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Raonic continues streak by reaching 3rd round in Australia

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Third-seeded Milos Raonic ended one streak and continued another with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) Thursday over Gilles Muller to reach the third round at the Australian Open. Raonic, who reached the semifinals here last year and the final at Wimbledon, had lost both previous matches to Muller — including one when he retired with an injured hip in the second round at Wimbledon in 2012. His win Thursday maintained Raonic's record of reaching the third round at least all seven years he has contested the Australian Open. The 33-year-old Muller entered the season's first major after capturing his first tour-level title in Sydney last week. Raonic was unable to defend his Brisbane title in the first week of the season, but is finding rhythm quickly in Melbourne — he fired 21 aces, hit 56 winners and only had 15 unforced errors against Muller. He left the court complaining of a sore throat, and will get a day off before his next match against No. 25 Gilles Simon. No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Raonic in the semifinals before winning the Brisbane International earlier this month, moved into the third round with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Chung Hye-on. Dimitrov will next play No. 18 Richard Gasquet. No. 32 Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Donald Young 7-5, 6-3, 6-0. David Ferrer, the former world No. 3 who has only missed the quarterfinals once in the previous six years at Melbourne Park, recovered to beat U.S. qualifier Ernesto Escobedo 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and set up a third-round match against fellow Spaniard and No. 13-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut. No. 30 Pablo Carreno Busta had a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Kyle Edmund to move into a third-round match against either six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic or Denis Istomin. U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova and No. 9 Johanna Konta carried their winning form from warmup tournaments into the third round of the season's first major. Brisbane International winner Pliskova beat Anna Blinkova 6-0, 6-2 in 59 minutes, and has dropped just four games en route to the third round. She was leading 6-0, 4-0 in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena before the 18-year-old Russian qualifier, ranked 189th, held serve and later held up her arm to acknowledge the cheers from the crowd. 'It's always good to be in the zone,' said fifth-seeded Pliskova. 'It can always be a bit better.' 'I'm feeling pretty good on the court, confident,' she said. 'Also, people are talking I have a good chance to win a Grand Slam, but we are just in third round, so let's see.' She will next play Jelena Ostapenko, who beat No. 31 Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-1. Sydney International winner Konta, who made a surprising run to the semifinals in her debut Australian Open last year, advanced 6-4, 6-2 over Naomi Osaka. Konta, voted the WTA Tour's most improved player of 2016 after moving from 48th to 10th in the rankings, will next play former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki. WTA Finals winner Dominika Cibulkova held off Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 7-6 (8) and will next play No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova, who was leading 6-2, 3-2 when Sara Errani retired because of a leg injury. No. 14 Elena Vesnina advanced to a third-round encounter against U.S. qualifier Jennifer Brady, who saved five match points before beating Heather Watson 2-6, 7-6 (3), 10-8. Andy Murray returned to the practice court for an afternoon hitting session under the scrutiny of coach Ivan Lendl, allaying concerns about his injured right ankle. Top-ranked Murray, a five-time runner-up at Melbourne Park, twisted his ankle and tumbled to the court during the third set of his otherwise routine second-round win on Wednesday night. .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 19th, 2017

Raonic continues streak by reaching 3rd round in Australia

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Third-seeded Milos Raonic ended one streak and continued another with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) Thursday over Gilles Muller to reach the third round at the Australian Open. Raonic, who reached the semifinals here last year and the final at Wimbledon, had lost both previous matches to Muller — including one when he retired with an injured hip in the second round at Wimbledon in 2012. His win Thursday maintained Raonic's record of reaching the third round at least all seven years he has contested the Australian Open. The 33-year-old Muller entered the season's first major after capturing his first tour-level title in Sydney last week. Raonic was unable to defend his Brisbane title in the first week of the season, but is finding rhythm quickly in Melbourne — he fired 21 aces, hit 56 winners and only had 15 unforced errors against Muller. He left the court complaining of a sore throat, and will get a day off before his next match against No. 25 Gilles Simon. No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Raonic in the semifinals before winning the Brisbane International earlier this month, moved into the third round with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Chung Hye-on. Dimitrov will next play No. 18 Richard Gasquet. No. 32 Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Donald Young 7-5, 6-3, 6-0. David Ferrer, the former world No. 3 who has only missed the quarterfinals once in the previous six years at Melbourne Park, recovered to beat U.S. qualifier Ernesto Escobedo 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and set up a third-round match against fellow Spaniard and No. 13-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut. No. 30 Pablo Carreno Busta had a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Kyle Edmund to move into a third-round match against either six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic or Denis Istomin. U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova and No. 9 Johanna Konta carried their winning form from warmup tournaments into the third round of the season's first major. Brisbane International winner Pliskova beat Anna Blinkova 6-0, 6-2 in 59 minutes, and has dropped just four games en route to the third round. She was leading 6-0, 4-0 in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena before the 18-year-old Russian qualifier, ranked 189th, held serve and later held up her arm to acknowledge the cheers from the crowd. 'It's always good to be in the zone,' said fifth-seeded Pliskova. 'It can always be a bit better.' 'I'm feeling pretty good on the court, confident,' she said. 'Also, people are talking I have a good chance to win a Grand Slam, but we are just in third round, so let's see.' She will next play Jelena Ostapenko, who beat No. 31 Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-1. Sydney International winner Konta, who made a surprising run to the semifinals in her debut Australian Open last year, advanced 6-4, 6-2 over Naomi Osaka. Konta, voted the WTA Tour's most improved player of 2016 after moving from 48th to 10th in the rankings, will next play former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki. WTA Finals winner Dominika Cibulkova held off Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 7-6 (8) and will next play No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova, who was leading 6-2, 3-2 when Sara Errani retired because of a leg injury. No. 14 Elena Vesnina advanced to a third-round encounter against U.S. qualifier Jennifer Brady, who saved five match points before beating Heather Watson 2-6, 7-6 (3), 10-8. Andy Murray returned to the practice court for an afternoon hitting session under the scrutiny of coach Ivan Lendl, allaying concerns about his injured right ankle. Top-ranked Murray, a five-time runner-up at Melbourne Park, twisted his ankle and tumbled to the court during the third set of his otherwise routine second-round win on Wednesday night. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Nadal secures Spain s victory at ATP Cup; Croatia, Japan win

By John Pye, Associated Press BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Weeks after leading Spain to a Davis Cup title, Rafael Nadal is doing his best to do it again at the the ATP Cup, the newest of the men's international team competitions. The top-ranked Nadal beat Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-1 in Perth on Monday to secure Spain's win in the best-of-three encounter against Uruguay ahead of the doubles. Spain now has two wins from two starts in Group B and next faces unbeaten Japan to determine first place and automatic qualification for the playoffs in Sydney. Roberto Bautista Agut was equally ruthless in getting Spain started when he beat unranked 19-year-old Franco Roncadelli 6-1, 6-2. Nadal won his fourth title in the Davis Cup, the traditional men's team competition, in November. He said he thrives in the team environment. The six group winners and the two best second-place teams qualify for the quarterfinals. Second-ranked Novak Djokovic gave Serbia a shot at a second victory when he extended his tour-level unbeaten streak against Gael Monfils to 16 wins with a 6-3, 6-2 victory in Brisbane. Benoit Paire had given France the lead with a 6-2, 5-7 (6), 6-4 win in his singles against Dusan Lajovic. The Group A match will now be decided by doubles. In Sydney, Austria clinched victory over Argentina with wins in both singles matches. Fourth-ranked Dominic Thiem beat Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-6 (3) after Dennis Novak rallied from a slow start to beat Guido Pella 0-6, 6-4, 6-4. Both countries are 1-1 in the Group E standings, which are led by unbeaten Croatia. Novak, ranked No. 101, said a few pointers from Austria captain Thomas Muster helped calm him down after the first set. "After the first set I went to a break with Thomas, and I came out and changed a little bit my game and fought back," Novak said. “I think at the end I played really good tennis." Former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic had too much experience for No. 448-ranked Kacper Zuk, setting up Croatia's victory over Poland with a 7-6 (8), 6-4 win. Cilic, who has a career-high ranking of No. 3 but slipped to 38 after an injury-shortened 2019 season, was only able to convert one of his 13 break-point chances against Zuk, who was making his tour-level debut. Hubert Hurkacz beat Borna Coric 6-2, 6-2 to split the singles results, but Croatia pair Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic clinched the encounter with a 6-2, 6-1 win in the doubles over Hurkacz and Lukasz Kubot. "If I have to pick some things that I need to do better, it's just converting break points. I had a lot of them," Cilic said. “Otherwise, I felt that the level was quite good.” Two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson led South Africa to victory over Chile in Group A in Brisbane, keeping his team in contention for the playoffs despite an opening loss to Serbia, and Japan clinched its second straight win with victory in both singles matches against Georgia in Perth. Anderson, who is coming off a six-month injury layoff and pushed Djokovic in two tight sets over the weekend, outclassed Cristian Garin 6-0, 6-3 after Lloyd Harris beat Nicolas Jarry 6-4, 6-4. The South African doubles combination made it a 3-0 sweep. Anderson said the goal was now to win the last round of the group stage to have a chance of reaching the quarterfinals, which start Thursday in Sydney. “We had to get a win today, so we were able to do that,” Anderson said. "Some of it is out of our hands as well, already having, well, taking the loss against Serbia. “We'll bring back our full intensity for our match against France.” Japan followed up its 3-0 sweep against Uruguay with its win over Georgia. Go Soeda beat Aleksandre Metreveli 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and Yoshihito Nishioka upset No. 26-ranked Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-2, 6-3. Georgia won the doubles to make the final result 2-1......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2020

