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SMBeermen ready for playoffs

With a two-game winning streak behind them, the San Miguel Beermen have finally entered the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup quarterfinals......»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardNov 11th, 2020

Injured Lillard vows to play on against Lakers

Portland’s star guard Damian Lillard vowed a dislocated left index finger won’t stop him from playing against the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA playoffs on Saturday. Blazers coach Terry Stotts said after his team’s lopsided 111-88 loss to the Lakers on Thursday that it was too soon to say if Lillard would be ready […] The post Injured Lillard vows to play on against Lakers appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 21st, 2020

Rahm, McIlroy, Thomas ready for US PGA playoffs

New York, United States—Top-ranked Jon Rahm, season points leader Justin Thomas and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy top the lineup for this week’s US PGA FedEx Cup playoff opener, the Northern Trust tournament......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020

Spurs keep playoff hopes alive with 123-105 win over Rockets

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The Spurs aren’t out of it yet. Keldon Johnson had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and San Antonio kept alive its chances of becoming the first team in NBA history to make 23 consecutive playoff appearances with a 123-105 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday (Wednesday in the Philippines). San Antonio has won three straight and five out of seven since arriving in the Florida bubble. DeMar DeRozan added 23 points. Jakob Poeltl finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. A total of seven Spurs reached double figures. Johnson said his mindset since the season restarted has been to fill in whatever role is asked of him. “Whether it's hustling, running the floor — just doing whatever I need to do to help us win,” he said. “Help from my teammates has definitely helped the game slow down for me." Popovich said Johnson is playing with the confidence they saw when they drafted him 29th overall last year. “That’s what he does," Popovich said. "He’s a high-energy guy. He's very physical. Very competitive. Very coachable. He’s just a winner.” The Western Conference is guaranteed to have a play-in for its final playoff spot, with Memphis beginning the day with just a half-game lead over Portland and one game ahead of Phoenix and San Antonio. The Spurs will need help to be one of the teams playing this weekend for the final spot in the West, but made sure they couldn't be eliminated Tuesday with their win. Russell Westbrook had 20 points and seven turnovers in his first game back in the lineup for Houston after missing two games with a bruised right quadriceps. Jeff Green had 17 points. Ben McLemore added 16. The Rockets played without guards James Harden (rest) and Eric Gordon (ankle). Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said the most important part of their final two games before the playoffs will be getting Westbrook some quality minutes so that he is fresh. “Get some of the rust off, build up his legs a little bit,” D'Antoni said. “We'll try to get through these two games and just try to get guys physically ready to go next week.” Westbrook said he isn't worried about finding his timing before the playoffs begin. “I'll get it back,” he said. The Spurs took control in the second quarter, outscoring the Rockets 35-24. San Antonio led by as many as 29 points. San Antonio built a 19-point lead in the first half. DeRozan set the tone with 15 points in the opening 24 minutes, with Lonnie Waker IV, Poeltl and Johnson each scoring 10. TIP-INS Rockets: Went 14 of 48 from the 3-point line. ... Danuel House Jr. sat out with a toe injury. Spurs: Patty Mills (rest) missed his third straight game. WIN-WIN Regardless of whether the Spurs make the playoffs, Popovich is proud of how his young players have stepped up in during their time in the bubble. “Part of it is you have to be realistic,” Popovich said. “I don’t think our chances of winning the championship were great at the beginning of this, nor are they now. If that’s a fact, then you need to do everything you can to develop and be prepared for next season. “The development has been off the charts. We’re thrilled with it. So it’s a win-win no matter what.” Popovich said it would be “thrilling” to get some help and have a chance to extend their season, but he’s not using it as a measuring stick for the season. “We’ve already accomplished what we thought we were capable of accomplishing, that’s what’s important. If we got in now it would be icing on the cake.” UP NEXT Rockets: Play Pacers on Wednesday (Thursday in the Philippines) Spurs: Conclude their seeding schedule Thursday (Friday in the Philippines) against Utah......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2020

WHAT IF… Alvin Pasaol played his last year in UE

History lesson: University of the East had a ready-made replacement for Alvin Pasaol when he decided to forgo his fourth and final year in red and white. In Rey Suerte, the Red Warriors had another super scorer who could come up clutch game in and game out. The Cebuano put up per game counts of 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.2 steals on his way to a spot on the UAAP 82 Mythical Team. A season earlier, Pasaol averaged a double-double of 24.4 points and 11.0 rebounds on top of 1.9 steals and was a Mythical selection himself. Now, imagine if those two were teammates. Now, just think if UE had two super scorers who could come up clutch game in and game out. If the big-bodied scoring machine would have come back for one last ride, he and Suerte would have formed the fieriest 1-2 punch in all of the league - at the offensive end, at the very least. At the same time, Pasaol would have been under his third coach in four years, with the late Bong Tan - and active consultant Lawrence Chongson - following Derrick Pumaren and Joe Silva. Still, he would have been, without a doubt, option no. 1 for UE. Their one-and-done prized prospect, meanwhile, would become more dangerous as he slides to option no. 1A. With those two, the Red Warriors could score on anyone and everyone and would truly transform into darkhorse contenders not only for the Final Four, but for the Finals itself. Don't forget that alongside those two, Senegalese banger Adama Diakhite would also be there as well as steady Philip Manalang running the point. That top-heavy team would then no longer be just a tough-out, but a legitimate candidate for a place in the playoffs. It's still tough to take Recto over third-seeded Far Eastern University with L-Jay Gonzales running the show or fourth-seeded University of Sto. Tomas fronted by Season MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo and Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy. However, that top-heavy team would, for sure, pose problems for fifth-running De La Salle University. Remember, UE upset the Green Archers in the first round - and did it without Pasaol. With the 49-point man there, it's not that farfetched to see them vaulting over the green and white in the standings and then threatening the Tamaraws and the Growling Tigers for the last two playoff berths. Ultimately, the Red Warriors would fall short, but a seven- or six-win season would still be the best finish for Pasaol in his collegiate career. And hey, just right outside the playoff picture is, of course, an improvement from their bottom-third finishes from years past. At year's end, Pasaol and Suerte still move forward to greener pastures - the former the face of 3x3 and the latter a fixture on the Gilas Pilipinas pool. And at year's end, the UE Red Warriors would do nothing but build on their best finish in recent history. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 22nd, 2020

Early struggles as coach drove Alapag to prove doubters wrong

Jimmy Alapag has made quite a successful transition from being a player to a head coach. The proof is that his San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas won the ABL title his first year and the team has stayed as a regular championship contender since. However, while his first season as head coach ended up with a championship celebration, the start was pretty rough for Alapag. [Related: ABL Finals: Jimmy Alapag was destined to be a head coach] It was so rough that he heard the criticisms that he wasn't actually ready to coach yet. "For my first season in particular, it was a struggle," Alapag said on Coaches Unfiltered. "We're here in the Philippines and when I retired, there were still some people who felt that I should have continued playing. So you start to hear some of that that I wasn't ready to coach, I just wasn't fit for the position," Jimmy added. As a first-year coach, Alapag wanted to start off on the right foot. But Alab was had a 0-3 record early and had alosing record approaching their second month before rallying to get the no. 3 seed in the playoffs. Even then, they faced the defending champion Hong Kong Eastern in the semifinals and figured in a sudden death Game 5 against Mono Vampire in the Finals. It was quite the journey and it only proved that coaching is not as simple as it may seem, even for a champion point guard like Alapag. "I think when you're a first-year coach, I think you always kinda think about how you start your season. I think you're always hopeful that you'd get out to at least a decent start and get that monkey off your back early," Jimmy said. "But that just drove me to right the ship," he added of their early struggles. "And I was very fortunate to have a great staff with Alab. We just put our minds together."   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 26th, 2020

