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Masters plans to admit limited number of fans

Los Angeles---History-making Masters runner-up Cameron Smith of Australia and 2020 PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa are excited to see Augusta National’s plans for limited spectators at the major showdown in three months time......»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardJan 13th, 2021

Scrubbed: March Madness leads long list of canceled sports

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 13th, 2020

Top-ranked Johnson motivated to improve

Los Angeles---World number one Dustin Johnson, whose four 2020 victories included a Masters triumph, plans to keep his foot on the accelerator in 2021......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 8th, 2021

Dara holds live broadcast to celebrate reaching 1 million subscribers on YouTube

Dara, aka Sandara Park, held a live broadcast on Oct. 16 to celebrate her milestone of getting one million subscribers on her YouTube channel Dara TV. People from different countries tuned in to watch Dara’s broadcast where she thanked subscribers, gave updates about herself, discussed her plans and raffled off personal items to mark the occasion. Her YouTube subscribers reached one million on Oct. 10 and she tweeted, “Happy 1M subscribers #DaraTV Thank you so much everyone!!! Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat!!! #DaraTV1Million.” “This is the first time I’m doing YouTube Live and the comments are coming in so fast we can’t even read it,” Dara said during the broadcast. She added, “I’ve been doing YouTube for three years and there are about 60 videos uploaded on my channel. But, guys, that is amazing because I still hit one million. Thank you to everyone who subscribed.” Dara also revealed that she put on some weight and she’s very happy about it, saying, “I gained some weight for the first time in my life. I’ve been 38 to 39 kilos. I’ve finally gained six kilos.” “A lot of people were worried about me. I look more mature and I’m very pleased. The sad part about gaining weight is I don’t fit into all of my clothes anymore. I recently donated my clothes to my niece and nephews. I’m gonna shop for some jeans next week. My jeans don’t fit me anymore,” she said. She told her Pinoy fans, “Kamusta kayong lahat? Nagustuhan nyo ba yung recent upload ko sa DaraTV, yung Philippine market? Super enjoy ako dun. Ang ginawa ko dun nagpicture lang pero nag-enjoy pa rin ako (How are you? Did you like my recent upload on DaraTV about the Philippine market? I enjoyed it. I only took photos but I still enjoyed it).” In a video she uploaded on Oct. 3, Dara went to a Filipino street market near the Hyehwadong Catholic Church in Hyehwa-dong in Jongno, Seoul where she got to mingle and take photos with Pinoys and Koreans. Every Sunday, hundreds of Filipinos go to the street market to eat, buy Filipino food and products.The video now has more than 2 million views on YouTube. Dara also ranked the top five countries that watch her YouTube videos the most and the Philippines emerged as No. 1. “Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Grabe number one talaga kayo (Thank you very much. You are really number one). I love it because I started my career there. I miss you guys. I’m always thankful for support,” she said. Dara during her live broadcast on YouTube (Screenshot from Dara’s video) The US placed second with Dara saying, “Thank you so much for supporting DaraTV. South Korea, her home country, is third. She commented, “Even though I have a lot of content outside of Korea, im very thankful that I have a lot of Korean subscribers.” “Thank you so much, Indonesia,” she said as the country placed fourth while United Arab Emirates is fifth and Dara said, “I’ve never been there but I really wanna go.” Dara thanked viewers for enjoying her video with CL and said she also wants “to go to Minzy’s dance academy to learn and dance there.” She was asked what was most memorable during the music video shoot with Park Bom and she said, “It’s always very chaotic when I’m with her. The most memorable thing about that shoot is that it had to be very serious but she just made me laugh so much and she asked why I wasn’t being all ‘hip-hoppy’ for my web scene but I just enjoyed that shoot a lot because it was so funny.” Dara started her showbiz career in the Philippines and left it to debut in 2NE1 in 2009. The group disbanded in 2016. She is still under YG Entertainment. She was asked if she’s going to blog about a tour of the new YG Entertainment headquarters located in Hapjeong in Mapo District, Seoul. “Next year, maybe. Still a work in progress. It looks very futuristic, very cool looking. Kinda looks like a music video set,” she said. One commented that Dara has no problem buying new clothes but she said “I can’t shop that much these days because I want to save more money [because of the ongoing pandemic].” “We should all save money. Since we can’t perform and also everyone around the world, we have to save our money. We’re just being very mindful here. I’m very thankful because I’ve been working so much. I just came back from a schedule and this entire week I had schedules and it looks like I will be very busy next week as well so I’m very thankful for my job,” she said. She said the upcoming episodes on DaraTV include staycation and cooking episodes. To celebrate the milestone, Dara raffled off bracelets and Polaroid photos, and her own clothes. Dara will also be hosting the second season of the TV show “Idol League” with BTOB’s Eunkwang and the first episode is set on Oct. 17. About her plans, she said, “Right now, I’m gonna focus on emceeing and you guys can look forward to that. You guys might see something related to acting because I’ve been talking to my musical friend. And for music, it’s always on my mind. We are all working on it so stay tuned.” Caption Dara during her live broadcast on YouTube (Screenshot from Dara’s video).....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2020

China to allow first football fans in stadiums since coronavirus

The Chinese Super League is planning to allow a very limited number of spectators into a high-profile match on Saturday, the first time fans can attend a game since the coronavirus pandemic......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020

MLB players begin reporting for tests as first workouts near

By DAVE SKRETTA AP Sports Writer Yoán Moncada has spent the past couple of months working out in what he called a “controlled and limited environment” in Florida, where the White Sox slugger could continue to get at-bats while protecting himself from the coronavirus. That's a good description of the environment that greeted him upon his return to Chicago. Players began reporting to their teams and home ballparks Wednesday in the most significant step yet as Major League Baseball presses ahead with its plan for a 60-game sprint of a season. Most players underwent a battery of health checks, not only for COVID-19 but also for any other lingering ailments from spring training, ahead of planned workouts beginning Friday and Saturday. “We were doing workouts by time, you know? You have to reserve a time. I wasn't interacting with a lot of people there,” Moncada said of his sessions in Florida. “The last couple of weeks I started lifting a little bit. I was hitting with limitations that we had during this situation. But I feel good. I'm ready to go.” Much like other clubs, the White Sox intend to split their 60-man roster into two groups, one working out in the morning and the other in the afternoon. All players will have their temperatures checked multiple times each day, observe increased social distancing and get accustomed to stringent safeguards that MLB has put into place for the season. “That's going to be different to see and feel as a team,” Moncada said. “We'll have to wait and see Friday how it goes.” The Yankees won't hold their first full-team workout until Saturday, even though manager Aaron Boone said players began intake testing Wednesday. That's when he plans to address the team for the first time — also in waves. “We’ll have to get creative with how we communicate,” said Boone, who plans to make the same speech three or four times. Faced with the prospect of playing 60 games in 66 days, time-consuming safety protocols, the responsibility to remain diligent health-wise off the field and the general anxiety of working amid a pandemic, Boone believes focus and toughness can be as important to a team this season as baserunning or bullpen management. “How do you deal with that mentally and emotionally?” Boone asked. “How you’re able to separate that out when you take the field each and every night? There’s an advantage to be had there." After gauging workloads for pitchers during the shutdown, Boone expects his starters will be ready to face live hitters on the first day of summer camp. He plans to stay flexible on usage and may consider using a six-man rotation or openers, but nothing has been determined yet as all teams adjust to a new norm. “An injury can wipe out a season in a hurry,” Boone said, adding that he’s likely to be cautious with players early after New York placed a major league record 30 players on the injured list a total of 39 times last season. Orioles general manager Mike Elias said there had been no positive tests for COVID-19 among players and staff who were examined Wednesday, but he acknowledged that “it's going to be an ongoing process.” Elias has thus far named only 44 players of the 60 available to participate in the preseason workout. He will decide later which prospects will fill out the preseason roster in advance of a projected season-opener July 23 or July 24. And despite rising numbers of COVID-19 across the country, and a few players opting out, most players and executives have been bullish on the season taking place. They believe in protocols hammered out during lengthy negotiations between MLB and its players' association and are eager to provide fans with some much-needed diversion. “We’ve got to make sure we understand best practices in social distancing, make sure we know we are keeping ourselves not only apart from one another but also behaving in a way that’s consistent to what’s going to keep us all healthy," Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “Provided we can all work together to comply with these protocols and respect — as I said earlier —- respect each other and respect the rules, I’m optimistic that we can make this happen.” ___ AP Sports Writers David Ginsburg, Jake Seiner and Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2020

