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Whirl’d Cup 2019 draws 27 teams, 550 players

MANILA, Philippines —While summer calls to mind a long, relaxing vacation, most Filipinos see the season as a great time to make plans with their friends or even a good time to get active and enjoy the outdoors. For Jamba Juice, summer is not just a good time to start enjoying a healthful and active routine, but to also blend this passion with finding and bonding with a community. To encourage more Filipinos to embrace and enjoy a healthful lifestyle, Jamba Juice hosted the second edition of Whirl’d Cup, a two-day mixed (read: co-ed) Ultimate Frisbee tournament organized with JMJ Sports Training Services, in partnership with the Philippine Flying Disc Association. Whirl’d Cup 2019 happened last May 11-12, 2019, at the Ayala Alabang Country Club. Over 550 players and 27 teams participated in the tournament, which was open to first-timers, regulars, and veteran players, with no age limits or other requirements. Aside from the matches, Ultimate regulars and newer players alike also tested their athletic prowess and worked up a sweat at the Whirl’d Cup Skills Challenge Games. “At Jamba, we believe in blending goodness into every moment. In our stores, we use real whole fruits blended with our juices to create our smoothies, juices, and bowls—whether the combination is unusual or expected—the experience and taste is still great,” shared Jamba Juice Marketing Manager Steph Elumba. “When we looked at Ultimate Frisbee, we saw how the community blended each individual player into one big family. From ages 15 to 50, men and women blended together for a weekend of Ultimate fun and Jamba Juice smoothies.” The Whirl’d Cup also served as a great introduction to Ultimate, a fast-paced, no-contact sport requiring only a disc and a well-lit space to play. The sport has rapidly grown since it was first introduced in the Philippines in the early 2000s, making the local Ultimate community one of the fastest-growing in Asia.   “For us, Ultimate is the sport that best encapsulates our values and our vision for how anyone can live a Better Blended life,” added Elumba. “Ultimate is a great way to blend people of different ages, sexes, professions, and backgrounds in one space, as the sport’s inclusive nature makes it easier for people who share a passion for sports, fitness, and good food and drink to come together.” Beyond introducing more Filipinos to Ultimate, Jamba Juice also provided players with an opportunity to support the sport’s growing community. A portion of the sales from the Jamba Juice food truck, the Fender Blender, will support Pilipinas Ultimate, the national Ultimate team, as they take part in tournaments in Japan and China. “Just as it’s important to nourish our bodies with delicious and nutritious food, we believe that it is important for more Filipinos to enjoy a more inclusive experience of sports. A better you starts with better food (in this case, our smoothies), and when you can tap into the better you, you can help create a better world,” said Elumba. “We hope that more people will be inspired by the Whirl’d Cup, start creating their vision of a healthful life, and get blended into Ultimate’s exciting and fun scene.” To catch up on the highlights of the Whirl’d Cup, check out facebook.com/jambajuiceph/.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 22nd, 2019

2010 Miracle in Hanoi team stands out the most for former Azkals star Phil Younghusband

Former Philippine Men’s National Football Team captain Phil Younghusband has been an integral part in the rise of football in the Philippines over the last decade or so. The Fil-British striker, who began his Philippine football career back in 2006, is widely considered the face of the sport in the country, and has been part of numerous iterations of the Philippine Azkals as well as multiple historic moments. In late-2019, Younghusband officially announced his retirement from football, ending his career as the all-time leader in goals scored (52) and matches played (108).  (READ ALSO: Phil Younghusband believes he isn’t done with Philippine football yet)  For arguably Philippine football's biggest star however, there’s one particular team that stands out in his mind and in his heart. Talking to long-time teammate and Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, Younghusband shared that the 2010 team was the one that stood out the most because of the camaraderie that they built. “Each year we had new talent, and we’d always introduce a new and exciting player each year. The level of play just got better and better each year,” Younghusband said. “I think everyone knows the answer, in terms of what we had in 2010, the closeness, we didn’t have the talent that we have now and he ability that we have now, but we had a closeness.” 2010 is considered as essentially the year that football took off in the Philippines, following the National Team’s breakthrough performance in that year’s edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup in Vietnam. After failing to qualify for the Southeast Asia-based tournament in 2008, the Philippines qualified for the 2010 tournament and put on an impressive showing in the Group Stage, going undefeated with one win and two draws, enough to earn a spot in the semis. The highlight of that tournament however, was the Philippines’ improbable 2-0 win over defending champions Vietnam, which would be dubbed as “The Miracle in Hanoi”. Fittingly enough, it was Younghusband who scored the game-sealing goal in that match, putting the nationals up 2-0 in the 79th minute. Younghusband explained that back then, training camp would last for two months, which allowed the players to bond more as a team. “I think the format of training has completely changed, back then we would go on six to eight-week, two month training camps before the competition, so we’d be together for two months, and during that time, you build relationships with players and you get used to players and you understand how players play and their personalities on and off the field.” “I think with that format of training before tournaments, it meant that that team was closer, because we went to Thailand, we went to China…you go through those hardships together, and through those hardships, you build a closeness and you build relationships,” Younghusband added. The 13-year National Team veteran notes that nowadays, training camps don’t run as long and the teams aren’t always complete, given the players’ respective club schedules. “Now, it’s more similar to what we do in Europe, where players will arrive a few days before. I don’t think during those three days, you can build relationships as we were able to do during 2010.” “I’m very proud, obviously, to have played 108 caps. That’s since 2005, that’s been a while. Back then, we were lucky if we had one tournament a year. We were lucky if we had three or four games a year when we first started. Now, obviously there’s a lot more games,” he added......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2020