Berger a winner at Colonial, and PGA Tour feels like it, too

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The PGA Tour spent two months learning about the COVID-19 pandemic and trying to develop a safe plan to return, followed by another month hoping for the best. Commissioner Jay Monahan said his confidence in the plan came with a dose of uncertainty. “If we ... got into a situation where we were dealing with a number of positive tests, that's something — candidly — that I lost a lot of sleep over in the weeks that preceded coming,” Monahan said. Monahan felt every bit a winner as Daniel Berger at the Charles Schwab Challenge. The tour administered 487 tests for the new coronavirus at Colonial, and the results on all of them came back negative. On the golf course, a dozen of some of golf's best players — from Rory McIlroy to Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele to Jordan Spieth — all had a chance going into the final round. “Listen, there is more work to be done,” Monahan said. “But this is a phenomenal start to our return.” It was a healthy return, except for a somewhat sickly finish. Berger made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and heard the deafening silence of a big moment with no spectators allowed at Colonial. He got into a playoff when Collin Morikawa missed a 6-foot birdie putt for the win and Xander Schauffele missed his try from 25 feet. The playoff was held on the 17th hole, another reminder of how this week was different. Playoffs always start on the 18th hole because that's where the gallery is packed into the grandstands. With no fans allowed, and with the 17th tee right next to the clubhouse, off they went. Morikawa hit a deft chip to 3 feet. Berger chipped even closer from behind the green and rapped in his par. They presumably were headed to the 18th tee until Morikawa's 3-footer spun out, and Berger was the winner. Schauffele should have been in the playoff, but his 3-footer for par on the 17th in regulation dipped in the right side of the cup and spun out of the left side. Talk about a horrible horseshoe. “If there are fans and everything with the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs,’ I’d probably be a little more (ticked) off,” Schauffele said. “Maybe that’s a good thing for me right now. But it was definitely weird." Justin Rose had an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th that looked good all the way until it wasn't. He finished one behind along with Bryson DeChambeau and Jason Kokrak, who also missed birdie chances on the last hole. This isn't the first time Rose or anyone else has missed a big putt. It wasn't the first time Rose let out a gutteral moan from missing. It was just the first time he actually heard it. “If the crowd are there, their groans or cries, whatever it may be, would have drowned me out,” Rose said. “You suddenly realize you actually do make some noise sometimes yourself. And it surprised me a little bit there on 18.” There were reminders all week of no fans, but rarely why golf had been shut down since March 12 because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, a pandemic that canceled one major (British Open) and postponed the others until later in the year. “The only time I thought about it was when I was having to take the tests, and that was really it,” Keith Mitchell said. “Hopefully, nobody comes down with it and we can keep on playing.” Players on the charter to the next stop — Hilton Head on the South Carolina shore — had to swing by the pool area at Colonial after the third round for a saliva test. If negative, they board the plane and don't have to be tested at Hilton Head. Everyone else driving, flying commercial or flying private face another test when they arrive. Tony Finau learned a new skill beyond chipping and putting. He learned to spit for his test. “You just kind of roll your tongue around inside your mouth, and it seems to bring a little bit more, and also if you just lean your face down, it seems to come out a little easier,” he said. So few talking about the virus was an indication of how safe it felt. In this case, the week doesn't end until the next tournament begins. “I was asked, ‘What’s a successful week look like?' It means us getting to the RBC Heritage and having another successful week,” he said. “I feel very good about the setup there, and we're ready to go again." Monahan had said as the tour prepared to return that it was critical not to fall into a trap that all is well. He said he wouldn't feel comfortable until told he could be comfortable, and likely would mean a vaccine. Morikawa said being back to golf and being back to normal were different matters. “Just because we played one week doesn’t mean we can go party and go do everything else like we used to,” Morikawa said. “We still have to follow these guidelines and maintain safety and strict rules with how far we stay from each other because it’s still out there. “We just have to be cognizant of what’s around us and where we put ourselves, because we want the tour to keep playing......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: Ayo s Mayhem Letran vs Tan s Big, Bad Letran

In the last decade, only one school has stood between San Beda University and its complete and utter dominance of NCAA Men's Basketball. That school? The Red Lions' archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran. In 2015, the Knights came from out of nowhere to put a stop to San Beda's search for a sixth straight title. Four years later, the Red Lions were going for a fourth consecutive championship and, more impressively, a season sweep only to be resoundingly rejected, yet again, by their archrivals. And so, Mendiola is home to 80 percent of total trophies since 2010. The other 20 percent, though? They are proudly presented in Intramuros. Come to think about it, though, which triumph over its fierce foe was sweeter for Letran? Here in ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown, that is what we aim to answer. To determine who comes out on top between the blue and red's proud champions, we will be judging them in five categories (frontcourt, backcourt, coaching, level of competition, and shock factor) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. FRONTCOURT The trademark of Aldin Ayo's very first championship team was that of playing much bigger than its expectations, its own size, and its, more often than not, bigger opponents. Ayo's nominal center was 6-foot-5 Jom Sollano while his regular 4-man was 6-foot-4 Kevin Racal. Off the bench, his first quote-unquote big was 6-foot-3 Felix Apreku. Still, those three played their roles to a tee and, along with the rest of the team, assembled a well-oiled machine that made the most of its speed advantage. Fast forward four years and "undersized" could no longer be used to describe Letran. In 6-7 Christian Balagasay, 6-6 Jeo Ambohot, 6-6 Pao Javillonar, 6-5 Larry Muyang, 6-4 Ato Ular, and 6-4 Mark Sangalang, Bonnie Tan finally had big, bad weapons in his arsenal. And for sure, those big, bad weapons flipped what was once a chink in the armor of the Knights into a super strength. And for sure, this department would be dominated by that rotation of ready and raring big men. Advantage 2019 Letran, 10-8 BACKCOURT The two teams' Finals MVP both come from the backcourt. Mark Cruz, like he has always done, came up big for Letran and averaged 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 3.0 steals Fran Yu, meanwhile, used the big stage and bright lights to break out to the tune of norms of 13.7 points, 6.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. In those two, the Knights had capable and confident counters to San Beda's own primetime playmakers in Baser Amer and Evan Nelle. The edge here, however, would have to go to Cruz whose signature play in the winner-take-all Game 3 was not a shot. Rather, it was a setup - after driving through the lane and drawing defenders with under a minute left, he found Sollano open at the baseline. Sollano only made good on the assist and his shot proved to be the go-ahead basket for the title. Add Rey Nambatac's offense and Mcjour Luib's defense here and Ayo's Letran just had a more well-rounded backcourt compared to Tan's which also included Jerrick Balanza and Bonbon Batiller. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 COACHING Ayo is one of the best collegiate coaches in all of the Philippines. He has seen Tab Baldwin win the last three titles in the UAAP, but it still wasn't that long ago when he won back-to-back championships with different teams and in different leagues. Time and time again, the youthful mentor has proven to get the most out of his players - from the Cruz-Nambatac-Racal triumvirate in Letran to Ben Mbala-Jeron Teng De La Salle University and now, University of Sto. Tomas with Soulemane Chabi Yo, Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, and Mark Nonoy. What he doesn't have, however, are the so-called "super friends" of Tan. Through the NCAA 95 Finals, NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio and assistant Jeff Napa were sharing their mind with the Knights themselves during timeouts. They were informal additions to regular assistants Rensy Bajar, Lou Gatumbato, Raymond Tiongco, and Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio. Even more were behind the bench in Letran special assistant to the rector for sports development and San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua, NorthPort team manager Erick Arejola, Columbian governor Bobby Rosales and head coach Johnedel Cardel, and Magnolia governor Rene Pardo. Asked about all those behind his back, Tan answered then, "In business, you need partners to be successful and in sports naman, we need friends lalo na yung mga may alam kung paano manalo. Friends ko yan lahat so welcome sila - brainstorm and synergy kami." Still, it's already a given by this point that competition only fuels the already burning fire inside Ayo. With that, there is just no doubt that he would only push himself harder and farther in the face of Tan and his so-called "super friends." And the one-time NCAA and one-time UAAP champion coach much more motivated than ever is nothing but a scary thought. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION NCAA 91 was the year of "Kagulo sa NCAA." Then, six squads out of 10 had a legitimate claim to a playoff berth. So competitive was the field that Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado's Arellano University as well as a University of Perpetual Help side that had Scottie Thompson, Prince Eze, and Bright Akhuetie fell short of the Final Four. Illustrating the competition even further, the season's Finalists only had one member of the Mythical Team between them - San Beda's Art Dela Cruz. On the other hand, NCAA 95's playoff cast was completed a week before the end of the elimination round. Yes, there was a Red Lion team that automatically advanced to the Finals and had three out of five Mythical selections. Still, that tournament's fourth-seed was San Sebastian College-Recoletos who had an 11-7 standing. Comparing that to NCAA 91's fourth-seed in Mapua University who sported a 12-6 slate and the 2019 Golden Stags wouldn't even make the 2015 playoffs. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 SHOCK FACTOR It was a shock to see Letran upset San Beda in Game 1 of the NCAA 95 Finals after the latter won each and every game in the elimination round, It was even more of a shock to see the Knights actually topple the dynastic and season sweep-seeking Red Lions. Still, there was always an outside shot of that happening. "Letran is one of three shoo-ins for the Final Four – as well as a strong contender to wage war in the Finals and even possibly, hoist the trophy," ABS-CBN Sports stated in its preseason preview for the blue and red then. "This fully loaded lineup has the makings of a dynasty-ender – what’s only up in the air is if it would be motivated enough to do just that." On the other hand, nobody, nobody at all aside from Ayo had Letran contending in NCAA 91 - much more, winning it all. As ABS-CBN Sports stated in its preseason preview then, "It remains to be seen if the Knights' fortified defense and added offensive firepower can overcome their lack of size especially against the Final Four teams, all of whom have only gotten bigger." Even when the Knights finally charged to the championship round, not that many gave them a chance. In fact, all that doubt became tattooed on the mind of Ayo whose first words in the post-game conference when they finally claimed the crown was, "Joey, follow your heart!" The fiery mentor was referring to the Philippine Star's Joey Villar who said in the leadup to the Finals that his heart wants to root for Letran, but his mind knows San Beda would win. He wasn't alone. Even Ayo had to admit that his players themselves didn't believe until the season was already underway. "Sa totoo lang, nung team-building namin nung preseason, nung tinanong ko kung naniniwala ba silang magcha-champion tayo, they laughed. Nung natalo lang namin yung JRU nung (second game of the season), dun lang sila naniwala.," he said then. Advantage 2015 Letran, 10-9 FINAL SCORE: 48-46 for 2015 Letran.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020