Fan experience to change profoundly amid COVID-19 pandemic

By DAVE SKRETTA AP Sports Writer KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Dayton Moore remembers so clearly the vast sections of empty seats inside Kauffman Stadium when he took over as general manager of the Kansas City Royals, and he remembers just as vividly — nearly a decade later — how those seats filled and fans roared as the long-suffering club won the World Series. Those dueling memories make the thought of playing games in empty stadiums hard for Moore to fathom. “I know how much strength all players draw from the fans and environment,” he said, when asked about plans to play a shortened season without crowds, “and you need that support to get through an entire Major League Baseball schedule.” As lockdowns are lifted and restrictions eased, sports are finally starting to emerge in the coronavirus pandemic. But in virtually every situation, fans are not yet being allowed to attend and the only consensus for now is that there could be a long period of empty or nearly empty seating. Some U.S. universities are modeling for 25% capacity for the upcoming football season or maybe half-full arenas for the ensuing basketball season. “I think for most sports, a reduced crowd wouldn't negatively impact the overall experience, especially in a situation like baseball or even the NFL,” said Katy Lucy, a digital marketing agent from Atlanta whose fandom is split between all things Georgia Bulldogs and the Washington Capitals. “But it would be different for sure for those who attend in person." Count her family among those who would pause before heading to the ballpark. “For me personally, I’m not sure I would feel comfortable attending a live sporting event until there is a known treatment or widely available vaccine,” Lucy said. “I trust the institutions to put the proper measures in place; however, making sure that they are enforced is another matter.” Many college and pro sports teams already were dealing with declining ticket sales. Watching at home or streaming games are factors, as is the changing social makeup of fan bases. Dynamic pricing, increases in parking and concession prices, and a push toward luxury seating have exacerbated the problem. Major League Baseball attendance has declined six of the past seven seasons. In college football, 13 of the 130 schools that played in the Football Bowl Subdivision reported average crowd sizes of 50% or less last season. Even the NFL has seen an increase in empty seats despite its generally rock-solid popularity. So as coronavirus concerns linger, how are teams going to lure fans back when stadiums do reopen? Loyalty and engagement apps, widespread around the major leagues and colleges even before the pandemic, will become even more common and interactive as teams try to recapture lost revenue. There also will be more behind-the-scenes content and enhancements available via smartphones that will only be available to those in the stadium or arena, offering fans something unique over fans watching at home. “Fans want that experience to be top-notch, period. That's why teams are thinking about this,” said Britton Stackhouse Miller, senior vice president at Fortress U.S., a developer of engagement and integration systems with clients in European soccer, baseball, the NBA, NFL and NHL. Temperature checks, hand sanitizer distribution stations and touchless vending will become the norm for a while. Even concessions will change, though one big difference — gulp — could lead to a lot of grumbling. “If you don't sell beer the number of visits to the bathroom drops dramatically,” said Marc Ganis, the director of sports consulting firm Sportscorp. “So for a time we may have to think about not selling beer.” It won't just be the vast oceans of bench seats left open, either. Many experts believe those hardy fans will be the first to return. It's the corporate suites from which many colleges and pro franchises derive so much of their gameday revenue that may end up being empty until long after games have resumed. Economic woes may last for some time. For fans who stay home, leagues are looking for ways to keep them engaged, too. When Germany's top soccer league returned without fans, broadcaster Sky knew it had a problem with silence coming through the TV. Engineers created “carpet audio” from previous games between the same teams, then teased out roars for specific events such as goals and red cards, giving those watching at home the option of a more realistic experience. “This was the only idea that we thought could be most respectful to the fans,” said Alessandro Reitano, vice president of sports production for Sky Deutschland. “To be honest, it's a major success.” Old crowd noise is a bit like an old game, though. It lacks a certain authenticity. So along came ChampTrack, which created an app that utilizes the microphones of fans. It captures their every roar and groan and sends the audio to its server, which then aggregates the noise into a single stream. That stream is then returned to the viewer using proprietary algorithms to provide the broadcast with real-time sound, which is then immediately erased to ensure personal privacy. “Once they press play on our web app, they can hear what everyone else is cheering about and their own cheer,” said ChampTrack chief executive Elias Anderson, adding the system could soon handle as many as 150,000 fans for each game. Sound is one element of the fan experience. Optics is another. “When it was clear there would be no audience this season, the fans had the idea of bringing their images to the stadium,” said Lubbo Popken, deputy press secretary for German soccer club Borussia Monchengladbach, which affixed fan likenesses to their seats. “We were surprised how many people wanted to be part of this idea and have their images in the stadium. It really changed the atmosphere in the empty stadium.” Of course, none of that is the same as having real fans creating real noise......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

Out of the Woods: Tiger emerges for TV match with Lefty, QBs

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The purpose is to raise $10 million or more for COVID-19 relief efforts, and provide entertainment with four of the biggest stars from the PGA Tour and NFL. Another appeal to the Sunday made-for-TV exhibition, “The Match: Champions for Charity,” is a chance to see Tiger Woods swing a golf club for the first time in 98 days. Live golf is on television for the second straight Sunday, this one with the game's biggest headliner. Woods was last seen on television Feb. 16 at the Genesis Invitational, where he moved cautiously in California's chilly late winter weather and posted weekend rounds of 76-77 to finish last among the 68 players who made the cut at Riviera. He skipped a World Golf Championship in Mexico City, and said his surgically repaired back wasn't quite ready in sitting out the opening three weeks of the Florida swing. And then the pandemic took over, and there has been no place to play. This is a reasonable start. Woods and retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning will face Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, who won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and signed this year with Tampa Bay. The match will be at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. It is Woods' home course and about 20 minutes from Seminole, where last week Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff ushered golf's return to live television. What to make of Woods? His only interviews were with GolfTV, the Discovery-owned channel with whom Woods has a financial deal, and a playful Zoom call with the other match participants hosted by Ernie Johnson of Turner Sports, which is televising the match. He described his health in the April 9 interview with GolfTV as “night and day.” “I feel a lot better than I did then,” Woods said. “I've been able to turn a negative into a positive and been able to train a lot and get my body to where I think it should be.” Mickelson has missed the cut in four of his five tournaments this year — the exception was third place at Pebble Beach, where he started the final round one shot behind Nick Taylor and closed with a 75. Just like last week, rust is to be expected for players who haven't competed in two months — three, in the case of Woods. Manning, meanwhile, is retired and is a golf junkie. Brady remains employed, and this week got in some informal work with his new teammates in Tampa Bay. No fans will be allowed, just like last week at Seminole. One difference is the players will be in their own carts, whereas the four PGA Tour players last week carried their bags. But this is as much about entertainment as competition. It's the second edition of a match between Woods and Mickelson, the dominant players of their generation and rivals by name, but not necessarily by record. Woods has 82 career victories to 44 for Mickelson, leads 15-5 in major championships and 11-0 in winning PGA Tour player of the year. Mickelson won their first made-for-TV match over Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, a pay-per-view event that ran into technical problems and was free for all. Lefty won in a playoff under the lights for $9 million in a winner-take-all match. He also has a 5-3-1 advantage over Woods in the nine times they have played in the final round on the PGA Tour, most recently in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2012 when Mickelson shot 64 to a 75 for Woods. He also stopped two streaks. Woods was going for his seventh straight PGA Tour victory when Mickelson beat him at Torrey Pines in 2000. Later that year, Woods had won 19 consecutive times on the PGA Tour when he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead until Mickelson beat him at the Tour Championship. Woods, however, captured the streak that mattered, holding off Mickelson in the final group at the Masters in 2001 to hold all four professional majors at the same time. The banter was lacking in Las Vegas, and perhaps having Manning and Brady will change the dynamics. The broadcast includes Charles Barkley providing commentary and Justin Thomas, whom Woods has embraced, on the course as a reporter in his television debut. After this exhibition, golf has two weeks before the PGA Tour is set to return at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. Mickelson plans to play. Woods has not said when he will return......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

