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Li at his best and builds early lead at PGA Championship

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Still young, often inconsistent, forever fearless, Li Haotong is capable of just about anything on a big stage in golf. He was at his best Friday in the PGA Championship. Three years after his 63 in the final round of the British Open, Li hit only four fairways at Harding Park and still managed a 5-under 65 that gave him the early lead and set the target for Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods to chase. The 25-year-old from China capped a bogey-free round with his eighth straight par and was at 8-under 132, two shots ahead of Tommy Fleetwood of England among the early starters. Surprised? Depends on the day. “The last couple days, I've been pretty much all hit in the right spot,” Li said. Getting as much attention was the logo on his hat — WeChat, the Chinese social media company and one of his biggest sponsors. Li was in the spotlight at Harding Park one day after President Donald Trump signed executive orders on a vague ban of WeChat and TikTok in 45 days. Just as unclear was whether Li was aware of the development. “I don't know,” he said. “Who knows?” Li is a two-time winner on the European Tour, most recently in 2018 at the Dubai Desert Classic when he rallied down the stretch to beat Rory McIlroy by one shot. He was sensational at Royal Birkdale in 2017 — only five other players have 63 in the final round of a major. But he had a terrible week in his Presidents Cup debut at Royal Melbourne in December. When he first came to America, he made fast friends on the developmental tours with his constant laughter, engaging personality and aggressive play. “He's got the arsenal to take it low,” said Adam Scott, his teammate at Royal Melbourne. “But we don’t see that kind of consistency out of him, and that probably matches his personality a little bit. He’s young, though, and that’s the kind of golf he plays. He plays pretty much all guns blazing, and when it comes off, it’s really good.” And when it doesn't? He beat Koepka in the Match Play last year and reached the round of 16. But that was his last top 10 in America. And then there was the Presidents Cup. Li brought his trainer to be his caddie, and the caddie got lost on the course during a practice round, gave up and headed for the clubhouse. Instead of finding him, Li played the rest of the round out of another player's bag. International captain Ernie Els wound up benching him for two days, playing Li only when he had to. Li lost both matches he played. “It's been very tough on me, the Presidents Cup, because I didn't play until Saturday,” Li said. “So not quite in the Presidents that way, actually. But anyways, good experience.” Fleetwood had one of those final-round 63s in the majors two years ago at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open. He had a 64 on Friday and was two shots behind at 134. Much like Li — maybe the only thing they have in common — it's been a slow start back. Fleetwood stayed in England during the pandemic, not returning to competition until Minnesota two weeks ago (he missed the cut). He also played a World Golf Championship last week with middling results, but he found his form in San Francisco. “It’s funny really, like when you’ve played poorly, you feel a long way off, and then you have a day like today and you obviously feel a lot better about it,” Fleetwood said. “I feel like I’ve prepared well last week and this week and felt way more in the groove of tournament golf.” Cameron Champ, who grew up in Sacramento, had a 64. He was three shots behind Li, along with Paul Casey (67). Brendon Todd, who shared the 18-hole lead with Day, settled for a 70 and joined them at 135. Li, who primarily plays the European Tour, went back to China in March when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf. He returned at the Memorial and missed the cut, and then tied for 75th in a 78-man field last week in Tennessee. “I didn't even (think) I could play like this ... got no confidence,” Li said. “Probably it helped me clear my mind a little bit.” He's wise enough to realize the tournament is not even at the halfway point. If the lead holds, Li would be the first player from China to hold the lead after any round of a major......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 8th, 2020

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

PBA: Chot says it would have been 'cool' to coach Ginebra

Coach Chot Reyes' greatest PBA success was with Talk 'N Text, the flagship MVP franchise. But over the course of his career in the PBA, which spanned two decades, Coach Chot also did his rounds with the SMC teams. He started his career with Purefoods, winning an All-Filipino title in his first conference in 1993. Reyes also had one random stop with San Miguel Beer, coaching the Beermen all the way to the 2007 Philippine Cup Finals. Now long-retired from professional basketball, Coach Chot wishes he could have had the chance to handle Barangay Ginebra, the only SMC team he missed. "I always thought it would be cool to coach Ginebra," Reyes said on Coaches Unfiltered. "Having that NSD [Never Say Die] behind you every night behind you, we always talk about that with coach Tim [Cone]. Sabi ko swerte mo. And he's [Cone] enjoying, he's really having the time of his life. I've always been intrigued by the chance to coach Ginebra," he added. While being the Gin Kings coach would have been nice, Reyes mentions another team in his list of what ifs. Reyes was the Ateneo coach back in the early 1990s, and he regrets not being able to lead the Blue Eagles to a UAAP championship. "The one thing I rue is not being able to give a championship for the Ateneo in the college level," Coach Chot said. "I coached Ateneo to a juniors championship, and I coached Ateneo for three years in the UAAP seniors, 1990-92, but those were the down years. We had to raise our own money to even buy our stuff and equipment. That's like sayang, if I had that opportunity when I was coaching Ateneo but I don't that's going to happen anymore now and I'm at peace with that," he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2020

Wong feels responsible for Ateneo s failure to advance to the UAAP S80 Finals

Deanna Wong felt that Ateneo de Manila University's failure to advance to the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball Finals was on her. Given the huge responsibility to lead the Lady Eagles as starting setter after veteran Jia Morado decided to forego her final year, Wong admitted that she faced heavy pressure and self-doubt. “I think it was me thinking of kung kaya ko ba ‘to?” shared Wong on Volleyball DNA. Ateneo was coming off six straight championship appearances, including winning back-to-back titles, heading into Season 80. Expectations were high for the Lady Eagles that year despite Morado calling it quits after Ateneo’s runner-up finish the season before. The Lady Eagles had veterans Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon, Kat Tolentino and Jho Maraguinot under coach Tai Bundit. Ateneo was one of the favorites to advance to the Finals. Fulfilling the role left by Ateneo ace setters before her, according to the Cebuana playmaker, was too big of a responsibility especially for a third year player who saw limited action the year before. It didn’t help that during her sophomore year, Wong played as a reliever in both libero and setter positions.  “Sina Ate Jem (Ferrer), sina Ate Jia they are really great setters and for me it’s just, I came from the province I don’t know anything. Ganito, ganyan. Hindi ako medyo ginagamit ni Coach Tai dati. Pressured? Yeah, I think it was a little pressure,” said Wong. Ateneo had a disappointing start, losing their first two games, and the Lady Eagles were obviously still adjusting to a different setter going through the elimination round. That was when Wong felt the pressure the most. “Pero sa isip ko lang kung kaya ko bang dalhin ang team? Kung kaya ko bang gawin ang ginawa nina Ate Jia na umabot sa Finals? I think that was the point na kaya di kami umabot ng Finals kasi ganoon ang inisip ko,” said Wong. Ateneo managed to advance to the Final Four, but for the first time in three years, the Lady Eagles were at a disadvantage after landing in third spot for a collision course with twice-to-beat Far Eastern University. The Katipunan-based squad ended its season early.      “Disappointed din sa self ko kasi I wasn’t able to lead the team as I should have kasi ang dami kong iniisip eh,” said Wong, who won tghe Best Setter honors that season. “Iniisip ko kung ano ang sinasabi ng mga tao, ng alumni, ng mga fans.” A good talk with Morado, according to Wong, made her realize that she needed not to compare herself to other Ateneo setters. She had to play her game. “As what ate Jia keep on telling me talaga iba kami eh. We’re different people. Like don’t compare myself to her daw. Kasi iba ang kakayanan ko and iba ang kaya kong gawin. Just be myself daw most especially talaga be confident. Kasi I really lack confidence on myself,” she said. Wong redeemed herself the following season. “Nu’ng fourth year it was more of the team na pino-focus ko. I just did what I was supposed to do lang nu’ng fourth year. So di ko na masyado pinapansin ang mga sinasasabi ng ibang tao,” said Wong. Playing with confidence, Wong steered Ateneo back into the Finals and eventually back into throne as the Lady Eagles defeated University of Sto. Tomas in three games to claim the Season 81 title and the team’s third overall championship. Wong skipped the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-cancelled Season 82. She remains undecided for a last tour of duty for Ateneo next year. But if ever Wong decides to return, the Lady Eagles could be looking at a bright future ahead.   ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2020

Jason Day continues recent improvement with early PGA lead

By JIMMY GOLEN AP Sports Writer Jason Day is on a pretty good run for a guy who hasn’t won a tournament in two years. The 32-year-old Australian has finished in the top 10 in three straight tournaments heading into this week’s PGA Championship in San Francisco. Day, who won the PGA in 2015 for his only major victory, was the leader in the clubhouse midway through Thursday’s opening round after shooting a 5-under-par 65 at the 7,251-yard TPC Harding Park. “I feel like the momentum that I’ve had over the last three starts has kind of seeped into this week,” Day said. ”The funny thing is that every day I’m excited to go back to the golf course and play. Whereas before I was struggling to get up, and going, ’Oh, do I want to kind of put myself through this again?' “To be honest, I’m excited to get out and play every week now.” Day won the 2015 PGA at Whistling Straits and was runner up the next year at Baltusrol during a two-year period in which he claimed eight tour victories and spent 51 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world. But he hasn't seriously contended in a major since and has won just two tour events — the last in 2018. Struggling with a back injury that forced him to skip the Presidents Cup in Australia in December, Day fell out of the top 50 for the first time in 10 years after missing the cut at the Colonial in June, the first tournament back after the coronavirus shutdown. To shake things up, he parted ways last month with longtime coach Colin Swatton, who had been guiding his game — and his life — since taking Day in as a rambunctious 12-year-old whose father had died. Something clicked for Day in Ohio last month, when he finished tied for seventh and fourth in back-to-back weekends at Muirfield Village. Next was a six-place finish in Memphis. “I finally had enough of feeling sorry for myself, and it’s easy to do that in this game because it is so mentally tough. You can start blaming everything else but yourself,” Day said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to pull your pants up and just move on, you know.” A handful of golfers flirted with 5 under on Thursday, but Day was the only one who made it stick. He played bogey-free golf, and moved into the lead with a 6-foot birdie putt on his last hole, the 515-yard, par-4 ninth, which had been the second-hardest hole on the course over the morning round. “I feel like the game is slowly coming around,” he said. “The confidence is coming around because I’m starting to see the results.” ___ More AP golf: apnews.com/tag/apf-Golf.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 7th, 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