Sports leagues seek return to play but with no guarantees

By EDDIE PELLS AP National Writer With no games being played, recent sports headlines have centered around hopes and dreams — namely, the uncharted path leagues and teams must navigate to return to competition in the wake of the pandemic. Virtually all leagues talk publicly about their desire to return before summer. But behind closed doors, they are hatching different potential plans: all 30 baseball teams playing in Arizona; home run contests to decide tie games; the Stanley Cup being hoisted in an empty arena that neither team calls home; end-of-season soccer standings decided by vote; college football games in spring. Over the past week, The Associated Press spoke to more than two dozen policymakers, coaches and players across the globe to get their candid assessments of plans to return from the stoppages caused by the coronavirus. The conclusion: While it’s critical to put optimistic restart scenarios in place, there is no certainty any of these plans will work without buy-in from politicians and an OK from players and medical experts. Underpinning it all would have to be a drastic ramp-up in testing, a vaccine or treatment breakthrough, or some other solution. In short, the return of any sports, no matter how innovative the plan, will be risky and uncertain for the rest of this year and into 2021. “It’s not about 22 players walking onto a pitch and throwing a ball out,” said FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani, whose concerns about restarting soccer mirror those of all sports worldwide. The organizers of the Olympics were among the last to postpone their event, then among the first to set a new date – exactly 52 weeks after the original July 24 cauldron lighting had been scheduled. The decision to reschedule for a date 15 months down the road came just before an unexpected spike in cases hit Japan. The worry that followed underscored the many open questions about the arc of the outbreak. “I think everyone’s probably working on multiple options. It’s ’If this, then what?'” said Tim Hinchey, the CEO of USA Swimming, the sport's governing body in the United States. Virtually all the big-time team sports are coming up with scenarios to play games with no fans in the stands. The Washington Post reported that while the NFL is publicly committed to its usual kickoff date in September, it is looking into contingencies that include shortening the season or playing in front of half-full or empty stadiums. College athletic directors have come up with a half-dozen or more scenarios for football season, including, according to Oklahoma's Joe Castiglione, a scenario in which part of the season would be played in spring. One theme gaining wide acceptance: If it's not safe enough for students to return to school or attend games, then athletes shouldn't be asked to return either. Without the millions from football, all college sports are in peril. NASCAR, which has been holding virtual races, has given teams a tentative schedule under which the season would resume May 24 without fans. The NHL has drawn up plans that include resuming the season this summer, going directly to the playoffs and/or playing games in empty arenas in neutral-site cities. The PGA Tour announced a mid-June restart and meshed its schedule with the already reworked majors calendar. In a nod to the precariousness of it all, Andy Pazder, the tour’s chief officer of tournaments and competition, said if events cannot be held in compliance with health regulations, then “we will not do anything.” That's also where the NBA appears to be for now. The league that got in front of the coronavirus pandemic first, calling off games on March 11, is in a holding pattern. Most of the league’s conversations center on how to resume the season, not whether to cancel it. In Australia, ambitious plans to resume play in the National Rugby League by the end of May got shot down by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. England’s Premier League also says it wants to finish its season but would only do so “with the full support of the government” and when “medical guidance allows.” Meanwhile, in Scotland, a wild round of voting has already taken place to decide whether to lock in standings for leagues there and get ready for next season. Major League Baseball in the U.S. is talking about bringing all 30 teams to Maricopa County, Arizona, for a regular season at spring training sites. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert who has been calling for restraint in resuming any normal activities, offered a glimmer of hope when he suggested sports could conceivably return. He suggested no fans in arenas and constant testing for the players, who would likely need to be quarantined in hotels for weeks or months. Not all the players are on board. “I’m going to go four or five months without seeing my kid when it’s born? I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen,” Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals wrote in a diary for AP. Zimmerman’s third child is due in June. Whether Zimmerman shows or not, baseball could be a vastly different game if it returns in 2020. Some other ideas floated include wrapping up the season in December, scheduling a multitude of doubleheaders with seven-inning games and quickly deciding ties with home run derbies. Yet for all those scenarios, nobody's quite sure what will happen if, despite all the precautions, an outbreak hits a team. Could one positive test eviscerate an entire season? Before setting anything in motion, all the leagues are waiting for a consensus to emerge from government and health experts, to say nothing of players and owners. Right now, Montagliani said, "the paramount skill set required from us is risk management and nothing else.” ___ Reporting by AP Sports Writers Doug Ferguson, Jenna Fryer, Rob Harris, Stephen Wade, Ron Blum, Steve Douglas, Ben Walker, Dennis Passa, Stephen Whyno, Tim Reynolds, Brian Mahoney, Howard Fendrich, Ben Walker, Rob Maaddi, Ralph Russo, Larry Lage......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 19th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: Black s Ateneo vs Baldwin s Ateneo