From Hopkinton to Boston, marathon absence is seen and felt

By JIMMY GOLEN AP Sports Writer HOPKINTON, Mass. (AP) — “It All Starts Here.” The motto is bannered on the Hopkinton website, laid into the floor of the Marathon Elementary School, painted on a sign that sends Boston Marathon participants off on their way to Copley Square. Since 1924, this 300-year-old town serendipitously located 26.2 miles west of Boston has been the starting line for the world’s most prestigious road race and, like Marathon and Athens themselves, the two are enduringly linked. “It gets stronger and stronger every year, this relationship,” said Tim Kilduff, a longtime Hopkinton resident and former Boston Marathon race director. “We see it as: The spirit of the marathon resides in Hopkinton, and we lend it out one day a year.” From the starting line in this leafy Colonial town to the finish on Boylston Street, residents and runners are preparing for a spring without the Boston Marathon — the first in 124 years. Organizers and authorities have postponed the race originally scheduled for Monday until Sept. 14 because of the coronavirus pandemic, stripping the streets of brightly colored singlets and opening a gap in the sporting schedule for runners from all over the world. “Tradition’s an overused word. But this really is a rite of spring,” Kilduff said. “So this year it will lead into a beautiful fall season in New England.” ___ On a regular marathon weekend, Hopkinton triples in size from its 16,000 residents to absorb a field of more than 30,000 runners, wheelchair racers and hand cyclists. The Town Common teems with people, along with food carts and other vendors serving both tourists and race participants previewing the course. But while others may think of Hopkinton only on the third Monday in April, the marathon and its essence permeates the town all year. Residents drive over the starting line painted on Main Street on their way to work or to concerts at the gazebo. An International Marathon Center is planned for the town, a sister city of Marathon, Greece, where the long-running tradition was birthed. There are three marathon-related statues in Hopkinton, including “The Starter,” which stands at the starting line, pistol raised, ready to send the field off for another race to Boston’s Back Bay. These days, his face is covered with a cloth mask. “This is not the NBA or baseball or the NFL. This is ours,” said Kilduff, who was the race director in 1983-84, ran the marathon in 1985 and for the last 33 years has been a spotter on the truck that leads the men’s field to the finish line. “Anybody who has run the race, volunteered for the race, supported the race, feels that they own a part of the race. They own just a little bit. So it’s ours,” he said. “The Boston Marathon is almost bigger than itself in the emotion it elicits, and the respect that people have for it.” ___ Training for a marathon can be a solitary endeavor, but the event itself is a social distancing calamity. Participants crowd into corrals to wait for the start, then run in packs to minimize air resistance. Volunteers hand out water on the course and medals at the finish. Fans and family are waiting with high fives or hugs. At Wellesley College, where the cheering is so loud it is known as the Scream Tunnel, students traditionally wave signs encouraging the runners to stop for a kiss. It’s hard to imagine this custom — already a relic of another era — surviving post-pandemic. “A lot of the signs are jokes about kissing. That’s part of the tradition, too,” said Erin Kelly, a senior who returned home to San Diego when the campus closed. “The marathon is just a big part of Wellesley’s culture. I was looking forward to seeing it as a student one last time.” ___ Oncologist Amy Comander decided to run the Boston Marathon in 2013, when colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital treated many of those injured when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded at the finish line. “I just told myself: You’re running next year. And I did,” she said. And every year since. After starting work at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, right around the Mile 16 marker, Comander has used it as a base for her training runs. During the race itself, the sight of coworkers, friends and even patients out front cheering her on gives her a boost of energy right when she needs it: just before making the turn toward Heartbreak Hill. “I see it as a true privilege that I can go to work and I’m on the marathon course," Comander said. “You’re talking to someone who truly loves everything about the Boston Marathon." Comander is registered to run for her seventh year in a row, this time to raise money for cancer survivors and their families; she is still determined to do so in September. But on Monday, she will be caring for cancer patients, a task more stressful because of the danger the coronavirus poses to their weakened immune systems. “I will be a little sad,” said Comander, who plans to take a break from the clinic to get in an 8-mile run — but not on the course, per the request of authorities concerned about crowds. “I feel like I need to do that for myself.” ___ The daffodils are in bloom now from Hopkinton Green to Copley Square and all along the 26.2-mile route in between. Thousands of the bright yellow flowers were planted after the 2013 bombing as a symbol of rebirth and resilience, and they have the benefit of blossoming in mid-April — right around Patriots' Day — to cheer the runners along. Thousands more potted daffodils have decorated the course each year since the explosions at the finish line that killed three people and wounded more than 180 others. With the state holiday and the race postponed until the fall, the blooms will have long since withered. Instead, many of the flowers grown to decorate the course were placed outside of hospitals to thank health care staffers for working through the pandemic. Outside Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, just down the road from the 1 Mile To Go marker in Kenmore Square, the flowers were arranged in a heart. A sign encouraged workers to take a plant home. ___ Just a few steps from the finish line, the Marathon Sports shoe store on Boylston Street gets especially busy over the weekend leading up to the race, when tens of thousands of runners descend on the Back Bay. Things typically cool off on Monday, giving the staff a chance to pop out and cheer the finishers. "We don’t have any official party," said Dan Darcy, the chain’s marketing director. “It’s really just a celebration of the runners that day." Marathon participants are easily recognizable after the race: There is the medal around their neck, of course, and a mylar warming blanket draped around their shoulders if the weather is cold. Often their bib number is still pinned to their chest. “If we have any runners coming through our doors on Marathon Monday, I can tell you they’ll be recognized and they’ll hear the support from our staff,” Darcy said in a telephone interview from Fairbanks, Alaska, where he is working remotely. Marathon Sports has been a reluctant landmark since the first of the two bombs exploded outside its window at 2:49 p.m. on April 15, 2013. Darcy was watching the race from a different spot that day and tried unsuccessfully for hours to get in touch with his coworkers. A few were injured; others turned the store into a field hospital, treating the wounded until trained first responders could arrive. A memorial stands on the sidewalk outside to the three killed in the explosions and the two police officers who died in the ensuing manhunt, which shut down the city and surrounding area for much of the week. The store reopened about two weeks later. Now it’s closed again. “We are going to be encouraging runners to go out and get a run in on their own, keeping the social distancing, but not to run the race route itself,” Darcy said. “We’re not able to do any sort of celebration.” ___ Last month, as Americans began to isolate indoors and one sporting event after another was canceled, the Boston Athletic Association sacrificed its spring start in the hopes of keeping its 124-year tradition alive. Since the first edition in 1897, the race had always coincided with the state holiday of Patriots' Day that commemorates the first shots in the Revolutionary War. As the snow melts in New England, the course becomes increasingly populated with joggers emerging from a winter indoors to get in their training runs. To Kilduff, this year's fall race will be an opportunity to come out of a different kind of isolation. “You know what happened in the year after the bombing: There’s going to be this huge buildup of pent-up energy. And it’s going to be exhibited on the course,” he said. "It’s going to create a brand new chapter in the history of the Boston Marathon. "I’m excited as hell about this.” ___ Jimmy Golen has covered the Boston Marathon for The Associated Press since 1995......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2020

PGA Tour hopes to resume in June at Colonial with no fans

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The PGA Tour laid out an ambitious plan Thursday to resume its season the second week of June and keep fans away for at least a month, conceding that any return to golf depends on whether it can be played safely amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, was pushed back to June 11-14. Assuming golf gets the green light from government and health officials, the tour then would have an official tournament every week through Dec. 6 except for a Thanksgiving break. “Our hope is to play a role — responsibly — in the world’s return to enjoying the things we love,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “But as we’ve stressed on several occasions, we will resume competition only when ... it is considered safe to do so under the guidance of the leading public health authorities.” Golf is the first sport to announce plans for a restart, although its arenas are far different from other sports because it is played over some 400 acres. It was the second significant step to try to salvage the year, following last week’s announcement of three majors — including the Masters in November — going later in the year. Even as it announced a truncated schedule, several key details were still being contemplated, such as testing for COVID-19 at tournaments. “We have a level of confidence that is based upon ... changes and developments being made in the world of testing, available tests,” said Andy Pazder, the tour’s chief officer of tournaments and competition. “We’re following very closely, through the assistance of our expert medical advisers, the development of more large-scale testing capabilities. ... It gives us confidence that we will be able to develop a strong testing protocol that will mitigate risk as much as we possibly can.” The RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, previously canceled this week, was brought back to be played after Colonial on June 18-21. Those dates previously belonged to the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, which plans to move to September. That would be followed by the Travelers Championship in Connecticut and the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. The tour said its invitation-based tournaments — Colonial, Hilton Head and the Memorial — would have their fields expanded to 144 players. Memorial, with Jack Nicklaus as the host, takes the July 16-19 week that had belonged to the British Open before it was canceled. The World Golf Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, now has the dates (July 30-Aug. 2) when the Olympics were to be played. If all goes according to plan, the season would end on Sept. 7 at the Tour Championship with a FedEx Cup champion getting the $15 million bonus. That would be a 36-tournament schedule, down from 48 tournaments on the original schedule. Three more tournaments were canceled, one permanently. The Canadian Open, the third-oldest on the PGA Tour schedule, said it would not be played this year. Also canceled was the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky, typically held the same week as the British Open. The Greenbrier tournament in West Virginia was canceled for good. The tour had only 40 events in 2013, a short season to prepare for the start of its wraparound season that now begins in the fall. Even so, it could lead to a peculiar two seasons. The current season could have only one major championship; the PGA Championship is scheduled for Aug. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco. The following season could have two Masters, two U.S. Opens, the PGA Championship and the British Open. Other details the tour still has to sort out was who fell under the “essential” category that would be allowed at tournaments beyond players, caddies, scoring official, rules officials and support staff. Pazder said at least 25 players are outside the U.S., along with at least 35 caddies, all subject to international travel restrictions. “We are playing very close attention to if and when those restrictions are changed,” he said. Tyler Dennis, the tour’s chief of operations, said officials also were considering the movement of everyone who would be at a golf tournament. Social distancing in golf is not difficult; some people continue to play golf in states where courses remain open. Still to be determined is how to keep other areas, even the flag stick, sanitized......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 17th, 2020

British Open canceled, Masters to November in major rescheduling

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The Masters goes from that annual rite of spring to two weeks before Thanksgiving. The U.S. Open now is scheduled in September for the first time since amateur Francis Ouimet took down Britain’s best at Brookline in 1913 to put golf on the map in America. And the oldest championship of them all won’t even be played. Golf organizations tried to salvage a season unlike any other Monday with a series of changes, starting with the British Open being canceled for the first time since 1945. The PGA Championship, which last year moved to May, would go back to August. That would be followed by the PGA Tour’s postseason, the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup in consecutive weeks, and then the Masters on Nov. 12-15. “Any Masters is better than no Masters,” Augusta native Charles Howell III said. Still to be determined was when — or even if — golf could resume because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down sports worldwide. Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said the Masters identified November as “intended dates.” CEO Seth Waugh said the PGA of America was “holding” Aug. 6-9 as dates for the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco. USGA chief Mike Davis said moving from June to September was the best chance to mitigate health and safety concerns — Winged Foot is 5 miles from New Rochelle, New York, a virus hot spot — to have “the best opportunity” of staging the U.S. Open. The British Open effectively is pushing its schedule back one year, saying the 149th Open still is set for Royal St. George’s on July 15-18, leaving the 150th Open for St. Andrews the following year. “I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year, but it is not going to be possible,” R&A chief Martin Slumbers said. Golf’s major organizations, starting with the PGA Tour and its calendar filled with tournaments, have been trying to piece together a puzzle for the last three weeks. Each agreed to announce their plans together in a show of collaboration. Still missing is the starting line, along with some details on what could be the most hectic pace golf has ever known. “We hope the anticipation of staging the Masters Tournament in the fall brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and all those who love the sport,” Ridley said. “We want to emphasize that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials.” Augusta National closed early this year because of the coronavirus and does not open until October. The bloom of dogwoods and azaleas will give way to fall foliage. Instead of being the second full week in April, it will compete against football. “It feels like in these extraordinary times, we need to do extraordinary things,” said Kevin Kisner, who grew up 20 miles away in Aiken, South Carolina. “We can sacrifice a little bit of our life being perfect.” The PGA Tour has tentatively planned to complete its FedEx Cup season close to schedule, with the Tour Championship finishing on Labor Day. It is contemplating putting tournaments in dates that previously belonged to the U.S. Open, British Open and Olympics. “It’s a complex situation, and we want to balance the commitments to our various partners with playing opportunities for our members — while providing compelling competition to our fans,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “But all of that must be done while navigating the unprecedented global crisis that is impacting every single one of us.” The new schedule: — Aug. 6-9: PGA Championship. — Aug. 13-16: End of PGA Tour regular season at Wyndham Championship. — Aug. 20-23: Start of FedEx Cup playoffs at The Northern Trust. — Aug. 27-30: BMW Championship, second playoff event. — Sept. 4-7: Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup. — Sept. 17-20: U.S. Open at Winged Foot. — Sept. 25-27: Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. It was not immediately clear how the teams from Europe and the United States would be determined for the Ryder Cup, although European captain Padraig Harrington has said he would not be opposed to picking all 12 players. For the 24 players, that means going from what long has been regarded as the toughest test in golf to what has become the most tiresome three days in golf. “It’s definitely better than leaving the Tour Championship and going to France, or leaving the Bahamas to go to Australia,” said Patrick Cantlay, referring to the Americans' most recent Ryder and Presidents cup itineraries. Like everything else, so much remains up in the air until golf get the signal to resume. Gian Paolo Montali, the general director for the 2022 Ryder Cup, said on Italian radio Monday that officials faced a May deadline to postpone the Ryder Cup to odd-numbered years (as it was before the matches were postponed by the Sept. 11 attacks). He described the chances as 50-50. Montali also said players already have vetoed a Ryder Cup without its raucous fans. Other details must be sorted out, such as U.S. Open qualifying. The next tournament on the PGA Tour schedule is Colonial on May 21-24, though that appears unlikely. Ridley said every player who has received invitations to play the Masters in April will stay on the list. He said the Augusta National Women’s Amateur was canceled, and every player can keep their spots for next year provided they don’t turn pro. The U.S. Senior Open at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island and the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn Country Club in Connecticut have been canceled. As for the British Open, Shane Lowry gets to keep the claret jug longer than anyone since Dick Burton, who won in 1939 at St. Andrews in the last Open before World War II. Burton went from “champion golfer of the year” to member of the Royal Air Force. Lowry said in a video tweet he understood and supported the R&A’s decision. “You can trust me when I say the claret jug is going to be in safe hands for another year,” Lowry said. ___ AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Italy contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 7th, 2020