Stewart, Bird return; Storm beat Liberty in Ionescu s debut

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Breanna Stewart had 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals in her first WNBA game since helping Seattle win the 2018 championship, sending the Storm past the New York Liberty 87-71 Saturday in the season opener for both teams. The 2020 WNBA season, delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, will be played in a bubble at the IMG Academy. Stewart missed all of last season after tearing her Achilles tendon while playing for her Russian club team in April2019. Jewell Loyd scored 14 points and Sue Bird — who also missed the 2019, because of a knee injury — added 11 points, hitting 3 of 5 from 3-point range, and five assists for Seattle. Sabrina Ionescu had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in her WNBA debut. Ionescu, the No. 1 pick in April’s draft , was 4-of-17 shooting, including 0 of 8 from 3-point range, and committed four turnovers. Layshia Clarendon led the Liberty with 20 points. Neither team took the court for the national anthem and there was a 26 second moment of silence for Breonna Taylor. Taylor, an African American emergency medical technician, was shot dead in her apartment by Louisville Metro Police officers executing a no-knock search warrant on suspicion of drug possession. No drugs were found. Loyd hit a 3-pointer and then converted a three-point play before Stewart made a layup to make it 34-26 and the Storm led the rest of the way. Jordin Canada scored six points during a 14-4 run to open the fourth quarter that gave the Storm their largest lead when she found Stewart for a 3-pointer that capped the spurt and made it 80-61 with 4:44 to play. New York's Kia Nurse left the game early in the second quarter because of an ankle injury and did not return......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 26th, 2020

On This Day: Manny Pacquiao beats Keith Thurman to become WBA (Super) Welterweight World Champion

Today, even at 41-years of age, eight-division boxing world champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao remains a sought-after target in boxing’s stacked welterweight division.  It’s not because he’s an aging big name that’s over the hill. Rather, it’s because that even at his advanced age (in terms of boxing), Pacquiao remains one of the best in the world and is still a legend that anyone would love to have on their professional record.  The attention that Pacquiao is getting now, is thanks largely in part to a performance he put a year ago wherein he stunned an erstwhile-undefeated champion in Keith “One Time” Thurman.    The Lead Up Prior to getting matched up with Thurman, Pacquiao showed flashes that even in his 40s, he was still a force to be reckoned with. In January of 2019, Pacquiao returned to action and successfully defended his WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Championship against Adrien Broner in a one-sided unanimous decision.  As impressive as that was, the quality of opponent that Broner was still gave people doubts as to if Pacquiao could compete with the best of the best in the division.  By May of 2019, it was confirmed that up next for Pacquiao would be a shot at then-unbeaten Thurman, the reigning WBA (Super) Welterweight World Champion.  Once the fight was announced, it didn’t take long for Thurman to unleash a barrage of trash talk aimed at the Pinoy icon.  Thurman spoke about ending Pacquiao’s career and crucifying Pacquiao inside the ring, among other things.  Pacquiao remained his usual, soft-spoken self, but the people around him confirmed that Thurman’s words did indeed light a fire under the sport’s only eight-division titleholder.  Fight Night Heading into the bout, people believed that Thurman, who was a full-decade younger than Pacquiao, would likely outwork the Pinoy star and early on, it looked to be the case.  That was until Pacquiao dropped Thurman in the opening round, which set the tone for the  12-round contest.  The two top-tier welterweights battled back and forth in the succeeding rounds, before Pacquiao once again landed big, connecting on a body shot in the 10th round.  After 12 rounds, Pacquiao walked away with a 113-114, 115-112, 115-112 split decision victory.  The Aftermath Following Pacquiao’s stellar performance over Thurman, it was clear to many that while he may no longer be in his prime, he was still good enough to be among the elite. As such, names like Mikey Garcia, Errol Spence Jr., Josh Taylor, and even Terence Crawford all want a piece of Pacman. After absorbing just the first loss of his career, Thurman is raring to run it back with Pacquiao and has, on multiple occasions, called for a rematch. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2020

Big finish for Woods gets him to the weekend at Memorial

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Five months without competition, and Tiger Woods was grinding over key shots and big putts Friday at the Memorial. None was bigger than a 7-foot par putt on his final hole. It kept him from going home. Woods missed a pair of 3-foot putts early that shut down any momentum, twice missed the green with awkward chip shots in deep rough and had to finish birdie-birdie-par for a 4-over 76. It was just enough to make the cut on the number at 3-over 147, his highest 36-hole score at Muirfield Village since his Memorial debut in 1997. The Memorial, the Masters and the Arnold Palmer Invitational are the only tournaments he has played at least 15 times without failing to make the cut. Woods said his back felt a little stiff while warming up and he couldn't move through his swing like he would have liked. He said it was a struggle on a warm, calm morning at Muirfield Village. But when asked if it was enough to keep him from playing the rest of the week, Woods replied, “I would like to have the opportunity to play tomorrow.” Woods was outside the cut when he finished, and he was helped by a pair of fellow Californians. Max Homa finished with two bogeys, and Bryson DeChambeau made a 10 on the par-5 15th hole, moving the cut to 3 over. Ryan Palmer (68) and Tony Finau (69) managed just fine and were tied for the lead, leaving Woods 12 shots behind going into the weekend. The finish at least gave him a chance. Woods had to lay up from deep rough short of the water on the sixth hole — he started on the back nine — and missed a par putt just outside 5 feet to fall to 6 over for his round. He looked to be done. He wasn't moving well, the look of someone who would be heading home shortly. But he found the fairway on the par-5 seventh and made birdie from a greenside bunker. Then, he rolled in 20-foot putt for birdie on the par-3 eighth. He found more trouble on the ninth, sending his tee shot to the right, in rough and blocked by trees, leaving his only option to chip out to the fairway. From there, his wedge spun back to 7 feet below the hole and he made that par for to have hope. “I finished birdie-birdie-par,” he said. “That's about the only positive to it today.” He wasn't sure what to make about his back, which has undergone four surgeries, the last one to fuse his lower spine. He has recovered well enough to win three more times, including the Masters last year for his 15th major. Woods last played Feb. 16 in the cold at Riviera, where he finished last in the Genesis Invitational with a 76-77 weekend. He attributed stiffness that week to the cold. As for Ohio in July? Woods said he felt fine when he woke up, not so much while going through his practice sessions. “It wasn't quite as good as I'd like, and it it what it is,” he said, adding later, “It's going to happen more times than not.” What really irritated him was his putting. He three-putted from about 35 feet on the par-5 11th, missing a 3-footer for birdie. Two holes later, after a superb play from the rough to right side of the green, he rolled a fast putt to 3 feet and missed that par putt. And then when he chopped up the par-5 15th for bogey, the rest of the day became a battle. From a fairway bunker right of the 17th fairway, he sent his shot high on the hill into rough so deep it took him a few minutes to find it. With the greens so brittle, he hit that through the putting surface into more rough, and he had to make an 8-foot putt to escape with bogey. Making the turn, Woods had an awkward lie with his ball in the collar of a bunker. He caught all ball and sent that long, through the green and into a bunker, failed to get up-and-down and took double bogey. His next shot sailed to the right toward a hazard, and Woods simply hung his head. He still managed to have enough left at the end to give him a chance. Woods is a five-time winner of the Memorial, and his next victory would set the PGA Tour career record of 83. Also looming is the first major of the year at the PGA Championship in three weeks. For a 44-year-old who won the first of his 82 tour titles at age 20, time isn't on his side. “Aging is not fun,” he said. “Early on in my career, I thought it was fantastic because I was getting better and better and better. And now I'm just trying to hold on.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2020

Morikawa builds big lead at Muirfield Village before storms

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Among the lessons Collin Morikawa took away from missing his first cut as a pro was that his reliable cut shot had left him. He found at it Muirfield Village, and suddenly looks as though he'll be tough to catch at the Workday Charity Open. Morikawa ran off four straight birdies after making the turn Friday, finished with another birdie and shot 6-under 66 to build a four-shot lead over Sam Burns (66) in the storm-delayed tournament. His 13-under 131 was one shot off the course record set by Jason Dufner in 2017 at the Memorial. The Workday Charity Open, which replaces the canceled John Deere Classic for this year only, has been set up a little easier than it will be for the Memorial next year, with slightly slower greens and rough that isn't quite as high or thick. Morikawa is still playing a different brand of golf than anyone else. Through two rounds, he has 15 birdies and an eagle. His four bogeys have come from silly mistakes that are bound to happen. Ian Poulter, back at Muirfield Village for the first time since 2009 because of a reconfigured schedule brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, had a 69 and joined Chase Seiffert (69) at 7-under 137. The second round had a pair of 75-minute delays because of the rumbling thunder and lightning that seems to appear whenever the PGA Tour is at Muirfield Village. “Who knows who's going to take it deep today?” Morikawa said. “Whether I have the lead or not, I've got to go into the weekend feeling like I've got to make the same amount of birdies I have the past two days. I feel like there’s a lot of birdies out there for me especially, the way I’ve been hitting it.” Morikawa, who turned pro just over a year ago after graduating from Cal, is making his debut at the course Jack Nicklaus built, and perhaps it's no coincidence that Nicklaus was famous for hitting a cut. “I had heard from a lot of people before, this course was going to suit a left-to-right shot, anyway,” Morikawa said. “Obviously, Jack hit that, and I think it does. But I’ve been able to leave myself some really good numbers into approach shots. I’ve been keeping myself in the fairway for the most part, and that obviously helps.” Among those playing in the afternoon, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka first had to worry about making the cut after sluggish starts. Koepka started at 2 over. Rahm was at even par. Phil Mickelson had another exciting day, minus the meltdown at the end of his round. He opened by chipping in for birdie and making a 12-foot eagle putt. With the tee moved forward on the 14th hole, the par 4 guarded by a pond right of the green, he hit driver to 10 feet and had to settle for birdie. And right before the first batch of storms arrived, Mickelson felt the wind shift and get stronger, so he took driver on the par-5 fifth and whaled away over the trees and just inside backyard fences. It settled in the rough, but it left him only 114 yards away and a pitching wedge to the green. The speed of the greens fooled him, and he repeatedly left putts short. Even so, he managed to post a reasonable number. Jordan Spieth wasn't as fortunate. He took double bogey on his 17th hole, the par-3 eighth, and was likely to miss the cut. Morikawa had made 22 cuts in a row to start his pro career, a streak that ended two weeks ago at the Travelers Championship. That was three short of the streak Tiger Woods put together when he turned pro. But the 23-year-old Californian was more interested in low scores than simply getting in four rounds and a pay check. “At the end of the day, you’re out there to win tournaments,” he said. “If you miss the cut, make it by whatever, you just want to learn from each week. And like I said, I learned a lot from those two days missing the cut than I have in a lot of events so far when I’ve been finishing whatever." This one caused him to take a closer look at what was lacking in his game, instead of being reasonably content with a solid finish. “I think sometimes when something really doesn’t go your way, like missing a cut, it just stands out a little more,” he said. Somewhere along the way, he couldn't rely on his cut shot, allowing him to aim some 6 yards left of his target and fade it toward the pin, no matter where it was located. It was after his practice round Wednesday that he figured out what was missing, and he went back to an old drill of sticking his glove under his left arm. It's a rotational drill, and it paid off. He had to wait until the storms to see if anyone could catch him, with the second round not likely to end until Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2020