Ateneo de Manila University has, put simply, reigned supreme over UAAP Men's Basketball in recent history. Blue Eagle has been the king eight times out of the last 12 tournaments. That dominance has bookended just three other teams who have won championships in that same timeframe. The first bookend was a five-peat that was engineered by then-already multi-titled mentor Norman Black from 2008 to 2012. The other - from 2017 and still counting - bookend has former national team coach Tab Baldwin calling the shots And Ateneo does not look like its slowing down anytime soon as its future remains secure in the hands of Ivorian tower Ange Kouame, emerging primetime playmayer SJ Belangel, and Filipino-American recruit Dwight Ramos. Between the two bookends, however, which Blue Eagle string of championships shines brighter? That is what we set out to figure out in this ABS-CBN Sports Super Showdown. In grading the greatness of Black's five-peat and Baldwin's three-peat, we will be judging them in five categories (talent, system, level of competition, dominance, and legacy) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. TALENT Black's five-peat had Kiefer Ravena while Baldwin's three-peat had Thirdy Ravena. So let's call that a draw. In terms of everything else, however, there is just no doubt that Ateneo had the most talented team for majority of its five-peat. The twin towers of Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao were followed by Justin Chua and then Greg Slaughter. Steady Chris Tiu was replaced by Jai Reyes and Eric Salamat who were then replaced by Kirk Long and Emman Monfort who were then replaced by Ravena and Juami Tiongson. At the wings were then likes of Ryan Buenafe, Nico Salva, and Oping Sumalinog. Majority of these players were true blue-chip recruits who decided to go to Ateneo, get-together with other promising prospects, and just run roughshod over the UAAP. Let's be clear here, anybody and everybody would want to go to war with that championship core of Ravena (Thirdy, that is), Isaac Go, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt to go along with whoever the versatile four-man is - be it Vince Tolentino or Raffy Verano or Will Navarro - and either Chibueze Ikeh or Kouame, but in terms of sheer top-level talent, the five-peat has the three-peat beat. Advantage Black's Ateneo, 10-8 SYSTEM The signature of Black's Ateneo teams was a complete team that had a killer inside-outside combo. Tiu and Al-Hussaini. Monfort and Chua. Ravena and Slaughter. And whenever it mattered most, there was always a clutch player to come through - be it Tiu or Salamat or Buenafe. That's the benefit of having the most talented team most of the time. The slight edge here, however, would have to go the egalitarian system Baldwin has installed in these Blue Eagles. Baldwin's boys take pride in the fact that, indeed, all of them are ready and raring to contribute whenever called upon. More often than not, the core plays somewhere between 12 to 24 minutes, but not one player could say his minutes are assured as their mentor always preaches that each and every one of his boys should never stop being better. That means that at any given point in time, somebody is always there to step up for somebody - "next man up" as they love to call it. Take for instance, that four-spot which first saw Tolentino doing the dirty work and once he graduated, Verano just filled in the spot. And when the Filipino-American ran into academic issues, was there any problem whatsoever? None at all because Navarro was there to come to be known as "Mr. Efficiency." Most definitely, there is no better system in collegiate basketball than what Baldwin has in place through this Ateneo three-peat. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 LEVEL OF COMPETITION Six other member-schools made it to the playoffs at least once during Ateneo's five-peat - the lone exception being the University of the Philippines which was then still trudging through its so-called "dark days". In that run, the Blue Eagles had to contend with Far Eastern University with the likes of Mac Baracael, Mark Barroca, RR Garcia, and Terrence Romeo; University of the East with the likes of Marcy Arellano, Elmer Espiritu, Paul Lee, and James Martinez; Adamson University with the likes of Lester Alvarez, Rodney Brondial, and Alex Nuyles; De La Salle University with the likes of Jvee Casio, Rico Maierhoffer, and Jeron Teng; University of Sto. Tomas with the likes of Dylan Ababou, Karim Abdul, and Jeric Teng; and National University with the likes of Emmanuel Mbe and Ray Parks Jr. For their part, Ateneo's three-peat team saw the Bulldogs and the Red Warriors both fail to make the Final Four during its time on top. Still, they had to run through a gauntlet of good to great teams such as the Ben Mbala and Ricci Rivero-led Green Archers, the Jerrick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti-led Soaring Falcons, and the Arvin Tolentino and Wendell Comboy-led Tamaraws. Through it all, the Blue Eagles also had to play spoiler in the climb to contention of the Fighting Maroons with Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, Rivero, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan as well as the return to relevance of the Growling Tigers with Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, Mark Nonoy, and Soulemane Chabi Yo. The difference here then becomes the arrival of MVP-level foreign student-athletes. In La Salle's Mbala, UP's Akhuetie, and UST's Chabi Yo, Ateneo's three-peat team had to wage war with three of the best recruits from abroad before winning the championship. For sure, Al-Hussaini, Chua, and Slaughter mentored by Black would have been able to make something happen if ever they were matched up with those three, but the fact remains that nowadays, there is just more foreign talent in the UAAP. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 DOMINANCE With a five-peat, Black did something that has not been done in the UAAP since UE won seven titles in a row in the '60s under the legendary Baby Dalupan. Through that time, Ateneo registered a couple of one-loss and a pair of two-loss seasons - and the only struggle, relative to them, was a 10-4, second-seed elimination round finish in Season 73. Still, through that time, the Blue Eagles only had one loss in all of its playoff series - a 68-88 shocker of a defeat to the Red Warriors in Game 2 of the Season 72 Finals. Somehow, though, Baldwin's historic feat was more impressive as their 16-0 romp through Season 82 is the first-ever of its kind in men's basketball. Before this, all previous season sweeps in men's basketball wound up with 14-0 records. The three-peat Blue Eagles also boast of a better elims standing as they only lost a total of three times there in three years. Their two losses in the playoffs are worse compared to the five-peat team, but Season 82's 16-0 is still better than either Season 71 or Season 74's 16-1. Advantage Baldwin's Ateneo, 10-9 LEGACY Black opened the floodgates for Ateneo to be a destination for blue-chip recruits from outside Katipunan. Remember, before this, the Blue Eagles' 2002 championship was built on the shoulders of former Blue Eaglets Rico Villanueva, Wesley Gonzales and Larry Fonacier - the non-homegrown key cogs being LA Tenorio from San Beda High School and two-time UAAP Srs. MVP Rich Alvarez, who played high school ball overseas. Through that five-peat, though, the blue and white became the undisputed king of recruiting as it got Salva from San Beda, Buenafe and Salamat from San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Tiu and Chua from Xavier and Chiang Kai Shek, respectively, and Baclao, Slaughter, and Sumalinog from the Visayas. Yes, Ravena was there, but many of Black's key cogs were still blue-chip recruits from outside Katipunan. In comparison, Baldwin's championship core, for the most part, are former Blue Eaglets in Ravena (again, Thirdy, that is), Anton Asistio, SJ Belangel, Gian Mamuyac, and the Nieto twins. Even Kouame is, in essence, a homegrown key cog as he was taken in by Ateneo even before college and finished his high school in nearby Multiple Intelligence International School In all, the blueprint may have been different, but the building was the same in the end - a blue and white dynasty. Draw, 10-10 FINAL SCORE: 48-47 for Baldwin's Ateneo.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2020