20 for 20: Pinoy Sports Personalities to Watch in 2020

As we enter a new decade, ABS-CBN Sports takes a look at 20 Pinoy sports personalities destined to shine in 2020.    Kiefer Ravena After an 18-month wait, Kiefer Ravena is finally back in basketball. Despite only playing in the PBA’s third conference, his impact was immediate, leading NLEX to the number 1 seed in the Governors’ Cup. The Road Warriors didn’t advance sure, but if Kiefer can impact a team that way in limited time, wait until you see what he can do with a full offseason.   Alex Eala At just 14 years old, Filipina tennister Alex Eala is already turning heads, and she’s yet to turn pro. With a runner-up finish at the ITF Mayor’s Cup in Osaka, Japan and her first ITF Juniors title in Cape Town, South Africa, Alex has had quite the fruitful year, leading to a career-best 11th-place ranking in the ITF Juniors table to finish the year.  Heading into 2020, Eala now has her sights set on turning pro as she plans to join more professional tournaments to raise her ranking even more. Expect the young tennis star to make even more headlines in the coming year.     Bryan Bagunas A vital cog in the national team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Bagunas is considered as one of the best Filipino volleyball players in this generation. Eyes will be on his blossoming international career playing as an import in the Japan V. Premier League.         Margielyn Didal While already a household name in Philippine skateboarding due to her success in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Margielyn Didal made even more waves in 2019. The 20-year old Cebuana reached the semifinals of the 2019 SLS World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and captured gold in the 2019 National Championships and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.  Didal is currently looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and if she can do so, it’s highly likely that the Pinay skater can become an even bigger star in the industry.    Marck Espejo After his spectacular collegiate career with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Marck Espejo's colorful career as part of the men's national volleyball team and in the club league continues to blossom. Just like Bryan Bagunas, Espejo will be showing his skills internationally with a stint in Thailand following a historic silver medal finish at the 30th SEA Games.   Yuka Saso After a decorated amateur career that saw her  participate in major tournaments such as the Ladies’ European Tour, the Summer Youth Olympics and claim top honors in the 2018 Asian Games, 2018 and 2019 Philippine Ladies Open, and the 2019 Girls’ Junior PGA Championship, 18-year old Pinay golfer Yuka Saso finally made the jump to pro in November of 2019.  With even more competitions in store plus a 2020 Tokyo Olympics berth in her crosshairs, it’s quite likely that we hear more about Saso in the coming months.  Carlos Yulo Perhaps no other young athlete in the Philippines shot to stardom faster than gymnastics phenomenon Carlos Edriel Yulo. After a gold medal finish in the floor exercise at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Yulo hauled in even more hardware in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, taking home two more gold medals and five silvers.  Yulo’s spectacular 2019 earned him a spot in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and if his SEA Games and World Championships performances are any indication, Caloy is bound for another podium finish on the biggest stage there is.   Eya Laure Last UAAP season’s rookie of the year will return as the heir apparent of Season 81 MVP Sisi Rondina. With her national team stint, all eyes will be on the younger Laure as she reunites with older sister EJ as they try to bring University of Sto. Tomas back in the Finals after falling short last year. Hidilyn Diaz 2019 was another big year for Olympic silver medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, highlighted by her first ever gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Diaz also finished with silver medals in the 2019 Asian Championships and a bronze in the 2019 World Championships.  All those podium finishes are crucial in Diaz’s quest for another Olympics berth in 2020. Should the 28-year lock up another spot in the Summer Games in Tokyo, we could see another Olympic medal coming home.    Kat Tolentino  After initially announcing that she would not come back for her final season in the UAAP, Kat Tolentino changed her decision and will suit up for the Ateneo Lady Eagles once last time, providing a great morale-booster in their bid for back-to-back titles. Tolentino’s leadership will be tested as she will be leading a young team.      Joshua Pacio 23-year old Joshua “The Passion” Pacio proved to be the brightest spot for Philippine MMA stable Team Lakay in 2019. After opening the year with a questionnable decision loss to Yosuke Saruta, Pacio silenced any doubts in the rematch and regained the ONE Strawweight World Championship with a highlight-reel headkick knockout. Pacio would follow that up with another masterful performance, this time with a second-round submission win over top contender Rene Catalan before the end of the year.  2020 is shaping up to become another banner year for the rising Pinoy star, as he’s scheduled for another title defense on January 31st in Manila, this time against former champ Alex Silva of Brazil. A win for Pacio will solidify his claim of being the best strawweight ever in ONE Championship history.     Louie Romero The Adamson University freshman displayed great potential during the pre-season when she piloted the Lady Falcons to title win in the PVL Season 3 Collegiate Conference. Romero is expected to be a gem of a setter for the young Adamson squad hoping make a return in the UAAP Final Four. Manny Pacquiao While eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao is certainly in the twilight of his professional boxing career, 2019 showed that he is still one of the best around. A successful title defense over Adrien Broner followed by an impressive dismantling of the previously-undefeated Keith Thurman to capture the WBA’s primary world title proved that even at 40, Manny Pacquiao is still a big name in the sport.  With Pacquiao targeting an early return in 2020, more big names are lined up to fight “the People’s Champ”, including names like Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and even a title-unification bout against Errol Spence. Still, the biggest fight that is out there proves to be a rematch against Floyd Mayweather Jr, granted that “Money” finally bites.    Faith Nisperos A key addition for the repeat-seeking Ateneo de Manila University. The highly-touted rookie hitter will add height and firepower for the Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball. In the previous PVL Collegiate Conference, Nisperos flashed her scoring prowess, exploding for 35 points in one outing.   Robert Bolick The two best rookies of 2019 were CJ Perez and Robert Bolick. We know what we can expect from CJ, but Bolick is an interesting case as 2020 will be his return from knee injury. Bolick could still win Rookie of the Year, but even if he doesn’t, his return to Northport could push the reloaded Batang Pier from a Cinderella team to full-on PBA title contender.   Joshua Retamar His playmaking skills as well as his efficiency on net defense during the national team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games makes him a setter to watch out for come UAAP. Retamar is an asset for National University’s three-peat bid.       Kai Sotto The Philippines' 7-foot-2, 17-year-old is opening eyes as he suits up for Atlanta-based The Skills Factory - so much so that he has already gotten interest from quite a few US NCAA schools. Before Sotto continues breaking the glass ceiling for Filipinos, though, he will go home for a while to wear the flag with Mighty Sports-Pilipinas in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament.   Jema Galanza Coming off a great outing to close the PVL Season 3 highlighted by copping the Open Conference MVP award, expectations are high for Jema Galanza as Creamline aims to reclaim the PVL Reinforced Conference crown and complete an Open Conference three-peat.      Kobe Paras Many questioned just what the 6-foot-6 tantalizing talent would bring to the table for UP - but more often than not, he had all the answers as he led the Fighting Maroons to their second straight Final Four. In the end, Paras was actually the steadying force State U needed in what was a hyped up season. They may not have made it back to the Finals, but they still got much more motivation as they run it back for next year.   Pat Aquino What's next for the most decorated mentor in women's basketball? Pat Aquino followed up a six-peat for National U with the Philippines' first-ever gold medal in women's basketball in the SEA Games. Without a doubt, he will only continue steering the sport forward especially as the likes of UST and FEU are already gearing up to put up greater challenges in the new year.   Isaac Go Isaac Go is technically not the no. 1 pick of the 2019 PBA Draft but he is without a doubt, the no. 1 prospect of the year. His top selection from the special Gilas Pilipinas Draft is proof of that. Gilas Pilipinas has the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on deck in 2020 and as a new era dawns on the national team, all eyes will be on the biggest piece for the future that’s already drafted into the new Philippine squad......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2020