PBA: Brownlee-Chambers are coach Tim Cone s top-2 imports

In over three decades as a head coach, Tim Cone has built quite the career in the PBA. Coach Tim is widely considered as the greatest, with a record 22 PBA titles and two Grand Slam wins. 18 of Cone's championships came in tournaments with reinforcements, so naturally, he's coached a lot imports during his career. Coach Tim estimates about at least 100, he's not quite sure. However, Cone is pretty sure about his top-2 imports ever. "The top-2 are pretty obvious, and I think they rank in the top list of all-time PBA imports and that's Sean Chambers and Justin Brownlee. They are the top-2," Cone said. Coach Tim made the reveal on the most recent episode of Coaches Unfiltered. "It's interesting because their approach in the game is very similar but their personalities are polar opposites. As you know, Justin is extremely quiet, he's a giggler. He likes to laugh and he likes to hangout with his teammates but he likes to laugh with them but he doesn't lead conversations at all. Justin is like so comfortable to be around," Cone said of Brownlee, his Ginebra star. "On the other hand, Sean is like me, he's a gabber. He talks, talks, talks and he's always creating the jokes and then laughing at his own jokes and people laugh with them. Sean is like the life-of-party type," coach Tim said of Chambers, the foundation of his Alaska Grand Slam. Sean Chambers was Cone's resident import for the Aces in the 1990s, with the crowning achievement being the sweep of the 1996 season. Justin Brownlee is coach Tim's current resident import for Barangay Ginebra. The Gin Kings are a perfect 4-for-4 in the PBA Finals with JB. Both Chambers and Brownlee are successful in the PBA, but their similarities in the league don't stop there. As everyone knows, Brownlee was a replacement for Ginebra in the 2016 Governors' Cup, taking the spot of the injured Paul Harris. [Related: Temp to Champ: Justin Brownlee's Magical PBA journey with Ginebra] Brownlee got cramps in his very first game, a Ginebra loss. Still, he ended the tournament with "The Shot" and a PBA title. Chambers was actually a replacement import for Alaska decades ago. "I didn't recruit Sean, he came in as a replacement just like Justin. He came in as a replacement I think the fourth or fifth game," coach Tim said. "I never recruited him but he grew from 1989 to that Grand Slam team. We were going through 12 Finals appearances in 13 conferences or whatever. He was, he's still the winningest import of all time," he added. Being big on continuity, Cone has been practicing what he preaches since a decade ago with having imports come back multiple times. [Related: No continuity holding Gilas Pilipinas back says coach Tim Cone] Coach Tim first realized his lesson with Chambers and then re-applied in to Brownlee. In between, Cone actually did it with Marqus Blakely too and they won a Grand Slam with San Mig Coffee. "I think one of the things I learned early in my career through having Sean Chambers was that once you get a good import, you stick to him," Cone said. "Don't lose in a semifinals and say, 'oh okay we didn't win the championship, let's get another one.' It's like changing your team game-to-game, you can't do that. You can't have any continuity. The continuity we had with Sean taught me a lot," coach Tim added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 5th, 2020

Birdies galore at Hilton Head, and Spieth needed them badly

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The RBC Heritage began two month later than usual with a little rain, a little sunshine and a lot of birdies, most of them from Jordan Spieth to turn a rough start into a furious finish. Ian Poulter holed a 30-foot birdie putt and followed with a 5-iron to 4 feet for a birdie that closed out his round of 7-under 64, giving him a share of the lead Thursday with Mark Hubbard at Hilton Head. “I've always loved coming here to play golf,” said Poulter, and he has plenty of company this year. The RBC Heritage, typically a week after the Masters in April, is the second tournament since the PGA Tour returned after 90 days from the COVID-19 pandemic. The top three players in the world are at Hilton Head — Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas — and none broke par on a day in which 66 players in the 151-man field shot in the 60s. A year ago, only 38 players in the 132-man field opened with rounds in the 60s. Spieth wouldn't have guessed he would be one of them after a tee shot what was 5 yards right of the 12th fairway hit a tree and didn't stop rolling until it was out-of-bounds. He made triple bogey and was 3 over through three holes. “All of a sudden, I’m 3 over through three, and you start to see guys going 2 under through two, 2 under through three early,” Spieth said. “It’s not a great feeling.” Determined to at least try to get under par for his round, Spieth had a career-best six straight birdies on his back nine and finished with seven birdies over his last eight holes for a 66. Poulter and Hubbard, who started birdie-eagle, were a shot ahead of a group that included Webb Simpson, Ryan Palmer and Viktor Hovland, Colonial winner Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, Ernie Els and that incredible bulk, Bryson DeChambeau, were in the large group at 67. DeChambeau, who added some 40 pounds of mass to increase his swing speed, was hammering shots over the range during practice earlier in the week. He had to tone it down on the tight, tree-lined Harbour Town Golf Links. “I couldn’t unleash the Kraken today,” DeChambeau said, a student of physics and Scandinavian folklore. “It was just too tight out there. The wind was swirling all day, and I couldn’t feel comfortable to give it a good whack, but I was still able to manage keeping it mostly in the fairway.” Dustin Johnson was poised to make a move until hit into the water on the par-3 14th and compounding the error with a three-putt triple bogey. He still managed a 68. It was the first PGA Tour with spectators on the property, just not on the golf course with tickets. Harbour Town is lined with vacation homes, villas and townhouses, and plenty of people spilled onto their decks and into their yards to watch. The tour has ropes to line the fairway. This year, they put up ropes to line the yards to keep people from coming all the way onto the course. One family had a sign up for Spieth as he walked along the eighth fairway, one of only two holes on the front nine where he failed to make birdie. That shot out-of-bounds had all markings of bad breaks he has seen too often during three winless years. With a provisional tee shot in the fairway, Spieth went over to look at the trees, and then some 20 yards to the right at his original tee shot nestled in the pine straw. And then he three-putted. Instead of getting down, he told caddie Michael Greller on the next tee, “That's over. Le'ts get four (birdies) today and shoot under par.” “I ended up getting a few more than that,” he said. Just like last week's opening round at Colonial, he got hot on his back nine. The streak began with an 8-foot putt on the par-5 second hole, and included a 7-iron to 4 feet to a left pin near the water on the par-3 fourth. He was on such a roll that Spieth began to contemplate eight straight birdies to end his round. But he saw enough mud on his ball from the fairway on No. 8 that he played conservatively to 30 feet, and then finished with another short birdie. McIlroy and Thomas, who both had chances to win going into the final round at Colonial last year, had 72. Rahm had a 71. For McIlroy, it was the first time since the ZoZo Championship in Japan in late October that he was over par after the first round. Rory McIlroy was among those who struggled, and only a pair of birdies on the back nine kept it from being worse. He opened with a 72. That ended a streak of seven straight tournaments in which he broke par in the opening round dating to the ZoZo Championship in Japan last October. “I'm sort of missing my 3-wood left and missing my driver right,” McIlroy said. “If you’re in any way like in two minds what to do off the tees around here and get a little bit sort of guidey, it can bite you.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 19th, 2020

Benjie Paras: UP s Tower of Power

(This story was originally published on Nov. 30, 2018) He was the dominating center of the San Beda Red Cubs that stoked fear in high school leagues in the early 1980s. And because it will take the Benedictine school two more years to return to the NCAA, Venancio “Benjie” Paras Jr., a lanky upstart with much promise, saw it fit to continue his stride towards basketball superstardom in the UAAP as part of a school already replete of former Cubs—the UP Fighting Maroons, after his high school graduation in 1986. And, it seemed UP head coach Joe Lipa wanted more of San Beda High head coach Ato Badolato’s former wards in Mendiola. In addition to Ronnie Magsanoc and Eric Altamirano running the backcourt, he wanted Paras to man the paint to complete the “San Beda connection”; a missing link he considers in copping that elusive UAAP crown. Who else could be more qualified than Paras, who lorded it over the Red Cubs from 1984 to 1986 from an illustrious start in the defunct Metro Manila Basketball League to several other private school tourneys? As a teener, Paras was awesomely powerful, grabbing rebounds without opposition, and scoring without resistance as he receives the ball in the shaded lane. You would see him score 30 to 40 points a game without letup as opponents offered little resistance, except of course the La Salle Greenhills Greenies, bannered by Binky Favis and Joey Guanio, who dealt San Beda’s painful championship loss during Paras’ last year with the Cubs in the MMBL. Frustrated and heartbroken, Paras vowed to let it all out in the collegiate league, ironically however, with his high school rival Guanio on the same team. And since the 1986 UAAP tournament began, Paras showed his dominance even as a rookie, outplaying defenders with his ferocious tenacity, as he delivered on both ends of the court. With Magsanoc’s on-court wizardry, Paras was unstoppable, scoring and rebounding at will. No one had the might or even the gall to block Paras’s path, except the defending champions UE Red Warriors’ top star and starting center Jerry Codinera.  And, with Codinera leading, UE topped the double round robin eliminations and just needed to beat UP once in the finals to retain the championship. Little did they expect, however, that Paras hasn’t displayed his full arsenal yet. With Magsanoc, Altamirano supporting him and Guanio and all-around performer Joey Mendoza backing him up on the wings, Paras showed Codinera and the rest of the Red Warriors his true mettle as he led the Maroons to a Game 1 blowout, 86-75, to arrange a winner take-all match three days later. And on that day, as they sought to bag their first UAAP title in 47 years, Paras was focused and determined. He ran rings around Codinera, engineering the Maroons’ a game-long dominance of the Red Warriors with almost the entire ULTRA, filled with UP supporters to the brim. With an insurmountable lead going into the dying seconds, it was a dream come true for Paras, seething from a painful setback in his previous senior year as a Red Cub, to now basking in glory giving UP the emphatic title that will forever be remembered in UP and UAAP annals. With a double-double 19 points and 10 rebounds, Paras was named rookie of the year, a feat he will replicate in three years as he marched into the PBA as the “Tower of Power” for Formula Shell.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