MPBL: ECQ giving Davao s Mark Yee time to heal from injury

With the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season Division Finals put on hold due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Davao Occidental-Cocolife main man Mark Yee is putting all his spare time to good use. After being initially diagnosed with a torn plantaris muscle on his right knee due to a collision during the Game Two of their quarterfinals match-up against Bicol last February 21, MRI results revealed that the 38-year-old bruiser suffered a partial anterior cruciate ligament tear and a torn calf. Despite the injuries, Yee battled through the pain and managed to suit up in four of Davao Occidental’s last five playoff games. But with Luzon placed under enhanced community quarantine due to the country’s on-going fight against the pandemic, Yee is maximizing his extra time to work out, making sure that he’s a hundred-percent ready once their Game Three clash against Basilan-Jumbo Plastic resume. “Sobrang malaking bagay ‘to para sa akin kasi makakapag rehab ako kahit dito sa bahay at makakapaghanda para sa game. Bahay lang talaga, kaunting papawis. Sa ngayon ang iniisip ko sana matapos muna ‘tong COVID virus, dasal lang saka tiwala kay God talaga,” Yee shared. “Pinagaling na ako ni God, pero masaya na malungkot ako dahil sa quarantine. Siyempre, masaya kasi may time ako makapag-workout at makapaghanda para sa Game Three pero malungkot kasi maraming mga tao yung naapektuhan at ‘di makapagtrabaho." Despite the future of the Lakan playoffs being uncertain, Yee insisted that the Tigers need to brace for every possible scenario -- including a win-or-go-home Game Three. “Walang nakakalamang e, kahit home court namin or nasa amin yung momentum, kailangan namin pagtrabahuhan nang maigi para makuha namin yung panalo.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 5th, 2020

Greeks arrive in Manila, preps up for Davis Cup tie

Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas flew to the country Monday and showed readiness to play for Greece when it clashes with host Philippines in their Davis Cup World Group II playoffs on Friday and Saturday at the Philippine Columbian Association’s Plaza Dilao courts in Paco, Manila. Riding the crest of a second place finish to Novak Djokovic in the Dubai Championships a few days back, Tsitsipas, currently sixth in the world rankings, is expected to give it all for the Greek team out to make a big splash this year. “I will try to represent my country as best as possible,” said the 21-year-old Tsitsipas, the youngest netter in the world’s Top 10 who owns five titles to date. The rest of the Greek squad—Tsitsipas’ younger brother Petros, Michail Pervolarakis and Markos Kalovelonis—have arrived on a separate flight and are equally ready and capable in trying to beat the Filipinos. Dimitris Chatzinikolaou is their non-playing captain. It will be almost the same team that lifted Greece from Group III to Group II using the old format. The Filipinos are eager to get into the mix as they will not only play a foe in Tsitsipas’ caliber but they will also tackle a non-Asian nation for the first time since they battled the Swedes in the World Cup qualifier in 1991. This happened because the Davis Cup is implementing a new system of play. Reigning Southeast Asian Games doubles gold medalists Francis Casey Alcantara and Jeson Patrombon will spearhead the country’s campaign along with Ruben Gonzales, AJ Lim and Eric Olivarez, Jr. with Chris Cuarto as their non-playing skipper. Team draw is set on Thursday while the first two singles matches are scheduled on Friday. The doubles and the last two reverse singles are on Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 3rd, 2020

Aces shoot for playoffs in Philippine Cup

Jeron Teng is tipped to assume a more active leadership role on his third season with Alaska as the Aces get ready to shoot for the playoffs in the PBA Philippine Cup starting March 1......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsFeb 6th, 2020

Encarnacion, White Sox complete $12 million, 1-year contract

By Andrew Seligman, Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — Edwin Encarnación saw the young players the Chicago White Sox have and a bright future for a team eyeing a run at the AL Central championship after seven straight losing seasons. That's why he chose to be a part of it. Encarnación and the White Sox finalized a $12 million, one-year contract on Thursday, putting him in position to become Chicago's designated hitter and a part-time first baseman along with José Abreu. Encarnación is due $12 million this season, and the White Sox hold a $12 million option for 2021 under the deal, which was agreed to Dec. 25 subject to a successful physical. “I'm very excited to be part of this team, I think this team has a great future," he said. "To be here and try to help this team to go where we want to go and make the playoffs.” Encarnación hit 34 home runs in 109 games for Seattle and the Yankees last year. The three-time All-Star led the American League with 21 homers when the Mariners dealt him to New York in June. The Yankees declined a $25 million option for next season, opting to pay a $5 million buyout. He hit .249 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs in 44 regular-season games with the Yankees, limited by oblique problems. He batted .308 while New York beat Minnesota in the AL Division Series, but was 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts in the AL Championship Series against Houston. Encarnación, who turned 37 on Tuesday, has eight straight seasons with more than 30 homers. He has 414 homers in 15 years with Cincinnati, Toronto, Cleveland, Seattle and New York. Last year he became the first major leaguer to play on three continents in one season, opening the season in Tokyo with the Mariners and going to London in June with the Yankees. “Edwin is a professional hitter, someone who makes each and every at-bat count,” general Rick Hahn said in a statement. “His long track record of power is impressive and as a veteran run producer, Edwin adds another threatening bat to our lineup, lengthening our batting order and increasing (manager) Rick Renteria’s offensive options on any given night.” The White Sox have been one of baseball's busiest teams, adding to a promising young core. Chicago also added catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitchers Dallas Keuchel, Gio González and Steve Cishek in free-agent deals. Outfielder Nomar Mazara was acquired in a trade with the Texas Rangers. Abreu, who led the AL with 123 RBIs last season, was re-signed to a $50 million, three-year deal, and top prospect Luis Robert agreed to a $50 million, six-year contract last week, clearing the way for the outfielder to begin the season in the majors. The White Sox were 72-89 last season, well behind the 101-win Minnesota Twins and 93-win Cleveland Indians. But with experienced veterans added to a promising young core, they believe they are in position to make a big jump after missing the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 years since their 2005 World Series championship. Encarnación and Grandal have five straight trips to the postseason. Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner with Houston, made the playoffs four times in the past five years and won a World Series championship with the Astros in 2017. “That's obviously a tremendous track record for each of them, but also speaks in part to what we're trying to accomplish not just on the field but in terms of taking that next step in our clubhouse, and this young core not only growing together but learning how to win and learning what it takes to be successful not only over the course of the summer but well into October as well,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Edwin's another piece in trying to accomplish that.” The veterans the White Sox added are joining a team that has reigning batting champion Tim Anderson, who led the majors with a .335 average. Yoán Moncada had a breakthrough season, hitting .315 with 25 homers and 79 RBIs. Eloy Jiménez showed pop as a rookie, with a .267 average, 31 homers and 79 RBIs. Prized outfielder Luis Robert figures to debut next spring, and top prospect Nick Madrigal might also be ready to get significant time at second base. Keuchel and Gonzalez will join a rotation led by All-Star Lucas Giolito that also includes Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease. Promising young right-hander Michael Kopech is also expected to return following Tommy John surgery. Encarnación said he is “very close” with Jiménez and has been following him since Jiménez was 14. He called Jiménez “a great hitter” and praised the other big, young bats in the White Sox's lineup. “They're very smart hitters,” Encarnación said. “They have a great idea (of) what they are doing at the plate.” The White Sox designated left-hander Kodi Medeiros for assignment......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2020