New Stars and New Eras: A look back at MMA in 2019

2019 was once again a pretty eventful year in terms of mixed martial arts, especially on the local front. In 2019, we saw Pinoy stars rise and fall, and some have managed to rise again before the decade’s end. Before we look forward to 2020, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest storylines in the world of Filipino, Asian and international mixed martial arts.   Team Lakay’s Troubles 2019 kicked off with not one, not two, but five world champions from the famed Filipino MMA stable Team Lakay. Pinoy MMA icon Eduard Folayang was on his second run as the ONE Lightweight World Champion, Kevin Belingon was enjoying his status as the ONE Bantamweight World Champion, Geje Eustaquio reigned over the flyweight division as the ONE Flyweight World Champion, and rising star Joshua Pacio, the ONE Strawweight World Champion, was the team’s youngest titleholder. Outside ONE, Stephen Loman continued on his reign as the BRAVE CF Bantamweight World Champion. And then, the dominoes began to fall. Pacio was the first to drop his title, losing a close split decision to Japan’s Yosuke Saruta. Eustaquio followed suit, dropping a controversial decision to rival Adriano Moraes, and then Folayang and Belingon would also lose their titles in heartbreaking fashion at ONE: A New Era in Japan. It was, to say the least, a rough start to the year for the Benguet-based team, but they would manage to bounce back before the year was done, with Folayang and Eustaquio both claiming wins to end the year.   The Rise of "The Passion" 23-year old prodigy Joshua “The Passion” Pacio was the youngest member of Team Lakay to hold a title heading into 2019, and heading into 2020, he remains the lone member of  Team Lakay to hold a ONE world title. After losing to Yosuke Saruta in January, Pacio was granted an immediate rematch and made good on the second opportunity by blasting Saruta with a head kick to score the KO and reclaim the ONE Strawweight World Championship. Pacio would then take on the clear-cut number one contender in fellow Pinoy Rene “D’ Challenger” Catalan, and make quick work of him as well, scoring a second-round submission win to retain the title. Even before the end of the year, Pacio already has his next assignment, as he’s set to face former champion Alex Silva at ONE: Fire and Fury in Manila on January 31st. A win for Pacio cements his status as one of, if not, the best ONE strawweight ever. While Team Lakay’s 2019 was, for the most part, a struggle, Pacio was no doubt the Team’s brightest spot.   A New Era 2019 proved to be another milestone year for Asia-based martial arts promotion ONE Championship, as they were able to penetrate new markets in terms of live shows as well as broadcast deals. ONE began the year with a new partnership with Turner Broadcasting, which gave North American fans access to ONE’s brand of martial arts through B/R Live and TNT. In terms of live events, ONE was able to finally plant their flag in one of the biggest markets for MMA in the world, Japan. In March, ONE put on their first ever show in Japan, ONE: A New Era in Tokyo, which featured some of the promotion’s biggest names including  Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Shinya Aoki, Angela Lee, Aung La N Sang, Eduard Folayang, and many more. To celebrate their historic 100th event, ONE returned to Tokyo for ONE: Century, their biggest card ever, featuring seven world title bouts and the promotion’s biggest stars, and then some.   In 2020, ONE plans to break through to even more new markets, possible including a show in the United States.   The ‘Return’ of Jon Jones While Jon Jones officially reclaimed his spot at the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division in December of 2018, it was in 2019 that he returned to his dominant ways. After stopping Alexander Gustafsson in 2018 to reclaim the UFC Light Heavyweight crown, Jones handily defeated tough challengers in Anthony Smith and Thiago “Maretta” Santos to retain the titles. While the Smith and Santos bouts were lackluster in the eyes of many, it showed that even on his bad days, Jon Jones is better than most people on their best days.   “Rush” Retires Again While it was something that was expected, 37-year old Georges St-Pierre officially retired from MMA, again, in February. The former long-time welterweight king and pound-for-pound great made a triumphant return to the UFC in 2017, dethroning Michael Bisping to become the new UFC Middleweight Champion. GSP would never get to defend the title, as he would relinquish it not long after due to concerns with ulcerative colitis. While GSP has remained inactive since, the whispers of a super-fight with reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov remain present, and 2020 could possibly see that coming to fruition.   Grand Prix Greatness In 2019, ONE Championship introduced a new and exciting attraction, the ONE Lightweight and Flyweight World Grand Prix tournaments.  Eight of the best fighters from each division would battle it out in a tournament-style competition, and the winner would become the ONE World Grand Prix Champion and earn a title shot against the division's respective titleholder.  Making their debuts in the lightweight and flyweight tournaments were former UFC champs Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson respectively, and as it played out the two would have very different outcomes.  Alvarez saw himself get upset in the quarterfinals by Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin. The former UFC lightweight king would get another chance in the tournament after defeating Eduard Folayang in a last-minute semifinal matchup, but another injury would keep him out of the finale at ONE: Century in Tokyo. Reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee ended up stepping in on short notice to defeat tournament favorite Saygid Guseyn Arslanalieve and become a double-champion.  Johnson, meanwhile, breezed through his quarterfinals and semifinals bouts to set up a finale showdown with Filipino star Danny Kingad. In the Finale, Kingad fought valiantly but ultimately fell to Johnson via Unanimous Decision, setting up a must-see matchup between DJ and reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes in 2020.    Baddest Motherf**ker Jorge Masdival has long been a staple in the UFC’s lightweight ranks for years, but it wasn’t until 2019 that “Gamebred” made headlines. After a hiatus in 2018, Masvidal returned with a bang in 2019, knocking out former title challenger Darren Till, and then followed that up with a 5-second flying knee knockout over former ONE Welterweight king Ben Askren. The popularity and momentum that Masvidal had garnered was enough to bring a certain Stockton star out of retirement and that set up one of the most talked-about UFC title bouts in 2019: Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz for the title of Baddest Motherf**ker. Masvidal lived up to the name and pieced Diaz up with strikes in the early rounds, before eventually opening up a cut that was just too big for the fight to go on. Much to the dismay of Masvidal, Diaz, and the crowd in New York, the fight was stopped. Still, it was nothing short of a testament to just how dangerous the new and improved version of Jorge Masvidal is. Expect him to challenge for a title in 2020.   MMA stars shine in 2019 SEA Games A number of Pinoy mixed martial artists showcased their skills in different battlegrounds during the recently-concluded 2019 Southeast Asian Games, which was held in the Philippines. from November 30 to December 11. Reigning URCC champion Mark “Mugen” Striegl took home gold in Combat Sambo, while former ONE title challenger Rene Catalan settled for Silver after an injury dashed his dreams of getting gold. Another URCC veteran in Ariel Lee Lampacan also took home SEA Games gold, this time in the Muay Thai competition. ONE Super Series veteran Ryan Jakiri took home silver. The SEA Games kickboxing event saw three MMA stars from Team Lakay take home gold medals, as Gina Iniong, Jerry Olsim, and Jean Claude Saclag all reigned over their respective divisions. Iniong, of course, is a ONE Women’s Atomweight contender, while Olsim is a veteran of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series. Saclag, meanwhile, is one of Team Lakay’s representatives in the Japan-based promotion Shooto.       .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2019

PBA: Phoenix turns focus on Calvin and offseason after lost campaign

With a close decision against Alaska Wednesday in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup, Phoenix’s conference is officially lost. You can argue that Phoenix’s whole season was a lost one too. After taking the no. 1 seed in the All-Filipino, the Fuel Masters missed the playoffs in the next two conferences. An incredible amount of bad luck plagued the team, and as they move on to the next season, they hope thet can start fresh in the next Philippine Cup. “Super, super [disappointed]. Pero you have to think also na ang dami rin nangyari. Yung mga bagay na yun, di ko control eh. Nag-start sa second conference kay Rob Dozier. Galing kami sa number 1, talagang expectation ko nun nandoon pa rin kami sa upper bracket because yun ang kulang namin eh, rim protector. Eh na-injure,” head coach Louie Alas said. “Tapos si Calvin na-suspend. So mga bagay na di natin control, sana di na mangyari sa All-Filipino,” he added. Speaking of Calvin, Abueva will be the center of Phoenix’s offseason plans. After the Fuel Masters wrap their season up Friday, they will take a break before resuming off-court activities with Abueva at the lead as he continues to serve his indefinite suspension. “Out na kami, so siguro pagkatapos nitong game namin sa Friday, I’ll give them one week muna,” Alas said. "Then balik kami para sa mga outreach programs namin, especially kay Calvin,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 13th, 2019

