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Olympic medallist Sindhu makes 2nd round

Bangkok---India’s PV Sindhu cruised into the second round of the Thailand Open on Tuesday to erase the memory of her surprise first round exit a week earlier.....»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardJan 19th, 2021

Marin makes fast start at Thailand Open

Bangkok---Spain’s Carolina Marin sailed through the Thailand Open badminton first round on Tuesday as she made a fast start to her season, six months before her Olympic title defence......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 13th, 2021

It’s D-Day for Eumir

Tokyo Olympic middleweight boxing qualifier Eumir Marcial of Zamboanga City makes his pro debut against unheralded Andrew Whitfield, a paper mill worker on a 12-hour shift in Lewiston, Idaho, in a scheduled four-round bout at the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles this morning (Manila time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 16th, 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

USA opens basketball World Cup quest, undaunted by doubters

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press SHANGHAI (AP) — Kemba Walker sees an irony in the notion that USA Basketball is vulnerable going into the World Cup. It might be new for the U.S. program. It isn’t that new for these U.S. players. The 12-man squad that makes its World Cup debut Sunday isn’t overpowering on paper. There’s a couple second-round picks in Joe Harris and Khris Middleton, a guard in Derrick White who had zero scholarship offers out of high school, and many who made the team weren’t prominent — or in many cases, even included — on USA Basketball’s wish list of players when the roster-building process started last year. Walker tried to say none of that matters. And then he explained why it probably should matter. “I think a lot of us have grown up with doubt coming into our careers,” Walker said. “It’s nothing new to us. That’s unnecessary at this point. Nobody really cares what people think. At the end of the day, we want to win. We have one goal: We want to win the gold medal. And we want to be here.” The quest begins for the U.S. with its group-play opener against the Czech Republic. If they make the medal round the Americans — looking for an unprecedented third consecutive men’s World Cup title — will play eight games in four cities over the next 15 days. The U.S. went 3-1 in its warmups for the World Cup, beating Spain by nine, Australia by 16 and Canada by 16. The Americans also lost to the Australians by four in Melbourne, the outcome in that stretch that obviously got the most attention and the first loss for a U.S. roster stocked with NBA players since Sept. 1, 2006. The loss doesn’t mean anything in terms of World Cup standings. But it was a very big wake-up call. “This is do-or-die now,” Harris said. “There is no more exhibitions, no more mulligans at it. We’ve talked about how important every single possession is in the FIBA game. You have 40 minutes of can’t turn the ball over, can’t make mental mistakes. Now it is 40 minutes of being locked in ... and we have enough depth on this team, on the roster, to play maximum effort whenever you’re on the court.” The FIBA world rankings still list the Americans as the No. 1 team in the world, by a fairly significant margin. But FIBA has also published an unofficial World Cup “power ranking” in recent weeks, one that has Serbia — which has made little secret of its belief that it can win the tourney — listed ahead of the U.S. going into the tournament. It apparently hasn’t been bulletin-board material for the Americans. “I don’t think about things like that,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. “I didn’t know that, but it doesn’t really mean much.” For the record, the Serbians still want the U.S. considered the favorite. “I’m not thinking about the USA team,” Serbia coach Sasha Djordjevic said. “I do respect them. I do think they’re the biggest favorite. Nevertheless, they don’t have some of their players but they still have a great, great team with great players and a great coach.” The last World Cup was in 2014, when the Americans outscored opponents by 116 points in four warm-up games — as opposed to the 37-point margin in this year’s four friendlies. The closest game the U.S. played in that World Cup was 21 points, and the Americans beat Serbia by 37 in the gold medal game. There was no doubt from the outside five years ago. “The outside might have not given that to us in ’14, but I think as a competitor you always have a realistic respect for your opponent and you know that in a one-and-done tournament anything can happen,” said Mason Plumlee, the only returnee from that 2014 World Cup-winning squad. “So I felt that in ’14, I feel that now and that’s just what competition is.” The 2016 Olympics was the last competition for the national team, though there was some doubt at times in that run to gold in Rio de Janeiro. Half of the eight U.S. games in the Olympics were decided by 10 points or less. The U.S. won them all, including a pair of three-point decisions — one of them against Serbia. The Americans saw Serbia again in the gold-medal game and it was a rout, the U.S. winning by 30. “We obviously hear the noise,” said Harrison Barnes, the only member of that Olympic team who is on this World Cup roster. “But at the end of the day, we’re the ones that’s putting in the time, we’re the ones that have to live with the results and we’re the ones who have to come together as a team. I think that’s what’s most important.” Walker said the easiest way to silence doubters is simple — to win. “We’re the ones who took on this opportunity to play for our country and represent our country,” Walker said. “So who cares about the outside noise at this point?”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 1st, 2019