76ers center Joel Embiid to have surgery on finger

By Dan Gelston, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid needs more surgery, this time for a torn ligament in a finger in his left hand, the latest setback in the injury-riddled career of the Philadelphia 76ers' All-Star center. Embiid, averaging 23.4 points and 12.3 rebounds in 31 games this season, will have surgery Friday (Saturday, PHL time) and will be evaluated in one to two weeks. He has never played more than 64 games in a season and won't again this season after he was hurt Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in a victory over Oklahoma City. Embiid injured the radial collateral ligament in the ring finger in the first half, a grotesque injury that made teammate Ben Simmons say “I nearly threw up" when he saw the finger. Embiid's finger overlapped his pinkie to the point that it seemed he had his fingers crossed. He played most of the game with his finger taped and said he "couldn't go up with two hands." "There were a couple of times I could have grabbed with both hands but I just couldn't. I just kept tapping it," Embiid said Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). The Sixers had braced for the worst, though they were certainly used to playing without their 7-foot big man. He was hindered by illness and knee injuries during last season's playoff run, and the Sixers worked this season to balance his minutes with the proper amount of rest. They usually go as far in the postseason as Embiid can take them -- a small sigh of relief he was hurt before the All-Star break and not headed into the postseason. Mike Scott slid into the starting rotation for Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) game against Boston, along with Al Horford, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson and Simmons. "All of a sudden, we're different," 76ers coach Brett Brown said. "We're just different. I look at this as an opportunity. Nobody's crying. This is not a 'woe is me' moment, not for me, at all. And not for my players. We'll take what we have, and what we have, I love." The 25-year-old Embiid has struggled with injuries ever since he was drafted with the No. 3 pick of the 2014 draft. He missed his first two seasons with foot injuries and hasn't played more than 64 games in any of the last three. He suffered a broken bone around his left eye and missed games in the 2018 playoffs. The Sixers signed Embiid, a native of Cameroon, to a $148 million, five-year extension that kicked in at the start of the 2018-19 season. He didn't pick up a basketball until he was a teenager, when a friend informed him that very few 7-footers succeed in soccer. A few months later, Embiid was lured to a basketball camp in the capital of Yaounde run by NBA veteran Luc Mbah a Moute, one of just two players from Cameroon to have played in the NBA. Mbah a Moute persuaded Embiid's parents to let him move 6,000 miles to Florida, and helped enroll him at Montverde Academy, one of the best high school programs in the country. He played just 28 games in his lone season at Kansas before he left for the NBA. "How does he get his health where he's back and feeling cocky and comfortable and ready to go where he's healthy, not just for this playoffs but for many playoffs," Brown asked. "I care for Joel and his future. What's best for him and his future.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2020

The King reigns: LeBron James is AP’s male athlete of decade

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press He left Cleveland for Miami, finally became a champion, went back to his beloved northeast Ohio, delivered on another title promise, then left for the Los Angeles Lakers and the next challenge. He played in eight straight finals. No NBA player won more games or more MVP awards over the last 10 years than he did. He started a school. He married his high school sweetheart. “That’s all?” LeBron James asked, feigning disbelief. No, that’s not all. Those were just some highlights of the last 10 years. There were many more, as the man called “King” spent the last decade reigning over all others — with no signs of slowing down. James is The Associated Press male athlete of the decade, adding his name to a list that includes Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky and Arnold Palmer. He was a runaway winner in a vote of AP member sports editors and AP beat writers, easily outpacing runner-up Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. “You add another 10 years of learning and adversity, pitfalls, good, great, bad, and any smart person who wants to grow will learn from all those experiences,” James, who turns 35 Monday, told the AP. “A decade ago, I just turned 25. I’m about to be 35 and I’m just in a better (place) in my life and have a better understanding of what I want to get out of life.” Usain Bolt of Jamaica was third for dominating the sprints at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, soccer superstar Lionel Messi was fourth and Michael Phelps — the U.S. swimmer who retired as history’s most decorated Olympian with 28 medals, 23 gold — was fifth. James was revealed as the winner Sunday, one day after Serena Williams was announced as the AP’s female athlete of the decade. In his 17th season, he’s on pace to lead the league in assists for the first time while remaining among the NBA’s scoring leaders. “When LeBron James is involved,” Denver coach Michael Malone said, “I’m never surprised.” Including playoffs, no one in the NBA scored more points than James in the last 10 years. He started the decade 124th on the league’s all-time scoring list. He’s now about to pass Kobe Bryant for No. 3. No. 2 Karl Malone and No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are within reach. Is Abdul-Jabbar in his sights? Is catching him the new decade’s goal? “I would be lying if I said I don’t see it,” James said. “Obviously I’m not trying to say, ‘OK, well if I play this amount of time, if I average this’ ... I’m not doing that because I’ve never done that with my career. I’ve always just kind of let it happen. Whatever happens, happens. But I see it. I do see it.” His work ethic, even now, makes even those closest to him marvel. Here’s a typical day this past summer for James, who remains obsessed with working even though fame and fortune found him long ago: He’d wake up at 3 a.m. and be at the Warner Bros. lot by 3:45 — where a weight room and court, built just for him, were waiting. He’d be lifting by 4 a.m., getting shots up by 5:30 and be ready to start another day of shooting the remake of “Space Jam” that he has been planning for years by 7 a.m. “That’s who he is,” said Mike Mancias, one of the longest-tenured and most trusted members of James’ inner circle, tasked for more than 15 years with keeping James fit. “He does whatever it takes when it comes to fulfilling his commitments to everything — especially his game and his craft.” The 2010s for James started with “The Decision,” the widely criticized televised announcement of his choice to leave Cleveland for Miami. (Lost in the hubbub: The show raised more than $2.5 million for charity.) He was with the Heat for four years, went to the NBA Finals all four times with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, finally won the title in 2012 — “it’s about damn time,” he said at the trophy celebration — and led the way in a Game 7 win over San Antonio to go back-to-back the following year. “He grew immensely here as a leader,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He impacted winning as much as with his leadership as he did with his talent. I think that was the most important thing he learned with us. And he’s been able to take that to different franchises and continue using that as a template.” Cleveland was devastated when he left. It forgave him. James returned home in 2014, took Cleveland to four consecutive finals, then led the Cavaliers to the 2016 title and came up with one of the biggest plays of his life by pulling off a chase-down block of Golden State’s Andre Iguodala in the final seconds of Game 7 of that series. And in 2018, he was off to LA. Going Hollywood made so much sense — he’s making movies, has a production company, has a program called “The Shop” as part of his ‘Uninterrupted’ platform featuring an array of guests from Drake to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed a bill on the show that will allow college athletes to get paid for the use of their likeness and sign endorsement deals. “There’s a lot of moments from this decade that would be up there, winning the two Miami championships, winning a championship in Cleveland, the chase-down block,” James said. “But the best moment? Definitely marrying Savannah. That would be No. 1.” James and longtime partner Savannah Brinson got married six years ago. They already had two sons — both are very good basketball players already — and added a daughter in 2014. James also spent most of the last decade as a lightning rod for critics. He used his voice often on social matters, speaking out after the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and campaigning for Hillary Clinton. He supported Colin Kaepernick’s methods of protesting police brutality and racial injustice. Most recently, he was criticized by many — including top U.S. lawmakers — for his remarks after Houston general manager Daryl Morey sparked a massive rift between the NBA and China by sending out a tweet supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. “I don’t live in regret,” James said. “There’s no moment in this last decade that I wish I could have back. If a situation was bad or you feel like you could have done better, then I learned from it.” He doesn’t know how much longer he’ll play. He laments missing time with his children. His “I Promise” school that opened in 2018 in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, has been an immediate success story, and he wants to see that enterprise continue growing. Some love him. Some don’t. He doesn’t mind. “When you believe in your calling or you believe in yourself, then it doesn’t matter what other people say or how other people feel,” James said. “And if you allow that to stop you or deter you from your mission, then you don’t get anywhere.” And in the 2010s, nothing deterred James......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2019