Lowry, Holmes share Open lead as McIlroy leaves with cheers

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — Everyone in the massive grandstand rose to cheer and celebrate a bold performance by Rory McIlroy, who longed for such support and affection on his walk toward his final hole at Royal Portrush in the British Open. Except this was Friday. And now McIlroy can only watch on the weekend as one of his best friends, Shane Lowry of Ireland, goes after the claret jug. Lowry birdied four of his opening five holes on his way to a 4-under 67 and shared the 36-hole lead with J.B. Holmes, who had a 68. Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood were one shot behind. Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth were three back. That can wait. This day was all about McIlroy, who kept the sellout crowd on edge as he tried to make the cut after opening with a 79. The roars had the intensity of a final round as McIlroy ran off five birdies in seven holes to brighten a gloomy sky over the North Atlantic. Needing one last birdie, his approach took a wrong turn along the humps left of the 18th green. He made par for a 65. "It's a moment I envisaged for the last few years," McIlroy said. "It just happened two days early." He was disappointed. He was proud of his play. Mostly, though, he said he was "full of gratitude toward every single one of the people that followed me to the very end and was willing me on." "As much as I came here at the start of the week saying I wanted to do it for me, by the end of the round there today I was doing it just as much for them," he said. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson won't be around, either. It was the first time in 77 majors they have played as professionals that both missed the cut in the same major. Darren Clarke, who honed his game on the Dunluce Links as a junior and now calls Portrush home, missed the cut in a most cruel fashion with a triple bogey on his final hole. And now the first British Open in Northern Ireland since 1951 moves on without them, still with the promise of a great show. Lowry was so nervous he was shaking on the tee when the tournament began Thursday, swept up in the emotion of an Open on the Emerald Isle, and on a course he knows. He gave fans plenty to cheer when he opened his second round with three straight birdies, added a birdie on the fifth and holed a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 10 to reach 10 under, making him the only player this week to reach double figures under par. The cheers were as loud as he has heard. "Just incredible," Lowry said. "You can't but smile, but can't but laugh how it is. There's no point trying to shy away from it. It's an incredible feeling getting applauded on every green, every tee box. I'm out there giving my best, trying to do my best for everyone." He three-putted the 14th, saved par on the next three holes with his deft touch around the greens, and closed with a bogey to fall back into a tie with Holmes, who played earlier in the day and was the first to post at 8-under 134. Holmes won at Riviera earlier this year, and then failed to make the cut in eight of his next 12 tournaments as he battled a two-way miss off the tee and felt so bad that he never thought he'd recover. But he did enough in Detroit three weeks ago to regain some confidence, and he has been in a groove at Portrush. "You can have that great round and that day where everything goes right. But it's nice to get two rounds in a row," Holmes said. "It shows a little consistency. And two days in a row I've hit the ball really well and putted well." Fleetwood and Westwood, two Englishmen at different stages in their careers, each had a 67 and will play in the group ahead of Lowry and Holmes. Westwood is 46 and can make a case as the best active player without a major considering his status — a former No. 1 in the world and on the European Tour — and the number of near misses in the majors, such as Muirfield and Turnberry at the Open, Torrey Pines in the U.S. Open and Augusta National when Mickelson out played him in 2010. Is it too late? Westwood wasn't willing to look that far ahead. "There's too much ground to cover before Sunday night," Westwood said. "There's a long way to go in this tournament. I've never felt under that much pressure, to be honest. You lads write about it. I've always gone out and done my best. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen, and if it doesn't, it doesn't." The experience of winning majors was behind them. Justin Rose had a 67 and was two shots behind, along with Cameron Smith of Australia and Justin Harding of South Africa. Another shot back was a group that included Koepka, who has won three of the last six majors. He was in a tie for eighth, the 16th time in his last 17 rounds at the majors he has ended a round in the top 10. Koepka wasn't happy with much about his 2-under 69, calling it "a little bit disappointing," perhaps because he played in dry weather and only a mild wind. "But at the same time, I'm close enough where I play a good weekend, I'll be in good shape," he said. Spieth hasn't quite figured out how to get the ball in play more often — too many bunkers on Thursday, too much high grass on Friday. But that putter is not a problem, and it carried him to a collection of mid-range birdie and par putts for a 67. "I'm in contention. I feel good," Spieth said, winless since his Open title at Royal Birkdale two years ago. "I feel like if I can continue to improve each day, hit the ball better tomorrow than I did today, and better on Sunday than Saturday, then I should have a chance with how I feel on and around the greens." Graeme McDowell, born and raised in Portrush, played well enough to make the weekend. He finished with four straight pars for a 70 to make the cut on the number at 1-over 143, and felt the pressure of sticking around for the home crowd. Woods, meanwhile, began this major championship season as the Masters champion, ended it as a mystery. He missed the cut in two of the next three majors, and never seemed fully fit or engaged at the British Open. He was 3 under for his round through 11 holes with hopes of making it to the weekend, but he had no more birdies and finished with two bogeys for a 70 to miss by five shots. "I'm going to have my hot weeks. I'm going to be there in contention with a chance to win, and I will win tournaments," Woods said, facing the reality of a 43-year-old who has gone through eight surgeries on his knee and back. "But there are times when I'm just not going to be there.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2019

Algeria wins African Cup title, beats Mane s Senegal 1-0

By Gerald Imray, Associated Press CAIRO (AP) — Algeria won the African Cup of Nations for the first time in nearly three decades on Friday, beating Senegal 1-0 in the final with a deflected goal in the opening seconds by striker Baghdad Bounedjah. Bounedjah's shot on Algeria's first attack deflected off Senegal defender Salif Sane and looped over goalkeeper Alfred Gomis at Cairo International Stadium. The goal was timed at 79 seconds — the fastest in an African Cup final for at least 39 years — and delivered Algeria just a second African title and first since 1990. Algeria players sprinted the length of the field and jumped over advertising boards to celebrate with their fans at the final whistle. Some players climbed the fences, fists pumping as the raucous Algeria fans surged toward them. Algeria last made the final 29 years ago, when it won its sole title before Friday. "My people have waited a long time," said Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi, a former Algeria player. "I'm very happy even if it is difficult to express. I'm tired, it's true, and it is difficult to show my emotions but when I rest my happiness will appear." Senegal and Sadio Mane trudged off the field at the 75,000-seat Cairo International Stadium disappointed again. Mane, socks down round his ankles, managed to wave to a group of supporters who cheered for him as he left. Senegal has never won the African Cup and Senegal coach Aliou Cisse had another bitter pill to swallow after missing the penalty that cost Senegal the African Cup in a shootout in its only previous appearance in the final in 2002. "This is a different generation and Algeria won," Cisse said. "They seized an opportunity and they scored." Senegal's desperate disappointment was exacerbated when it was awarded a penalty in the second half and then had it taken away following a Video Assistant Referee review. Cameroonian ref Alioum Alioum penalized Algeria's Adlane Guedioura for handball but changed his decision after consulting VAR, which is being used at the African Cup for the first time. Still, Algeria was probably a fitting champion in Egypt having won every game, including a 1-0 win over Senegal in the group stage. Algeria was captained by Riyad Mahrez, who added an African Cup title to his English Premier League title with Manchester City. He lifted the trophy in front of the president of the African soccer confederation and FIFA president Gianni Infantino as fireworks and golden glitter exploded into the air behind him. Mahrez had limited first team action with City but he was an integral part of Algeria's victory at the African Cup. His injury-time free kick put Algeria into the final and he ended with three goals, the same number as Mane. Algeria had a dream start and Senegal a nightmare when Bounedjah took advantage of open space on the left in the opening moments, swept inside and hit a shot that deflected off Sane, who was returning from injury for the final. The ball looped, almost slow motion, over Gomis, who didn't move, apparently certain that it would go over the crossbar. Bounedjah's tournament ended in joy after he attracted attention for his emotional reaction to missing a penalty in the quarterfinals. Fearing he had cost his team, Bounedjah spent much of that match crying in the dugout after he was substituted. Algeria eventually won the quarterfinal in a shootout to keep its dream alive. Senegal was initially given its penalty in the final when Sarr sped down the right wing and sent a cross in that hit Guedioura on the right arm as he held it down next to his body. There didn't appear to be any deliberate move by Guedioura to play the ball and the VAR decision appeared correct. After pointing calmly to the spot, referee Alioum jogged to the sidelines to check the VAR replays. He overturned the decision and canceled the penalty. Making its debut at the African Cup, the VAR was also used in penalty decisions in both semifinals. Algeria protected its lead for much of the game, allowing Senegal to dominate possession and push forward. But Senegal couldn't find the final touch, with its worst miss in the second half when Sarr blasted a volley over the crossbar from in front of Algeria's goal. Algeria's celebrations at the end were boisterous, with thousands of supporters making the trip across to Egypt for the final. They took up almost half of one side of the stadium and were kept in check by rows of yellow-vested security personnel who stood facing them near the field. During the celebrations, the Algeria squad and coach Belmadi kneeled down and prayed as they faced the supporters. Belmadi, who took over as coach less than a year ago, will return home a national hero......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2019

Strong finish not enough for Woods at US Open

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The crowd was roaring, the birdies were dropping and Tiger Woods looked like his vintage self for the final 12 holes of the U.S. Open. The problem for Woods was what happened on the first 60 holes. Woods salvaged an otherwise disappointing weekend at Pebble Beach by birdieing six of his final 12 holes Sunday to finish the tournament at 2-under par, far behind the top contenders on a weekend made for low scores. Woods finally got in on the action after bogeys on four of the first six holes with an impressive turnaround that even he couldn't explain. "I wish I would have known because I would have turned it around a little earlier than that, he said. "Again, got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off. Turned back around and got it to under par for the week which is — normally it's a good thing, but this week the guys are definitely taking to it." The problem for Woods all weekend was his inability to take advantage of the scoring opportunities on the first seven holes at Pebble Beach. He played that stretch at 2-over par for the tournament and 4 over in the final two rounds. Woods left his approach shots short on three of the early bogeys on Sunday and hit a tee shot into the rough at the par-3 fifth hole on the other. As he walked off the sixth green after his fourth bogey, Woods trudged toward the seventh tee, head down, seemingly defeated. But then he made a 15-footer for birdie at 7, hit an approach to 5 feet on 8 for another birdie and drained a 40-foot putt on 13, prompting a fan to yell, "The comeback has started!" While that might have been a bit of hyperbole, Woods hit another great approach shot on 16 to get back under par for the tournament and closed it out with another on 18 to the delight of the fans. "Just because I got off to a bad start doesn't mean it's over," he said. "Keep grinding, keep playing. And I was able to turn my round around today as well as yesterday. So rounds that could have easily slipped away and kind of gone the other way pretty easily I was able it to turnaround." The final round of 69 tied for Woods' second-best closing round ever at a U.S. Open, behind only the 67 at Pebble Beach in 2000 when he had a record-setting 15-stroke win. Now after starting the year by winning his first major since 2008 at the Masters, Woods has missed the cut at the PGA Championship last month and finished far out of the lead at the U.S. Open. He plans to take a few weeks off from competition before gearing up for a run at his 16th career major next month at the British Open, played on an unfamiliar course to him at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. "I'm looking forward to getting up there and taking a look at the golf course and trying to figure out," Woods said. "I hope that my practice rounds are such that we get different winds, especially on a golf course that I've never played, and to get a different feel how it could play for the week. And definitely have to do my homework once I get there.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