LIST EM: Modern PBA Commissioner s Cup Best Imports

The PBA going back to a three-conference format in the 2011 season meant the return of the Commissioner's Cup and the Governors' Cup. For the first time since 2002, the two conferences returned, paving the way for a number of memorable imports to enter the league as a result. For this latest entry of List 'Em, we focus on the imports that came to play in the Commissioner's Cup. The best ones actually. The PBA typically allows teams to employ imports with a 6'10" height limit for the mid-season joust, but Best Import winners in this conference have come in all shapes and sizes. Let's go through each and every one of them.   2011 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Nate Brumfield, Ginebra < In 2011, Ginebra's Nate Brumfield got the honor of being the first Commissioner's Cup Best Import since Talk 'N Text's Jerald Honeycutt in 2002. Ironically, Brumfield beat a TNT import for the award, outlasting Paul Harris for the win. Brumfield had the Gin Kings in the Finals of the Commissioner's Cup, losing in six games to Harris and the Tropang Texters. 2012 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Denzel Bowles, B-Meg Derby Ace Denzel Bowles winning Best Import in 2012 gets lost in the mix because he actually did greater things during his first time playing in the PBA. With B-Meg trailing by two in Game 7 of the Finals against defending champion Talk 'N Text, Bowles went to the line with 1.2 seconds to go for a chance to tie. He calmly made both to force OT. In extra time, Bowles led the Llamados to the championship, sealing his place in league history with one of the most clutch plays ever. 2013 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Robert Dozier, Alaska Rob Dozier fit right in with the Aces in the 2013 Commissioner's Cup and Alaska went on a tear, finishing as the no. 1 seed with a two-game lead from second place. Dozier was a beast on both ends, proving to be sturdy foundation to Alaska's impressive playoff run. The Aces only lost once in the playoffs, securing the title with a Finals sweep of Barangay Ginebra. 2014 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Richard Howell, Talk 'N Text There was really no doubt on who was the Best Import in the 2014 Commissioner's Cup. Richard Howell put up monster numbers and led the Tropang Texters to an undefeated streak through the semifinals. Unfortunately, Howell's Talk 'N Text became the third victim during San Mig Coffee's Grand Slam run. 2015 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Wayne Chism, Rain or Shine Rain or Shine sure aced its import choices in the early 2010s with Wayne Chism becoming the third Best Import winner for the Elasto Painters since 2011. Chism's versatility allowed ROS to make it to the Commissioner's Finals against Tropang Texters. In Game 7, Chism and the Elasto Painters finally surrendered the title after two overtimes. 2016 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Arinze Onuaku, Meralco Meralco's ascent as a contender in import conferences started in 2016 when the Bolts brought a dominating presence in Arinze Onuaku. Onuaku powered his way to a Best Import win and had Meralco on the verge of its first-ever Finals appearance. Alaska put a stop to those plans as the Aces took out Meralco in the semifinals. 2017 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Charles Rhodes, San Miguel The Beermen finally got an import to stay in the passionate Charles Rhodes. Rhodes delivered a first performance to remember, taking out longtime rival Ricard Ratliffe and the Star Hotshots in the semis before outlasting TNT in the Finals. San Miguel ended a near two-decade title drought in the Commissioner's Cup with Rhodes as Best Import. 2018 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Justin Brownlee, Ginebra Justin Brownlee's lone Best Import win came in the Commissioner's Cup, not even his original conference. Wearing throwback inspired jerseys, Brownlee had the Gin Kings in the Finals to challenge defending champion San Miguel Beer and old pal Renaldo Balkman. Ginebra got its third title with JB with a six-game decision over the Beermen. 2019 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Terrence Jones, TNT Terrence Jones took the PBA by storm last year and led the TNT juggernaut all the way to the Finals. In the semifinals, Jones and the KaTropa handed Brownlee his second-ever series loss in the league and effectively ended a two-way race for Best Import. However, the former Houston Rocket was grounded in the Finals, with San Miguel Beer frustrating the top-ranked KaTropa to win the title after six games.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 7th, 2020

ON THIS DAY: Tigresses end 8-year Finals stint wait

The packed Mall of Asia Arena rocked as University of Sto. Tomas rookie Eya Laure hammered the final blow that toppled the three-year dynasty of De La Salle University.     Supporters of the Tigresses went wild as the referees blew the final whistle signaling the end of the Espana-based squad’s eight long years of waiting to step back into the championship round. Exactly a year ago, UST booked a trip to the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals.    The duel went the full five sets with the Tigresses walking away with a 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10, victory behind the duo of Laure and then graduating Queen Tigress Sisi Rondina. That match gave fans a feel of the classic rivalry between the two proud schools. Prior to their Final Four meeting, the Lady Spikers and Tigresses squared off four days before to dispute the twice-to-beat advantage after finishing the elimination round tied at 10-4.      UST defeated DLSU in four sets in the playoff behind Rondina’s 29-point explosion.    The Tigresses, who were looking to avenge their Season 77 semis defeat at the hands of DLSU, came into Final Four riding the crest of their five-game winning streak. The Lady Spikers, on the other hand, were on a two-game slump which started with their stinging five-set loss to Far Eastern University to close the elimination round that dragged DLSU into a playoff for the no. 2 spot in the semis. UST was brimming with confidence in the Final Four match. Laure and Rondina found their mark early, punishing the Lady Spikers defense with their missiles while Caitlin Viray and KC Galdones kept DLSU attackers at bay with great net defense. The first two sets were easy picking for UST. Then the Lady Spikers fought back. DLSU forced a deciding set after pulling away from a close 18-17 lead to a 23-19 advantage capped by a Des Cheng crosscourt hit. Viray scored back-to-back points for UST to trim down its deficit to 23-21 but committed a service error in the next play. Laure saved two set points but the Tigresses were whistled for a net touch to end the fourth set. The Lady Spikers took advantage of UST’s 13 errors in the third set to escape a sweep. DLSU came back from a 11-15 down in the third frame with six unanswered points for a 17-15 advantage. The Lady Spikers widened their cushion to 24-19, Laure saved a set point before Cheng sealed the frame to set up a mad dash to the finish. In the final set, the Tigresses raced to a 10-5 lead before DLSU made a final push to cut its deficit to 11-10 off an Aduke Ogunsanya attack after an overreception by UST. Tigresses setter Alin Bicar scored a kill on the next play followed by a service ace before Laure's back-to-back hits to send UST back in the Finals for the first time since Season 73 when the Espana-based squad finished as bridesmaid to the Lady Spikers. UST ended DLSU’s 10-year Finals run and denied the Lady Spikers a four-peat for the third time in two decades. The Tigresses challenged Ateneo de Manila University in the Finals. UST won the series opener, but came up short in the next two games as the Lady Eagles claimed their third title overall.   ---          Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2020

Column: No fans means same sport, different arena

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Rory McIlroy contemplated what golf would be like without fans. This was five days before there was no golf at all. “I'd be OK with it,” he said at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, unaware the new coronavirus was about to shut down golf for at least three months. “It would be just like having an early tee time on the PGA Tour.” And then he added with a laugh, “I guess for a few guys, it wouldn't be that much different.” McIlroy had one of those early times when he was a 20-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour. He teed off in the second round of the Honda Classic at 6:59 a.m. So this will be going back in time for McIlroy, along with the rest of the sport. The PGA Tour set a target of June 8-14 at Colonial in Texas to resume its schedule, with no fans for at least a month. Even if the Charles Schwab Challenge doesn't prove to be the return, golf will be without spectators whenever it starts. Will it matter? Low score still wins, no matter who's there to see it. But it will be a new arena. “I could play without fans, but I don't think I'd play as well,” McIlroy said Tuesday on his GolfPass podcast with Carson Daly and Stephen Curry. “Especially on a Sunday, back nine, you feed off that energy. You hear roars on other parts of the golf course and you sort of know what's going on. All those dynamics are in play when you have people there." The dynamics go beyond noise, of course. Nathan Grube, the tournament director of the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, is preparing it to be the third tournament, the last weekend in June, if golf resumes on schedule. There is hope. There is excitement. There are no grandstands being erected. That wouldn't be a big problem at the TPC River Highlands, which features a stadium design and allows for good viewing, especially over the closing holes. But imagine other courses without stands, without hospitality suites, with nothing but green grass, white sand in the bunkers, the occasional water hazard. Think about Mackenzie Hughes trying to play a cut into the 18th green at the Honda Classic, only to pull it into the middle of the bleachers. He was given a free drop. Years ago, the safe play on the 18th at Doral was to put it into the grandstands beyond the green to take water out of the equation, knowing there would be a free drop. “They're not going to catch errant shots on some holes,” said Mark Russell, a senior rules official on the PGA Tour. They are temporary immovable obstructions, and they are a big part of modern golf. That's why the USGA, and then the R&A, created a number of drop zones (white circles) in front of the grandstands around the 18th hole, starting with Winged Foot in 2006, to avoid taking too much time figuring out where to drop for shots into or behind the stands. In a few cases, it allowed for a player to advance his ball closer to the hole without hitting it. Speaking of Winged Foot, consider that no fans on the course means the rough will remain just that. Phil Mickelson, as an example, has been known to hit tee shots so far off line that the ball comes to rest in an area where gallery traffic has trampled thick grass and led to a reasonable lie. (Maybe if there were no fans at Winged Foot, he would have had to play toward the 18th fairway instead of hitting 3-iron, which led to double bogey and a runner-up finish in the 2006 U.S. Open.) Fans were Arnold Palmer's best friends — literally, in so many cases, but also keeping some of his wild shots from straying too far off line. Tiger Woods once came to the 18th hole at Bay Hill tied for the lead when he pulled his tee shot. It was headed out of bounds but instead struck one of the thousands of spectators in the neck. From grass that had been flattened by the gallery, he hit 5-iron to 15 feet and made birdie to beat Mickelson by one shot. No gallery? It's happened before, most recently in Japan because of flooding. Before that, Congressional had no fans for the third round of the AT&T National because of trees downed by a wind storm. Woods, the biggest draw in golf, won both tournaments. Sound is underrated in golf, especially at scenic Augusta National. Woods spoke to studying every leaderboard so when he heard a roar, he would have a better idea of who did what. Max Homa recalled his first PGA Tour victory, a year ago this week at the Wells Fargo Championship, and how electric it was walking up the 18th fairway. The next tournament he plays will be different. “It will be weird,” Homa said Tuesday. “I imagine the first person to win, it probably will be the strangest of their lives. It sounds very selfish of us to not want to play in front of fans because it won't be electric. But people are craving sports, craving entertainment. I'd carry my bag in front of nobody if needed.” Without fans, without noise and excitement, it won't be the same. But it will be golf. And for the time being, that will do......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2020