Pats to play in wild-card game, Chiefs get AFC s No. 2 seed

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be playing in the postseason a week earlier than usual this year. The defending Super Bowl champs open the playoffs during wild-card weekend for the first time since 2009 after they lost 27-24 to Miami on Sunday and Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-21 to earn a first-round bye. “We didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing and it ended up costing us," Brady said. “Just too many bad mistakes." The Patriots (12-4) are the No. 3 overall seed in the AFC and will have to fix things in a hurry as they host Tennessee (9-7) next weekend. “We've got a game next week, we've got to get ready to go," Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. “Nobody should feel sorry for us, we shouldn't feel sorry for ourselves. Our goal is to play in the playoffs. We got a shot next week at all of that." The Titans clinched their spot by beating Houston 35-14, eliminating both Pittsburgh and Oakland in the process. All three teams had a chance at the playoffs, but Tennessee had the easiest path by needing to win — and got it against a Texans squad that rested several starters, including quarterback Deshaun Watson. “I think it’s great when you can determine whether you get to continue to play football," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “There was some great effort, but we’re going to have to improve and play better. Everything gets harder from here on out." The last time New England played on wild-card weekend, it lost at home to the Ravens. The Patriots have never made it to the Super Bowl with Brady and coach Bill Belichick while playing in the opening round. “We've got to move forward and get ready to go or the end of our season will be next week if we don't turn the page and play good football, way better than today,” McCourty said. “Nobody feels sorry for the Patriots not getting a first-round bye in the playoffs." Meanwhile, the Chiefs (12-4) are the No. 2 seed and will be able to watch the opening round, along with the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens (14-2). “We'll step back, the guys will come in tomorrow, we'll have a team meeting, I'll give them a schedule for what's going on the next week here during the bye week," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “The main thing is we get work done, but we rest up and get ready for whoever we might play.” Kansas City's victory also locked Houston into the No. 4 seed, and the Texans (10-6) will host the Buffalo Bills (10-6) next weekend. Despite resting several starters, including quarterback Lamar Jackson, running back Mark Ingram, guard Marshal Yanda and safety Earl Thomas, Baltimore cruised past Pittsburgh 28-10 to ride into the playoffs on a 12-game winning streak. “It's the best team in football in the regular season this year, but that doesn't count for anything in the next season," coach John Harbaugh said. “In the next season, we have to obviously go to work this week and become a better football team." In the NFC, Green Bay earned at least a first-round bye with a 23-20 victory at Detroit. Now, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (13-3) will wait on the result on the San Francisco-Seattle matchup Sunday night to see if they'll have the No. 1 overall seed — and home-field advantage —- in the conference. "The NFC is wide open," Rodgers said. “I think home-field advantage can be very important.” If the 49ers win, they get it. Otherwise, it will be the Packers in the top spot. "We’re hot," Rodgers said after helping his team rally to its fifth straight win. "But you've got to start all over in the playoffs and it’s all great football teams now, so the margin of error is even smaller." New Orleans routed Carolina 42-10 to finish 13-3 in the regular season, but Drew Brees and Co. will also have to wait to see what their playoff path will be. The NFC South champions can't get home-field advantage because of Green Bay's win, but can earn a first-round bye if Seattle beats San Francisco. A win by the 49ers would push the Saints to the No. 3 seed and a home game against Minnesota (10-6) in the wild-card round next weekend. Injury-ravaged Philadelphia (9-7) won the NFC East with a 34-17 win over the New York Giants, eliminating Dallas with the victory. The Eagles, with their second division title in three years, will host the loser of the 49ers-Seahawks showdown. “This team, when it’s crunch time this time of year, we get it done,” Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan said after his team finished the schedule with a four-game inni. ___ AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi, and AP Sports Writers Dave Ginsburg, Kyle Hightower, Larry Lage, Kristie Rieken and Dave Skretta contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2019

Payton: Saints doing due diligence on receiver Antonio Brown

By Brett Martel, Associated Press METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Prolific but embattled free-agent receiver Antonio Brown got his chance to show the New Orleans Saints how he could help them in the playoffs. Whether Brown winds up catching passes from record-setting quarterback Drew Brees during a potential Super Bowl run remains to be seen. And the NFL could have a say in the matter — if the Saints decide to sign him. While Saints coach Sean Payton did not rule out signing Brown, he said there were no immediate plans to do so after including the four-time All-Pro in a workout with six receivers on Friday. “Not now,” Payton said, adding that coaches and the front office are “mainly doing our due diligence on all of those players. Obviously there’s a little bit more attention drawn to him because of his career. But right now it was more or less us having a chance to get to know these guys and seeing what kind of shape they’re all in.” Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told The Associated Press that Brown’s “visit with the Saints went very well and we will continue discussions with them.″ Brown also could be seen smiling widely in a photo, posted on social media, with New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson. The Saints and NBA’s Pelicans are both owned by Gayle Benson and their practice headquarters are on the same campus. Saints receiver Ted Ginn Jr. said he was among Saints players who met Brown as well. Brown has been out of the NFL since the New England Patriots cut him Sept. 20 amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations which have spawned an ongoing league investigation of the receiver. Payton had indicated on multiple occasions earlier this season that the Saints were not interested in signing Brown. “I probably wasn’t telling you the truth a few months ago,” Payton said. “We’re looking closely all the time at who are the players available, how can they help us, especially as we get ready here for this postseason?” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had no comment on the Saints’ decision to work out Brown. During NFL meetings earlier this month, Commissioner Roger Goodell said he had not yet met with Brown and that the investigation was not complete. Goodell further specified that league investigators met with Brown but “have more work to do.” When Brown was released by the Patriots, he was not placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, which would prevent other teams from signing him. However, the NFL released a statement explaining that, “As long as Mr. Brown is a free agent, placement on the Commissioner’s exempt list is not appropriate. If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time, depending on the status of the investigation. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, he may also be subject to discipline if the investigation finds that he has violated the law or league policies.” Payton said after the workout he remained uncertain whether Brown would ultimately be eligible to play in the postseason. “That’s the information that we’ve got to get from the league if we were to go down that road and we don’t have that yet,” Payton said. Brown, who caught 837 passes during nine seasons with Pittsburgh, has been dumped by three teams since the end of last season. He was benched by the Steelers after he was a no-show in the days leading up to the club’s season finale. The Steelers traded him to Oakland, which signed him to a contract that would have paid him up to $50 million over the next three seasons, only to release him before he’d played a game. The Patriots quickly moved to bring in Brown, giving him a one-year deal that would have guaranteed him $9 million and paid him up to $15 million this season. He played in one game, catching a touchdown pass at Miami in Week 2, before New England released him. Saints players who spoke after Friday’s practice sounded enthusiastic about the prospects of adding a receiver as talented as Brown. They expressed confidence in the club’s ability to vet whether a player’s previous pattern of mercurial behavior or off-the-field trouble would be an unwanted disruption. “Our front office knows what it’s doing,” linebacker and defensive captain Demario Davis. “They’ve done a good job in building a very strong team with a strong culture. We’ve got a very strong locker room.” Saints receiver Ted Ginn Jr. said that adding Brown to a receiver corps that already includes Michael Thomas — who leads the NFL with a single-season record 145 catches for 1,688 yards — would be a “great situation.” Brown has been “a top guy in this league,” Ginn said. “His attitude and the way he approaches the game and the way he plays the game, he’s kind of like, amazing.” While simply bringing in Brown for a workout could affect public perceptions of any NFL club, Payton assured that the Saints are “doing our homework.” “Part of that is credibility that we’ve already established,” Payton said. “There would be a number of players that we’ve signed or drafted over the years past; some have worked out, some that haven’t. And yet, I’ve never met him before, so it was a chance to sit down and visit with him.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2019

