is becoming an annual tradition, the Jazz are wildly underrated. Next Monday, Indiana at Denver: Pacers still hovering on pace for 50 wins, Nuggets just keep winning. Next Tuesday, Toronto at Atlanta/New Orleans at Memphis: The league celebrates the life Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with 14 games -- including these two, Atlanta being where he was born and Memphis being where he was killed. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2020

Thirdy commits to Gilas but wants to try luck in Japan, Australia

He wasn’t part of any draft, whether Gilas or PBA, in 2019 but former Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena has already expressed his commitment to the Philippine national team. Thirdy has been added to the Gilas Pilipinas pool and Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio revealed that the younger of the Ravena brothers wants to be a key cog for the national team by the 2023 FIBA World Cup. “He's committed to the national team, but he wants to better himself. He did tell me that he wants to be a major contributor for 2023,” Panlilio said of Thirdy. “That's how he's seeing it, na he want to develop now so he can be a major contributor three years from now,” Panlilio added. While Ravena is committed to play for Gilas, nothing is official just yet. According to Panlilio, Thirdy has plans on taking his talents to possibly Japan or Australia. How his schedule works out if and when he does make it abroad remains to be seen. “Thirdy committed to us. He hasn't signed up because he wanted to play abroad. When we spoke to him before the holidays and the draft, he's following the path of Kiefer. Thirdy is looking at opportunities in Australia and Japan,” Panlilio said. “The problem lang is once he signs up with Japan on Australia, he has his own commitments there. Whether he could put a clause in his agreement that when it comes to national team duties for the Philippines, that he be allowed to participate. If he can talk to the ballclub he'll be signing up with, to include that in his agreement, that everytime we call you, you can join us. He's willing to do that,” he added. — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2020

Mills, Spurs top Nets 118-105 on Dinwiddie s career night

By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Patty Mills had 27 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a career-high 41 points from Spencer Dinwiddie to beat the Brooklyn Nets 118-105 Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Mills had 21 points in the second half, shooting 5 for 8 on 3-pointers as the Spurs rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat the Nets for the 17th straight home game. LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio. Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving missed his 17th straight game with a right shoulder impingement. Dinwiddie tried to cover by shooting 14 of 29 from the field, eclipsing his career high by two points. The Spurs closed the third quarter on a 12-0 run and notched their first lead at 83-81 on Mills’ layup with 3.8 seconds left. San Antonio was 4 for 9 on 3-pointers in the third, including Derrick White’s 3 to tie it at 81. The Nets never trailed in the first half and led by 14 points while the Spurs plodded along. San Antonio committed nine turnovers and shot 40% from the field in the first half. Brooklyn opened the game on a 12-2 run, including two emphatic dunks by Jarrett Allen. Allen’s second slam came off an uncontested drive that prompted a timeout by Popovich 3 minutes into the game. Allen finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds for Brooklyn. TIP-INS Nets: David Nwaba left a minute into the fourth quarter after twisting his right ankle in a scramble for the ball near the top of the key. Nwaba was assisted off the court after initially lying in pain as play continued. He finished with four points, two rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes. ... Brooklyn is 11-6 in Irving’s absence. ... Irving did not travel with the team on its two-game road trip. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said there is no update on Irving’s injury status. Spurs: San Antonio assistants Tim Duncan and Becky Hammon were both nominated for enshrinement into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. ... Former Nets F DeMarre Carroll did not play for the 16th time due to a coach’s decision. Carroll is averaging 2.5 points and 10.9 minutes in 11 games since signing with San Antonio as a free agent. UP NEXT Nets: Host Atlanta on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Spurs: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 20th, 2019

Kai target ng kentucky, georgia tech, depaul

PATULOY na kumukuha ng atensiyon sa mga collegiate scout sa Amerika ang 17-anyos basketball prodigy na si Kai Sotto mula nang mag-ensayo ito sa practice facility ng NBA team na Atlanta Hawks......»»