CAMPEONE: Year of the Tiger (2010)

(This story was originally published on May 09, 2019) University of Sto. Tomas head coach Shaq delos Santos looked at his squad inside the dugout of The Arena in San Juan one last time. It was a cool Saturday afternoon. He took a glimpse at his graduating hitter Angge Tabaquero, who was all pumped up, but was feeling under the weather and could barely speak because of a sore throat. Delos Santos then shifted his eyes towards fourth-year team captain Aiza Maizo, Maika Ortiz, libero Jessica Curato, then to his prized rookies Dindin Santiago and Maru Banaticla. From their closed locker room, the Tigresses could hear the drums outside and felt the vibration that followed. The weekend crowd packed the venue in a sea of yellow and green. Excitement filled the air. It was electric. Less than an hour before, coach Emil Lontoc celebrated the Tigers’ conquest of Far Eastern University to complete a three-peat in the men's division. With his eyes closed, Delos Santos murmured one last prayer. Then there was a soft tap on their dugout door. It was time to march to the court for the official warm-up for Game 2 of the UAAP Season 72 women’s volleyball tournament.   THE YOUNG AND THE BOLD Delos Santos knew that they’re in for ride in Season 72.   They prided themselves with three pre-season titles, but those conquests meant nothing when it comes to their mother league. “Before mag-start (ang season), for me, hindi ko napi-feel na magtsa-champion agad kami,” said Delos Santos. “Kasi ang adjustment kailangan makita mo muna ang lahat ng naglalaro. So depende pa rin sa nilalaro ng every team na makakalaban mo.” And besides, the mentor will be navigating with a young crew, mostly in their early collegiate careers save for Maizo and returning Tabaquero, two of the remaining heroes of UST’s Season 69 championship run. Maizo was named team captain while Tabaquero, who skipped Season 71 for personal reasons, brought in the needed veteran presence to guide the squad. “Ako personally ang mindset ko sobrang hungry lang rin ako personally and I think si Aiza rin kasi halos pa-exit na rin siya nun,” said Tabaquero. “Ako sobrang gusto ko lang for myself na maka-graduate sa UAAP on a high note.” “On a high lang ako nun kumbaga, ‘Last playing year ko na ‘to wala na akong balikan pa, ibubuhos ko na lahat,’ she added. “Plus the fact na hindi ako nakapaglaro noong Season 71 dagdag gutom sa akin ‘yun.” But then again, the Tigresses remained relatively young. Dimaculangan was just in her third year, her first two saw the bitter memory of losing the title in the semifinals at the hands of the Rachel Anne Daquis-led Far Eastern University and then another Final Four heartache against the same tormentors the following year. Ortiz, Hannah Mance and Curato barely had enough experience on them so did Judy Ann Caballejo.   Then there were the young bloods. UST got a pair of blue-chip recruits in a small but high-flying power-hitter in Banaticla and a lanky 6-footer Santiago.   The Tigresses were parading a decent squad, but not a super team that they had before with Mary Jean Balse and Venus Bernal.       “Nagkaroon kami ng mga rookies noon,” said Dimaculangan. “Nu’ng time na ‘yun kumpiyansa naman ako sa team kasi bakit ka pa maghahanap ng mga wala o bakit ka pa hahanap ng mga naka-graduate na? So kung ano na lang ang meron kami siguro doon na lang.” Delos Santos, himself, was just on his second year as head coach after taking the reins from legendary mentor August Sta. Maria, who suffered a stroke in 2008. Expectations were high from the UST faithful. For the Tigresses, they just have to deliver.   STRUGGLE WITHIN The Tigresses began the season with an early litmus test. Their first game: against the defending champions De La Salle University Lady Spikers. UST faced a squad assembled to build a dynasty. DLSU was denied of a four-peat three years ago when the league suspended the school in Season 69 because of an eligibility issue with its men’s basketball team. In Season 70, the Lady Spikers were forced to forfeit games because of another eligibility issue with Jacq Alarca. The following year, in Manilla Santos’ final year, DLSU reclaimed the throne. Now, looking to for a repeat, the Lady Spikers just need to break the will of one of their threats. DLSU paraded a formidable team centered on its ‘Big Three’ in Alarca, skipper Paneng Mercado, daughter of Asia’s Sprint Queen Lydia De Vega-Mercado, and versatile hitter Cha Cruz. Then there’s the great wall of Michele Gumabao and rookies Aby Marano and Joanne Siy, who would eventually win the Rookie of the Year and Best Blocker awards. UST was facing a nightmare. But the Tigresses were undaunted. They clung on the confidence of bringing down the same giant they slew in the UniGames championship before the start of the season. With guns blazing and adrenaline in their veins, the Tigresses were able to control the match as they led, 2-1. Then comes their Achilles’ heel. UST was a determined team, but the Lady Spikers had in them the championship experience, the veteran composure of a battle-tested squad. The Tigresses had no answer to that. DLSU walked away with a 20-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 15-11, victory to start its amazing elimination round winning streak. UST recovered in the next three games, walking past University of the Philippines, a rebuilding FEU, and cellar-dwellers National University. Then came another big challenge. The Tigresses collided with a feisty young team in Ateneo de Manila University bannered by a hyped Fab Five of sophomores Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio, Fille Cainglet, setter Jem Ferrer and A Nacachi. The result was a shocker: the Lady Eagles upset the Tigresses. It may not show inside the court, but the Tigresses were struggling from the inside.   Delos Santos admitted that being a Tigress under his watch was not for the faint of heart. His relationship with the players was not smooth. He was a blacksmith trying to sharpen a deadly weapon. He needed to put his players into the blazing fire of his Spartan-like training, hammer them into shape and sharpen them into a weapon ready for brutal war.       “Napaka-strict ko kaya medyo ano sila sa akin pero at the end of the day na-realize rin nila na ang lahat ng sinasalihan naming tournament, lahat ng paghihirap namin, kapag naglalaro kami talagang quality,” he said. “’Yung pinaghirapan namin talagang nilalabas namin sa game.” Dimaculangan recalled that that season was marred with conflicts within the team. “’Yung year na 'yun ang dami talagang pinagdaanan. Ang daming naging issues,” she said declining to divulge what the problems were. “Lahat kami takot sa kanya (Delos Santos). Tapos my time din na feeling namin nabe-burnout na kami.” “Baliktad nga eh kasi kung kailan ang dami naming issue doon pa namin nasabi na ‘Ay kailangan nating mag-champion.’ Ganoon ang feeling namin,” Dimaculangan added. Tabaquero would simply describe that Tigresses team as ‘shaky’. “On the rocks ang team and noon may internal issues din,” she revealed. “Medyo magulo siya pero as players, ‘Kung may mangyari man dyan, labas na sa volleyball ‘yan. Kung ano ang pini-perform natin maglaro tayo ng maayos.’ Siguro yun na lang ang tumatakbo sa isip namin.” Whatever the issues were inside their team, the Tigresses were able to put them aside as they made an amazing run to close the eliminations. “Nagulat kami kasi sobrang nakasabay ang mga bata,” said Tabaquero. “Kami ni Aiza halos ang nag-lead sa team na ‘yun pero kasi experienced na ang mga bata na ‘yun kasi coming from UST program sila eh.” “So medyo kumbaga ang pinanggalingan nilang team mataas din so I guess doon na lang din sila humugot from their experience sa high school. Nadala na lang din siguro pagdating nila,” she added.   ENTERING THE END GAME Valentine’s Day. With most of the country looking forward to celebrate that special Sunday, the Tigresses were preparing for something bigger. It was their most-awaited rematch with the Lady Spikers, who heading into that game were already ravaging the league with 13 straight victories. One win and DLSU will enter the Finals outright armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage.   The Tigresses didn’t allow that. UST prevented a Lady Spikers elims sweep by slipping past DLSU in a thrilling five-setter. The Tigresses avoided a stepladder semifinals. UST ended the elims with a nine-game winning streak and second-best 12-2 win-loss record. From there everything changed. “Kasi nakuha nila (ang panalo) sa first round then February 14 tinalo namin sila so dun tumaas ang kumpiyansa namin na ‘Ah kaya namin itong La Salle,’” said Tabaquero. The Tigresses came in the Final Four armed with a twice-to-beat advantage against Ateneo. They split their elims head-to-head but now UST wanted to settle an old score. It was Maizo and Tabaquero who did most of the damage in the Final Four as the Tigresses crushed the Lady Eagles, 25-12, 25-23, 25-20, all while playing without starting libero Curato, who was out because of typhoid fever. “I guess kung ikaw mayroon kang chance na makapasok sa championship siguro ibibigay mo ang lahat. Laban kung laban,” said Tabaquero. “’Yun talaga ang mentalidad namin nu’ng time na yun. ‘Yun ang nag-push sa amin na, ‘For championship ito, ibibigay namin ang lahat 110%.’” Earlier that playdate, the Lady Spikers took the other Finals berth after booting out Adamson University, 16-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22.         "EH ANO NGAYON KUNG DEFENDING CHAMPION KAYO?" Maizo and Tabaquero were UST’s contrasting leaders. They're yin and yang. Maizo was a silent operator. She would rather let her work do the talking. Tabaquero was from a different world. She will get under your skin, play with your head and she was just plain nasty. “Season 69 pa lang salbahe na ako maglaro,” she admitted. “Dun lumabas ‘yung moniker ko na ‘Pamewang Queen’. Sobrang intense lang din ng game namin ng FEU nun. Parang sobrang thrashtalkan. Hindi mo man makita on-cam pero doon pa lang talagang may verbal.” She’s no different in Season 72. “Hindi naman sa mayabang ako pero nasa utak ko nu’ng time na yun, ‘Ay kaya namin kayo kasi tinalo namin kayo nu’ng eliminations,’” Tabaquero continued.  “Doon ako humugot ng lakas na, ‘hindi tayo papatalo rito.’ Sobrang inspired lang din siguro akong maglaro noon kasi ang daming tao nun. Grabe puno itong San Juan Arena,” she recalled.    Facing DLSU, Tabaquero knew they can rip the crown off the Lady Spikers’ heads. “Ako personally, ‘Eh ano ngayon kung defending champion kayo?” she said. It was 2010 and UST just needed to look at the Chinese calendar for an inspiration.    “Year of the Tiger yun, sumakto,” said Dimaculangan. “Iba ang kompiyansa namin na parang amin ‘to.” The Tigresses could see the stars aligning for them, the opportunity was there. Then came the best-of-three series opener. Delos Santos was not new to the Finals. He worked as Sta. Maria’s deputy before. But this was his biggest challenge. His shining moment. Looking back, he felt that Sta. Maria molded him for this situation. “Before nakakuha rin kami ng isa pang championship eh. Sina Bernal, Balse pero si Coach August ang head coach pa nun that time,” he said. “Ang ginawa niya that time sobrang gusto niyang mag-grow ako. Noong Finals namin against FEU, umalis siya. Hindi siya nagpunta ng game tapos nung mag-start na ang game hinahanap ko siya,” Delos Santos continued. “Tinawagan ko siya, sabi ko, ‘Boss nasaan ka?’ Nasa norte siya eh parteng norte." "Sabi ko, ‘boss nasaan ka?’ Sabi niya, ‘kayang-kaya mo na ‘yan. Ikaw ng bahala dyan,’” he said. “’Yung time na yun doon ko na-feel na grabe ang tiwala niya sa akin.” Against a taller Lady Spikers side, Delos Santos needed just one key to success: speed. “I think that time sobrang lucky ko rin kasi ang mga players ko. Yun nga sina Rhea na, sina Tabaquero, sina Aiza. So that time yung system na gusto naming mangyari, more on lalo na kailangang maging speedy kami. Mabilis kami, nakuha namin that time. Siguro yun ang naging key,” he said. “Kasi knowing La Salle ang no. 1 weapon nila is blocking eh. Bukod dun sa service nila na napakabigat, yung blocking. Mayroon silang malalaking players and ang ganda lagi ng line-up nila,” Delos Santos said. As the battle ensued, Delos Santos felt that they had the upper hand. “I think nu’ng time na ‘yun medyo na-feel ko na makukuha namin,” he said. “That time na naglaro na kami sabi ko, sa galawan na nangyayari nakuha namin yung magandang diskarte.” And that strategy was to exploit the height disadvantage of DLSU setter Kaye Martinez. For Delos Santos the best way to stop the Lady Spikers’ deadly arrows was to break their bow.  “That time malalaki sila pero meron silang maliit na setter. Maliit ang setter nila so more on dun kami nagsi-set play ng nagsi-set play,” he said. “Nagkaroon din kami ng magandang receive and then si Rhea nabibigay niya ng maayos sa mga spikers.”  It was shocker. UST recovered from a set down to beat DLSU, 24-26, 25-23, 25-16, 25-21.   For the first time in Season 72, the Taft-based squad got its back against the wall.   SHAQ THE WORLD The Tigresses were on a high as they arrived at the game venue in the last weekend of February just three days after shocking the Lady Spikers in the series opener.     Entering the venue, the Tigresses were greeted by a huge crowd of UST faithful, all hoping for the clincher.  Tabaquero was feeling ill that day. “Naalala ko may sakit ako nu’ng Game 2. Wala akong boses nun,” said the senior, who skipped Thursday’s practice to rest. But Tabaquero was determined to play one last time, give her team the firepower and angst it needed, to finish her collegiate career on top.   “Wala ng sakit-sakit, di pwedeng may sakit. Di ko na siya nararamdaman. Minsan napapagod pero wala kailangang magsakripisyo. Saka yung adrenaline ko sobrang taas nun,” said Tabaquero. As the Tigresses trooped to the court for the warm-up, they were showered by loud cheers from the UST fans. “Go USTe! Go USTe!” echoed inside the arena like a rolling thunder signaling the arrival of a storm. A serenade for conquering heroes. There was a huge banner that read: ‘Kami po ang University of Sto. Tomas.’ It added fuel to the Tigresses’ burning desire to reclaim the throne. The squad came into the venue brimming with confidence but with their supporters egging them on even before the opening serve, the Tigresses felt invincible. They were. UST dismantled the confused Lady Spikers in the first two sets, dominating DLSU with sharp angled attacks and frustrating its blockers. Defensively, the Tigresses were punishing DLSU’s attackers. “Dumipensa lang talaga kami noon saka nagkaroon kami ng first ball. ‘Yun talaga ang edge namin nun,” said Dimaculangan. “Kumbaga parang hindi ako masyadong nahirapang dumiskarte kasi alam kong darating sa akin ang bola.” The Lady Spikers’ defense was also in disarray. Even DLSU’s celebrated libero Mel Gohing, the rookie of the year the season before, was already struggling to keep up with the Lady Spikers’ net defense collapsing. “Yung mga spikers ko ang gagaling din dumiskarte and alam din nila kung ano ang gagawin nila sa bolang ibinibigay ko sa kanila,” added Dimaculangan. The Tigresses were already smelling blood.   But the Lady Spikers regrouped in the third as hitters Cruz and Mercado’s hits found their mark. Gumabao, Siy and Maarano were holding their own. DLSU took the third frame in dominating fashion. It may have turned the tides around for the Lady Spikers. It didn’t.      DLSU built an early five-point cushion in the fourth frame, but the Tigresses raced to a 16-11 lead before Gumabao stopped the bleeding with a crosscourt hit.  Maizo then landed an off speed hit over blockers Siy and Martinez, then the lefty again scored another heady off speed this time over Alarca for an 18-12 lead. Then came the deluge of errors by DLSU. The Lady Spikers crowd went quiet in the pivotal run of the Tigresses. A kill block by Ortiz put UST at championship point, 24-13, as the DLSU faithful froze, seemingly awaiting an inevitable defeat. “Parang pa-last point pa lang ata naiiyak na kaming lahat,” said Dimaculangan. An overexcited Tabaquero sent her serve long then Maizo’s attack was turned back. Two match points saved by DLSU. The Lady Spikers tried to hold on. But it was too late. Nerves got the best of Emeli Zuno as she made contact with the ball at the service line.       It sailed long. Pandemonium broke out. “Nagtatalon na kami nu’ng moment na yun, na ‘Heto na ang pinaghirapan natin.’ Ang sarap sa feeling na mag-champion ulit,” said Tabaquero after the final whistle of the season was called with UST completing the sweep with a 25-18, 25-14, 16-25, 25-15, victory.   For Delos Santos that championship was the fruit of their hard labor. “Sobrang happy kasi siyempre nagkaroon kami ng championship sa UST,” said Delos Santos of his only title for the Tigresses as head coach. “Sobrang memorable. Marami rin kaming pinagdaanan (bago makuha),” he added. UST accomplished a double-crown feat in volleyball that year, its fifth since the 1976-77, 1985-86 at 1987-88 and 1992-1993 seasons. As a reward the Tigresses earned a trip to Hong Kong. But even that trip had some good anecdotes for Delos Santos, Dimaculangan and Tabaquero. “Nag-trip to Hong Kong kami for two to three days sa Disneyland at Ocean Park,” said Delos Santos. “Sila lang mahilig mag-rides eh. Ako may phobia ako sa heights. Nung sumakay kami ng cable car para akong mahuhulog na ewan dun sa cable car.” Dimaculangan remembered vividly their flight. “Nag-Hong Kong kami noon tapos sakto pa na bumabagyo noong umalis kami noon. Buti nga natuloy kami noon eh,” she said. As for Tabaquero, unfortunately, she had to skip the trip. “Nagpunta sila ng Hong Kong pero ako di ako nakasama kasi late yung Hong Kong trip. Di ako nakasama kasi na-ACL (left injury) na ako nun sa Shakey’s V-League, yung sa championship ng San Sebastian,” she said. “Naka-schedule na ako ng surgery nun sa UST hospital kaya di ako nakasama.” “May incentive naman ako nun kahit di ako nakasama nun,” Tabaquero cleared. Ten years ago, UST ruled Season 72. It was the year of the Tiger. The year of the mighty, mighty Tigers.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 26th, 2020

UAAP volleyball’s most memorable Finals five-setters (2010-19)