Hello, World Cup: A record field set for FIBA s main event

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press SHANGHAI (AP) — The biggest basketball World Cup is about to begin. Many of the world’s top players — and a couple of the world’s top national teams — are not in China for the FIBA World Cup, a 32-team extravaganza that begins Saturday. At stake over the next 16 days: The world championship, along with seven of the 11 remaining available berths in next summer’s Tokyo Olympics. And several teams figure they can be the one to thwart the United States’ bid for an unprecedented third straight crown. “We’re here to go for gold,” said Sasha Djordjevic, the coach of Serbia — a team that some consider the tournament’s gold-medal favorite. “Every game that we play will be the biggest game for us.” The first eight games of the tournament are Saturday, and things will move quite rapidly. The eight-game-a-day pace continues through Sept. 9, with quarterfinal games on Sept. 10 and 11, semifinals on Sept. 13 with the event capped by the gold- and bronze-medal games in Beijing on Sept. 15. All told, 92 games will be played in eight cities. “We have nothing to lose,” said Japan guard Yuta Watanabe, whose team will face the U.S. in the group stage. FIBA changed much about the tournament for this edition. The event was moved back a year; the last World Cup was in 2014, and it was bumped to 2019 this time around to avoid going against the FIFA World Cup for men’s soccer in the same years. The field was expanded from 24 to 32 and qualifying rules were vastly altered largely to keep NBA and other pro-league players from helping their countries reach the event. For some nations, that became a huge problem. European champion Slovenia, the world’s seventh-ranked team, is not in the World Cup. Same goes for world No. 9-ranked Croatia, which lost eight of its 12 qualifying games. Yet for other nations, the changes sparked opportunity — Nigeria, Venezuela, Italy and Japan all qualified for the first time since 2006, and Poland made the field for the first time since 1967. “The World Cup is an unbelievable competition,” said Canada coach Nick Nurse, who doubles as coach of the NBA champion Toronto Raptors. “Great teams and coaches and scouting and work and preparation that will make anyone better for going through that. So I’m extremely honored and excited and humbled to be here.” Most of the top Americans aren’t in the World Cup, a few because of injuries, other candidates cited schedule concerns. Of the 35 leading scorers from this past NBA season who would have been eligible to play for the U.S. team, only two — Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz — are wearing the red, white and blue in China. “I’m more concerned with who is here than who isn’t,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. For the international teams, though, there’s minimal concern about big-name absences. Greece is led by NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Serbia is led by All-NBA center Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and France features third-team All-NBA center Rudy Gobert. And the host Chinese are hoping to make a splash as well. “It’s a rare opportunity for all of us,” former NBA player Yi Jianlian, now the Chinese captain, said in Beijing earlier this week. “You can feel the special duty when you see the national flag on your chest.” Some other things to know as the World Cup begins: FORMAT Teams were drawn into eight groups of four for the opening round, with the two top teams from each group making the round of 16 and the others going into classification games to determine 17th through 32nd place. Games are four 10-minute quarters, so regulation is eight minutes shorter than an NBA game. The 3-point line is a bit closer than in the NBA, especially from the top of the arc — that’s 22 feet, 2 inches in FIBA play, or 19 inches closer than the NBA stripe. The top two teams from the Americas, top two from Europe and top regional finisher form Asia, Africa and Oceania will clinch spots to join Japan in the 2020 Olympics; the last four spots in the 12-team field for the Tokyo Games will come down to qualifying next July. BEST GROUP The so-called “group of death” would be Group H, with Australia (which just beat the U.S. in a friendly to snap a 78-game winning streak by the Americans), Lithuania and Canada. All three of those teams are likely good enough to advance, yet only two will get to the round of 16 with a shot at the quarterfinals. Senegal rounds out that group. U.S. RECORD The Americans have won 19 consecutive World Cup (formerly known as the world championship) games, and are 14-0 in games in China when using a roster composed of NBA players (8-0 in the 2008 Olympics and 6-0 in other games there in 2006 and 2008). Mason Plumlee is the only player on this year’s U.S. World Cup team that was on the gold-medal-winning roster at this event in 2014. REFRESHER COURSE Seven of the eight quarterfinalists from the 2014 World Cup are in this year’s field. The U.S. beat Lithuania and Serbia beat France in the semifinals, and the Americans rolled to a 129-92 win in the gold-medal game behind 26 points from Kyrie Irving. France rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Lithuania for bronze 95-93. GLOBAL GAME FIBA, basketball’s global organizing body, says the tournament will be televised in at least 176 countries and territories......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 31st, 2019

Nadal holds off Zverev to reach 4th round at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal held back time, for one match at least, when he rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2 win over German teenager Alexander Zverev to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open. The 14-time major winner is on a comeback after an extended injury layoff, yet he finished stronger in the 4-hour, 6-minute match on Rod Laver Arena as Zverev tightened up with cramping and nerves. 'I enjoyed a lot this great battle. I was losing the last couple of times in the fifth set and I said to myself, 'today's the day',' said ninth-seeded Nadal, who had lost eight of the previous nine times he'd trailed 2-1 in a best-of-five set match. His 30-year-old legs, conditioned by 236 Grand Slam matches, carried him all the way. 'Well, fighting — and running a lot,' Nadal said, when asked to explain the difference. 'I think you know, everybody knows how good Alexander is — he's the future of our sport and the present, too.' Serena Williams has done it more easily, reaching the fourth round without dropping a set to stay on course in her bid for a record 23rd Grand slam title. Williams beat fellow American Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-3 and didn't face a break point until she was serving for the match. Dropping serve in that game was her only lapse in a match that then extended just beyond the hour — to 63 minutes to be precise. The six-time Australian Open champion next faces No. 16 Barbora Strycova. 'I don't have anything to prove in this tournament here. Just doing the best I can,' Williams said. 'Obviously I'm here for one reason.' Milos Raonic is here pursuing his first major title, aiming to improve on his runs to the semifinals in Australia and the final at Wimbledon last year. He reached the fourth round with a 6-2, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 win over No. 25 Gilles Simon and will next play No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat David Ferrer 7-5, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (3), 6-4. Nadal, who had two months off with an injured left wrist at the end of 2016, will get another veteran next after U.S. Open semifinalist Gael Monfils beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-4. In another gripping five-setter, but on an outside court, wild-card entry Denis Istomin followed his upset win over defending champion Novak Djokovic with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Pablo Carreno Busta. No. 8 Dominic Thiem beat Benoit Paire 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a fourth-round match against No. 11 David Goffin, who ended Ivo Karlovic's run 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Zverev's creative shot-making gave the 19-year-old German a confident start. He had won his previous three matches against top-10 players, and has been widely touted as a future Grand Slam champion. But Nadal, the champion here in 2009, didn't let him get too far in front. In an exchange of breaks in the fifth set, Nadal broke to open, then dropped his own serve, before breaking Zverev again. Nadal finished with 43 winners and 34 unforced errors, while Zverev — hitting harder and trying more to find the lines — had 58 winners and 74 unforced errors. In early women's matches, Ekaterina Makarova led by a set and 4-0 but had a mid-match fade, needing three sets and almost three hours to finally beat WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3. 'An amazing fight,' Makarova said of her first win over sixth-seeded Cibulkova, the 2014 finalist at Melbourne Park. 'I got, to be honest, a bit tight at 4-0 in the second set. But I'm still here.' She'll now take on last year's semifinalist Johanna Konta, who beat former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1, in a rematch of their fourth-round encounter here last year. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni continued her unlikely run with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari, and so did American qualifier Jennifer Brady. Before this week, the 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni hadn't won a match at Melbourne Park since her debut here in 1998. The 19-year gap in between match wins at a Grand Slam tournament broke the record set by Kimiko Date-Krumm. The 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist next plays No. 116-ranked Brady, who had never played in the main draw of a major before she qualified for this week. The 21-year-old Brady had a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over 14th-seeded Elena Vesnina on Show Court 2. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Venus Williams through to third round at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It was inevitable after such an energetic performance in her second-round win over Stefanie Voegele at the Australian Open that Venus Williams would get asked about transcending the generations in tennis. The 36-year-old, seven-time major winner played the first of her record 73 Grand Slam tournaments at the French Open in 1997. Back then, she got to play against the likes of Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. Against the 26-year-old Voegele at the Australian Open on Wednesday, Williams mixed up her game, clearly not intent on relying only on the kind of power game that helped her make a mark on the sport. She won 6-3, 6-2, hitting 24 winners and getting five service breaks. 'I have to talk about this every interview,' Williams said in reply to what has become a regular post-match question to the oldest player in the women's draw here. 'I've played some of the greats. 'It's an honor and privilege to start that young,' she added, laughing, 'and play this old.' In the second set, serving and with a game point, she chased the ball like a teenager from one side of the court to the other, and back, trying to finish off. Her forehand landed too long, but her intention was clear. Get through the round ASAP. She won the subsequent two points to hold. At 15-15 and 5-2 in the second, she was still remonstrating with herself after missing a point. She finished off the match later in the same game, another break, to reach the third round. Williams lost to eventual semifinalist Johanna Konta in the opening round last year. If a pattern continues, she's a decent chance of reaching the quarterfinals — she's gone that far three times previously in the year she returned after a first- or second-round exit at Melbourne Park. She is playing her 17th Australian Open, but has never won the title. Her best run was to the final in 2003, when she lost to her younger sister, Serena. The siblings were pairing up for a first-round doubles match later Wednesday, and second-seeded Serena is on the other half of the singles draw. In other early matches, No. 11 Elina Svitolina had a 6-4, 6-1 win over U.S. qualifier Julia Boserup and No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat fellow Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-2, 6-2. Top-ranked Angelique Kerber, on her 29th birthday, was playing the second match on Rod Laver Arena against fellow German Carina Witthoeft. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Danger matches Tuesday for Djokovic, Williams at Aussie Open

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Not much room for error: six-time Australian Open champions Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic face tougher-than expected first-round matches on Tuesday. Both are chasing records at Melbourne Park, where Williams is hoping to set an Open-era record by winning her 23rd Grand Slam title and Djokovic is striving to be the first man to win the Australian title seven times. Williams, who lost to Angelique Kerber in last year's final, has drawn Belinda Bencic, who was seeded 12th here last year and who beat her in Toronto in 2015. Their career record is 1-1, with Williams having beaten Bencic on clay at Madrid in 2014. Bencic advanced to the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year. 'I think it will be good for us both,' Williams said. 'She's done well here before. It's never easy for me. I didn't come here to lose in the first round, or the second round, or at all. If I can play the way I've been practicing, it will be fine.' Djokovic, meanwhile, faces veteran Fernando Verdasco, a man he's beaten nine times in 13 career meetings. Verdasco had an upset win over fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal last year in the first round. 'Fernando is a very complete player on any surface. In a given day, if things go right, he can beat really anybody on any surface,' Djokovic said. He's not overwhelmed by the occasion of playing on center court. I'm expecting a tough one, there's no doubt about it.' ___ BENCIC IS PUMPED: Bencic has a 9-2 record in first-round Grand Slam matches. Bencic found out about her first-round opponent when, she admitted, 'my Twitter was blowing up. I was like, What's going on? My first reaction was really happy. So I think I'm super pumped, like excited I get to play on the big court.' She thinks it's anything but back luck that she drew Williams: 'I think we're going to play on the big court. It's a big match ... it's what everyone's working for.' Williams has Bencic's record in first-round majors covered, and then some. She's 64-1 in Grand Slam first-round matches, her lone opening-round loss at a Grand Slam came at 2012 Roland Garros against Virginie Razzano. ______ RAFA READY: Rafael Nadal is coming off two lengthy injury layoffs last year, and his match on Rod Laver Arena against Florian Mayer will be the first between the pair since 2012, when Nadal won on clay at Rome. Mayer beat Nadal on hard courts at Shanghai in 2011. Nadal has reached the second round or better in all but one of his 12 previous trips to Melbourne Park — the one failure coming last year when he lost to Verdasco in the first round. Mayer is hoping to end a seven-match losing streak at the majors and record his first Grand Slam match win since he reached the round of 16 here in 2014. ___ CAN KONTA DO IT AGAIN?: Last year, Sydney-born Johanna Konta was a surprise semifinalist at Melbourne Park, and the British player is now in the top 10 and coming off a victory in the Sydney International last week, where she overwhelmed third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the final. She'll play Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium to open the day session on Margaret Court Arena. 'I played her (Flipkens) last year in Monterrey, she beat me there. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to play her again. She's a great player. She's a Wimbledon semifinalist (2013). She's been around the tour for a long time. That's by no accident.' Konta has won only five of her 12 first-round Grand Slam matches. ___ RAONIC FAVORED: Last year's semifinalist and No. 3-seeded Milos Raonic plays Dustin Brown of Germany in the second match on Margaret Court. Brown has never won a match at Melbourne Park, and he's only beaten a top 10 player once in a Grand Slam. Advantage to the Canadian. They have played once before, when Raonic beat Brown in the first round at last year's U.S. Open. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Worth a mention: Williams aiming for record 23rd major title