The ten most intriguing NBA free agents for 2019

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com We knew that the postseason would affect free agency. But the idea was that the success or failure of certain teams would affect what their free agents' thoughts about staying or leaving. Unfortunately, the last two games of The Finals brought devastating injuries to two of the three most coveted free agents on the market. Kevin Durant, arguably the best player in the world, tore his Achilles in Game 5, just 12 minutes into his return from a calf injury. And Klay Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6. The two injuries will certainly have repercussions beyond the two players and the Golden State Warriors. Maybe they already have. With the Western Conference seemingly wide open next season, the Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly made a deal for Anthony Davis, sending a bevy of young players and future picks to New Orleans so they can team the 26-year-old star with 34-year-old LeBron James ... and maybe another star added in free agency. As always, the free agent market and the trade market are tied together. The pending Davis trade could affect the decisions of players and teams come July 1. And if teams miss out on the free agents they're seeking, they could always fill their cap space by making a trade. With all that in mind, the players listed below aren't necessarily the 10 best free agents (or potential free agents). They're the 10 (actually 12) most interesting in regard to where they're going and what kind of contract they get. For players to be on this list, there needs to be some intrigue regarding their (and/or their team's) decision this summer. That's why Thompson isn't included. 1. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto (Player option) Whether he leaves or not, trading for Leonard last summer was well worth it for the Raptors, who won their first championship, with Leonard averaging 30.5 points per game in the postseason. The Raptors' "load management" program (which limited Leonard to just 60 games in the regular season) clearly worked, and director of sports science Alex McKechnie should be seen as a major asset in the quest to keep Leonard in Toronto. There should be a "run-it-back" sentiment for the new champs, with Danny Green also a free agent and Marc Gasol holding a player option this summer. A short-term deal would make sense, unless Leonard is looking for long-term security, having missed almost all of the 2017-18 season with a leg injury. It's all up to Leonard, maybe the toughest player in the league to read. If he takes his two-way talent elsewhere, the Raptors may have to go in a new direction. Number to know: In the postseason, Leonard had a true shooting percentage of 69.1 percent, the highest mark for a player that averaged at least 30 points per game in the playoffs and won the championship. 2. Kevin Durant, Golden State (Player option) Durant's torn Achilles probably won't scare any team, including the Warriors, from paying him as much as possible. As deep and talented as this free agent class is, the top two guys on this list are in a class by themselves. Rumors have long had Durant ready to leave Golden State and even with his injury, he seems more likely than Thompson to find a new home. But an ESPN report had Thompson's father talking about "unfinished business" after overhearing a conversation between the two injured Warriors. Durant could always put free agency off for a year by exercising his player option and remaining on the Warriors' payroll through his rehab. Number to know: Durant was the first player in NBA history to average 30 points per game in at least 10 playoff games while shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line. 3. Kyrie Irving, Boston The disappointment of the Celtics' season, along with Irving's questionable leadership with a group that underachieved, has taken some of the shine off his star. Irving's injury history also must be taken into consideration. But talent is the most important thing in this league and Irving is one of its most talented players. He's still just 27-years-old and he can still get buckets when buckets are needed. A return to Boston appears far less likely than it did six months ago (especially with Davis being traded elsewhere) and there have been a lot of signals that Irving is bound for Brooklyn. Number to know: In the regular season, Irving had an effective field goal percentage of 56.1 percent with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, the second-best mark among player with at least 50 clutch field goal attempts. 4. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, Philadelphia The Sixers lost to the eventual NBA champions on a Game 7 buzzer-beater that bounced on the rim four times before falling through. They're right there. But their starting lineup, which outscored its opponents by more than 21 points per 100 possessions in 334 total minutes (regular season and playoffs), includes three free agents. In regard to future assets, the Sixers didn't give up as much for Butler as they did for Harris. And of course, Butler has more baggage in regard to accepting his role. But, with his defense and his ability to get his own shot, he's is the most important of the three. Harris struggled a bit in the conference semifinals against Toronto and is the least important of the Sixers' three free-agent starters; J.J. Redick's shooting was clearly more critical in the postseason. But Harris isn't easily replaceable and he appears to be the most likely to leave, with a lot of teams looking for versatile forwards. Number to know: In the regular season, Harris shot 41.3 percent on pull-up three-pointers, the second-best mark among 69 players who attempted at least 100. 5. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Walker has expressed some level of loyalty to the Hornets. But immediately after the Davis trade was agreed to, there was a report that Walker would be a "top target" of the Lakers with their cap space. Walker would be an ideal offensive complement to James and Davis, in that he can play off the ball (though he shot less than 35 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers last season) and take some of the playmaking burden off of James' shoulders. The Hornets, meanwhile, would likely have a tough time upgrading their roster around Walker, with Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller all under contract next season for a total of $85 million. Number to know: Walker led the league with 126 field goal attempts with the score within five points in the last five minutes. That was 43 percent of the Hornets' total (295). His effective field goal percentage on those shots (49.6 percent) ranked 15th among 45 players with at least 50 clutch field goal attempts. 6. D'Angelo Russell, Brooklyn (Restricted) A finalist for the Most Improved award, Russell took a big step forward this season, both in regard to his production and his maturity. He earned himself an All-Star appearance and helped the Nets reach the playoffs with a 14-win increase from last season. He's only 23-years-old and is one of the league's most flammable shooters. But because he doesn't get to the basket or the free throw line very often, Russell is neither all that efficient (his true shooting percentage of 53.3 percent ranked 66th among 94 guards with at least 500 field goal attempts) nor consistent, and he struggled (shooting 36 percent) in Brooklyn's first-round loss to Philadelphia. If the Nets are targeting another ball-handler in free agency (with Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie already under contract), they'll probably let Russell head elsewhere. Number to know: In the regular season, Russell ranked second with 11.4 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions per game. He scored 0.89 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, the 26th best mark among 44 players that averaged at least five ball-handler possessions. 7. DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney, Golden State Cousins hadn't made it back to 100 percent from his Achilles tear before he suffered a torn quad in his second career playoff game. He made it back for The Finals from that injury and showed flashes of his old self with 14 important points in the Warriors' Game 5 win and a big bucket in the final minute of Game 6. But he also struggled on both ends of the floor at times, and the Warriors were outscored with him on the floor in seven of his eight playoff games. Now he goes back on the free agent market with teams still not sure of what they're getting. Looney is an unrestricted free agent at 23-years-old, and he was the Warriors' most important center this season. The Western Conference champs have Looney's Bird rights, but they could also be spending a lot of money to retain Durant and Thompson (and possibly extend Draymond Green). Another team might have a larger role and more money for an improving young big. Number to know: In the regular season, the Warriors' lineup of Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Looney scored 121.5 points per 100 possessions and outscored opponents by 18.7 per 100. Those were the best marks for points scored and point differential per 100 possessions among 40 league-wide lineups that played at least 200 minutes together. 8. Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee (Restricted) The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the league through the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals. But, with four of their top eight players being free agents (or potential free agents) this summer, they have a lot of work to do if they want to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo surrounded by players who can get it done on both ends of the floor. Brogdon, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez are the three key pieces. They're all due a pay raise and they all belong on this list. Brogdon is the restricted free agent, but he's also the youngest of the three (he'll be 27 in December) and the one that could be projected into a larger role on another team. Number to know: Brogdon shot 47.5 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, the third-best mark among 223 players who attempted at least 100. 9. Julius Randle, New Orleans (Player option) After five years in the league, Randle is still just 24-years-old. So he's not necessarily a bad fit for David Griffin's plans for the future in New Orleans. But the Pelicans might not be ready to commit the money Randle is seeking (should he opt out of the final year of his contract) after averaging a career-high 21.4 points per game. Defense remains an issue, but Randle has expanded his offensive skill set; he was a respectable 34.4 percent from three-point range this season, taking 18 percent of his shots from beyond the arc (up from six percent over his three previous full seasons). Number to know: Randle averaged 13.2 points in the paint per game, seventh most in the league, and he made more three-pointers (67) than all but one of the six players in front of him. 10. Ricky Rubio, Utah According to Rubio himself, he's not Utah's top priority in free agency. He remains a good defender and one of the league's best passers, but the Jazz need to get more potent offensively if they're going to take the next step. At 31.1 percent, Rubio ranked 153rd in three-point percentage among 163 players with at least 200 attempts. There could be as many as 10 teams (not including the Jazz) in need of a starting point guard this summer, and Rubio could have more value on a team more in need of a distributor. Number to know: The Jazz were 5.8 points per 100 possessions better offensively with both Rubio and Donovan Mitchell on the floor (scoring 110.4 per 100) than they were with Mitchell on the floor without Rubio (104.6). John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Woods closer to Snead than Nicklaus at Memorial