Category: newsSource:  abanteRelated NewsDec 12th, 2019

NCAA 95 Finals: They never gave up -- Fernandez on San Beda

Defending champion San Beda University saw its 15-0 start evaporate then had to come back from seven points down and display composure under tremendous pressure in the waning seconds of the game to stay alive in the NCAA Season 95 Seniors basketball Finals series against a gritty Letran side. The Red Lions took Game 2 after a frantic race to the finish, 79-76, on Friday to force a rubber match at the MOA Arena. It may not be a pretty one but head coach Boyet Fernandez will take it anytime.   “A win is a win, we’ll take this one. I’m just relieved we got over this Game 2 and we won this one,” said Fernandez, whose wards dodged an upset attempt by the Knights. The mentor, who is looking to steer the Red Lions to a four-peat and their 23rd title overall, lauded his wards for showing great character. “I salute my players also. They really want to prove something today. That’s what character is. We had a loss. Everybody’s all against us but the players really don’t want to lose eh so credit to them,” he said. Season Most Valuable Player Calvin Oftana played the hero’s role late in the game, completing an and-one play to put San Beda up, 77-76, with 19.1 seconds left before the Red Lions made crucial stops to deny Letran of an early celebration.    Coming off a shocking Game 1 loss – the Mendiola-based squad’s first of the tournament – Fernandez knew they had to start right. His squad did it in the first 10 minutes, opening up a 15-0 gap and held it until halftime. But Letran fought back in the second half behind sniper Fran Yu, who turned a 25-37 deficit at the half to a 56-53 lead in the third. Yu continued his hot shooting streak in the fourth as the Knights opened a 66-59 lead with 7:42 left. Oftana rallied San Beda back, hitting a triple that ignited a 13-0 run for a 72-66 lead. The Red Lions got the breaks of the game after Yu suffered cramps. “Unang-una Letran did a good job tonight. They’ve been so ready for us, they know what we’re doing, credit to their coaches. Fran Yu, wow. We’re just lucky he got cramps,” said Fernandez. Clinching a morale-boosting win, Fernandez hopes his squad will use this to fuel the Red Lions in Game 3 on Tuesday. “I hope we sustain this one. Playing a tough team like Letran that will be hard for us but again I do thank my players, thank the Lord for this,” he said. “For giving us a chance, another game to fight for and hopefully we can show them again what is San Beda basketball on Tuesday. Sana may magandang pangitain sa Tuesday.”     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2019

Kai Sotto dominates anew in game with Atlanta-based TSF

Improving on his debut double-double performance with TSF National, Sotto posted a near triple-double in their game against the American Basketball Institute (ABI) on Wednesday (Thursday Manila time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 15th, 2019

Balanza on NCAA 95 Finals: Ang Letran, sanay na underdog

Four years since its Cinderella championship, Colegio de San Juan de Letran is back in the Finals in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament. And very much like 2015, the Knights have to overcome the odds if they are to upend three-time defending champion and archrival San Beda University. Still, that predicament is just what the Intramuros-based squad has, time and again, proven to be capable and confident of overcoming. "Ang Letran, sanay na underdog yan. Wala kaming foreign player so talagang puso lang ang labanan - patapangan, pangil sa pangil," team captain Jerrick Balanza said. He then continued, "Sa tagal ko sa Letran, yun ang natutunan ko - na lumaban ng tama." When it last hoisted the trophy, an upstart outfit led by Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, and Kevin Racal and guided by Aldin Ayo toppled a Red Lion side fronted by Baser Amer, Art Dela Cruz, and Ola Adeogun. Now, while Letran has gotten bigger and badder all while being led by Balanza, Larry Muyang, and Fran Yu, San Beda still remains favored as it completed a clean sweep of the elimination round. For Balanza, however, that doesn't mean anything at all - especially as he, personally, has already jumped over bigger hurdles. As he put it, "Ako, confident ako at positive lang lagi. I-momotivate ko lang yung team kong maging positive." He then continued, "'Di man kami nanalo sa kanila ng dalawang beses sa eliminations, makakabawi kami sa championship ng dalawang beses kung sakali." After all, the graduating guard is living proof that mountains can be moved after having overcome a brain injury and then brain surgery to play the game he loves once more. "Lagi ko lang binabalikan lahat ng nangyari sa akin at si God lang ang nilalapitan ko. Nagdadasal ako bago lumabas kasi alam kong ito yung plano niya," he shared. He then continued, "Kaya niya ako binigyan ng sakit at kaya ako nakabalik para rito sa championship." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 12th, 2019