UAAP volleyball fans just love to see matches go the full five sets. It means more action, more suspense and more drama as the game goes to an exciting climax. What more if it happens in the Finals? We’ve listed down some of the exciting five-set championship games in the past decade.     SEASON 74: FEU-UST Men’s Finals Game 2 (Feb. 29, 2012) For the past four years prior to Season 74, University of Sto. Tomas dominated the men’s competition. For two straight seasons, the Emil Lontoc-mentored Tigers had Far Eastern University’s number in the Finals.    In Season 74, the Tamaraws finally got their long-awaited revenge but not after surviving a war of attrition in Game 2. FEU went down, 1-2, in the match with the Mark Alfafara and Salvador Depante-led Tigers determined to keep UST’s five-peat bid alive following a stinging straight-set defeat in the series opener. The Tamaraws, who topped the eliminations, but was forced by De La Salle University to a do-or-die in the Final Four, fought back in the fourth behind JR Labrador and Arvin Avila to drag the match to a dramatic decider. The fifth set went as close at it could get with FEU just keeping a slim lead heading into the final stretch. The Tams moved at championship point off a Labrador off the block hit only to see the Tigers save two match points on a middle attack by Season Most Valuable Player Jayson Ramos and a Depante crosscourt hit. FEU coach George Pascua called time to stop the bleeding before setter Pitrus De Ocampo set up the then graduating Kirk Beliran for the finishing blow off a combination attack to complete the 25-27, 25-15, 19-25, 25-21, 15-13, victory. The Tams ended a four-year title drought for their 25th title overall.              SEASON 76: Ateneo-DLSU Women's Finals Game 3 (March 12, 2014) We all know how great Ateneo de Manila University was when they toppled the then four-peat-seeking and thrice-to-beat De La Salle University in the women’s Finals of UAAP Season 76. But in the four games that two proud teams fought, Game 3 decided the fate of the series. Yes, the series didn’t end here, but it definitely shifted the momentum to the eventual champion Lady Eagles and broke the Lady Spikers’ will. The Finals protagonists split the first two games with DLSU moving just a win away from extending its reign. Ateneo took control of the first two sets, but the Lady Spikers were able to mount a comeback to claim the next two to set up a decisive fifth frame. The race to the finish became thrilling as well as controversial.       It started out as a nip-and-tuck battle before DLSU built a 12-8 separation to move within three points from the crown. Drawing energy from crowd, the Alyssa Valdez-led Lady Eagles answered with a 6-1 blitz to move at match point. Ara Galang answered with a hit and a kill block to put the Taft-based squad at championship point. Valdez delivered at crunch time with a kill followed by a through the block kill by Michelle Morente for a 16-15 match point advantage. Then came the controversial call in the last play. DLSU setter Kim Fajardo was whistled for a double-contact as she tried to setup a play close to the net after a poor reception that ended the game, 25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 16-25, 17-15, as the shocked DLSU side held their hands in the air in disbelief.      It was the series’ backbreaker as Ateneo, with momentum on its side, finished off the Lady Spikers in straight sets in the series decider for the Lady Eagles’ breakthrough title and first of back-to-back crowns.   SEASON 78:  Ateneo-DLSU Women's Finals Game 2 (April 27, 2016) The then grand slam-seeking Ateneo Lady Eagles and DLSU Lady Spikers faced off in the Finals for the fifth straight time in Season 78. Eyeing redemption after finishing second for two straights seasons, DLSU shocked favored Ateneo led by its graduating hero Valdez in the series opener. The Lady Spikers were looking to finish off the Lady Eagles in Game 2. DLSU seemed to be on the right track when they took the first two sets. But Valdez, the Season Most Valuable Player, carried Ateneo on her back as the Lady Eagles rallied in the next two frames to force a deciding frame. With Valdez leading the way and momentum shifting on their side, the Lady Eagles were able to create a 10-7 separation. DLSU closed the gap, 11-13, only to see Ateneo hammer down the final blows. Jho Maraguinot scored an off the block kill before Amy Ahomiro turned back Majoy Baron to seal Ateneo’s 18-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11. Valdez registered her then second-best scoring performance of 34 points including 32 kills. But the feat just delayed DLSU’s redemption season as the Lady Spikers took Game 3 and knocked the crown off the Lady Eagles’ heads for a victorious sendoff to graduating stars Mika Reyes, Ara Galang and Cyd Demecillo.     SEASON 79: Ateneo-DLSU Women's Finals Game 2 (May 6, 2017) Just like the previous year, DLSU stared at an Ateneo squad determined to drag the Season 79 Finals series to a deciding battle. The Lady Eagles were able take a 1-2 match advantage. The Lady Spikers regrouped in the fourth to put the match in another wild wind up. Riding the momentum of its fourth set win, DLSU raced to an early 6-2 advantage and looked poised to go for the kill as the Lady Spikers stretched their advantage to 10-4. Ateneo fought back, chipping away DLSU’s lead to close in, 9-12. Tin Tiamzon gave the Lady Spikers more breathing room only for Jho Maraguinot to cut DLSU’s lead to three once again. A Majoy Baron quick attack pushed the Lady Spikers at championship point before Maraguinot threw in the white towel after sending her attack long as DLSU walked away with a 19-25, 25-14, 18-25, 25-18, 15-10, victory and a 10th overall title.       SEASON 79: Ateneo-NU Men's Finals series (May 2 and May 6, 2017) It was the Ateneo Blue Eagles perfect season. The Marck Espejo, Rex Intal, Josh Villanueva and Tony Koyfman bannered Blue Eagles completed a rare 16-0 season sweep. But the Ateneo had to go through the proverbial eye of the needle to achieve the feat especially in the Finals series where the Blue Eagles needed stave off the gritty Bryan Bagunas and Fauzi Ismail-led NU Bulldogs in five sets twice. And in both games, Ateneo had to comeback from a 1-2 match deficit. Espejo dropped 29 points to lead the Blue Eagles to a 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 25-18, 15-13, Game 1 win. The Season MVP again went firing on all cylinders in Game 2 as he scored 27 points including a 25-of-49 attacking clip in Ateneo’s 18-25, 25-16, 20-25, 25-18, 15-13, title-clincher. Ateneo claimed its third straight crown.    WORTH MENTIONING SEASON 70: FEU-Adamson Women's Finals Game 3 (March 2, 2008) When we talk about dramatic five-set finishes, the meeting between FEU and Adamson in Game 3 of Season 70 women’s will always be included in the classic list.   Yes, it happened 12 years ago. But hey, it deserves recognition. The Lady Tams boasted of a deep roster of talents in Rachel Anne Daquis, Maica Morada, Season MVP Wendy Semana, Majo Cafranca, Anna Abanto and rookie Shaira Gonzales. On the other hand, the Lady Falcons had Sang Laguilles, Angela Benting, Jill Gustillo, Michelle Segodine, prized libero Lizlee Ann Gata and Janet Serafica. After splitting the first two games, Adamson came a set close to its first-ever crown in Game 3 after taking a 2-1 match lead. But Daquis came alive in the fourth helping breathe new life to the Nes Pamilar-mentored Lady Tams. The fifth frame started out close before FEU unleashed five unanswered points to turn a 2-4 deficit to a 7-4 lead. Adamson responded with two straight points to move within one, 7-6, only to allow the Lady Tams to again pull away. Shirt-tugging Morada pushed FEU at match point, 14-8, off a kill before Benting saved a point for Adamson. But a late substitution on Segodine, who was supposed to take serve, by service specialist Jennifer Hiponia proved to be fatal. Hiponia under tremendous pressure put too much power on her serve as FEU escaped with a 14-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 15-9, victory and its 29th title overall.             SEASON 80: Ateneo-FEU men’s Final Four (April 21, 2018) It wasn’t a Finals game but the performance of Marck Espejo in this historic Final Four battle against FEU in Season 80 made this five-set clash worth mentioning. The then four-peat-seeking Ateneo was pitted against twice-to-beat Tamaraws. Espejo rewrote history as he carried the Blue Eagles on his back with a 55-point game to escape with a 18-25, 25-13, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9, win that forced a do-or-die match. The five-time MVP had a monster production of 47 attacks, six kill blocks and two aces. He scored 11 of Ateneo’s fifth set output. The Blue Eagles eventually clinched the last Finals spot but were dethroned by the Bulldogs.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