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams definitely doesn't want to talk about the No. 23. She doesn't really want to think about planning a wedding, either, while she's pursuing a Grand Slam record. Newly engaged Williams brushed off concerns about the 88 unforced errors she had in a loss in New Zealand last week in her only warmup tournament ahead of the Australian Open, which starts Monday and where she's aiming for Open-era record 23rd major title. 'I've moved on,' she said. 'I'm feeling relaxed, calm, ready and poised.' Williams responded to questions about milestone achievements last year when she had 21 Grand Slam titles, and it didn't help — she lost the final here to Angelique Kerber and to Garbine Muguruza at the French Open before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's Open era mark of 22. She's being more superstitious this time. 'I'm not talking about that,' Williams, a six-time Australian Open winner, said as she shut down questions during a promotional activity this week. 'I said I'm not talking about that. Move on.' Another Australian title is also high on the agenda for Novak Djokovic, who already has won six. But he isn't thinking much beyond his opening match after drawing Fernando Verdasco. A first is the priority for Andy Murray, recently knighted in Britain after finishing 2016 at No. 1. He is looking at the draw from the top for the first time at a major and is hoping it comes with a change in fortunes at Melbourne Park. He has lost five Australian Open finals — the first to Roger Federer in 2010, the other four to Djokovic. Federer could again stand in his way, only at the quarterfinal stage this time. The 17-time major winner slipped down the rankings during six months off last year recovering from an injured left knee and was seeded No. 17. Williams took time off after the U.S. Open, where she lost in the semifinals for the second year running and lost the top ranking to Kerber. The big news during her break was her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month, when she posted a poem on the news website to confirm she'd accepted his proposal. After hitting this week with 16-year-old Destanee Aiava, who will be the first person born in the 2000s to play in the main draw of a major when she meets a qualifier in the first round, Williams said her mind was back entirely on business. 'I told (Ohanian) my main goal was to win this title,' she said. 'Yeah, it really doesn't feel like anything different.' No date has been set for the wedding, with Williams' mind on one major thing, so she's not thinking about a dress or a cake, and she's not wearing a ring to practice. 'Oh my God. I don't think about it really,' she said, responding to questions about her marriage plans. 'I'm just ... I don't know I'll have to ask him that. I have a job — I mean, he does too. I kinda gotta focus.' Kerber won the Australian and U.S. Open titles last year, so will be attempting to defend a major for the first time in Melbourne. She may be feeling pressure as the No. 1 seed, having won only one match in two warmup tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney. That doesn't take any pressure off Williams. 'I am No. 2, I guess. I definitely don't feel like anyone's saying that, 'Oh, there's no pressure on Serena,'' she said. 'It's always there, I'm used to it. 'I feel like I've been No. 1 for so long, so many times. I've done things that are amazing. Sometimes that ranking really means a lot, but also I feel like sometimes just winning events ... means just as much.' That's something Djokovic understands. His 122-week streak at No. 1 ended amid Murray's incredible finish to last season, when he won Wimbledon and defended the Olympic gold medal among eight titles he won after reuniting with Ivan Lendl as coach. Before then, Djokovic had beaten Murray in the Australian and French Open finals, his 11th and 12th major titles. Half of those have come in Melbourne, where his victory last year equaled the record six Australian titles Roy Emerson won (1961 and 1963-67). 'I'm feeling phenomenal,' Djokovic said after arriving in Australia following a win over Murray in his season-opening event at Doha. 'Maybe this is the year — 2017 for seven. I'm not a numerologist, but it sounds good.' Murray jumped on a flight almost immediately after last year's final to be with his wife, who was expecting their first child. There have been plenty of changes for him since, becoming a father for the first time, No. 1 in the world for the first time, and reuniting with Lendl. 'Each time I come, I think I've got a chance of winning but it's just never happened,' he said. 'Hopefully, this year will be different. 'I do think the last few months of last year can help me with giving me confidence — other players look at that and see you're playing well and (I) feel physically and mentally strong.' Fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who ended the run of wins by Djokovic and Murray when he won the U.S. Open last September, said the next generation of players such as Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori would be among the contenders for the Australian title. But he thinks it will be difficult for any new champion to emerge against the likes of the in-form Murray and Djokovic, and the returning Federer and Rafael Nadal. 'So far, last 10 years, the 'Big Four' was really strong,' Wawrinka said, 'so it's going to be interesting to see this year how Novak, Andy, Rafa, and Roger will play.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Wawrinka, Nishikori to meet in Brisbane semifinals

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori will renew a growing rivalry when they meet in the semifinals of the Brisbane International. Wawrinka dropped the opening set in a tiebreaker against unseeded Kyle Edmund on Friday but recovered for a 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 win, reaching the last four in his first trip to the Brisbane tournament. In the previous three years, Wawrinka won the title in Chennai in the first week of the season before heading to Australia for the season's first major. 'Was a tough match, for sure. Long match. Quite humid, also. Also tough physically. But, in general, I think I'm feeling good and ready (for the semifinals),' Wawrinka said. 'For sure, I want to win more matches here and not stop now.' Wawrkina has a 4-3 lead over Nishikori in career head-to-heads, including the semifinals at the U.S. Open last year, but Nishikori won two of the three meetings in 2016. 'We always play a really tough match,' Wawrinka said. 'We played each other few times already last few months, so it's going to be interesting to see. We practiced here this week. I'm sure it's going to be a good match.' Nishikori has now reached the semifinals four times in seven visits to the Brisbane International, needing just an hour for a 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinal win over Australian wild-card entry Jordan Thompson. Thompson beat former top 10 regular David Ferrer in the second round but against Nishikori, he only managed to hold serve twice. Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open finalist, only made 11 unforced errors and didn't face a breakpoint. 'He was, I guess, a little bit tired, for sure. Against David, he was playing great match and maybe he wasn't 100 percent today,' Nishikori said. 'But for me, I think I played one of the best matches so far, really dominating from the baseline and serving good today. Everything was working well.' Seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov had a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over No. 4 Dominic Thiem and will meet either defending champion Milos Raonic or 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. In the women's semifinals, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza retired with a right thigh injury while trailing Alize Cornet 4-1 in the first set. Cornet advanced to a final against either U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova or sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina, who ousted No. 1-ranked Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals. 'When she decided to stop, I was a little bit surprised, but a little bit of luck never killed anybody,' said Cornet, who finished last year ranked No. 46 but now expects to be seeded at the Australian Open. 'I'm just going to take it. I really enjoy the fact that I'm in the final. It's a big day for me, yeah.' Muguruza has had a run of injuries in Brisbane. She retired after one set last year and withdrew entirely in 2015. She didn't think the latest setback would trouble her at the Australian Open. 'It will not stop me. I just felt a little bit exhausted on the court,' Muguruza said. 'Cornet was playing good. I couldn't match her level today. I had some pains, and I thought it was more smart to take care of my body.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

Nadal continues comeback with a 1st win in Brisbane

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal was in need of some sleep, so he didn't waste much time against Alexandr Dolgopolov on Tuesday. The 14-time major champion, playing his opening match at the Brisbane International a day after arriving in Australia following a win in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, beat the Ukrainian 6-3, 6-3 after getting on court at almost 10:30 p.m. local time. Returning from a wrist injury which curtailed the end of his 2016 season, Nadal said he's determined to use every match as preparation for a shot at the title in the season-opening Grand Slam event in Melbourne. The 30-year-old Spaniard dropped serve in the third game but recovered to win the last five games of the first set against the 2012 finalist. In all, he converted all four of his break points and fended off three of the four he faced. 'A little bit of jet lag. It's tough, these kinds of things at the beginning,' said Nadal, who added that he was still sleeping in the early afternoon and felt 'destroyed' after the travel. 'There wasn't a lot of time to adapt.' He only made nine unforced errors, and his most glaring miss of the night was when whiffed at a ball as he tried to hit it into the crowd to celebrate his win. In a post-match news conference, he apologized after stifling a yawn, but said he still preferred the late start to help him overcome the jetlag. Nadal has changed his preparation for the Australian Open, arriving two weeks ahead of time to fine tune his game in a bid to make amends for a shocking first-round exit last year. He will next play Mischa Zverev, who opened with a 6-3, 6-3 win over teenage Australian qualifier Alex De Minaur, and has a potential quarterfinal match against defending champion and top-seeded Milos Raonic. Also, sixth-seeded Lucas Pouille lost the first five games before rebounding for a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) win over Gilles Simon, while Viktor Troicki beat Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 7-5 and Diego Schwartzman had a 6-2, 6-4 win over Sam Querrey. In the women's draw, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina, who all had career-highlight victories over Serena Williams last season, are already through to the quarterfinals. Destanee Aiava, a 16-year-old high school senior who was inspired to take up tennis when she was 5 after watching Williams on TV, also made a mark. Aiava became the first player born in the 2000s to win a main draw match in an elite WTA event when she beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a first-round match that spanned two days. She already has a wild-card entry to the Australian Open but, before then, will face two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round in Brisbane. The third-seeded Pliskova, who beat Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals last year before losing the final to Angelique Kerber, defeated American qualifier Asia Muhammad 6-1, 6-4 to secure the first spot in the quarterfinals. Svitolina, seeded sixth and the only woman to beat both Williams and Kerber when in 2016, advanced with a 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 win over Shelby Rogers. The fourth-seeded Muguruza wasted a match point and saved one before clinching a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7) win over Daria Kasatkina in a three-hour night match. Both players had eight service breaks and Muguruza, who beat Williams in the French Open final last year to claim her first Grand Slam title, dropped her opening serve in all three sets. Her next match will be against either Kuznetsova or Aiava, who was born on May 10, 2000, was No. 386 in the latest rankings and is very new to the tour. 'Pretty crazy,' Aiava said of her first trip to the locker rooms in the main draw. 'I walk in, and there is people I have watched on TV before and it's, like, 'Oh!'' Her mother, Rosie, has been her coach since she showed interest in the game. She keeps the teenager grounded. After her milestone win, Aiava said her mother just said 'good job' and took her back onto the practice courts for 20 minutes to work on her serve. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