ABL: Andrei Caracut bolsters backcourt of rejiggered Alab Pilipinas

Andrei Caracut is all set to re-ignite with San Miguel Alab Pilipinas for the next step in his young career. The De La Salle University product will be making his debut in the 2019-2020 Asean Basketball League as the Philippine team sets out to reclaim the crown it had worn two years ago. "It's an honor to play for your country with Alab Pilipinas," he said on Saturday, just three days after he had played his last game in green and white. In Caracut, Alab will be getting a heady guard who knows a thing or two about scoring. The former UAAP Rookie of the Year put up per game counts of 9.6 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.0 rebounds in his fifth and final season as a Green Archer. Caracut fortifies a fresh lineup that no longer has Ray Parks Jr., Caelan Tiongson, and PJ Ramos, but still has Lo Domingo, Brandon Rosser, and Renaldo Balkman. Alongside the captain of the Taft-based team, though, the Filipino representatives in the regional league has also welcomed with open arms court general Jason Brickman, high-flyer Jeremiah Gray, veterans Aaron Aban and Louie Vigil, and new reinforcements Adrian Forbes and Khalif Wyatt. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2019

Rookie Ladder: With Zion out, surprises take top spots

By Drew Packham, NBA.com With one injury, everything changed. When news came down that No. 1 pick Zion Williamson would miss 6-8 weeks with a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Kia Rookie of the Year race was officially up for grabs. Williamson, the No. 1 pick who was dominating the preseason and was a clear favorite to win Kia ROY, will miss anywhere from 20-30 games based off the initial timetable. The Pelicans are being cautious with their prized big man, meaning the door is wide open for other rookies to take advantage. So that begs the question: Can Williamson miss 25-30% of the season and still return to claim the top prize? If what we’ve seen so far from the rest of this rookie class is any indication, Zion will have his work cut out for him when he gets back on the court. Here’s how the race looks after the first week. * * * 1. Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat The biggest surprise of the first week has been Kendrick Melvin Nunn, who spent last season in the G League after going undrafted in 2018. The Heat clearly saw something in Nunn, signing the guard to a deal in April, although he wouldn’t see action until Opening Night this season. Nunn burst onto the scene, scoring 24 (one shy of the Heat rookie debut record) in Miami’s 120-101 win over the Grizzlies and hasn’t slowed down since, despite Jimmy Butler’s return to the lineup. "I've never seen him look like he's under stress or pressure," Spoelstra said of Nunn, who leads all rookies in scoring (21.0 ppg) while shooting 48.6% from the floor. "He's an experienced older young player." For now, the starting job seems to be Nunn’s. Whether he keeps up this hot start will be something to watch, but he’s already winning over fans and his underdog story will only help his case. The Flying Nunn! pic.twitter.com/oRQEVth17z — Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 28, 2019 2. P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets The No. 12 pick didn’t take long to make his case for playing time in Charlotte. While GM Mitch Kupchak previously suggested the Kentucky product would spend time in the G League, Washington wasn’t having it. Washington scored 27 points and hit 7 3s in the opener, setting an NBA record for a debut. And he hasn’t showed many signs of slowing. Through five games as a starter, he’s averaging 15.8 points and 7.0 rebounds (tied for 1st among rookies) while shooting 54.7% from the field and 52.0% on 3s. Another ???? night for @PJWashington! ? 23 PTS ? 8 REB ? 