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Winning the Masters gave Tiger Woods his 15th major and allowed him to resume the pursuit of Jack Nicklaus and his 18 majors. It moved him even closer to another record that Rory McIlroy believes should get more attention. Woods now is at 81 career victories on the PGA Tour, one short of the official record — as official as the tour can determine — that Sam Snead set from 1936 to 1965. "Especially this day and age, I think it's more impressive than his major tally," McIlroy said Wednesday ahead of the Memorial. "Eighty-two wins ... if you're around for 20 years, that's four a year, every year. It's very, very impressive. I think if you're winning multiple times a year, you're doing pretty well. So to have the average that he's had — eight-win seasons, nine-win seasons — if he does pass that record of Snead's ... it's almost more impressive than the 15." Woods is a five-time winner at the Memorial, and the most recent victory at Muirfield Village (2012) was significant because it was his 73rd title on the PGA Tour, which tied him with Nicklaus for second on the career list. What to expect from him this year remains a mystery. He looked like the Woods of old when he won at Augusta National by hitting all the right shots and letting everyone around him make the mistakes. A month later, without having played since the Masters, he missed the cut at Bethpage Black in the PGA Championship. Woods attributed his lack of play to the emotional toll of winning the Masters — it had been 11 years since his last major — and to being sick during the three days of practice rounds at Bethpage Black, which limited him to nine holes. He rarely misses the Memorial except for injury or the death of his father in 2006, and Woods wants to start getting his game in gear with the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach just two weeks away. He played the pro-am Wednesday with retired NFL great Peyton Manning, who knows about returning from injury to win the big one. "I think the most impressive thing is how he's been able to adjust and be adapted to playing in a new physical state," said Manning, who returned from a neck injury to win a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos. "That's kind of what I did. To use a baseball analogy, I couldn't throw the 100 mph fastball anymore, but you could still work the outside edges of the plate. You could still strike a guy out that way. He struck a lot of guys out. He came home with the win." The fastball in golf is power, and that never hurts around Muirfield Village, especially in a week when the course is expected to be softened by storms. Woods said he feels refreshed after the PGA Championship and now needs to get in competitive rounds in his final start before the U.S. Open. He was at Pebble Beach last week for a day of practice in damp conditions, having not seen the course since 2012 in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he closed with a 75 to tie for 15th. As for 82 victories? Woods had had 10 seasons of five victories or more — only Vijay Singh and Nick Price have had more than five wins in any season over the last 25 years. Woods had 79 victories in 18 years and then was slowed by back surgeries to the point where he nearly didn't return at all. "To get into those numbers, it takes longevity and hot years," Woods said. "I think you need multiple winning seasons. You need to do that for decades. That's something I'm proud of. That's not something that happens overnight. To be able to come this close to get to one behind Sam Snead has been pretty amazing." Snead compiled his victories before the modern PGA Tour began in 1970, when the schedule was unwieldy and there was not always agreement on what should constitute an official victory. His tally includes five team events, an 18-hole event and one year at Pebble Beach when it was a four-way tie with no playoff. Snead long believed his total should have been 89 before the PGA Tour took some away during a research project by a nine-person panel. Whatever the case, the PGA Tour lists the record at 82. Woods is at 81. "I don't know how you add up tournaments anymore," Nicklaus said. "No one in the world could know how many tournaments Sam Snead won. ... Tiger is the winningest, probably, player there ever was. And he's probably won a higher percentage of tournaments than anybody that ever played. Of course, I've always measure my life differently. I never measured it on tour wins. I measured it on major wins." That's the number that hasn't changed since Nicklaus won his 18th professional major at the Masters in 1986. "They're the only ones you can compare back and forth, I think," Nicklaus said. "Would 82 be a major achievement? Absolutely. But you ask Tiger which he would rather win, 82 or 18, I think you might get a different answer.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2019

Trail Blazers cohesiveness helped them to conference finals

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers faced a number of challenges on the journey to their first Western Conference finals in 19 years. But there was one they couldn’t overcome: The Golden State Warriors. Portland’s run in the playoffs, which captured fans’ imaginations after Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to clinch the opening-round series over the Thunder, ended with a sweep by the defending champions. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “We put together a great season and we put ourselves in position to go to the Finals,” Lillard said. “I think every other team in the league would wish they could be in our shoes; not only making the playoffs but playing for an opportunity to get a chance to go to the Finals. We just ran up on a team who has been there the last four years.” Portland was coming off two straight seasons that ended with first-round playoff sweeps. The team, which had surprisingly little turnover over those years, came into the season unified and determined to take the next step. But before the first game was played, the Blazers were hit by the death of owner Paul Allen after a battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The co-founder of Microsoft was a hands-on owner and a familiar face at the Moda Center, and Portland dedicated its season to him. Injuries would challenge the Blazers down the stretch. Lillard’s backcourt partner CJ McCollum missed 10 games with a knee injury. But it was center Jusuf Nurkic’s injury that caused the most concern going into the playoffs. Portland’s seven-foot big man broke his left leg after crashing awkwardly in an overtime victory at home over the Brooklyn Nets on March 25 (Mar. 26, PHL time). Nurkic was averaging 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds a game and many considered Portland’s playoff prospects dim without him. Fortunately, the Blazers were able to turn to Enes Kanter, who was waived by the New York Knicks following the trade deadline and signed by Portland for the rest of the season. Kanter averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 23 regular-season games with the Blazers, including eight starts. Portland finished 53-29 and clinched the third seed in the Western Conference, earning home court for the first round — and a series with the Thunder. The Blazers wrapped that series up in five games — capped by Lillard’s walkoff three-pointer. But even in the playoffs the Blazers couldn’t escape misfortune. Kanter separated his left shoulder in the final game against Oklahoma City. He was questionable for the conference semifinals against Denver but played, although he often winced in pain. Jonathan Yim, Portland’s video coordinator and player development coach, was in a serious car accident before the series with the Nuggets. The Blazers coaching staff wore bow ties in his honor in Game 2. That series went to seven games, with the Blazers sealing their date with Golden State on Denver’s home court. The Warriors were simply too much for the Blazers, climbing back from double-digit deficits in each of the final three games. Lillard played with separated ribs in the final two. The team’s on-court leader, Lillard averaged 25.8 points and 6.9 assists and earned his fourth All-Star nod during the regular season. He averaged 33 points in the opening round against the Thunder, but his production fell against Denver and Golden State when he was double-teamed. Lillard said the past few seasons of relative stability — after four of Portland’s five starters moved on to other teams in 2015 — have bonded the team. “Each year we’ve come back with the right attitude,” Lillard said Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “We’ve been able to stick together through a lot of adversity and I think just what we’ve hung our hats on, what we’ve believed in, our culture, the togetherness, we’ve been able to truly build on that. And I think we should be encouraged.” Lillard could be in line for a hefty raise in the offseason. If he is named to one of the postseason’s All-NBA teams, he’ll qualify for a supermax contract extension worth $191 million. Lillard has two years remaining on his current contract. Asked about the prospects of a big extension, Lillard laughed and said: “I don’t understand why that’s even a question.” Coach Terry Stotts already benefited from the team’s run in the playoffs, signing a multi-year contract with the team that was announced at exit interviews. Terms of the deal were not released. “The guys in the locker room are special, it’s been a special season,” Stotts said. “Always tough to lose the last game of the year, but I couldn’t be more proud of the group that we’ve had.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

Mid-major to millions: Ja Morant’s life is changing quickly

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — Here’s how much everything has changed for Ja Morant in the last 12 months: He’s gone from being considered the No. 3 option at Murray State to the possible No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. Put another way, he’s a player from a mid-major and will soon be a multimillionaire. Even Morant doesn’t fully understand how quickly it has all come to fruition. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “It’s been crazy, honestly,” Morant said. “Coming from being under the radar to one of the most talked-about players now, obviously, it’s been rough. It’s something I’m getting used to. But I’m happy for it.” Morant made his appearance at the NBA’s draft combine Thursday (Friday, PHL time); he wasn’t playing, but has talked with a handful of teams since he arrived in Chicago. With Zion Williamson seeming very much like a lock to go No. 1 overall, a pick held by the New Orleans Pelicans, that would seem to point to Morant going No. 2 to the Memphis Grizzlies. Morant has met with the Grizzlies. If they’ve decided he’s their guy, they haven’t told him yet. “I haven’t heard it myself from Memphis,” Morant said. “But obviously, I’ve seen what was on the internet. I’d really be happy with any team that drafts me. It means they see something in me. It’s just an honor to play this game at the highest level and just to be in the position that I’m in right now.” Williamson is not attending the combine; he met with teams earlier this week and left Chicago before the combine technically started. The NBA invited 77 players to the combine. Of those, 41 are listed on rosters to compete in games through Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Others will go through various testing and have their measurements such as height, weight and wingspan recorded — but won’t be playing any 5-on-5. Morant is hardly alone in that regard; most of the top players who were invited are doing the same thing, including Texas Tech guard and presumed early lottery pick Jarrett Culver. “There are a lot of talented guys here,” Culver said. “To be talked about as one of the top players in this draft, it’s just an honor.” They’re already selling tickets at Murray State for a draft party to watch Morant, so Racers fans can cheer him at least one more time. He helped them to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference championships and a 54-11 record over the last two seasons. He averaged 12.7 points as a freshman, then 24.5 points and 10 assists while shooting 50 percent as a sophomore. His stock soared, and he’s about to go places he’s never been. Morant said he’s never played in an NBA arena and doesn’t know much about most NBA cities. All he really knew about Chicago before arriving this week was Michael Jordan and the Bulls. He played in Detroit as a freshman — not in the Pistons’ building, but rather at Detroit Mercy, before a crowd of 1,107. “Ja Morant, everybody knows about him,” Grizzlies director of player support Elliot Perry said at the draft lottery earlier this week, when Memphis bucked the odds and jumped up to the No. 2 pick. “He was a super-explosive young man, very exciting. I think he has a lot of confidence in himself and his abilities. He’s one of those guys who will be good.” Good, probably. Boastful, probably not. Morant isn’t the type to proclaim himself the best player in the draft, or even the second-best for that matter. He’s a kid from the small town of Dalzell, South Carolina, from a mid-major school like Murray State, who hasn’t even started to fathom that he’s likely a few weeks away from a contract that will pay him somewhere around $8 million next season. “I’m just a pass-first point guard who just loves to get his teammates involved,” Morant said. “I feel like my IQ is the strongest part of my game, being able to make plays for me and my teammates.” Regardless of where he goes, this experience has been a long time coming for his family. Tee Morant, Ja’s father, was a high school teammate of Ray Allen’s and a good college player who had an opportunity to play professionally overseas. When he found out that his wife was pregnant, he scrapped those playing-abroad plans and stayed home. Ja was born, and he had a coach even before knowing what basketball was. Morant doesn’t have NBA players that he idolizes. He just tries to play in his dad’s image. “That’s my motivation,” Morant said. “It’s like I’m living my dream and his dream through me right now.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 16th, 2019