Jason Day continues recent improvement with early PGA lead

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 7th, 2020

Floyd Mayweather Jr. says Manny Pacquiao continues to fight because he has to

A little over five years after the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. bout, people still wonder if there's ever going to be a sequel.  Since that highly-anticipated 2015 bout between arguably two of boxing's biggest stars, Pacquiao and Mayweather's careers have gone in vastly different directions.  Following his 12-round loss to Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao beat Timothy Bradley in a trilogy bout, retired for half a year, and then came back to beat Jessie Vargas and capture the WBO Welterweight World Championship. Pacquiao would lose that title to Jeff Horn in a controversial decision in Australia, before bouncing back by beating Lucas Matthysse to become a world champion once again. Just last year, Pacquiao put on two impressive performances in his title defense over Adrien Broner and his WBO (Super) Welterweight World Championship-clinching win over Keith Thurman. Now, at 41 years old, Pacquiao is still in the conversation of top opponents for welterweight stars like Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.  After beating Pacquiao, Mayweather Jr. wrapped his career up with a win over Andre Berto to retire undefeated in 2015. Two years later however, Mayweather Jr. came back and claimed his 50th professional boxing win after defeating UFC star Conor McGregor by tenth-round TKO in a big-money superfight. Save for a three-round exhibition bout against Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in Japan on New Year's Eve of 2018, Mayweather has remained retired.  So whenever Pacquiao earns a big win or whenever Mayweather does anything remotely related to a boxing ring, rumbles of a rematch always begin to appear.  Asked if he was interested in a rematch however, Mayweather sort of shot the idea down.  Asked if a rematch against McGregor was on his radar, Mayweather told rapper Fat Joe that he was more interested in fighting guys who has whole countries behind him.  "I’m a businessman now. I already proved, years and years ago, that I was the best, period. I’m talking pound-for-pound, I already proved all of that," Mayweather Jr. said. "At my age now, I’m a businessman, so I’m not gonna be out there competing and fighting guys that only got a small city behind them. You got a lot of American fighters that are good, but they got little cities behind them. I’mma fight guys that got a whole country behind them. So, I know I can demand and get what I want to get."  "So that's Pacquiao?" Fat Joe responded, looking for clarification.  Mayweather Jr. responded by saying that he made more in the McGregor fight.  (READ: Pac-Mac at super middleweight? Conor McGregor has interesting response to Manny Pacquiao's birthday greeting) "Listen, I made more with McGregor," Mayweather Jr. said. "My faculties and everything that I got comes first. We just talked about “Your health is your wealth”, and that’s why I got this towel on, I was working out today." "Money" followed up by saying that the difference between himself and Pacquiao is that Pacquiao needs to keep fighting.  "Pacquiao fight because he have to. Once again, I fight if I want to, so there’s a difference."  Was that a no? Was it a maybe? What did Mayweather Jr.'s statements mean?  Mayweather Jr. also hit back at those saying that Pacquiao wasn't in his prime when they met back in 2015.  "We keep on saying ‘at our prime’, I’m older than Pacquiao by two years. We keep on saying ‘in your prime’. When I beat Pacquiao, they say he wasn’t in his prime. I’m older than [him]. When I fought Oscar de la Hoya, me and Oscar, we both was in our thirties. They keep on…no matter what happens, it’s never good enough for anyone." Right now, it appears that the 50-0 fighter is happy staying retired, but he did share that he has something cooking alongside Japanese promotion Rizin for this year.         .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 27th, 2020

ONE Championship s G.O.A.Ts: Bibiano Fernandes is Bantamweight Royalty

Nearly nine years since ONE Championship's first-ever event back in September of 2011, the Singapore-based promotion has grown into a powerhouse when it comes to martial arts and mixed martial arts in Asia, and a true force on the global stage.  As the company continues to grow, so do the stars, and so do their legacies.  ONE Championship crowned their first batch of champions in October of 2012, with Kotetsu Boku becoming the inaugural ONE Lightweight World Champion and Soo Chul Kim becoming the inaugural ONE Bantamweight World Champion on the same night.  Since then many champions have come and gone, and some have strengthened their places as the Greatest of All Time in their respective divisions, so far.  Today, we take a look at the bantamweight division's G.O.A.T. so far, Brazilian legend Bibiano "Flash" Fernandes. Name: Bibiano Fernandes Moniker: "Flash" Age: 40 Height: 5'7" Weight: 66-KG Professional Record: 24-4 (2 KO/TKO, 8 SUB)   FLASHback Prior to becoming ONE Championship's longest-tenured champion, Manaus-native Fernandes was already a household name in Japan, competing for the now-defunct DREAM promotion from 2009 to 2011. While it was a relatively short stint, during that short time, Fernandes won featherweight and bantamweight grand prix tournaments, and in the process, became the promotion's bantamweight and featherweight world champions.  In 2012, Fernandes made his ONE Championship debut (in the Philippines, no less), defeating Gustavo Falciroli via unanimous decision. Later that year, Fernandes finished up his stint in DREAM with a submission victory.  In 2013, Fernandes returned to the ONE Circle and defeated Kotetsu Okazaki to become the Interim ONE Bantamweight World Championship. Later that year, he unified the titles by defeating ONE's inaugural bantamweight king, Soo Chul Kim, which would mark the start of the longest championship reign in ONE history.    1848 Days of Dominance In his first reign as ONE's bantamweight champion, Fernandes toppled challenger after challenger, beating the best that the division had to offer.  Fernandes decisioned Masakatsu Ueda before submitting Dae Hwan Kim and Toni Tauru in his first three title defenses.  In his fourth title defense, Fernandes faced a challenger that would become all too familiar in the future: Team Lakay's Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon. Fernandes would handily defeat the Pinoy striker by submission in the first round, but that would not be the last time that the two would cross paths.  After dispatching of Belingon, Fernandes defended his title thrice more, edging out Reece McLaren in a five-round war and submitting Andrew Leone in just under two minutes.  In March of 2018, Fernandes was involved in a superfight between then-ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion Martin Nguyen, who was hunting for an unparalleled third simultaneous world championship in as many weight divisions.  Fernandes and Nguyen battled in an epic five-rounder, but in the end, it was Fernandes who prevailed, denying Ngyuen from making even more history.  As Fernandes continued to dispose of challengers, a former challenger in Belingon worked his way back up to the front of the line and earned another shot at Fernandes and the world championship.   The Rivalry Begins In 2018, two years after their first meeting, Fernandes and Belingon shared the cage once again and this time, the FIlipino star walked away with the victory and in the process ending the Brazilian's 14-fight undefeated streak and five-year reign as ONE Bantamweight World Champion.  With the rematch being close, a third installment of the Fernandes-Belingon rivalry was booked for ONE's historic first-ever show in Japan, and while it was meant to provide answers, it caused even more questions after a controversial ending wherein Belingon was disqualified for unintentional illegal strikes to the back of the head, leading to Fernandes regaining the title.  Due to the questionnable ending to their third encounter, a fourth bout was booked at ONE: CENTURY, and this time around, Fernandes left no doubt as he submitted Belingon in the second round to retain the ONE Bantameight World Championship.  Once again, "the Flash" sits atop the bantamweight kingdom as he looks forward to his next challenger.   WHY HE'S THE G.O.A.T. SO FAR: Fernandes, as mentioned earlier, was - and is - ONE's longest-tenured world champion. In his initial run as the bantamweight titleholder, Fernandes held the title for an unprecedented 1848 days, which included seven world title defenses against a veritable who's-who of challengers. Fernandes' first title reign remains longer than the reigns of heavyweight champion Brandon Vera (1592 days), former welterweight king Ben Askren (1517 days), former two-time lightweight champion Shinya Aoki (1316 + 47 days), three-time and reigning flyweight champion Adriano Moraes (435 + 323 + 451 days), and reigning women's atomweight champion Angela Lee (1445 days).    Considering his number of days as champion, number of title defenses, and the level of talent that he's faced and defeated, Fernandes isn't just the bantamweight division's Greatest of All-Time, but there's a strong arguement for him to be ONE Championship's pound-for-pound best of all time. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2020