76% (10-for-13)#AllFly pic.twitter.com/HwLNyoW6Jg — Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) October 31, 2019 3. RJ Barrett, New York Knicks The No. 3 pick has looked like a star, starting all five games and proving he’s one of the best shooters in this rookie class. Through five games, Barrett is averaging 18.2 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 47.4% from the field and 42.1% from beyond the arc. Barrett’s only issue so far is one that plagued him at Duke: He’s just 11-for-27 (40.7%) from the free-throw line. Coach David Fizdale is experimenting with Barrett at the point, with mixed results so far. First career double-double ?@rjbarrett6 went to work. pic.twitter.com/hXxyibWIO0 — NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 29, 2019 4. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies Morant has had his ups and downs, but he certainly had a signature moment in one of his first big tests. Squaring off against Kyrie Irving, Morant scored 30 points (17 in the 4th) and sealed the win with a block on Irving before setting up the game-winning 3 as the Grizzlies beat the Nets 134-133 in OT. Morant is averaging 17.5 points and 5.0 assists through four games, but he’ll have to cut down on his 5.0 turnovers per game. Still, Morant’s flashes of brilliance in a big matchup earn him a top 5 spot on the first Ladder. ?? ????? in the ?? ?17 points in clutch time ?Block to send the game into OT ?Became 1 of 3 players in NBA history to have a 30+ point 9+ ast night within his first 3 games. (shouts @GrizzliesPR) @JaMorant | #GrzNxtGen pic.twitter.com/wa5LynMl7h — Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) October 28, 2019 5. Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards Hachimura is winning over fans and teammates alike with his early play. The No. 9 pick has started all four games for the 1-3 Wizards, averaging 18.0 points and 7.0 rebounds (tied for 1st among rookies) on 46.9% shooting. Coach Scott Brooks is giving the former Gonzaga forward free rein, so he should be a regular on the Ladder. “He's going to be special in this league. I think he has the potential to be a star," Isaiah Thomas said of his teammate. "I always tell him he reminds me of Kawhi Leonard when he first came into the league; big body, big hands, midrange game, he knows the game really well." Just missed the cut: Coby White, Chicago Bulls White started the season hot, scoring 17 and 25 in the first two games, but hasn’t reached double-digits since, shooting 8-for-31 in the Bulls’ next three games. Still, White has proven to be a capable change-of-pace off the bench and could climb with more playing time. Tyler Herro, Miami Heat Herro has been a key piece to the Heat’s 3-1 start to the season, averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 45.8% from the field (36.8 on 3s). The No. 13 pick, who was tabbed “best shooter” by his fellow rookies, scored 29 points (exploding for 19 in the 2nd quarter) in Miami’s 112-97 win over the Hawks. DeAndre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks Hunter has started all four games for the Hawks, averaging 9.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game. This team is clearly built around Trae Young and John Collins at this point, but Hunter is sliding right into his role and his numbers should only rise as he gains experience. Matisse Thybulle, Philadelphia 76ers Thybulle’s numbers on offense won’t wow you, but the No. 20 pick out of Washington makes his money on the defensive end. Through four games, Thybulle has 12 steals (leading all NBA players) and 6 blocks, both tops among rookies. He’s had multiple steals in all four games (setting a Sixers rookie record) and two or more blocks in three of the four, even more impressive considering he’s only seeing about 20 minutes per game. * * * (All stats through Thursday, Oct. 31, PHL time) Send any questions or comments to my email or find me on Twitter @drewpackham. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 1st, 2019