Film Study: Little room for Leonard to move in Game 2

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com OAKLAND -- The Golden State Warriors got what they needed out of their trip to Toronto. With their Game 2 victory, they took home-court advantage in The Finals from the Toronto Raptors as the series moves to Oakland for what could be the final two games at Oracle Arena. The Warriors are banged up. Kevon Looney is likely done for the season with a cartilage fracture in his chest, Klay Thompson is questionable for Game 3 with a strained left hamstring, and, as of Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), Kevin Durant's will not play in Game 3. But the champs are 45-8 in playoff home games over the last five years and they were able to put together one of their best defensive games of the postseason on Sunday. After the Raptors scored 118 points on 97 possessions in Game 1 (their third-best offensive game of the postseason), the the Warriors held them to just 104 points on 101 possessions in Game 2. That was done with Toronto registering a playoff-high 23 second-chance points (so the Raptors scored just 81 points on their 101 initial offensive possessions). The Eastern Conference champions were bound for some regression. In Game 1, the Raptors shot a remarkable 15-for-23 (including 5-for-9 from three-point range) in the last six seconds of the shot clock, according to Second Spectrum tracking. That was unsustainable and, indeed, they shot just 5-for-20 (0-for-6 from three-point range) in the last six seconds of the shot clock in Game 2. If 43 shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock over two seems like a lot, well, it is. In the regular season, no team averaged more than 17.5 field goal attempts in the last six seconds. The Raptors averaged the fifth most, but that was just 14.3 per game. With better defenses and slower pace in the playoffs, that number was at 17.3 through the first three rounds. In this series, with the Raptors working their offense late into the clock even more, it's at 21.5 per game. While Toronto has 43 shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock, Golden State has just 16. On one hand, playing late in the clock slows the overall pace against an opponent that can hurt you in transition. In the regular season, the Warriors' effective field goal percentage of 64.2 percent in the first six seconds was the best mark for any team in any portion of the shot clock. On the other hand, playing late into the clock puts pressure on a team's offense. For every team in the league, effective field goal percentage is lowest in those last six seconds of the clock. In most instances, the Raptors would probably like to get something earlier in the clock. But getting a good shot early in a possession has proven to be difficult. The Raptors have been moving the ball. Their 330 passes in Game 2 were the most they've had in a game since the first round (if you don't count the 349 they had in their double-overtime win in Game 3 of the conference finals). But all those passes mean that Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors' best player and most efficient scorer, isn't getting his in-rhythm shots off the dribble, via pick-and-rolls or isolations. Leonard has been forced to give up the ball more than the Raptors would probably like. All eyes on Kawhi The Warriors have obviously been defending Leonard aggressively. The second defender on pick-and-rolls has generally stayed with Leonard until he has given up the ball. They've doubled him in the post and even sent a second defender at him before he can get into an isolation situation. When Leonard has managed to get into the paint, he's been met by a crowd of defenders. All that attention has resulted in a lot of trips to the line. He's drawn 22 fouls (nine more than any other player in the series) and, with 28 free throw attempts in two games, Leonard's free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in The Finals (0.824) is more than double his rate through the first three rounds (0.397). The attention should also result in some open shots just one or two passes away. But Leonard's teammates have attempted only 25 shots off his passes. That accounts for just 23 percent of the 108 shots his teammates have taken while he's been on the floor, a rate almost in line with his rate from the regular season (22 percent). For context, Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James had rates of *42 percent and 51 percent in the regular season, respectively. * In case that last part was a little confusing, here's the math: Antetokounmpo's teammates took 3,184 shots while he was on the floor. Of those 3,184, 1,133 (42 percent) were off his passes. Leonard is one of the most complete players in the league, but playmaking is his shortcoming. When he had nine assists in Game 5 of the conference finals, it was a career high ... for both the regular season and playoffs (now 574 total games). A look at the film from Game 2 of this series can show us why a guy who has the ball as much as he does and who draws so much attention from opposing defenses is averaging less than four assists per game. It also shows us how the Raptors continue to get stuck in late-clock situations. Dribbling out of the double Leonard's reaction when he's double-teamed is often to dribble out of it. If he can attack quickly and get one defender to screen the other, he can get an open shot ... Leonard did the Michael Jordan trick of attacking the doubling big in the direction from which he came & having the big screen his own teammate. pic.twitter.com/fEVle6tXE4 — John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) May 10, 2019 Dribbling out of the double-team could also get him a better angle to make a pass or allow him to attack again, like he did in the second quarter on a play that led to an open Norman Powell three-pointer (with some help from Marc Gasol's screen on Andre Iguodala)... But often, the results aren't so great. Here's a first-quarter play where he dribbled out of a double team, couldn't get the ball to any of the teammates that popped open, and had to take a tough shot with one second left on the clock ... In the second quarter, after dribbling out of a double-team, he was unable to get the ball to an open Pascal Siakam on the baseline ... A couple of Leonard's five turnovers were a result of him driving too deep into a crowd. "I thought we hit an action and something would be there," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said after Game 2, "and they would cover it up with some help defense. Well, when there's help, there's got to be somebody else probably open on the other side of the floor, and I thought we kind of shot a few too many into multiple defenders or two defenders around the basket, where those probably should have been maybe swung to the other side." Unable to deliver Leonard's inability to get the ball to the open man on Sunday wasn't just about passing out of double-teams. Here was Leonard collapsing the Golden State defense with a drive and Kyle Lowry popping open on the left wing ... But Leonard didn't deliver the ball right away and by the time he got it to Lowry, the Raptors had lost the advantage they had gained from the paint attack ... Here was an opportunity to deliver a pick-and-roll pocket pass to a rolling Gasol for a four-on-three situation, with Klay Thompson trailing the play ... But Leonard couldn't make the pass (credit DeMarcus Cousins' defense to some extent), Thompson got back in the play, and Siakam was eventually smothered by Iguodala ... Bad spacing The Raptors' inability to take advantage of the attention paid to Leonard in Game 2 wasn't just about Leonard himself. There were also a few cases of bad spacing, where he was doubled and just didn't have sufficient outlets with which to make a play ... Example 1, which led to a turnover ... Example 2, which led to a Fred VanVleet miss from 3-point range ... Working off the ball Leonard still managed to work his way to 34 points in Game 2. Sometimes, the Warriors gave him a little space to operate. There were multiple occasions in which he bullied his way to the basket (see the Looney injury noted above). There were also a couple of nice off-ball cuts and duck-ins. A need to be better It's tough to nitpick Leonard's performance in these playoffs. He's averaged 30.9 points per game on a true shooting percentage of 62.3 percent (the fifth-best mark among players with at least 100 postseason field goal attempts). He has hit some huge shots and he has played some stifling defense himself. While he can save his team some precious seconds on a lot of these possessions by making better and quicker decisions, Leonard's teammates must ensure the floor is properly spaced around him. Furthermore, Nurse and his staff have to find ways to loosen up the Golden State defense, which will continue to make Leonard play in a crowd in Game 3 on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2019

Coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown dead at 78

By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — John Thompson, the imposing Hall of Famer who turned Georgetown into a “Hoya Paranoia” powerhouse and became the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men’s basketball championship, has died. He was 78 His death was announced in a family statement released by Georgetown on Monday. No details were disclosed. “Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on but, most importantly, off the basketball court. He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else,” the statement said. “However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear everyday.” One of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport, Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and molded it in his unique style into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by center Patrick Ewing in 1984. Georgetown reached two other title games with Thompson in charge and Ewing patrolling the paint, losing to Michael Jordan’s North Carolina team in 1982 and to Villanova in 1985. At 6-foot-10, with an ever-present white towel slung over his shoulder, Thompson literally and figuratively towered over the Hoyas for decades, becoming a patriarch of sorts after he quit coaching in 1999. One of his sons, John Thompson III, was hired as Georgetown’s coach in 2004. When the son was fired in 2017, the elder Thompson -- known affectionately as “Big John” or “Pops” to many -- was at the news conference announcing Ewing as the successor. Along the way, Thompson said what he thought, shielded his players from the media and took positions that weren’t always popular. He never shied away from sensitive topics -- particularly the role of race in both sports and society -- and he once famously walked off the court before a game to protest an NCAA rule because he felt it hurt minority athletes. “I’ll probably be remembered for all the things that kept me out of the Hall of Fame, ironically, more than for the things that got me into it,” Thompson said on the day he was elected to the Hall in 1999. Thompson became coach of the Hoyas in 1972 and began remaking a team that was 3-23 the previous season. Over the next 27 years, he led Georgetown to 14 straight NCAA tournaments (1979-92), 24 consecutive postseason appearances (20 NCAA, 4 NIT), three Final Fours (1982, 1984, 1985) and won six Big East tournament championships. Employing a physical, defense-focused approach that frequently relied on a dominant center -- Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo were among his other pupils -- Thompson compiled a 596-239 record (.715 winning percentage). He had 26 players drafted by the NBA. One of his honors -- his selection as coach of the U.S. team for the 1988 Olympics -- had a sour ending when the Americans had to settle for the bronze medal. It was a result so disappointing that Thompson put himself on a sort of self-imposed leave at Georgetown for a while, coaching practices and games but leaving many other duties to his assistants. Off the court, Thompson was both a role model and a lightning rod. A stickler for academics, he kept a deflated basketball on his desk, a reminder to his players that a degree was a necessity because a career in basketball relied on a tenuous “nine pounds of air.” The school boasted that 76 of 78 players who played four seasons under Thompson received their degrees. He was a Black coach who recruited mostly Black players to a predominantly white Jesuit university in Washington, and Thompson never hesitated to speak out on behalf of his players. One of the most dramatic moments in Georgetown history came on Jan. 14, 1989, when he walked off the court to a standing ovation before the tipoff of a home game against Boston College, demonstrating in a most public way his displeasure against NCAA Proposition 42. The rule denied athletic scholarships to freshmen who didn’t meet certain requirements, and Thompson said it was biased against underprivileged students. Opposition from Thompson, and others, led the NCAA to modify the rule. Thompson’s most daring move came that same year, when he summoned notorious drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III for a meeting in the coach’s office. Thompson warned Edmond to stop associating with Hoyas players and to leave them alone, using his respect in the Black community to become one of the few people to stare down Edmond and not face a reprisal. Though aware of his influence, Thompson did not take pride in becoming the first Black coach to take a team to the Final Four, and he let a room full of reporters know it when asked his feelings on the subject at a news conference in 1982. “I resent the hell out of that question if it implies I am the first Black coach competent enough to take a team to the Final Four,” Thompson said. “Other Blacks have been denied the right in this country; coaches who have the ability. I don’t take any pride in being the first Black coach in the Final Four. I find the question extremely offensive.” Born Sept. 2, 1941, John R. Thompson Jr. grew up in Washington, D.C. His father was always working — on a farm in Maryland and later as a laborer in the city — and could neither read nor write. “I never in my life saw my father’s hands clean,” Thompson told The Associated Press in 2007. “Never. He’d come home and scrub his hands with this ugly brown soap that looked like tar. I thought that was the color of his hands. When I was still coaching, kids would show up late for practice and I’d (say) ... ‘My father got up every morning of his life at 5 a.m. to go to work. Without an alarm.‘” Thompson’s parents emphasized education, but he struggled in part of because of poor eyesight and labored in Catholic grammar school. He was moved to a segregated public school, had a growth spurt and became good enough at basketball to get into John Carroll, a Catholic high school, where he led the team to 55 consecutive victories and two city titles. He went to Providence College as one of the most touted basketball prospects in the country and led the Friars to the first NCAA bid in school history. He graduated in 1964 and played two seasons with Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics, earning a pair of championship rings as a sparingly used backup to Bill Russell. Thompson returned to Washington, got his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia and went 122-28 over six seasons at St. Anthony’s before accepting the job at Georgetown, an elite school that had relatively few Black students. Faculty and students rallied around him after a bedsheet with racist words was hung inside the school’s gym before a game during the 1974-75 season. Thompson sheltered his players with closed practices, tightly controlled media access and a prohibition on interviews with freshmen in their first semester -- a restriction that still stands for Georgetown’s basketball team. Combined with Thompson’s flashes of emotion and his players’ rough-and-tumble style of play, it wasn’t long before the words “Hoya Paranoia” came to epitomize the new era of basketball on the Hilltop campus. Georgetown lost the 1982 NCAA championship game when Fred Brown mistakenly passed the ball to North Carolina’s James Worthy in the game’s final seconds. Two years later, Ewing led an 84-75 win over Houston in the title game. The Hoyas were on the verge of a repeat the following year when they were stunned in the championship game by coach Rollie Massimino’s Villanova team in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Success allowed Thompson to rake in money through endorsements, but he ran afoul of his Georgetown bosses when he applied for a gambling license for a business venture in Nevada in 1995. Thompson, who liked playing the slot machines in Las Vegas, reluctantly dropped the application after the university president objected. Centers Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo turned Georgetown into “Big Man U” under Thompson, although his last superstar was guard Allen Iverson, who in 1996 also became the first player under Thompson to leave school early for the NBA draft. “Thanks for Saving My Life Coach,” Iverson wrote at the start of an Instagram post Monday with photos of the pair. The Hoyas teams in the 1990s never came close to matching the achievements of the 1980s, and Thompson’s era came to a surprising and sudden end when he resigned in the middle of the 1998-99 season, citing distractions from a pending divorce. Thompson didn’t fade from the limelight. He became a sports radio talk show host and a TV and radio game analyst, joining the very profession he had frustrated so often as a coach. He loosened up, allowing the public to see his lighter side, but he remained pointed and combative when a topic mattered to him. A torch was passed in 2004, when John Thompson III became Georgetown’s coach. The younger Thompson, with “Pops” often watching from the stands or sitting in the back of the room for news conferences, returned the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007. Another son, Ronny Thompson, was head coach for one season at Ball State and is now a TV analyst. ___ Joseph White, a former AP sports writer in Washington who died in 2019, prepared this obituary. AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2020