ONE Championship s G.O.A.Ts: Joshua Pacio rises above the strawweight division

Nearly nine years since ONE Championship's first-ever event back in September of 2011, the Singapore-based promotion has grown into a powerhouse when it comes to martial arts and mixed martial arts in Asia, and a true force on the global stage.  As the company continues to grow, so do the stars, and so do their legacies.  ONE Championship crowned their first batch of champions in October of 2012, with Kotetsu Boku becoming the inaugural ONE Lightweight World Champion and Soo Chul Kim becoming the inaugural ONE Bantamweight World Champion on the same night.  Since then many champions have come and gone, and some have strengthened their places as the Greatest of All Time in their respective divisions, so far.    Today, we take a look at the men's strawweight division's G.O.A.T. so far, Team Lakay's Joshua "The Passion" Pacio.  Name: Joshua Pacio Moniker: The Passion Age: 24 Height: 5'3" Weight: 52-KG Professional Record: 19-3 (6 KO/TKO, 9 SUB)   The New Kid on The Block Possibly the youngest of the G.O.A.T.s so far, Team Lakay strawweight star Joshua Pacio's resume is undeniable.  After an undefeated run in the regional and local circuits, Pacio made his debut on the ONE Championship stage in 2016, following in the footsteps of established Team Lakay stars such as Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, Geje Eustaquio, and Kevin Belingon.  Pacio's debut bout was against compatriot Rabin Catalan, and immediately, he made quite the splash, scoring a second-round TKO victory. In his second ONE assignment, the young up-and-comer made his international debut in historic fashion, choking out Thailand's Kritsada Kongsrichai in just the first round in the first-ever ONE Championship bout in Macau, China.  The two impressive victories were enough, ONE Championship deemed, for Pacio to earn a world title shot against then-champion Yoshitaka "Nobita" Naito of Japan.    Too Much, Too Soon? Many believed that Pacio was pushed into that situation too fast. After all, Naito, who had just dethroned former champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, was already a champion during his time in Shooto.  A precursor of things to come however, Pacio proved that he deserved to be in there with the champion, holding his own for three rounds before committing one single mistake and getting submitted by Naito. While Pacio's performance was impressive, it was clear that Naito's experience was still the difference-maker.    Comeback Kid Still very young and with so much promise ahead of him, Pacio continued to improve. Following the loss to Naito, Pacio compiled a 4-1 record with wins over the likes of former champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, Roy Doliguez, Lan Ming Qian, and Pongsiri Mitsatit in the bout that introduced the iconic "Passion Lock."  A three-fight winning streak capped off by the impressive win over Mitsatit earned Pacio another shot at Naito and the ONE Strawweight World Championship.   A New King In this second encounter. Pacio showcased his exponential growth in skills and in confidence, as he stifled the submission specialist at his own game to become the new ONE Strawweight World Championship. Pacio would be one of four Team Lakay members capture ONE World Championship gold in 2018.  Winning the title was impressive, but keeping the title was another thing, and for his first defense, Pacio was getting ready to defend his title against a familiar opponent in Hayato Suzuki. It was a chance at revenge for Pacio since Suzuki had dealt the Pinoy his second career loss in 2017.  The rematch would not materialize however, and Pacio would be matched with another Japanese standout in Yosuke Saruta.  The short-notice opponent seemingly, as well as admitted confidence issues, took Pacio off his game, and Saruta stunned world by beating the Pinoy champion by Split Decision.    Pacio 2.0 Because the match was as close as close can be, ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong decided that the only next step would be an immediate rematch. With a renewed sense of confidence and a hunger to regain his place at the top, Joshua Pacio exacted revenge in explosive fashion, knocking Saruta clean out in the fourth round. The Champ was back.  Once again, Pacio had to prove that he was indeed the champion by successfully defending his title, and his first challenger was a Pinoy buzzsaw by the name of Rene Catalan.  Catalan was the obvious choice for top contender after racking up six straight victories, including a TKO win over former champion Naito (something that, in two attempts, Pacio was unable to do). When the cage doors closed on this Pinoy versus Pinoy world title bout however, Pacio showed that he was simply on another level, picking Catalan apart in the striking department before ultimately finishing things off with an arm-triangle in the second round.  If it wasn't clear then, it was clear now, who the top guy in the division was.  With the win over Catalan, Pacio was already nearing G.O.A.T. status in the strawweight division, having already defeated two former champions and the most dangerous contender there is. To finally acheive that status however, Pacio needed to turn back just one more former champion in Brazilian submission specialist Alex Silva and fittingly enough, ONE Championship booked that very match to kick off 2020.  Silva's resumé was stacked, with wins over the likes of Naito, Suzuki, Rene and Robin Catalan, and even Pacio's teammate Eustaquio. No doubt, the Brazlilan was going to be a tough challenge for "The Passion".  Throughout the five-round bout, Pacio was able to control the pace in the standup while also doing well in defending and scoring on the ground to grind out a Split Decision victory.  With the win over Silva, Pacio cemented his status as the best strawweight in the promotion today, and likely the best strawweight the promotion has seen so far.    WHY HE'S THE G.O.A.T. SO FAR: While of course there's an arguement for Yoshitaka Naito, Joshua Pacio is the best strawweight in ONE history because of the pedigree of opponents that he's defeated, which includes all former champions (Dejdamrong, Naito, Saruta, Silva), as well as having the most successful defenses in ONE strawweight history (2). What's even more impressive is that at 24 years old, it's likely that Pacio hasn't even reached his peak and could be at the top of the division for years to come.  The lone defeat that Pacio hasn't avenged, and may never get to, is the loss to Suzuki. Unfortunately, Suzuki has parted ways with ONE, and a rematch with "The Passion" grows more and more unlikely.  If you ask Pacio however, his legacy isn't something that he's thinking about just yet. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 2nd, 2020

Manny Pacquiao’s return to glory highlights Boxing in 2019

Apart from basketball and football, arguably no other sport dominates the global headlines quite like ‘The Sweet Science’. Such was the case once again in 2019, as the sport provided some pretty big stories, including a couple of returns to glory, some continued dominance, and even a pretty epic upset. Here are some of boxing’s biggest hits in 2019:   Manny’s Back! Well, okay, maybe it wouldn’t be right to say that he’s in his prime, but Manny Pacquiao definitely showed that in 2019, he can still hang with the best. The 41-year old eight-division world champion showed just that at the start of the year when he dominated Adrien Broner in Las Vegas to defend his WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Championship. Then, just six months later, Pacquiao did even better by dethroning the previously-undefeated Keith Thurman for the WBA (Super) Welterweight World Championship. With Pacquiao’s recent resurgence, so to speak, more and more possible big money bouts are being discussed, but the whispers that continue to be prevalent are those of a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. While ‘Money’ remains retired, he’s done more than enough to continuously fan the flames of a potential rematch, and 2020 could finally be the year that it becomes a reality. As always, we’ll just have to wait and see.   Donnie Nietes vacates WBO title From one Filipino boxing great, we jump to another, as Donnie Nietes made headlines early in the year, and then was pretty much never heard from for the rest of 2019. After defeating Kazuto Ioka to become the WBO Super Flyweight World Champion in the very final day of 2018, Nietes was once again a world champion and seemed to be in for another dominant year as one of the division’s top dogs. In a surprise move however, Nietes decided to vacate the title in March, without even defending it, citing his desire for bouts against big-name opponents in the division. With Nietes vacating the title, it set up a title bout against then-mandatory challenger Aston Palicte and Kazuto Ioka, with Ioka ultimately winning and taking the WBO title. As for Nietes, the longest-reining Filipino boxing, who last fought on December 31, 2018, he will go more than a year without competing for the first time in his storied career. Hopefully, 2020 features the long-awaited return of “Ahas”.   The dominance continues for Lomachenko, Crawford, Canelo, and Ancajas Some won titles, others vacated, and others just remained on top. This was the case for the likes of Vasily Lomachenko, Terrence Crawford, Canelo Alvarez, and our very own Jerwin Ancajas. 2019 was a relatively quiet year for Loma, who only had two bouts to his name. The Ukrainian boxing machine KOd Anthony Crolla in April to retain the WBA super and WBO World Lightweight World Championships. In August, Lomachencko defeated Luke Campbell via Unanimous Decision to retain his titles and win the vacant WBC World Lightweight Championship. “Bud” Crawford also had himself a two-fight year in 2019. In April, Crawford faced Amir Khan in a highly-anticipated bout, and ended up scoring a sixth-round TKO to retain his WBO World Welterweight crown. In mid-December, Crawford scored another TKO win to defend his title, this time against Egidijus Kavaliauskas Canelo Alvarez meanwhile, became a four-division world champion in 2019 after going up to light heavyweight and dispatching Sergey Kovalev in 11 rounds to capture the WBO title. This was after he opened the year with an impressive 12-round win over Daniel Jacobs to retain the WBC, WBA super and IBF Middleweight World Championships. Our very own IBF Super Flyweight World Champion Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas also had a good year, defeating Ryuichi Funai and Miguel Gonzales en route to eight successful world title defenses.   Andy Ruiz Jr. shocks the world In recent years, boxing’s heavyweight division belonged to the likes of Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua. That all changed when Joshua saw himself fall victim to the biggest boxing upset of the year. Following a failed drug test from his initial challenger Jared Miller, Joshua was matched up with Mexican heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr, who many didn’t take seriously due to his less than impressive physique. Ruiz quickly silenced the naysayers by using his speed and power to drop Joshua four times, twice in what would be the final seventh round, to shock the world and capture the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight World Championships. Ruiz also became the first Mexican heavyweight world champion in boxing history. In the rematch however, Joshua bounced right back and dominated Ruiz across 12 rounds to reclaim the titles. Part 3 could be something to watch out for this 2020.   Nonito Doniare Jr. and Naoya Inoue put on a war Many expected it to be a quick affair, but the World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight Finale between Nonito Donaire Jr. and Naoya Inoue ended up becoming a 12-round classic, worth of Fight of the Year honors. Donaire Jr. and Inoue both earned their spots in the tournament finale, but judging from their prior performances, it looked like ‘The Monster’ Inoue was set to make quick work of an aging, presumed-to-be-past-his-prime Donaire Jr. “The Filipino Flash” instead gave Inoue the fight of his life, putting the pressure on the Japanese star like no one else before has been able to do. Unfortunately for Donaire, the younger Inoue simply had more in the tank left, as he was able to grind out a Unanimous Decision win, but it was clearly the hardest win he had ever had. For Donaire’s part, his impressive performance in the loss earned him a mandatory challenger spot against WBC Bantamweight World Champion Nordine Oubaali in 2020.   Amatuer stars Eumir Marcial and Nesthy Petecio shine on the world stage and in the SEA Games It wasn’t just the Pinoy pros that had their time in the spotlight, as a pair of amateur pugs also made headlines in 2019. Filipino middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial finished with silver in the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Russia and then finished the year with a dominant run in the 2019 SEA Games, stopping both his opponents en route to a gold medal. Nesthy Petecio meanwhile, became a world champion after capturing gold in the 2019 AIBA Women’s Boxing World Championships, also in Russia. Petecio’s win earned her a spot as the torchbearer in the 2019 SEA Games, lighting the cauldron alongside Pinoy boxing legend Manny Pacquiao. Petecio also captured gold in the SEA Games tournaments.   Quadro Alas becomes a three-division champion For a while, it looked like Johnriel “Quadro Alas” Casimero was done. After an uninspired loss to Jonas Sultan in a super flyweight title eliminator, Casimero steadily got back on track and picked up win after win until he was suddenly a titleholder again, winning the WBO Interim Bantamweight World Championship in April. After a successful defense of the interim belt, Casimero became the mandatory challenger to reigning WBO World Champion Zolani Tete. Tete was coming into that fight as the heavy favorite, riding a 12-fight winning streak which included three successful title defenses. Casimero halted the Tete hype train with a third-round TKO win to once again become a world champion, his third in as many weight divisions. With the win, Casimero now sets his sights on a possible super-fight against Naoya Inoue in 2020......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2019