Beware of early overreactions after the NBA s opening week

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Beware the overreaction. It’s an easy trap to fall into at this time of year: Look at the early numbers in the NBA, extrapolate those over 82 games and envision the statistically improbable somehow becoming real. Don’t do it. Atlanta’s Trae Young is averaging 38.5 points per game right now which won’t hold up over an entire season. Same goes for Houston’s James Harden, who isn’t going to stay at his current shooting rate of 24% from the field and 12% from 3-point range. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t going to foul out of every game, either. And Golden State isn’t going to go 0-82. The Warriors may be the biggest disappointment of the first week of this NBA season, blown out by 19 at home to the Los Angeles Clippers and then by 28 — a game where the deficit was as much as 42 — on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) at Oklahoma City. “We’re just not that good right now,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “I don’t know a better way to frame that for you. I could try in Spanish, but I’m not really that good in Spanish.” They haven’t just lost. They haven’t even led yet — not for a single second. They got down 14-0 in the opener to the Clippers, then 8-0 to the Thunder. But to write off the Warriors — the five-time defending Western Conference champions — after two games would be beyond short-sighted. “We’re trying to develop an identity as a team and it doesn’t happen overnight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And when you play in the NBA every single night, you’re going against amazing basketball players.” Golden State still has Green and Stephen Curry. The Warriors added D’Angelo Russell. They won’t have Klay Thompson until late this season, if at all in 2019-20. The NBA Finals MVPs from 2015, 2017 and 2018 — Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant — aren’t there anymore. It’s not starting over. It’s definitely a restart, though. The Warriors’ halftime deficit of 33 points on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) was their largest since 1997. “This is not where we finish,” said Omari Spellman, one of the Warriors’ new faces. “It’s Game 2. But there are only so many times we can keep saying that. ... We’ve got to compete.” The Warriors used 11 players on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), and seven of them were playing elsewhere last season — whether in the NBA or still in college. That’s why Kerr says the Warriors “don’t have a sense of who we are as a team yet.” “I realize I’m making plenty of excuses,” Kerr said. “But they’re real.” JENKINS’ PATH Champions of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas don’t get rings. They get T-shirts. Memphis won the title this past summer, and Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins — who decided to coach the team in Las Vegas as well — keeps his championship shirt in his wardrobe rotation as a reminder of what happened over those two weeks. “I bust it out every now and then,” Jenkins said. The next championship will be a little bit tougher. Jenkins is one of two first-time NBA coaches this season, with Cleveland’s John Beilein being the other. Beilein is 66 and went to the Final Four twice with Michigan. Jenkins is 35 and his most notable experience as a head coach before now was in the G League. No one asks Beilein if he’s ready for the NBA. Jenkins — who has studied under Gregg Popovich and Mike Budenholzer — has heard that question a lot. “I’ve been preparing,” Jenkins said. He knows he still has a ton to learn, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel prepared for where he is. WHAT TO WATCH A game to watch each day this week (days in PHL time): — Tuesday, Oklahoma City at Houston: Russell Westbrook faces the Thunder for the first time. — Wednesday, Atlanta at Miami: Jimmy Butler is expected to finally make his debut for the Heat. — Thursday, Indiana at Brooklyn: Malcolm Brogdon guarding Kyrie Irving will be must-watch TV. (Also, if the World Series goes seven games, Houston’s basketball team will be in Washington while Washington’s baseball team is in Houston.) — Friday, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers: The Clippers have won their last five Halloween games. — Saturday, L.A. Lakers at Dallas: First matchup between LeBron James and Kristaps Porzingis since Nov. 13, 2017. — Sunday, Toronto at Milwaukee: A rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals. — Next Monday, Sacramento at New York: Kings have missed 13 straight postseasons, Knicks six......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 28th, 2019

UAAP 82: Adamson rookie Sabandal feeling bittersweet his career-high came in a loss

ANTIPOLO - Adamson University has lost seven of its last eight games in the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament. The latest of which was a close one as the Soaring Falcons bowed to University of Sto. Tomas, Saturday at Ynares Center here. Still, they had a silver lining in the form of rookie Joem Sabandal who scored a career-best 18 points to go along with ix rebounds in just 17 minutes of play. For the prized prospect, though, there was nothing to celebrate about his career game. "50-50 e kasi yun nga, best game ko, pero talo," he told reporters post-game. Without a doubt, though, the fact that Sabandal is getting into his groove is nothing but a welcome development for the San Marcelino-based squad. This, after frustrations personally piled up for him. "Sobra rin akong na-frustrate before this kasi nga nung preseason, ang ganda ng pinakita ko tapos after ng first game this season, injury na naman," he said, talking about the left hand fracture he sustained early in the tournament that kept him out for the rest of the first round of eliminations. He then continued, "Naniwala na lang ako kay Lord na okay lang yun at may plano siya sa akin. Magtratrabaho lang talaga ako." The 5-foot-11 guard did just that once he was cleared to return. "Paggaling sa injury, nagtrabaho talaga ako. As in, nagpapraktis kami ng umaga tapos nage-extra shots ako ng gabi para yung kundisyon ko, bumalik talaga," he shared. He then continued, "Yung pagiging aggressive ko sa loob, yun yung hinahanap ni coach Franz [Pumaren] sa akin. Nag-pay off naman." Indeed, together with Jerom Lastimosa, Sabandal showed just how fearsome the Adamson backcourt would be in the foreseeable future as they went toe-to-toe with the Growling Tigers' own awesome twosome of Mark Nonoy and Renzo Subido. Nonetheless, he is also well aware that he has a long way to go before being back to the player who made the Mythical Team in last year's UAAP Jrs. and led the Baby Falcons' return to relevance. As he put it, "Process pa rin 'to. Trabaho pa rin dapat." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 26th, 2019