Eala makes quarterfinals of W15 Manacor 3rd leg

Alex Eala matched the intensity of German top seed Silvia Ambrosio to pull off a  7-6 (7-3), 1-6, 6-3, yesterday in the third round of the third and final leg of the International Tennis Federation’s W15 Manacor, in Mallorca, Spain......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2021

Six karatekas seek Tokyo slots

Six kumite specialists, three men and three women, will attempt to represent the Philippines when karate makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo this year but it won’t be an easy mission as they’ll go through the World Qualifiers in Paris on June 11-13 with the door shut to book tickets via the ranking route......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 17th, 2021

Tokyo Olympic karate gold hope Kiyuna contracts COVID

World champion Ryo Kiyuna, one of the favourites to win men's kata gold when karate makes its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games, has COVID-19, the Japan Karatedo Federation said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsDec 20th, 2020

Marcial pitches shutout in debut

Olympic middleweight qualifier Eumir Marcial outlanded tough Andrew Whitfield by a rate of three punches to one and left the Idaho brawler with his right eye swelled to a slit in pounding out a unanimous four-round decision to mark his pro debut at the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles yesterday morning (Manila time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 17th, 2020

Marcial dedicating pro debut to birthday celebrant ‘Sir Manny Pacquiao’

          Tokyo Games-bound Eumir Felix Marcial will have two missions when he makes his highly-anticipated ring return Thursday (Manila time) at the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles, California. First, he wants to create an impression in his pro debut when he battles American Andrew Whitfield in a four-round battle. Second, […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsDec 16th, 2020

Pagdanganan makes LPGA cut for 7th time

After fumbling with an opening round three-over 73 at the short but challenging Pelican Golf Club layout, Pagdanganan reeled farther back with a bogey on No. 1 but recovered with back-to-back birdies on the next. She dropped another stroke on the eighth but struck back with another pair of birdies from No. 13 before yielding another shot on No. 16......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 21st, 2020

Zamboanga City leads cast in second leg of Chooks 3×3

Alvin Pasaol and the rest of the Zamboanga City-Family’s Brand Sardines squad are out to prove their first leg triumph is no fluke. (Photo from Chooks 3×3) Zamboanga City-Family’s Brand Sardines is out to continue its dominance while Nueva Ecija won’t be having Juan Gomez de Liano on Friday in the second leg of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna. The team of Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, Troy Rike and Santi Santillan is aiming to repeat its conquest of the inaugural leg two days ago, first by hurdling the two preliminary round matches which starts at 1 p.m. Munzon, Pasaol, Rike and Santillan, who beat Butuan City, 21-19, for the first leg crown to assert their status as favorites, are going to face Pasig-Sta. Lucia and Petro Cement-Roxas in Pool B. Nueva Ecija will miss Gomez de Liano, one of the country’s top amateur cagers, after spraining his ankle during Wednesday’s first leg that saw the Rice Vanguards reach the semifinals of the TM-backed competition. Without Gomez de Liano, Gab Banal, Jai Reyes, Tonino Gonzaga and Maclyn Sabellina will have to work doubly hard in order to equal its first leg showing. Nueva Ecija is in Pool A together with Palayan City and Sarangani. Butuan, powered by Franky Johnson, is in Pool C with Bicol-Paxful 3×3 Pro and Zamboanga Peninsula MLV while Porac-Big Boss Cement, Bacolod City-Master Sardines and Pagadian Rocky Sports are in Pool D. Like in the first leg, the top two teams per pool advance to the knockout quarterfinals, with the champion receiving P100,000. An additional P100,000 will be given to the team that beats Zamboanga City in the finals as a way to toughen Munzon, Pasaol, Rike and Santillan as part of preparations for next year’s FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Games will be aired on BEAM TV channel 31 and streamed on the Facebook page of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas and the YouTube channel of FIBA 3×3......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 22nd, 2020