PBA dreams within reach at Letran, says ex-UST Tiger Rhenz Abando

RHENZ ABANDO (UAAP image) Rhenz Abando says that his transfer to defending NCAA champion Letran from embattled University of Santo Tomas is more than just a school-to-school move, but one that would likely benefit his career in the long run because of the opportunities he thinks he would get with the Knights.  Abando – one of three former UST players who changed address from España to Intramuros – met Tuesday with Knights mentor Bonnie Tan and Alfrancis Chua, sports director of San Miguel Miguel Corporation, which backs the school’s basketball program. “May mga opportunities kasi sa Letran, mga coaches nila nasa PBA na din,” says Abando, referring to Tan – team manager of GlobalPort – and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel guard LA Tenorio, who is part of Letran’s coaching staff, in an interview Wednesday with Manila Bulletin. “Magiging malaking tulong sa improvement ko as a player, siempre goal ko is makatuntong din sa PBA. Saka ang Letran Dominican school din naman kaya mas pinili ko na doon lumipat.” Aside from Tan and Tenorio, there’s also Chua, who coached PBL Grand Slam champion Stag in the mid-90s and the PBA teams of Tanduay, Sta. Lucia Realty and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, also represents SMC, which owns Ginebra, Magnolia Hotshots and San Miguel Beer in the pros, and volleyball team Petron Blaze in the PSL. Chua, in an interview Tuesday, said that Letran players are well taken care of by SMC similar to what they do with professional athletes, exactly what was assured Abando, Brent Paraiso and Ira Bataller. “Siguro naniniwala sila sa system ng Letran at sa pag-aalaga ng San Miguel sa players. Alam nila kung paano kami magpatakbo ng team,” said Chua, also the governor of Ginebra in the PBA board. “Hindi sila nagkamali sa pagpili sa Letran, kasi kung paano kami mag-alaga ng players sa professional, ganun din sa collegiate level. Malaking karagdagan sila sa team, siguro mas sasaya ang mga ka-Arriba natin.” Abando begged off to comment when asked the other schools that sought his services, although sources said Letran’s arch nemesis San Beda University, as well as De La Salle University, tried to recruit the La Union native. He, however, may have indirectly answered questions of offers from a UAAP school when he said he doesn’t want to play in the same league where his former alma mater is a member. “Ayoko na din kasi maglaro sa UAAP dahil ayoko din makalaban ang UST,” said Abando. “Baka kasi kapag madinig ko yung “GO USTe” baka play ng UST gawin ko or depensahan ko mga kakampi ko. Kaya din mas pinili ko ang NCAA kesa sa UAAP ako maglaro,” Abando added in jest. The decision to leave UST was not an easy thing to do, according to Abando, but he thanked his mother Lorena for the guidance, saying: “Mother ko yung tumulong sa akin… hindi madali e.” Abando, Paraiso and Bataller need to serve one-year residency as per NCAA guidelines for transferees. After that, both Abando and Paraiso have two years to play while Bataller has three more.  Although the addition of the 6-foot-5 Bataller and the 6-foot-2 Paraiso are considered important for the Knights, it was the recruitment of the 6-foot-4 Abando that really made the difference. After two seasons with the Philippine College Science and Technology in Calasiao, Pangasinan, Abando transferred to UST in 2019 and played one season – the 82nd UAAP where he helped the Tigers reach the final against eventual champion Ateneo Blue Eagles. i.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 9th, 2020