Morant among the NBA rookies who made noise in their debuts

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — The first three baskets of the season for the Memphis Grizzlies were all reminders of why the team wanted Ja Morant. Getting free inside for a layup. An acrobatic reverse layup off a lob. A swooping score over two defenders in transition. Those were his first three NBA shots, his first three NBA makes and with that the career of the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft is off and running. It wasn’t storybook — Memphis flopped in the fourth and wound up losing 120-101 to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) — but Morant’s debut was impressive nonetheless, one of many eye-catching performances by rookies getting a chance to have their openers this week. “I’m real close with Ja,” Heat rookie Tyler Herro said. “He’s a great player. He was drafted No. 2 for a reason and I thought he showed that tonight, just the way he controls the pace on the floor and gets his guys in the right spots. He’s a great point guard.” Morant had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists in his debut. Those numbers might sound modest — but no one in Grizzlies history has ever finished with such a stat line when playing their first NBA game. “When you sit down with the guy and you talk about basketball, you talk about what he’s seeing on the floor, he’s a step ahead,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “He’s already seeing plays before they develop. I think our entire team is going to benefit from his unselfish style of play.” No. 1 pick Zion Williamson is likely to miss the first couple months of the season while dealing with the aftereffects of meniscus surgery, so Morant is the highest 2019 pick to take the floor so far this season. No. 3 pick R.J. Barrett scored 21 points in his debut for New York on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), coming in a loss at San Antonio. No. 4 pick De’Andre Hunter is expected to make his debut Thursday (Friday, PHL time) when Atlanta opens against Detroit. No. 5 pick Darius Garland had eight points in Cleveland’s season-opening loss in Orlando. Other notable rookie openers so far include No. 12 selection P.J. Washington hitting seven three-pointers and scoring 27 points for Charlotte on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) in its win over Chicago, No. 7 pick Coby White’s 17-point debut for the Bulls in that game, No. 9 pick Rui Hachimura’s 14-point, 10-rebound effort for Washington in a loss at Dallas — and undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn scoring 24 points for Miami in the win over Memphis. Nunn is 24, making him one of the older rookies who have gotten their NBA debuts this week. He had a 40-point preseason finale last week and turned more heads Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). “Man, it’s been a long journey,” Nunn said. “I was in the G League last year, all season and got a last-day callup with the Heat. That worked out and it’s been just an unbelievable ride.” Morant shot 6-for-12 and had six turnovers in 25 minutes. He had a dunk attempt swatted away by rookie Chris Silva in the fourth quarter, that play coming during a run where Miami outscored Memphis 24-1 to pull away. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow, practice,” Morant said. “That’s where we can get better, study film and go out there and fix our mistakes.” He was asked his goal for the season and didn’t hesitate. “To be the best Ja I can be,” he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 24th, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Days: Rockets see Harden, Westbrook team up