Texans grab AFC South lead with 24-21 victory over Titans

By The Associated Press NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Houston Texans grabbed control of the AFC South by beating the Tennessee Titans 24-21 Sunday. The defending division champs are looking for Houston's fourth AFC South title in six years under coach Bill O'Brien. The Titans haven't won this division since 2008, and Mike Vrabel is Tennessee's third coach since then. Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a 29-yard field goal with 3:26 left for the winning points. The Texans (9-5) nearly blew a 14-0 halftime lead. Deshaun Watson threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns, but Tennessee also intercepted him twice inside the Titans 1. The Titans (8-6) snapped a four-game win streak with only their second loss in seven games. Now they will need help in the final two games to earn their second playoff berth in three seasons. When the Titans tied it at 14 early in the fourth quarter, the Texans scored 10 straight points. Carlos Hyde ran for a 10-yard TD, then Fairbairn's field goal finished Houston's scoring. Ryan Tannehill hit Dion Lewis with an 11-yard TD pass with 2:04 left to pull Tennessee within 24-21. But the Titans used backup kicker Ryan Santoso on the onside kick, and the ball only went 7 yards before being smothered by Texans safety Justin Reid. BILLS 17, STEELERS 10 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Josh Allen threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Kroft with 7:55 to play and Buffalo clinched a playoff spot, beating Pittsburgh. The Bills secured their second playoff berth in three seasons under coach Sean McDermott. Buffalo trailed 10-7, but scored on two possessions in the fourth quarter, as Allen rallied the Bills for a comeback win for the fifth time this season. Consecutive interceptions by Jordan Poyer and Levi Wallace on Pittsburgh’s last two possessions sealed the victory. The surging Steelers had an opportunity to leapfrog the Bills for the top AFC wild card spot, but Buffalo snapped Pittsburgh’s three-game win streak. Buffalo won for the fourth time in five games and recorded its first 10-win season since 1999. The Bills also beat the Steelers for the second time ever in Pittsburgh. Allen completed 13 of 25 passes for 139 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Allen, who also rushed for a score, has only lost consecutive games once in his career. Kroft scored his first touchdown since 2017 when he played for Cincinnati. Devin Singletary rushed for 87 yards and John Brown caught seven passes for 99 yards. He became Buffalo’s first 1,000-yard receiver since 2015. Devlin Hodges completed 23 of 38 passes for 202 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. PACKERS 21, BEARS 13 GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Jones ran for two scores, Davante Adams caught another in the 200th edition of he NFL's oldest rivalry. With the win, the Packers (11-3) clinched a playoff spot and swept the regular-season series between the teams for the 15th time in the last 26 seasons and the seventh time in the last 11 seasons. Green Bay defeated Chicago 10-3 in the season opener. Green Bay now leads the all-time series 99-95-6. The Bears (7-7) saw their three-game win streak end. The Packers improved to 19-5 against their NFC North rival with Rodgers as the starting quarterback. Rodgers completed just 16 of 33 passes for a pedestrian 203 yards but did enough to secure the victory. The two-time MVP entered the day with a 103.2 career passer rating against the Bears, the highest in league history of quarterbacks with at least 250 passes against Chicago. He had a 78.2 rating on Sunday. Mitchell Trubisky completed his first five pass attempts for the Bears but for only 18 yards. Chicago's offense opened the game with three straight punts and a turnover on downs. Trubisky finished 28 of 53 for 321 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. PATRIOTS 34, BENGALS 13 CINCINNATI (AP) — Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes to move within one of the NFL career record, Stephon Gilmore returned one of his two interceptions 64 yards for a score, and the Patriots clinched a playoff berth. A week that started with intrigue — a Patriots crew videotaping the Bengals' sideline in Cleveland — concluded with more New England history. The Patriots have made the playoffs 11 consecutive seasons, extending their NFL record. Brady had touchdown passes of 23 and 7 yards that left him with 538 for his career, one shy of Peyton Manning's record. The Patriots (11-3) haven't been as overwhelming in this playoff push, getting just enough out of the 42-year-old Brady and more than enough out of the league's top-ranked defense. Thousands of Patriots fans filled the stadium and chanted Brady's name as the minutes ran off. Brady was 15 of 29 for 128 yards and a pair of sacks. The Patriots broke a two-game losing streak with four interceptions in the second half. Gilmore picked off Andy Dalton twice in the third quarter, with his second pick-6 of the season putting New England in control. The Patriots pushed their league-leading interception total to 25. The Bengals (1-13) got a touchdown pass from Dalton that ended a streak of 20 straight games without reaching the end zone on their opening drive. All they managed the rest of the way was a pair of field goals. CHIEFS 23, BRONCOS 3 KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns, and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were on the receiving end of many of his biggest throws, as the AFC West champions romped to remain in the hunt for the No. 2 playoff seed and a potential first-round bye. Like a bunch of kids getting a snow day from school, the Chiefs enjoyed every minute of it. Hill caught five passes for 67 yards and both scores, and Kelce hauled in 11 catches for 142 yards to become the first tight end in NFL history with four consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, helping the Chiefs (10-4) beat the Broncos for the ninth straight time. Denver (5-9) hasn't won in Kansas City since Sept. 17, 2015. The Chiefs outscored their longtime division rival 53-9 this season. Whether it was the snowy weather or the suddenly stout Chiefs defense, the Broncos were so inept offensively that Kelce had more yards receiving at the start of the fourth quarter than they had total offense (139 yards). Phillip Lindsay was bottled up on the ground, and former Missouri standout Drew Lock — who grew up in the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit, Missouri — spent most of the day seeing red jerseys bearing down on him. The rookie quarterback was 18 of 40 for 208 yards and an egregious interception in the end zone. COWBOYS 44, RAMS 21 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes and Ezekiel Elliott ran for two scores. The Cowboys (7-7) ended their second three-game losing streak of the season, and the defending NFC East champions stayed even with Philadelphia atop the division with a showdown looming next week. The defending NFC champion Rams (8-6), who already needed help to get into the playoffs, didn't help themselves with another poor showing a week after their most impressive game of the season in a win over Seattle. Their loss clinched playoff berths for Seattle, San Francisco and Green Bay. After rushing for a franchise playoff-record 273 yards in a 30-22 divisional win over the Cowboys last January, the Rams were held to 22 while Dallas churned out a season-high 263. Todd Gurley had 11 carries for 20 yards. Coming off two of his better games of the season, Rams quarterback Jared Goff had a rough outing that looked better because of his fourth-quarter numbers with the outcome decided. He finished 33 of 51 for 284 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Cowboys' No. 1-ranked offense kept rolling with a season high in points to go with 475 yards, including scoring drives of 90 and 97 yards. FALCONS 29, 49ERS 20 SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Matt Ryan teamed with Julio Jones on a 5-yard pass that was ruled a touchdown after a replay reversal with 2 seconds left. Jones was called short of the goal line with the Falcons (5-9) trailing 22-17. But a replay showed the ball breaking the plane with the Jones in the air while being tackled by Jimmie Ward. When things couldn't get crazier, they did: On the final kickoff, Atlanta scored another touchdown when Olamide Zaccheaus came up with the ball as the 49ers were tossing it around in desperation. The 49ers (11-3) still clinched their first playoff berth since a 2013 run to the NFC championship game with the Rams' loss at Dallas. In an afternoon when Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense hardly shined, San Francisco's other units did their best to hold off Ryan until the quarterback exhibited the poise of a former MVP in a dramatic final minute — or, make that 12 seconds. Facing his former team and now in his third year as 49ers coach, Kyle Shanahan's high-powered offense fizzled much of the day. Shanahan spent two seasons as offensive coordinator in Atlanta coaching Ryan during his 2016 MVP year when the Falcons set a franchise record by scoring 540 points and Ryan had career bests in yards passing (4,944), TD passes (38) and passer rating (117.1). Then the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead on New England in the Super Bowl and Shanahan left for the Bay Area shortly after. VIKINGS 39, CHARGERS 10 CARSON, Calif, (AP) — Dan Bailey kicked four field goals and Ifeadi Odenigbo scored Minnesota's second defensive touchdown in three games. Los Angeles led 10-9 midway through the second quarter before Minnesota scored 30 unanswered points. The Chargers (5-9), who have dropped four of their last five, committed seven turnovers, their most since having seven against the Giants in 1986. The seven turnovers resulted in 20 Minnesota points. Mike Boone ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and Kirk Cousins threw for 207 yards and a TD for the Vikings (10-4), who have won four of their last five to remain in possession of the NFC's last playoff spot. Melvin Gordon fumbled twice and Philip Rivers threw three interceptions. Rivers, who threw for 307 yards, has been picked off 10 times in the past five games. LA appeared to be in field goal range at the Vikings 26. But on second-and-2, Rivers fumbled when he was sacked by Danielle Hunter. Austin Ekeler recovered it at the 38 and tried to make a play but also fumbled. Odenigbo then scooped up the loose ball and went 56 yards for a touchdown to give Minnesota a 19-10 lead. Boone, who had 49 yards on 13 attempts, had most of his carries in the second half after Dalvin Cook was injured. He had touchdown runs of 8 and 2 yards in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. SEAHAWKS 30, PANTHERS 24 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Russell Wilson threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns, Chris Carson ran for 133 yards and two scores. The Seahawks (11-3) wrapped up a postseason berth for the seventh time in the last eight seasons with a Rams loss at Dallas. They also tied San Francisco for the NFC West lead. It was the 100th regular season win for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Seattle scored on its first three possessions as Wilson completed 8 of 10 passes for 175 yards, with 19-yard touchdown passes to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for a perfect 153.8 QB rating. Chris Carson added a 16-yard TD run as the Seahawks built a 20-7 lead at halftime. But Seattle had to hold on after nearly surrendering a 30-10 lead with 7:28 left in the game as Carolina (5-9) got two touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey scored on a 15-yard run and Kyle Allen found Curtis Samuel for a 5-yard score to make it a one-possession game with 3:19 left. But the Seahawks overcame two holding penalties and Wilson connected on a 14-yard pass to Lockett on a third-and-11 to help the Seahawks run out the clock. EAGLES 37, REDSKINS 27 LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Carson Wentz recovered from a late fumble by leading a 75-yard, go-ahead scoring drive and throwing his third touchdown pass of the day to keep the Eagles' NFC East hopes on track. Wentz threw TD passes to running back Miles Sanders, tight end Zach Ertz and receiver Greg Ward and was 30 of 43 for 266 yards. The 4-yard pass from Wentz to Ward with 26 seconds left put Philadelphia up for good and electrified a stadium full of green-clad Eagles fans. Wentz's ability to bounce back from some accuracy issues and a turnover means the Eagles (7-7) are tied with Dallas in the division race with a game against the Cowboys coming next week. Of course, Wentz didn't do it by himself. Sanders rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 50 yards. The Eagles defense that struggled to stop Washington's Dwayne Haskins most of the afternoon got him to fumble for a touchdown return by Nigel Bradham on the game's final play. Coming off an overtime victory against Eli Manning and the New York Giants, a loss to Washington (3-11) could've had the Eagles facing elimination next week. CARDINALS 38, BROWNS 24 GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kenyan Drake ran for four touchdowns, Kyler Murray threw for 219 yards and a score and the Cardinals snapped a six-game losing streak. Murray got the best of a much-anticipated showdown with Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield. The two were teammates in college at Oklahoma and both won Heisman Trophies before being selected with the No. 1 overall picks by their respective teams in back-to-back years. Murray completed 19 of 25 passes and also ran for 58 yards. Drake, acquired midseason in a trade with the Dolphins, ran for a season-high 137 yards and scored a touchdown in every quarter. He's the first Cardinals player to score four rushing touchdowns in a game since 1993. Arizona pushed ahead 28-17 late in the third quarter when Drake scored his third touchdown on a 1-yard run, one play after the Cardinals won a pivotal challenge. Cleveland's Damarious Randall was called for defensive pass interference after a review, reversing the no-call on the field. Cleveland's Nick Chubb — who came in as the NFL's leading rusher — finished with 127 yards on the ground. Mayfield completed 30 of 43 passes for 247 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. JAGUARS 20, RAIDERS 16 OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Gardner Minshew threw two TD passes to Chris Conley in the final 5:15 of the game and the Jaguars spoiled the final scheduled game at the Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders (6-8) broke out to a 16-3 lead and appeared comfortably ahead before falling apart in the closing minutes to put a damper on an already somber day in Oakland. The Jaguars (5-9) drove 79 yards to draw within 16-13 on Minshew's 6-yard TD pass to Conley. The Raiders tried to run out the clock and got a pair of first-down runs from Josh Jacobs and another from Derek Carr. But Carr was ruled out of bounds with 2:05 to play after sliding down, sparing the Jaguars from using a timeout. Oakland then got a delay of game in the confusion and Tyrell Williams dropped a third-down pass. Daniel Carlson then missed a 50-yard field goal, only to get another chance after Parry Nickerson was called for running into the kicker. Carlson missed again from 45 yards and the Jaguars took over at the 35 with 1:44 to go. Minshew moved them downfield and connected with Conley on the 4-yard score with 31 seconds left. GIANTS 36, DOLPHINS 20 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning threw two touchdowns in what might have been his final home start for the Giants and New York snapped a franchise record-tying nine-game losing streak. Saquon Barkley ran for 112 yards and scored two walk-in touchdowns and New York's much-maligned defense added a safety as the Giants (3-11) handed the Dolphins (3-11) their second loss in as many weeks at MetLife Stadium. Manning, who lost his starting job to first-round draft pick Daniel Jones in Week 3 and got it back last week when the rookie sprained an ankle, threw a 51-yard scoring pass to Golden Tate in the second quarter. He threw a go-ahead 5-yarder to Darius Slayton on the opening series of the second half. The 38-year-old also threw three interceptions, two of which set up by field goals by Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders. With 1:50 left, Manning (20 of 28 for 283 yards) was taken out by coach Pat Shurmur and replaced by Alex Tanney, drawing his second standing ovation from those left in the crowd. He walked to the sideline and was congratulated by teammates while the crowd chanted "Eli Manning.'' He even smiled. Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose game slipped after taking a big hit on a third-quarter scramble, threw two touchdowns to DaVante Parker, the second one with the game out of reach. BUCCANEERS 38, LIONS 17 DETROIT (AP) — Jameis Winston became the first player in NFL history to throw for 450 yards in consecutive games. Winston threw three touchdowns in the first half — four overall — and a career-high 458 yards one week after throwing for 456 yards. The Buccaneers (7-7) have won four straight and five of six, but their surge started too late for them to get in the playoffs race. Detroit (3-10-1) has dropped seven games in a row and 10 of 11, increasing the scrutiny of embattled coach Matt Patricia. The Lions looked like they were still competing for their coach, and themselves, after falling behind 21-0 in the first half. Running back Wes Hills, signed Saturday, ran for a second TD early in the fourth quarter to cut Tampa Bay's lead to 24-17. The comeback hopes ended with a thud. Sean Murphy-Bunting returned an interception 70 yards for a score and a 14-point lead. Winston followed with his fourth TD pass, connecting with Breshad Perriman for a third time......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 16th, 2019