Bianca Pagdanganan makes Olympic case

Bianca Pagdanganan's impressive joint ninth place finish in her first Major test didn't only enable her to post the biggest one-week jump in women's world golf rankings but also put her in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics conversation......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 20th, 2020

Ardina safely makes cut with even 71

Dottie Ardina hardly checked a wobbly short game and scrambled for an even par 71, safely making it to the final round of the IOA Classic but falling nine strokes behind new leader Min-G Kim of Korea in Longwood, Florida Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 28th, 2020

Ardina makes cut but way off pace

Ardina hit all but two of 13 fairways after going 12-of-13 Friday and made 28 putts for the second straight day but she failed to hit regulation six times after missing the greens seven times in her opening round 70......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 27th, 2020

Love makes the world go round, indeed

Remember the unrepentant lothario (UL) we talked about here a few weeks ago? Well, it looks like silence is golden for our politician from the south, but not necessarily for the object of his second wife’s ire. You see, this Filipina international beauty queen (BQ), who has been the subject of many social media rants […] The post Love makes the world go round, indeed appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 6th, 2020

Always About the People

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

2020 NBA Champion doesn t deserve dreaded 'asterisk'

Take your asterisk and file it somewhere else. For former NBA champion Glen Rice, the winner of the 2020 NBA title will be a deserving one. It certainly shouldn't be subject to to any asterisks even as the NBA season was postponed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If anything, the season delay and the fact that NBA teams had to be subjected inside the bubble for the duration of the playoffs plus an additional eight seeding games makes this year's champion all the more celebrated. "When you have what's going on around everyone, trying to maintain a safe lifestyle in the bubble, at the same time staying aware of what's going on outside the bubble and the nuances that can go as far as COVID creeping in there, if you can get champion out everything that's going on that's really easy to distract you from basketball, I think that's a huge plus for these guys," Rice said in an interview set up by NBA Philippines. "That just goes to show you how determined and focused they were," he added. The 2020 NBA Champion will be one of the few crowned during a season where teams played less than then 82 regular season games. The 2012 Miami Heat and 1999 San Antonio Spurs won their respective titles during lockout-shortened seasons. Still, those teams don't deserve asterisks shouldn't they? Do the 2019 Raptors deserve an asterisk because Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were injured in the last two games of the Finals? Do the mid-1990s Houston Rockets deserve an asterisk because Michael Jordan chose to play baseball? Each NBA champion will be unique in their own way, Rice says there should be no reason why the 2020 NBA winner should be looked at any differently just because of the current world circumstances. "I think you will see a lot of people saying something different, perhaps having that asterisk. But I think more importantly, people need to realize is that this is different and I'm talking about in a positive way," he said. "This is something that we've never seen in sports. To crown a champion in this environment right now, I think that says a lot about the players and coaches who go out there and do what they gotta do," Rice added. The 2020 NBA playoffs tip off Monday (Tuesday in Manila) with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers leading the East and West, respectively. The Bucks open round 1 against the Orlando Magic while the Lakers battle the Portland Trail Blazers. Defending champion Toronto Raptors take on the Brooklyn Nets while the Boston Celtics meet the Philadelphia 76ers. The Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat complete the East bracket. In the Western Conference, the no. 2 Los Angeles Clippers open things up against the Dallas Mavericks. The Denver Nuggets take on division rival Utah Jazz while the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder duke it out in a best-of-7.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 17th, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent of their potential when they play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost a podium finish to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure, but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.]   [Updated Notes: The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Arjan Bhullar promises to be tough test for ONE heavyweight king Brandon Vera