Heat oust depleted Bucks to reach NBA East finals; Lakers down Rockets, up 2-1

Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during Game Five of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the NBA Playoffs on September 8, 2020 at The Field House in Orlando, Florida. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP) MIAMI (AFP) — The Miami Heat punched their ticket to the NBA Eastern Conference finals Tuesday, beating top-seeded Milwaukee 103-94 as injured Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo watched from the bench. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic finished with 17 points apiece as six Heat players scored in double figures and Miami completed a 4-1 series victory in a bruising encounter against the league’s top defensive team. Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 23 points. Antetokounmpo — tipped to scoop a second straight NBA Most Valuable Player award this season — aggravated his sprained right ankle in the first half of the Bucks’ game-four overtime victory over the Heat. The Bucks declared him inactive less than an hour before tipoff on Tuesday. The loss of Antetokounmpo, who averaged career highs of 29.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game this season, was a huge blow for the Bucks, as they tried to do what no NBA team has done before: come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game playoff series. It’s the second straight campaign that the Bucks built the best regular-season record only to come up short in the playoffs. In 2019 they fell to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in six games in the Eastern Conference finals. The fifth-seeded Heat will face either the Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors for a place in the NBA Finals. The Celtics lead their series against the defending NBA champion Raptors three games to two. Butler, who added 10 rebounds and six assists and was a perfect eight-for-eight from the foul line, said the Heat’s impressive 8-1 record so far in the playoffs means nothing now. “All of that is behind us now,” he said. “We’ll wait and see who we get out of Toronto and Boston and then we’ll lock in on that. “But it’s zero-zero now, we’ve got eight more to get.” The Heat trailed 28-19 after a chaotic first quarter in which they committed six turnovers leading to nine Bucks points. They trailed by as many as 13 in the first period, but settled down in the second, out-scoring the Bucks 33-18 to take a 52-46 lead into halftime. But Milwaukee, with Middleton leading the way, refused to go away. After going scoreless for more than six minutes in the third period the Bucks put together an 8-0 run to pull within five points. Trailing 73-65 going into the final period, the Bucks trimmed the deficit to four multiple times, but the Heat’s depth finally proved too much. “Obviously they missed their MVP,” Butler said. “But we knew we were going to have to get one out of the mud and I think this was the one.” Antetokounmpo said he felt “lost” as he was unable to contribute. “Mentally it was a battle, but at the end of the day you’ve got to trust your teammates and that’s what I decided to do,” he said after the Bucks medical staff persuaded him not to risk further injury by playing. LeBron leads Lakers LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers, left, drives the ball against Ben McLemore #16 of the Houston Rockets during the second quarter in Game Three of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 08, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (AFP) In Western Conference action, LeBron James scored 36 points and Anthony Davis added 26 as the Los Angeles Lakers powered to the finish in a 112-102 victory over the Houston Rockets. The Lakers grabbed a 2-1 series lead and James notched an NBA record 162nd career playoff win. “It says that I’ve played with a lot of great teams,” said James, who won two NBA titles with the Miami Heat and one with the Cleveland Cavaliers. “It says that I’ve played with a lot of great teammates and some great coaches.” James Harden scored 33 points with nine rebounds and nine assists and Russell Westbrook added 30 points for Houston in a back and forth battle that saw 16 lead changes. The Lakers’ reserves scored 42 points, with Houston’s only points off the bench the 16 of Jeff Green. Rajon Rondo, who scored 21 off the bench for Los Angeles, hit back-to-back three-pointers and came up with a steal and layup as the Lakers surged ahead with a 17-5 scoring run to start the fourth quarter. After putting up 64 points in the first half Houston scored just 38 in the second and the Lakers posted their second straight win of the series. There was a frightening moment in the fourth quarter, as Robert Covington and Davis collided as Davis rose for a rebound. Davis’s elbow appeared to hit Covington in head and he left the court holding a bloodied towel to his face, while Davis was hurting from Covington’s elbow in his side......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 9th, 2020