Jazz pairing improved offense with already tough defense

By John Coon, Associated Press SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Playing rugged defense has helped Utah become a consistent playoff team. Now the Jazz seek to become a bigger postseason threat with a more versatile offense. Utah made a flurry of offseason moves designed to bolster the team’s outside shooting and give coach Quin Snyder additional shot creators. The Jazz traded for veteran point guard Mike Conley and signed small forward Bojan Bogdanovic, both of whom were leading scorers on their previous teams. Utah also added Jeff Green to give the team another versatile shooter. The roster makeover is designed to take some of the scoring and shot creation burden away from Donovan Mitchell. “It’s no secret we want to pick-and-roll a lot,” Mitchell said. “It honestly makes my life easier trying to find guys. Now (opponents) have a harder decision to make on defense.” If Mitchell takes another step forward in his third season, defensive decisions for opponents will become even more complicated. He averaged a team-high 23.8 points per game a year ago but shot just 43.2% from the field while facing relentless defensive pressure. Utah’s newest additions figure to give Mitchell easier looks at the basket and make the whole offense run smoother. Conley averaged 21.1 points and dished out 6.4 assists per game in his final season with Memphis. Bogdanovic averaged a career-best 18 points per game for Indiana last season while shooting 49.7% from the field. Green tallied 12.3 points per game for Washington on 47.5% shooting. These new additions have the Jazz setting some lofty goals. “Obviously, our ultimate goal is to win the championship,” Conley said. “We’re not fooling ourselves like we’ve been there, done that. We’re gonna come in and work every day and try to maximize each day.” Other things to know about the Jazz heading into the season: CENTER OF ATTENTION Rudy Gobert posted career highs in points (15.9) and rebounds (12.9) per game, as well as field goal percentage (.669), in his sixth NBA season. He capped it off with his second straight defensive player of the year award. Now Gobert has set his sights on reaching his first NBA All-Star game as he enters his seventh year. He believes the Jazz have put him in a position to make an even bigger impact by plugging in players around him and Mitchell who will create more spacing on the floor. “They can build a team around us and around our abilities to put a lot of pressure on the rim,” Gobert said. “It’s on me to be the guy that I’ve been defensively, even better, and offensively keep showing I’m getting better every year.” PERIMETER UPGRADE Getting long-distance shots to fall ended up being a problem for Utah during a first-round playoff exit against Houston. Outside shooting could now be a strength for the Jazz going forward. Five current players ranked in the Top 100 in 3-point shooting percentage a season ago. Bogdanovic leads the way after ranking 10th in the league in 3-point shooting last season. The forward, who signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the Jazz in July, connected on 42.5% of his outside shots with the Pacers last year. Utah will find ways to pair him with Joe Ingles, the team’s top returning perimeter shooter. Ingles made 39.1% of his attempts last season. TRANSITION STOPPERS Defending well in transition was a key component of Utah’s defense last season. The Jazz ranked second in the league when it came to defending transition baskets, allowing opponents to score just 11.4 fastbreak points per game. Utah led the NBA in the same category two years ago, allowing 9.5 fastbreak points per contest. Expect it to be a point of emphasis again. “Doesn’t matter who’s on the floor, we gotta get back,” Snyder said. SECOND CHANCE Former lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay signed with the Jazz on a one-year, $1.7 million deal in July. He is coming off four mostly disappointing seasons with Denver and New York. He did show some flashes of potential with the Knicks a year ago, averaging a career-best 14.8 points. Mudiay has dealt with an injured hamstring during the preseason, complicating his bid to become the backup point guard behind Conley. EXUM REHABBING Injuries have limited Exum to 56 games over the last two seasons. He continues to rehab from a season-ending knee injury a year ago. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Exum is in the second year of a three-year, $33 million deal he signed with Utah in 2018......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2019

Leclerc takes 4th straight pole at Russian GP, Hamilton 2nd

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Charles Leclerc clinched his fourth straight pole position and championship leader Lewis Hamilton was second in qualifying at Formula One's Russian Grand Prix on Saturday. Leclerc finished 0.402 seconds clear of Hamilton, with Leclerc's Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel third fastest at the Sochi Autodrome. Hamilton is bidding for his first win since the summer break and his Mercedes team is often the dominant force in Russia, having won all of the five races staged here. Hamilton is 65 points ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in his quest for a sixth world title, but looks to have his work cut out against Leclerc. Alex Albon crashed out of qualifying. The London-born Thai spun at the slow-speed Turn 13 before slamming into the barriers. The driver was unhurt. Vettel finished ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen but the Dutch driver will be bumped back five places following a grid penalty for changes to his engine. Ferrari, winless in the opening half of the season, is now the team to beat as it seeks a fourth consecutive victory. While Vettel ended his 13-month losing streak in Singapore last weekend, it is Leclerc who continues to impress in his opening season with the Scuderia. This marked his sixth pole this season and it is also the 10th straight round Leclerc has out-qualified Vettel, the four-time world champion, who was 0.425 slower in qualifying. "It definitely feels great to be back on pole," said Leclerc, who became the first Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher to claim four straight poles. Leclerc is 96 points behind Hamilton in the championship, with a total of only 156 to play for in the remaining six races. Hamilton has not been on pole since the German Grand Prix in July, a streak of five races, but was delighted to have split the Ferraris with his final effort. "I gave it everything I could in the end and I am so glad it came together," Hamilton said. "I wasn't expecting to be on the front row so I am really happy." Bottas finished fifth in qualifying. The Finn will join Vettel on the second row following Verstappen's penalty. Earlier Saturday, McLaren said the team will be powered by Mercedes from 2021, ending its association with Renault at the end of the 2020 campaign. The long-term agreement will run until at least 2024......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2019