When Filipino-American ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera finally makes his return to action, it will likely come against top heavyweight contender Arjan "Singh" Bhullar.  The Indian-Canadian heavyweight, who had an impressive run in the UFC before jumping over to Asia-based ONE Championship, was impressive in his promotional debut, dominating former title contender Mauro Cerrilli en route to a unanimous decision win.  The win over Cerrilli was enough to earn Bhullar a title shot, and now, he looks to do for India what Vera did for the Philippines.  “I respect Vera for what he has accomplished in this sport. For how long he has been fighting the best, for how he has represented ONE as a champion, for what he has done for the Philippines and the Filipino people, and for what he has done for himself and his family," said Bhullar. "I want to do all of that and more for myself, for India, for Indians worldwide, and for ONE."  “Vera is a great ambassador for the sport and has treated me with the utmost respect. The feelings are mutual, until we become competitors in the Circle," Bhullar continued. Vera, who has been ONE's heavyweight king since 2015, has yet to lose in the division, and has never gone past the first round against other heavyweights as well.  As far as experience goes, Vera - who also made a name for himself in the UFC - has the distinct advantage.  “His strengths are clear. He has a tremendous amount of experience and has seen all the different looks a fighter can see in the cage. He can fight out of both stances, going forward and backward. He is well-rounded everywhere, and has excellent Muay Thai. That has allowed him to finish every single heavyweight threat he has faced,” said Bhullar. In ONE, Vera holds wins over the likes of Igor Subora, Paul Cheng, Hideki Sekine, and Cerrilli. Bhullar, a former Canadian National Wrestling Team member, is by far the toughest test tha Vera will face in ONE's heavyweight ranks.  “But none of those guys were named Arjan Singh Bhullar, nor bring what I do to the Circle," Bhullar confidently stated.  Compared to Vera, who is widely regarded as one of the faces of ONE, Bhullar is a relative unknown. If he can dethrone Vera however, it's hard to not see the 34-year old become a household name, not just in India, but in the world as well.  “I'm younger. I'm hungrier to get what I haven't yet. I have been pursuing the opportunity to be a world champion since I was in diapers. I am a lifelong athlete who still lives and breathes competition to the fullest. I don't have any other distractions or priorities in my life,” said Bhullar. Bhullar's main motivation is to be able to bring pride to India, and he's highly confident that he can get the job done against ONE's most dominant heavyweight star. “I have an entire nation and people worldwide who are supporting my quest. I have the skills that have proved problematic for Vera in his losses in the past. I have the strongest mindset to get this job done, which will carry me through the most extreme conditions. I am a winner. I am one billion strong.”      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2020

Yulo gets additional P800K Olympic bid funding

Filipino gymnast Caloy Yulo preparation for the Tokyo Olympics got an additional boost after the MVP Sports Foundation (MVPSF) extended a much-needed financial help on Wednesday. MVPSF president Al Panlilio announced that they have granted an extra P800,000 funding for Yulo to cover his training expenses in Japan as he prepares for the Tokyo Olympics scheduled July 23 to August 8 next year. "The MVPSF wants to make sure that our athletes still get the best training possible, even as we face the current COVID-19 pandemic," Panlilio said. The financial donation was coursed through the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines. "Aside from the financial relief from the additional finding, we're hopeful that this also puts Caloy's mind at ease, because we want to show him that we're behind him all the way," said Panlilio. "His sole focus should be on his quest to win an Olympic medal, and we'll do our best to take care of the rest." The 20-year old gymnast is one of four Filipinos who have qualified for the Games, which was delayed for a year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, along with pole vaulter EJ Obiena and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno. Yulo earned his ticket to the Games after advancing to the final round of the men's all-around in the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. He also won the gold in the men's floor exercise in the same tournament. The Manila pride also won two gold medals and five silvers in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games hosted by the Philippines. With the financial help, Yulo got all-important shot in the arm as he vies for the elusive Olympics gold.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2020