2020 king of recruiting crown remains on UP’s head

Who was our King of Recruiting in 2018? Find out here. Who was our King of Recruiting in 2019? Find out here. --- From 2007 to 2015, the University of the Philippines only had 13 wins to show in 126 games total. That time is self-deprecatingly called in Diliman as the dark days. Due to that disappointing standing, the Fighting Maroons had the toughest time bringing in recruits. And due to that lack of pieces to the puzzles, they lost even more. Safe to say, State U was stuck in a vicious cycle in the dark days. That’s not to say they didn’t have blue-chip recruits back then as in their time, all of Woody Co, Mark Juruena, Mike Gamboa, Kyles Lao, Jett Manuel, and Mikee Reyes were among the best high school players. Only, a blue-chip recruit or two does not make a team. Fast forward to now and oh, how things have changed. Last year, UP was hailed as ABS-CBN’s King of Recruiting alongside University of the East. “On the strength of the transfers of Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero, the Fighting Maroons… are worthy of the title,” it said then. And the season before that, the maroon and green was also up there with the best of them in terms of recruitment, having brought in the likes of eventual Season MVP Bright Akhuetie, Will Gozum, and Jaydee Tungcab. Indeed, there was nowhere to go but up. That has only continued this year as UP has left no doubt that it is now a force to reckon with in terms of recruitment. Early on, they already had a solid haul in Joel Cagulangan, once the best point guard in high school, and tireless workhorse Malick Diouf. And then, the shock of shocks. As it turned out, Nazareth School of National University stalwarts Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano were going to be Fighting Maroons. Meaning, for the first time in recent history, the most promising prospect coming out of high school is headed to Diliman. Not only that, State U also answered its biggest question heading into next season – the question at point guard, filling in for Jun Manzo. But as it turned out, they weren’t done just yet - no, our friends, they weren’t done just yet. Tamayo and Abadiano’s departure from National U was shocking, without a doubt, but CJ Cansino’s exit from University of Sto. Tomas was even more so. Cansino, against his will, decided to move on from his alma mater since 2015 due to personal reasons. Fortunately for him, he landed on his feet. Now, the Fighting Maroons have ready-made replacement for Rivero as well as a leader in the shades of Paul Desiderio for UAAP 84. And that, our friends, is why we have no choice but to put the 2020 King of Recruiting crown on UP’s head once more. Tamayo and Abadiano are the bluest of blue-chip recruits this year and Cagulangan, Cansino, and Diouf are among the most talented transferees, but also joining them in the maroon and green will be scoring machine RC Calimag from La Salle Green Hills, burly big Miguel Tan from Xavier High School, Filipino-American playmaker Sam Dowd, Filipino-Australian tower Ethan Kirkness, physical forward Jancork Cabahug from University of Visayas, and versatile wing CJ Catapusan from Adamson University. The former Bullpups are guaranteed ato be contributors even as rookies while Calimag, Tan, and Dowd are going to shore up a bench that had just lost Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Of course, Diouf, Kirkness, Cansino, Cabahug, and Cagulangan are still serving residency, but when they will be eligible, they will get a shot at a squad that will look brand new. All of Bright Akhuetie, J-Boy Gob, David Murrell, Noah Webb, and Rivero are graduating players while Paras is only guaranteed to play one more year. That means that after Season 83, the Fighting Maroons may very well have to fill six spots. That means that UP is not only beefing up for UAAP 83, it is also securing its future. If not for the shock of shocks, though, the crown would have been claimed by De La Salle University which sent a statement that it is back and better than ever. Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio may be playing their fifth and final years in college, but the green and white’s future has only brightened following this prolonged preseason. First and foremost, Kevin Quiambao, the third leg in that National U tripod of talent out of high school, has the capability and confidence to follow in the footsteps of Baltazar. Hopefully, he will be eligible for Season 83, but if not, what’s certain is he will be playing in UAAP 84. Alongside him as pieces for the future are super scorers CJ Austria and Emman Galman, all-around swingman Joshua Ramirez, and Filipino-Americans Jeromy Hughes, Kameron Vales, and Philips bros. Benjamin and Michael. Among all those, Jonnel Policarpio, likened to a young Arwind Santos, has the highest upside, but the Fil-Ams have much potential as well. And don’t forget that Evan Nelle, the primetime playmaker from San Beda University, is just getting primed and prepped to take the reins when Melecio leaves. Of course, the caveat here is that we are all in uncharted territory due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis. And in that light, the next season of the UAAP remains far away and a lot could still happen until then. While majority of the local blue-chip recruits have already committed, talents from abroad and transferees from other schools could still come and change the game. With that being said, there remains no doubt that UP and La Salle have made the biggest noise in the offseason. However, it’s not actually the Fighting Maroons or the Green Archers who got the lion’s share of the best graduating players in the 2020 NBTC 24. Yes, that honor belongs to Lyceum of the Philippines University which is finally reaping the rewards of its rising Jrs. program with NCAA 95 Jrs. MVP John Barba and Batang Gilas playmaker Mac Guadana being promoted as full-fledged Pirates. Guadana could do it all and looks like the next great guard in the Grand Old League while fearless slasher is Barba is a perfect complement to him. Add another fiery guard in John Bravo and sweet-shooting big man Carlo Abadeza and LPU has restocked its coffers after losing Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee and Cameroonian powerhouse Mike Nzeusseu. In all though, the 2020 NBTC 24 was dominated by UP… and San Beda. Of the annual rankings’ 15 graduating players, four would be Fighting Maroons and another four would be Red Lions. Yes, San Beda’s grassroots program is back on track with its Jrs. championship core all remaining in red and white. Rhayyan Amsali, ranked no. 1 in the 2020 NBTC 24, is the most college-ready high school player while Justine Sanchez is a long-limbed forward who could turn out to be the next Calvin Oftana, you know, the NCAA 95 MVP. Yukien Andrada, meanwhile, is only continuing to develop his two-way game and Tony Ynot is a 3-and-D weapon who had even left an impression on Jalen Green. And hey, as somebody said, don’t sleep on the UAAP’s three-time defending champions. Ateneo may already be missing Isaac Go, Thirdy Ravena, Adrian Wong, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt and they may not be making noise as of late, but they are still welcoming Dave Ildefonso and Dwight Ramos with open arms. Ildefonso will only be good to go come UAAP 84, but Ramos is already being seen by head coach Tab Baldwin as a difference-maker for the Blue Eagles in Season 83. Eli, Dwight’s younger brother, is also in the mix to backstop SJ Belangel and Tyler Tio. Note also that former blue-chip recruit Inand Fornilos may very well finally get his shot while both Jolo Mendoza and Raffy Verano are also back. Ateneo’s foe in the Finals last year also reloaded quite a bit as for the third year in a row, UST will be sending the Tiger Cubs’ best player to the Srs. squad. Following in the footsteps of Cansino and Mark Nonoy, post player Bismarck Lina will be a Growling Tiger next season. Alongside him to fortify the frontcourt are Christian Manaytay, Bryan Samudio, and Bryan Santos while bolstering the backcourt are Joshua Fontanilla and Paul Manalang. Speaking of fortifying the frontcourt, Far Eastern University is the team that got the biggest boost in terms of size. With 6-foot-7 Nigerian Emman Ojoula’s residency over and done with, the go-go guards of the Tamaraws have yet another weapon to burn opponents with. CESAFI MVP Kevin Guibao and transferee Simone Sandagon are no slouches either while Cholo Anonuevo has a roster spot waiting for him if and when he decides to come home after trying his luck in the US. RJ Abarrientos no longer appears here as he was already in FEU’s list last year. These are the new faces to see for the other teams: CSB Blazers LETRAN Knights JRU Heavy Bombers MAPUA Cardinals ADAMSON Soaring Falcons UE Red Warriors --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2020

NBA teams out of bubble can begin workouts

New York—The National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association announced today that they have finalized an agreement on a program for each of the eight NBA teams that did not participate in the resumption of the 2019-20 season to engage in voluntary group workouts at their team facilities while residing in a campus-like environment under controlled conditions.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 19th, 2020