Americans top Antetokounmpo, Greece at World Cup 69-53

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press SHENZHEN, China (AP) — Kemba Walker scored 15 points, Donovan Mitchell scored 10 on his 23rd birthday and the U.S. contained NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, defeating Greece 69-53 in a second-round game at the World Cup on Saturday. Harrison Barnes and Derrick White each scored nine for the U.S. (4-0), which can clinch a quarterfinal berth Monday in multiple ways. It needs either a win over Brazil or a Greece win over the Czech Republic or through a three-way tiebreaker, if necessary. Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks star and reigning NBA MVP, scored 15 points but Greece (2-2) was eliminated from contention for a spot in the quarterfinals. The U.S. national team has won 57 consecutive games in international tournaments with NBA players, starting with the 2006 world championships bronze-medal game and continuing through every FIBA Americas, world championships, World Cup and Olympic event since. The streak started after a 101-95 loss to Greece in 2006 — a defeat that forced the U.S. to change its program. The Americans haven’t lost in the biggest tournaments since. “I thought we played well,” Walker said. “Stuck to the game plan.” Antetokounmpo’s eyes were closed as he mouthed along with the words of Greece’s national anthem. After the U.S. anthem played and the rosters from both sides met at midcourt for the customary pregame exchange of gifts, the NBA MVP shook hands with Bucks teammate Brook Lopez and gave him a quick hug. Other than that, there was no pregame interaction between Antetokounmpo and the Americans. He was super-aggressive from the jump, spinning his way to a layup on the first possession, making a 3-pointer on Greece’s second possession and he got fouled on a baseline drive on the next trip down the floor. So that was five points in the first 43 seconds for Antetokounmpo. He scored four in his next 18 minutes of playing time. The Americans kept a steady stream of different looks coming at the MVP — who was guarded in the first half alone by Harrison Barnes, Khris Middleton, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Myles Turner. The Celtics players, perhaps mindful of what he did against them in last season’s playoffs, held him scoreless in the half and the U.S. went into the break with a 38-25 lead. Antetokounmpo had a steal and dunk late in the third, which got plenty of fans out of their seats and Greek fans waving flags. But the outcome was never in doubt, and the MVP was on the bench for the entire fourth quarter in a somewhat puzzling move. TIP-INS U.S.: Mitchell’s birthday came a day after Joe Harris turned 28. ... Smart, who has twice missed time with leg injuries this summer, slipped and fell as he chased a loose ball out of bounds with 1:11 left in the first. He stayed in the game. ... The U.S. shot only 36%. Greece: The outcome came five years to the day after the Greeks were ousted by Serbia in the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup. ... Nick Calathes became the third Florida player to be part of a loss to the U.S. this summer; Andrew Nembhard played in the Americans’ pre-World Cup win over Canada in Australia, and Scottie Wilbekin played for Turkey in its overtime loss to the U.S. in the group stage. HOLDING LEADS Through four games, the U.S. has trailed for all of 7 minutes, 48 seconds — out of a possible 165 minutes. The Americans have led for 147:02, and games have been tied for 10:10. CLAMPING DOWN The U.S. has held Japan and Greece to a combined 98 points in the last two games. That represents the fewest points the U.S. has allowed in consecutive games of a major international tournament since the 1988 Olympics, when the Americans gave up 92 in a two-game stretch against Egypt and Puerto Rico. UP NEXT U.S.: Face Brazil (3-1) in a second-round finale Monday in Shenzhen. Greece: Face the Czech Republic (3-1) in a second-round finale Monday in Shenzhen......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 7th, 2019

Ingles 1 assist short of triple-double as Australia rolls

By Stephen Wade, Associated Press Australia showed it can do damage by ending the Americans' 78-game winning streak in a warm-up game just over a week ago. On Tuesday in Group H, the Boomers defeated Senegal 81-68 in Dongguan in the far south of China to improve to 2-0 and qualify for the second round. Senegal is 0-2. Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs led Australia with 22 points, but Joe Ingles of the Utah Jazz was the game's top player with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Ingles was one assist away from a triple-double, which a FIBA official told him would have been a first in the World Cup. "I didn't know that, but even though I do know it now it still doesn't bother me," he said. "The only goal today was to win the game and that's all our focus." It was not that easy despite Ingles' big numbers. Australia led 36-33 at the half and struggled with the tall African team. Senegal has nine players at least 2.02 meters (6-foot-8) or taller. And four at 2.08 (6-10) or taller. "That could be the tallest overall team that we've played against in my time as coach," Australia coach Andrej Lemanis said. Added Ingles: "That first half, they kind of had us on our back foot a little bit. We had to come in at halftime and address a few things." Xane Dalmeida led Senegal with 14 points in a game the Africans kept surprisingly close. LITHUANIA 92, CANADA 69 At Dongguan, Lithuania booked its place in the second round. The victory also assured Australia of advancing from Group H. Lithuania, which is 2-0, had six players in double figures, topped by Edgaras Ulanovas and Jonas Valanciunas with 13 each. Kyle Wiltjer led Canada with 24. Canada fell to 0-2. NEW ZEALAND 93, MONTENEGRO 83 At Nanjing, New Zealand downed Montenegro to move to 1-1 in Group F. Montenegro is 0-2. Corey Webster led the Kiwis with 25 points and teammate Isaac Fotu added 20. Nikola Ivanovic had 18 to lead Montenegro, and Nikola Vucevic added 15. BRAZIL 79, GREECE 78 At Nanjing, Brazil improved to 2-0 and moved closer to the second round. Greece fell to 1-1 in Group F and will need a win in its final group game with New Zealand. Anderson Varejao hit a critical jumper for Brazil with 14 seconds left and Leandrinho Barbosa hit a final free throw for the three-point edge. Kostas Sloukas had three free throws with two seconds left that would have tied the score, but he made only two. Varejao led Brazil with 22 points, while Georgios Printezis led Greece with 20. UNITED STATES 93, TURKEY 92 OT At Shanghai, the Americans (2-0) scraped by, and they needed overtime to do it in Group E. The victory moved them into the second round. They face winless Japan in the final group game. Khris Middleton led the Americans with 15 points and Kemba Walker added 14. Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks had 23 points and 15 rebounds for Turkey (1-1). CZECH REPUBLIC 89, JAPAN 76 At Shanghai, Blake Schilb and Jaromira Bohacik each scored 22 points and the Czech Republic kept Japan winless in Group E. Tomas Satoransky had 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Czechs (1-1). Rui Hachimura led Japan (0-2) with 21 points, while Nick Fazekas had 12 points and 10 rebounds. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 70, GERMANY 68 At Shenzhen, the Dominican Republic improved to 2-0 and Germany fell to 0-2 in Group G. Victor Liz led the Dominicans with 17 points and Eloy Vargas added 16 as the Caribbean team advanced to the second round. Dennis Schroder was Germany's top scorer with 20, and Daniel Theis added 12. FRANCE 103, JORDAN 64 At Shenzhen, France moved into the second round from Group G along with the Dominican Republic. France (2-0) had five players in double figures, led by Nando De Colo with 19. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz added 16. Dar Tucker led Jordan (0-2) with 20 points. WIN OR ELSE There are a pair of games on Wednesday that are essentially playoff matchups. The China-Venezuela game is for a spot in the second round, as is the Puerto Rico-Tunisia game. Winners of those contests will move on, while the losers will be relegated to the classification round for the remainder of the tournament and unable to finish higher than 17th overall in the 32-team field. Another pair of Wednesday games will decide seeds. The Argentina-Russia winner will be the top seed coming out of Group B, with the loser seeded No. 2. Same goes for the Italy-Serbia game, which will decide the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds out of Group D......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2019

Team USA Notebook: Sense of purpose permeates as tipoff nears

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com SHANGHAI -- The U.S. Men's National Team held their second practice in Shanghai on Friday, with one more day before they open the World Cup with a game against the Czech Republic on Sunday. It turned out to be their final pre-competition practice, because head coach Gregg Popovich canceled their session for Saturday. Once the competition starts, the U.S. will be playing every other day, with three changes of location between the first round and the semifinals (should the Americans make it there). So practice time could be somewhat limited going forward. But the games, against new and unfamiliar opponents, are arguably better opportunities to get better than practices. The first few games should come without much pressure, and maybe it's a good thing that the Americans have already been through a pressure situation in their preparation for the World Cup. It's really that time. ????? @jaytatum0 Putting the finishing touches on things ahead of ???????? #USABMNT vs ???????? Czech Republic on Sept. 1 [8:30 AM EDT/ESPN+].#USAGotGame pic.twitter.com/PcAbKyNx1f — USA Basketball (@usabasketball) August 29, 2019 No let up Of course, the U.S. lost that second exhibition game to Australia last Saturday. The Americans had issues on both ends of the floor, but really, it was their defense that really let them down, allowing 98 points on 84 Australia possessions (1.17 per). It was an exhibition, but it was the first loss by an all-NBA-player U.S. team since the semifinals of the 2006 World Championship. That's a long winning streak to see come to an end. "Obviously, it sucked in the moment," Brook Lopez said about the loss. "But it was definitely good for us, looking ahead to the World Cup." Defense is about effort and energy. And in a 40-minute game, consistent effort and energy is all the more important. "We can't take part of a game for granted and can't have our level of intensity ever drop," Lopez said. "If anything, it has to increase throughout each and every game. We relented as a group. After we beat Australia in the first game, they came out with everything they had. It showed us a little glimpse of the focus and concentration we have to have the entire time here in China." The following-day film session wasn't easy, but according to Kemba Walker, they didn't need it to figure out what went wrong. "I think we knew before we even watched film," Walker said. "It was tough, and you know, Pop can be pretty tough. We knew, and I think that's why we came out against Canada [on Monday] the way we did. It was a very humbling loss. And hopefully that [feeling] is going to get us over that hump." The win over Canada was the U.S. Team's worst offensive performance of its exhibition slate, but the overmatched Canadians scored just once on their first 10 possessions of the game (and just nine points in the first quarter). The U.S. can smother some of these lesser talented teams (like the ones they'll face in Group E). But against the best teams in the tournament (like Australia, who they could face in the quarterfinals), there has to be both effort and cohesion defensively. "They've got a very unselfish team that passes the ball very well," Lopez said. "[Andrew] Bogut, especially, is such a huge hub for them." Bogut suffered an ankle injury in Australia's exhibition loss to Germany on Wednesday, but is reportedly "probable" for their opener against Canada on Sunday. Thankful for Turner Myles Turner was one of the United States' best players over their five-game exhibition slate. Not only did he put up boxscore numbers (averaging 15.2 points and 12.7 rebounds), but the U.S. was also at its best with him on the floor, outscoring its opponents by 48 points in his 83 minutes. That Turner emerged as the go-to center was somewhat of a relief to USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo, who wasn't sure what he was going to get out of his group of big men. "We were looking for someone to come out of the pack of the bigs, and he has," Colangelo said Friday. "He's had a couple of major rebounding games. He's very active. If he keeps active, he's going to get rebounds and he's going to block some shots." Colangelo wasn't totally surprised by Turner's play, though. "I had expectations that he could be [the starting center]," he said, "because I was told that he's had a great summer in terms of his personal work." Good news for the U.S., and maybe good news for the Indiana Pacers. No time to be an idiot Popovich was asked what he wants to do in his free time in China. Alas, free time is limited when you have games every other day. "There are things that I would like to do," Popovich said, "that I know that I will not have time to do, because the focus is on what we're doing here." What is it that he'd really like to do? Well, the coach is an explorer. "Mostly to get out and walk," he said, "to see neighborhoods and walk and be with nobody, not be able to speak the language, and feel like an idiot. "Just walk around, walk into a place, see what happens and see what you see. It's more fun when you're in another country and you just take off. You don't assume anything and you don't have people tell you where to go. You just see where you end up. I don't know if I'm going to have the chance to do that, so I'm going to go to restaurants at night." Action starts Saturday The U.S. plays its first game on Sunday, but the World Cup gets started on Saturday with games in Groups A, B, C and D. A couple of Saturday games - Poland vs. Venezuela in Group A and Nigeria vs. Russia in Group B - are between what look to be the second and third best teams in those groups. And because two teams from each group advance to the second round, those first-day matchups could end up determining which teams make it through. Saturday also brings the first action for Andray Blatche and the Philippines, who will face Italy (with Marco Belinelli and Danilo Gallinari) in Group D. 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 NewsAug 31st, 2019