Like most summers in the NBA, the 2019 edition was chock full of trades, free agent news and player movement. From the defending-champion Toronto Raptors to just about every other team in the league, change was the most applicable word when it came to describing team rosters for the 2019-20 season. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- in order of regular-season finish from 2018-19 -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's team: Houston Rockets 2018-19 Record: 53-29, lost to the Warriors in the conference semifinals Key additions: Russell Westbrook (trade), Tyson Chandler (free agency), Ben McLemore (free agency) Key departures: Chris Paul The lowdown: Juiced by yet another epic, and on some levels, historic season by James Harden, the Rockets amassed 50 wins, reached the playoffs and were denied (again) by the Golden State Warriors. As in 2018, this ouster was met with a high degree of frustration. The year before, Houston lost Paul to a hamstring injury late in the series and fell in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. This time, the Rockets were unable to beat a Golden State team that clinched the series in Game 6 without Kevin Durant (who got injured in Game 5 of the series), a cold slap of an ending to Houston's realistic Finals hopes. In one of the NBA's all-time best offensive seasons, Harden averaged 36.1 points per game and revived Houston's season while Paul was on the mend from yet another injury. Harden scored 30 or more in 32 straight games, scored 50 or more nine times and had two 61-point games. He was a singular force with the ball and didn’t show any wear in the postseason. Unlike Paul, Harden was a symbol of sturdiness and strength, averaging 36.8 minutes per game in 78 games played. Paul played only 58 games, although when healthy he was respectable (8.2 apg) and at times looked like an All-Star. However, his customarily high level of play dropped a few floors. Eric Gordon played solid enough to earn a max extension, and Clint Capela gave the Rockets a front-line weapon at both ends. The Carmelo Anthony experience folded after 10 games, but Houston got supporting help from Austin Rivers and PJ Tucker (who was noticeably effective in the playoffs). Another effective-yet-disappointing year was unacceptable to ownership and, quite honestly, the locker room as well. Summer summary: When he purchased the Rockets for $2.2 billion a few years ago, owner Tilman Fertitta was a reasonable and patient man. He pledged his faith in GM Daryl Morey, sung the gospel of Harden and thought the world of Paul. But everyone has their limits and Fertitta was clearly discouraged by the manner and speed in which the Rockets were bounced last season. Something had to be done and a big opportunity presented itself. When Kawhi Leonard signed with the LA Clippers and convinced Paul George to request a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, it led to Westbrook being available. While this was happening, Harden and Paul were having relationship issues, or at least that was the word in Rockets’ circles. Just two years earlier they were thrilled to be teammates and even made commercials together. Now, they were on the outs. Therefore, the solution was simple: Trade Paul and his hefty contract for Westbrook and his hefty contract, and reunite a pair of Kia MVP winners. Advantage, Rockets? It bears repeating that Harden and Westbrook are tight and respectful of each other’s accomplishments, because this will be worth revisiting if this attempt to help Harden win a ring fails like the others. That relationship is the selling point, because based purely on styles of play, this appears to be major clash. Both players need the ball, perhaps more than any two players in the NBA right now, if not in history. They’re high-usage talents, meaning, they work best when creating opportunities for themselves or teammates and neither can happen if they’re playing off the ball. Westbrook has never done that in his NBA life and Harden only did so briefly as a youngster with OKC. Harden gave the trade his blessing, and once the deal was done, both players said all the right things -- if anything, they scolded any observers who dared to raise the obvious. Can it work? Well, sure, but it’ll take some concessions by both players, and coach Mike D’Antoni must change (if not overhaul) his system in order to accommodate this duo. Meanwhile, the Rockets are somewhat on the clock. It is not to say that Harden and Westbrook are approaching their sunset years, but the chances of playing for a title are increased if the two players click sooner than later. There’s also a question of what Westbrook has left. His efficiency and 3-point shooting faded last season. Will defenses respect him when he’s left open in Houston? He at least appears to have more in the tank than Paul, which was another reason the Rockets were anxious to make this swap. For all of his explosiveness, Westbrook is rather durable and dependable; the same can’t be said of Paul as he approaches his mid-30s. Westbrook was sad to leave OKC, the only team he’d ever known, a city that embraced him and a franchise that gave him a supermax contract. Now he’s going to a new team where the demand for June basketball will only increase. The last time he and Harden were teammates, they did play in June, where they lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012. Can they make a triumphant return together? Given all they’ve accomplished -- MVPs, scoring titles, triple-doubles, All-Star appearances -- they’re certainly due. A championship is all they’re missing. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 26th, 2019