Marc Gasol keeps Joel Embiid in check anew

NBA.com staff report Joel Embiid's struggles against Marc Gasol have been well documented, an embarrassing blip for the self-proclaimed "most unstoppable player in the league." Those woes continued Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in Toronto, where Embiid suffered through the worst outing of his career as the Raptors surged late to beat the 76ers, 101-96, in their first meeting since last year's Eastern Conference semifinals, a seven-game classic in which Philadelphia's All-Star center shot just 37 percent from the floor. That was red hot compared to Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) rematch, with Embiid failing to score for the first time in 171 career games while bricking 11 shots and three free throws. He became the first NBA player to miss at least 10 shots and two free throws in a scoreless game since Devean George in 2008, and is believed to be the first NBA player to miss at least 10 shots and three free throws in a scoreless game since Arnie Risen in 1954. Gasol was once again the impetus, using his size and savvy to frustrate Embiid while long-armed teammates like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby hovered nearby, ready to swoop in with timely help. Embiid at one point attempted to overpower Gasol in the post and nearly knocked himself over in the process as the Spanish veteran stood firm. Embiid ranks eighth in the NBA with roughly 13 paint points per game, but only two of his shots came from that spot, with Gasol blocking both.   It continued an extended nightmare from which Embiid has yet to wake. In addition to last year's playoffs, he shot just 34.4% in five previous regular-season matchups with Gasol-led teams -- roughly 14 percentage points below his career mark of 48.1%. While Embiid did grab 13 rebounds, the lack of scoring production from their leading scorer proved too much for the 76ers to overcome. In addition to going scoreless, Embiid committed four turnovers, including two in the final 2:35 as Philadelphia squandered a late six-point lead. Embiid typically isn't shy about letting opponents know when things are going his way. He was equally ready to accept blame for yet another poor performance against the gritty Gasol. “I can't have this type of production,” said Embiid, who denied fatigue was a factor in Philadelphia's third game in five nights. “I would have never thought I would be here talking about zero points in an NBA game, but it is what it is. Some nights you make shots, some nights you don't. Some nights you're hot, some nights you're cold." Said Sixers coach Brett Brown, "I think you give Marc Gasol, a former Defensive Player of the Year, credit. He's good. It was a long night for Jo.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 26th, 2019

Clippers outlast Celtics in OT in successful debut of Kawhi, George combo

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES -- It took three weeks and 15 games into the season, but better late than never for the Clippers to finally hold their real Opening Night. They were finally whole on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George shared the floor together, suiting up against the Celtics. Before that, the only significant time spent in each others company in uniform was last summer when they were introduced as the newest and most important members of the franchise. It was an event that shook the league and made the Clippers the title favorites; given the club’s zero championships, that glowing projection had never been written or spoken by anyone before. And, predictably, the league will not be conquered in a day or more accurately, a night where the Clippers defeated a Boston team holding the best record in the East but did so haphazardly at times before showing enough spunk in the fourth quarter and overtime to confirm their arrival as a team to be believed. Perhaps these sketchy performances will be expected from the Clippers here in the early season because George missed the first 11 games and Leonard six. Therefore, the Clippers will reek of training camp smell until their stars develop better harmony and the rotation gets in sync. Because at times in the 107-104 win over the Celtics, the Clippers passed up shots and were careless with their decision making and also their passing, perhaps in an effort to please one another. George and Leonard are the clear alpha dogs and not only were they too deferential to each other during stretches, so were their teammates, mostly to a fault. “Twenty-three turnovers,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers, with a sense of resignation. “We were so sloppy. We were trying not to get in each others’ way. We need a lot of work. We’re trying to get the ball to guys instead of trying to score.” It’ll take more practice sessions to clean that up and gain a clearer understanding of roles and situations and flow. Because of injuries, the Clippers, George and Leonard simply haven’t had that chance. “We were thinking in the office earlier today if we ever had two (stars) getting ready to play in a game, and they never had one practice together,” said Rivers. “We couldn’t come up with one.” Well, don’t be misled; the Clippers’ glass is not exactly half empty. There was another aspect to the Clippers in their sneak preview “opener” that left much to be admired. They turn scrappy when cornered and fight when threatened. This was apparent when the Celtics snatched a 10-point lead late in the fourth and were rolling. In these situations, teams tend to discover what’s in their DNA and whether their desire level belongs in elite company, even here in mid-November. Here’s the results, then: George is at the very least Leonard’s equal as a scorer; Lou Williams can take over games even from Leonard and George when necessary; Pat Beverley never runs empty on energy or fire; and Leonard as he showed last spring always seems to deliver in the clutch with a decisive play. “Once we got started,” said Williams, “we saw how special this team can be.” Williams helped erase the Celtics’ lead by scoring 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and caused major problems in the final few moments of regulation. Remember, he’s a lethal scorer in his own right and in last year’s playoffs, without George or Leonard, he carried the Clippers late in games. George finished with 25 points and drew double teams, which created open shots for teammates. It has been a torrid start for him this season since returning from shoulder surgery and rehab; he has 123 points in 110 minutes and hit the game-winner a few days ago against the Thunder. One of those who benefited from the extra attention given to George and Leonard was Beverley. The Celtics picked their poison and their scouting report, no surprise, told them to let Beverley beat them. Ordinarily that’s the proper strategy; Beverley isn’t a scorer nor does the ball usually find him in tense moments. But Beverley punished Boston with four three-pointers (in seven tries) and was an all-around menace, with a career-high 16 rebounds, seven assists and two steals with his 14 points. His feisty tenor set the tone for the Clippers defensively late in the game; the Celtics have the best offensive efficiency in the league yet managed a rather tame 30 points in the fourth quarter and five-minute OT. “They were trying to leave guys open,” said Rivers. “They left Pat open. They took the risk. He single-handedly willed that game for us.” Finally: At the OT buzzer, Leonard reached and deflected Kemba Walker’s potential game-tying shot. The development of the Leonard-George combo obviously will play huge in whatever success the Clippers have this season. It seems a match made in basketball heaven. Both bring similar styles and are unselfish. They can shoot the mid-range or three. They can attack the rim -- see Kawhi’s poster dunk Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) that set social media ablaze -- and besides averaging over 25 per game, they obviously bring the goods defensively. George is a four-time member of the All-Defensive Team while Kawhi is twice the Defensive Player of the Year. Kawhi and George are no longer assigned the toughest assignment every night. They can take turns guarding the other team’s big scorer; George didn’t have this luxury in Indiana and Oklahoma City, and Leonard for much of his time in San Antonio and all last season with the Raptors. And they can switch on and off in the same game. For example, expect to see this happen Friday when league scoring leader James Harden comes to town. Last week, Harden torched the Clippers for 47 points. This time, he’ll see Kawhi in his grill for stretches and then get George, with a little Pat Bev thrown in for irritant’s sake. The elephant in the room is Kawhi’s health. Nobody expects him to play every game the remainder of the season, but he’s already on pace to miss 30. Last year in Toronto he missed 22. The good news is the Clippers can win without him provided George remains healthy. The better news is the Clippers are finally intact and complete right now, even though there are kinks to straighten and flaws to correct and a system that needs to be reset. “We want to figure out how to win games and then become a good team,” said Rivers. “We’re a work in progress.” Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 21st, 2019

PBA: Chan finding his range for Ginebra as Gin Kings gear up for playoffs

Jeff Chan is slowly finding his range consistently for Barangay Ginebra. The veteran sniper was on target for the Gin Kings Friday, firing four out of six triples for 20 points. Chan was one of three 20-point scorers for the Gin Kings as Ginebra clinched a twice-to-beat edge in the 2019 Governors’ Cup quarterfinals with a win over Columbian. “Nice to see Jeff out there, knocking shots down. It’s really fun to watch him shoot,” head coach Tim Cone said. “When he gets going, he really gets it going,” Cone added. Chan, who has battled injuries in his time with Ginebra, hopes to be consistent as the Gin Kings gear up for a playoff run. With a game to spare before the playoffs, getting ready for the next round will be key for Chan and the Gin Kings. “Ayaw namain na maging relaxed going to the playoffs, syempre kailangan mo sa playoffs kumpiyansa mo mataas,” Chan said. “Hopefully lang maging consistent, para makatulong going to the playoffs,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 16th, 2019