Toronto s Nurse is most impressive coach says G League s Shaw

The 2018-2019 season was a milestone year for the Toronto Raptors. With Kawhi Leonard leading the way, the Raptors finished with 58 wins for their second-best regular season in franchise in history. In the playoffs, Toronto embarked on one of the most inspiring runs ever. The Raptors culminated their journey with a six-game conquest of the two-time champion Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for their first NBA title. A lot of last season's success falls on the players led by Kawhi, but Toronto's championship win also coincided with Nick Nurse's first-year as head coach. This season, Kawhi is no longer a Raptor but Toronto retained the no. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs on the strength of their best regular season ever as a franchise. Toronto's success in 2020 makes Nurse's impact pretty evident. Despite losing their no. 1 star, Coach Nick still has the champion Raptors as arguably the team to beat in these years playoffs. "Hands down for me, the most impressive coaching job that I've seen this year was Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors. I was impressed last year in his rookie season as well," G League Select Team coach Brian Shaw said in an interview set up by NBA Philippines. "I think people expected for the Toronto Raptors to drop off because Kawhi Leonard is not there, but he had them playing competitively all season long. I still think they're the team to beat until somebody knocks them off," he added. Shaw says Nurse's genius lies behind his ability to cook up defenses to go against multiple teams and multiple star players. True enough, the Raptors are second in the NBA in defensive rating. Toronto is also no. 1 in steals among all teams in the NBA bubble. "I was impressed by his schemes, particularly defensively. Nick Nurse has shown the ability to take the other team's stars out of the game by using unconventional methods. I've seen games where he's played box-and-one, triangle-and-two, zone defense," Shaw said. "We know that whoever team's stars can beat you, what he does is throws the whole defense at those guys and see if the rest of the team can beat us. I think he's unique in that way, in some of the approaches he takes on the defensive end," Shaw added of Coach Nurse.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 17th, 2020

2020 NBA Champion doesn t deserve dreaded 'asterisk'

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 17th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

NBA LIVE UPDATES - Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets

The NBA season is back!  Live from the NBA Campus at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, the 2019-2020 NBA Season returns to action with 22 teams set to play eight seeding games each to determine post-season berths and positioning!  The last two Most Valuable Players go head to head, as Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks take on James Harden and the Houston Rockets! Milwaukee, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, opened their NBA restart with a big win over the Boston Celtics.  Houston meanwhile moved up to fifth in the Western Conference after a thrilling comeback win over the Dallas Mavericks in overtime.  Tip-off is on Monday, August 3rd at 8:30 AM! Join us as we bring you live updates! .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

Gilas goal in 2023 is second round of FIBA World Cup

Tab Baldwin is not resting on his laurels as Gilas Pilipinas program director even during the continuing COVID-19 crisis. Despite the pause in play in all of the Philippines, the seasoned mentor reiterated that plans remain in place for the future of the national team. "First of all, we have decided, as the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas), on the direction we're going to go to," he said in the inaugural episode of Coaches Unfiltered. He then continued, "That is to build this program with an injection of youth looking forward to 2023 and ultimately, to 2027." Earlier in the year, the Gilas pool was announced and it had young stars such as Nieto twins Mike and Matt, Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan, Allyn Bulanadi, Isaac Go, Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, Rey Suerte, and Jaydee Tungcab. The 2019 PBA Draft even had the Nietos, Bulanadi, Go, and Suerte be part of a so-called "special" selection process after which, in essence, they have been loaned by their mother teams to Gilas. The national team's close ties with the PBA would remain under Coach Tab's watch as program director. At the same time, though, the goal is for Gilas to not have to depend on the PBA too much. "Maybe in the early days, we'll be looking for the younger players to complement the PBA player injection, but as time goes by, the roles will reverse," he said. He then continued, "We'll be looking for PBA players to complement what we're trying to do with the young players that we're bringing in to be, basically, full-time Gilas players." The architect of Ateneo de Manila University's three-peat then said further that in the same light, change must come as well in terms of the national team's style of play and preparation. As he put it, "The other big umbrella that will govern what we will do is the philosophy that a smaller nation in basketball terms, an underdog nation, a nation that doesn't compete in the elite (level), but wants to compete in the elite (level), in my opinion, must develop a playing point of difference." For Coach Tab, Philippine basketball just could not do anymore what it had been doing since time immemorial. "What is insanity? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result so insanity in terms of trying to compete at the elite level is trying to do what your opponents do with them having superior talent and experience and expecting to be able to beat them," he shared. He then continued, "With that, it means we're truly trying to look for something that will be a point of difference in terms of how we play." All things considered, the brilliant tactician remains upbeat about the Filipinos chances in the 2023 FIBA World Cup - and even in the 2027 edition of the world meet. "I think that in 2023, we want to be a team that will make a very, very strong run at the second round and, I think, even achieves that. Then by 2027, I think we want to be a team that has aspirations to be in the medal round," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2020