PBA: What s in a Name? San Miguel Beermen

Name changes happen a lot in the PBA, especially with the league’s company based-teams. It’s equal parts marketing and prestige when it comes to the naming of PBA teams. There are no cities represented here and no need for sponsorships.  Out of the 12 active teams in the PBA, even the pioneers like San Miguel Beer have gone through some name changes over the years, while teams like Columbian juggle through monikers like crazy. However, there are also teams like Alaska that have stayed solid through its brand all along. This series is not about those teams though. This series is about the franchises that have taken advantage of the PBA’s somewhat unique naming convention as we shuffle through their history of changes. What’s in a name, San Miguel Beermen?   TRU Pioneers: Royal Tru-Orange San Miguel was an original team when the PBA was first established in 1975, but the Beermen name wouldn’t come until years later. The team was first known as Royal Tru-Orange, after the soft drink. It took four years and 13 conferences before Royal won a PBA title, that being the 1979 Open Conference after beating Toyota in the Finals.   San Miguel Beermen 1.0 (Early 1980s) The franchise’s first use of the San Miguel Beermen produced two Finals trips in the 1982 Reinforced Filipino Conference and the 1982 Invitational Conference. Facing Toyota for the Reinforced Filipino title, the Beermen lost in seven games. San Miguel then turned around and won the Invitational tournament against Crispa.   San Miguel Beermen 2.0 (1987 Reinforced Conference – 2007 Fiesta Conference) For a good four years in the mid-1980s, the Beermen would carry the name of Gold Eagle Beer and the Magnolia Ice Cream brand before returning as SMB in the final conference of the 1987 season. San Miguel would keep its Beermen name for two decades, winning 15 league championships to build the foundation for their status as the PBA’s winningest franchise. Several dynasties and great teams were under the Beermen banner, the first major one being the 1989 Grand Slam team coached by Norman Black. With players like Mon Fernandez, Hector Calma, Alvin Teng, Samboy Lim, Franz Pumaren, Ricardo Brown, rookie Ato Agustin, and imports Michael Phelps and Ennis Whatley, the Beermen were the top-ranked team in all three conferences and beat Shell, Purefoods, and Anejo for the Grand Slam. After the Grand Slam year, San Miguel would go three full seasons without a title, but would win a championship at least once in each of the next three seasons that followed. 1992 MVP Ato Agustin, Samboy Lim, and Allan Caidic, made sure the Beermen were well taken cared off in the early 1990s before the team would go on a mini cold period. After back-to-back titles in the 1993 Governors’ Cup and the 1994 All-Filipino, San Miguel wouldn’t win another title until a new era of Beermen, led by coach Jong Uichico, took over towards the new millennium. With the pairing of eventual two-time MVP Danny Ilfefonso and Rookie of the Year Danny Seigle, the Beermen returned on top of the PBA mountain in 1999, winning the Commissioner’s Cup and the Governors’ Cup to bring a close to the millennium. As Danny I finally emerged as the MVP, San Miguel defended its two titles in 2000. The Beermen also won the 2001 All-Filipino to complete a trifecta of championships. They actually had a chance for a Grand Slam in 2001, but SMB would lose the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup Finals to Red Bull and Sta. Lucia respectively. Still with the core of Danny I, Danny S, Dondon Hontiveros, and Olsen Racela, San Miguel would end a four-year drought and capture the 2005 Fiesta Conference with a 4-1 win over Talk ‘N Text, the franchise’s 17th title.   Magnolia Beverage Masters (2007-2008 season) The Magnolia name would come back for one season in the late 2000s for mostly uninspiring results. In the 2008 Philippine Cup, the Beverage Masters finished with a 10-8 record and entered the playoffs as the no. 5 seed. They lost in the first round. In the 2008 Fiesta Conference, the Beverage Masters again entered the playoffs as the no. 5 seed with a 10-8 record. They lost in the semis and finished fourth, ending their run with a loss to Red Bull, just like in the All-Filipino.   San Miguel Beermen 3.0 (2009 Philippine Cup – 2011 Commissioner’s Cup) Back as the San Miguel Beermen, the team rebuilt its frontline in an attempt to recreate the Danny Ildefonso-Danny Seigle tandem almost a decade prior. The Beermen dealt the no. 3 pick of the 2008 Draft to Talk ‘N Text to acquire Jay Washington. The pick was used to select Jayson Castro. San Miguel then used a trade package centered around Marc Pingris to bring Arwind Santos to the fold. However, the mega trade happened after the Beermen won the 2009 Fiesta Conference championship for the franchise’s 18th title. Unfortunately, San Miguel’s power moves wouldn’t yield immediate results, losing back-to-back Finals to Alaska and Talk ‘N Text in the 2010 Fiesta Conference and 2011 Philippine Cup respectively. The San Miguel Beermen name would experience an unprecedented result in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup when a 2-9 record landed the team in last place.   Petron Blaze Boosters (2011 Governors’ Cup – 2014 Philippine Cup) Refreshed as the Petron Blaze Boosters, Arwind Santos would lead the team to the championship of the 2011 Governors’ Cup. The title win is significant as the Blaze Boosters stopped Talk ‘N Text from winning a Grand Slam with a seven-game decision in the Finals. Unfortunately, Petron blew a 3-1 lead in the semifinals of the 2012 Philippine Cup, allowing the Tropang Texters to get their win back on their way to back-to-back All-Filipino championships. The infamous Petronovela would follow as the Blaze Boosters would consistently fail to meet expectations. After the semifinals debacle against Talk ‘N Text, Petron finished 9th and failed to make the playoffs in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup. After three underwhelming conferences, the Blaze Boosters would make their way to the Finals of the 2013 Governors’ Cup, only to lose Game 7 to San Mig Coffee. Perhaps the peak of the Petron name in the PBA came in 2012, when the Blaze Boosters selected June Mar Fajardo with the first pick of the Draft.   San Miguel Beermen 4.0 (2014 Commissioner’s Cup – present) Despite reverting back the San Miguel Beermen name, the remnants of Petronovela would remain as the team got booted out in the quarterfinals of the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup without winning a single game. The true return of the Beermen would come in the 2015 Philippine Cup, beating Alaska in a dramatic Game 7 to win the title. Coached by Leo Austria and with the core five of June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, and Alex Cabagnot, a new Beermen dynasty would be born. After the 2015 All-Filipino title, San Miguel would beat Alaska two more times in the Finals. The first one was a sweep in the 2015 Governors’ Cup before the Beermen took the Aces down again to win the 2016 Philippine Cup. The “Beeracle” run to win back-to-back All-Filipino titles will be marked in history as the first time a PBA team came back from a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-7 series. San Miguel’s next history-making event came in the 2017 Philippine Cup after the Beermen matched Talk ‘N Text’s earlier feat by becoming the second-ever Perpetual Champions with three straight All-Filipino titles. However, San Miguel has its rival beat by winning a fourth and fifth straight Philippine Cup title in the next two years. The Beermen have also attempted to win a Grand Slam twice in recent years, doing so in 2017 and 2019. Unfortunately, both bids ended at the hands of Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals of the Governor’s Cup. Still, in adding eight championships so far, the Beermen have increased their all-time lead as they now hold 27 league titles. This era also produced arguable the greatest PBA player ever in six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

Tiger s last Masters as much about family as a green jacket

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Tiger Woods walked off the 18th green as a Masters champion for the fifth time, a major champion for the 15th time, and the sensation was unlike anything he had ever felt. More memorable than any shot — the 8-iron that trickled by the hole at the 16th was the decisive blow — was the purposeful stride toward his son, grabbing Charlie with both arms, lifting the boy and turning from side to side. His mother was next. His daughter. His loyal support staff. And then a lineup of players outside the clubhouse, some of them in green jackets. They had been upstairs in the locker room reserved for champions, yet they shared a feeling with the entire golf world. Memories gave way to reality. “That's going to be in people's minds forever,” Rickie Fowler said last month, just two days before the Masters was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Was it his biggest win? It would be hard to rate that over his first Masters title in 1997, a “hello, world” moment not tied to advertising. Woods set 20 records that signaled the arrival of a brand of dominance never seen in golf. The most historical? His 2001 victory at Augusta gave him a sweep of the four majors in a span of 294 days. He stands alone there. This was no less significant because of what it meant — to Woods, to his sport, to peers who grew up idolizing him and to a worldwide audience that had reason to believe it might never happen again. “I had just an amazing amount of emails and texts that were flowing in,” Woods said in a conference call leading up to the Masters. “But I was more surprised by the amount of videos of people watching the Masters and seeing their reaction when I hit the shot on 16 or when I made the putt, whether it was on airplanes or in airports or restaurants. “The amount of emotion that people were showing, that's what blew my mind." That's what made this Masters different from his other four, this major different from the other 14. Adam Scott doesn't usually stick around when he's finished with a major. One exception was in 2006 after the U.S. Open at Winged Foot when he was headed for the airport and turned around when close friend Geoff Ogilvy emerged the winner. He finished Sunday at Augusta National about the time all hell broke loose at Amen Corner. “You got a sense, as he was kind of taking the lead on the back nine, that something special could be happening,” Scott said. “There was a lot of guys watching in the champion's locker room and I stayed and watched. You don't often get that group of people together very often. You just had that sense it's a significant moment in the sport again.” Gary Woodland wasn't about to miss it. “I don't usually watch much golf,” he said. “I had my family there. I was flying out Sunday afternoon. I played early that day, and we pushed the flight back. I wanted to watch that.” The only mystery is where it leads. Woods was never the same the rest of the major season. He played nine holes of practice at Bethpage Black and missed the cut in the PGA Championship. He was never a factor at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, site of his 15-shot victory, as untouchable as any of his records. He missed the cut at the British Open. Woods had another knee surgery to repair minor cartilage damage. And then he won again, this time in Japan, to tie the PGA Tour's victory record with No. 82. In only two starts this year, in chilly California weather, he didn't look like the Masters champion. His back felt stiff and he skipped three tournaments he ordinarily plays. And now golf is shut down, which Woods said has given him time for his 44-year-old body to feel stronger. He had caddie Joe LaCava come down a month after the Masters to watch the final round together. Woods has watched that Masters plenty of times, and he taped a segment with Jim Nantz for perspective unlike any other for CBS to show it again Sunday to fill the void of not having the Masters this April. Each time Woods won a major — even the first of his 15 — it was one major closer to the 18 won by Jack Nicklaus. This one was different. This was more about satisfaction and redemption than a thirst for more. Woods said his kids once looked at him as the “YouTube” golfer because they never saw him at his best. They were at Carnoustie in the summer of 2018 when he had the lead briefly in the final round of the British Open. They were with him at Augusta National, and that meant as much as the green jacket he wore — the jacket, he said, they fought over who could wear it on the flight home. “It's been incredible for myself and my family to be a part of this, and for me to be the current Masters champion, it's crazy that somehow it all came together for one week,” he said. “One magical week.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2020

Butler returns to lead Heat past Warriors, 113-101

MICHAEL WAGAMAN Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jimmy Butler had 21 points and 10 rebounds in his return to Miami’s lineup, and the Heat won in Andre Iguodala’s first game back in the Bay Area, thumping the Golden State Warriors 113-101 on Monday night. Butler was crisp after sitting out the previous two games with a right shoulder strain. The All-Star forward scored 13 points in the first half, shot 9 of 15 overall and had five assists to help the Heat end a three-game skid. Jae Crowder added 21 points and eight rebounds. Bam Adebayo had 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Kelly Olynyk had 12 points and a career-high 11 assists. Iguodala, a key member of the Warriors' three championship teams from 2015-18, had two points and five rebounds in 17 minutes against his former team. Damion Lee scored 26 points with five 3-pointers for Golden State (12-42). The loss ends the Warriors' five-year streak of finishing .500 or better. The Heat led comfortably most of the game to win for the first time on their six-game road trip that stretches beyond the All-Star break. Crowder, who had 18 points in his Miami debut against Portland on Sunday, made a step-back 3-pointer that put the Heat up by 18 midway through the second quarter. Olynyk later added another 3-pointer that made it 52-31. Golden State trailed by 24 but got within 73-69 following three free throws by Lee. Miami pulled away early in the fourth quarter, getting a dunk from Iguodala and back-to-back 3s by Robinson and Crowder. TIP-INS Heat: Crowder scored 16 points in the first half. … Miami won in the Bay Area for the first time since Feb. 12, 2014. The Heat had lost five straight road games to Golden State. Warriors: Thompson and Draymond Green, along with injured teammate Stephen Curry, are among the finalists for the 2020 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. FAMILIAR FACE, NOW FOE During a brief pregame ceremony, injured Golden State star Klay Thompson introduced Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP who was greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd. “I can’t wait to see your jersey in the rafters,” Thompson said. Iguodala, in his second game with the Heat, tried to keep his return to the Bay Area in perspective. “I haven’t had a chance to let it be something that is overwhelming,” Iguodala said. “I just see it as another game on the schedule. It’s more important for the team so it’s actually helping me, if not allowing me, to not let it seem like a different type of situation.” Iguodala was greeted with a rousing ovation from the crowd when he checked into the game in the first quarter. UP NEXT Heat: Face the Jazz in Utah on Wednesday in their final game before the All-Star break. Warriors: Play at Phoenix on Wednesday. The teams split a pair of games in San Francisco earlier this season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 11th, 2020