Temp to Champ: Justin Brownlee s Magical PBA journey with Ginebra

(This story was originally published on January 31, 2020) With Barangay Ginebra's recent title win in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup, Justin Brownlee is now a four-time champion. In just under four years, Brownlee has completely captivated Ginebra and its legion of fans. Brownlee's influence extends beyond the barangay, one can only hear the continuous calls for him to become Gilas Pilipinas' naturalized player as proof of his influence. He is well-loved not just because of his on-court ability but more so because he is genuinely a good human being. But for all of Brownlee's brilliance in the PBA, everything almost never actually happened. He wasn't even supposed to stay here, let alone come.   THE TNT CONNECTION In 2011, Paul Harris came to the PBA and won the Commissioner's Cup title with the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters. They beat Barangay Ginebra in the Finals after six games. Also in 2011, Harris was playing in the NBA D-League for the Maine Red Claws and one of his teammates was Justin Brownlee. The link has been established long before the Gin Kings cashed in. "To be honest, very ironically, the only person who ever told me about the Philippines was Paul," Brownlee told ABS-CBN Sports. "After he played with Talk 'N Text, we played together in the NBA D-League and I knew Paul before but I really met him when we played in the D-League. He had a lot to say about the Philippines and the way they loved basketball and the way he just won a championship," he added. After his 2011 championship, Harris would come back for a couple more stints with the Tropang Texters. But in 2016 for the Governors’ Cup, Harris would switch teams. Five years after taking them down for the Commissioner’s Cup title, the former Syracuse forward was now suiting up for Barangay Ginebra. Unfortunately, Harris’ Ginebra tenure lasted only one game after he injured his thumb at the Mall of Asia Arena. The Gin Kings were now scrambling and Ginebra had to make a call for a replacement. It was Justin Brownlee that answered. The rest is history. "He told me if you ever have a chance to play in the Philippines, you should really take it," Brownlee said of Harris' advice. "It was my first opportunity for Ginebra so I took it. It's just crazy, because it was for him being injured [that I got a call],' Brownlee added.   3 AND D As a 22-time PBA champion, coach Tim Cone has an eye on players that can do well in the Philippines. Coach Tim knew that Justin Brownlee would have success in the PBA the moment he laid his eyes on him. "I remember scouting him in the NBA Summer League and thought, 'Wow, that guy would really do well in the Philippines,'" Cone said of Brownlee. "But he was a little bit more one-dimensional back then. He was more of a just a 3-and-D guy, he was a stretch four, shot a lot of three-points. He proved he could play bigger guys and play against bigger guys even though he was only 6'5". Those kind of guys usually do well here," the champion mentor added. From the time Brownlee first entered the PBA as Paul Harris' replacement as Ginebra import in the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup to now, Cone was proven right. Brownlee turned out to be quite successful in the PBA. With more championships than playoff series lost, he shows no signs of slowing down. About four years in, teams still can't check Brownlee and there's a reason for that according to Cone. "The thing about Justin that impressed me is that while he's been here, his game has improved so tremendously," Coach Tim said. “I was talking to my son who lives in San Francisco. And we were talking about, you know how great Justin is and how hard it is to defend them and how happy I am that he's on my team. I would hate to have to try to guard him on the other side.” "Reminds me a lot actually a Bobby Parks, you know, when I was trying to figure out ways to guard Bobby Parks. Just could not find ways. He always would find a way to beat you and that's exactly what Justin does," Cone added, pretty much giving Brownlee one of the ultimate seals of approval for a PBA import.   WRONG LEAGUE Justin Brownlee could have been a star anywhere else in the world. He was already in the NBA D-League, he could have gotten an actual shot in the NBA if he stayed long enough for what it's worth. But he found himself in the PBA with Barangay Ginebra. The Gin Kings certainly hit the jackpot with him and they're not letting Brownlee go. "The one thing my son said, he said, 'Sorry, dad. But you know, Justin's in the wrong League. He shouldn't be in the PBA. He should be in the NBA, playing as a star somewhere, if he had  been given a chance,'" Coach Tim recalled about a conversation he had with his own son about Brownlee. "He's an NBA-caliber guy. I don't think there's any doubt. He'll be back next year and I think he'll be better even next year than he was this year," Cone added. Brownlee could have been a star anywhere else but the Philippines has become a second home for Brownlee. He will remain a Gin King as long as the barangay wants him to stay. “It’s just the mentality, to be honest. It starts with the ‘Never Say Die’ mentality. Just seeing how the people can come together and motivate other people to do something positive. All the way from the boss, to Coach Tim, to each player, it’s all about coming together,” Brownlee said on what allures him to Barangay Ginebra. “Thet [first] championship was great of course, but for me to come back, it was more so the culture. How the people treated basketball here and the relationship I started building with my teammates, and Coach Tim and the whole management. Over the championship, those are the things I love most, the real reason why I came back. Even if we never won, if I was asked to come back, I would come back in a hurry,” Justin added.   TEMP TO CHAMP Justin Brownlee most definitely made a name for himself in the Philippines with four Finals appearances, four PBA championships, one Best Import award, most three-pointers ever made by an import, and “The Shot.” For a replacement import, that's not too bad. Brownlee's legacy here is set, when he comes back for more, he’s just going to continue to make his case as the PBA’s GOAT import. But for all of Brownlee's brilliance in the PBA, everything almost never actually happened. He wasn't even supposed to stay here, let alone come. “My contract was only for one month,” Brownlee told ABS-CBN Sports on his first stint with Ginebra all the way back from the 2016 Governors’ Cup. “I didn’t know the full details of Paul’s injury at the time. I just remember they [Ginebra] wanted me another month, and it just turned into the rest of the conference. “ “It wasn’t even to stay for the whole conference [first contract]. It was very unfortunate that Paul got hurt but the opportunity presented itself to me and I tried to just take advantage of it the most I can,” Brownlee added. He took advantage indeed.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2020

ABL 10 still suspended; November still being eyed for new season

Officially, the 2019-2020 Asean Basketball League is not yet over. "Our current season is just suspended," league CEO Jericho Ilagan answered when asked about the status of the regional league's 10th season. In mid-March, the ABL put its ongoing tournament on ice due to COVID-19. "With the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 as a global pandemic, the ABL, with the unanimous support of all its member teams, sees no other recourse but to halt competitions in its ongoing tenth season," it said in a statement then. Unfortunately, until now, with the crisis continuing, its next move remains up in the air. "We had to really think hard about this. We can't just think na kailangan natin ng champion tapos the teams started saying they won't play so, in a way, we needed that," Ilagan said. He then continued, "We had to re-evaluate and, until now, that is what's going on." With play paused, the team standings look like this: Depending on developments with travel restrictions, the ABL hopes to have the formal finish to Season 10 sooner than later. "I'm optimistic naman that by July to August, we will have a widely accepted solution for this," its CEO said. One of those solutions is a playoff to determine the champion. As Ilagan put it, "We're thinking of having a season-ending tournament on October before we start the next season on November." At the same time, though, all of this is still out of their hands with no thanks to the continuing COVID-19 crisis. "Again, we can't make a decision until all restrictions have been lifted. Some teams even said they won't sign players until there's a vaccine," the ABL big boss shared. He then continued, "With those things in front of us, we can't say for sure we're going to start again in November." For now, just like everybody else, the ABL just wants to ensure the safety and security of its players, coaches, and staff. The best we can do right now is make sure that we are all good. The hope now is we can get through this together and that all will be well," Ilagan said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2020

Coach Bo hoping for better balance with recruitment getting out of hand

The University of the Philippines is now a legitimate contender in the UAAP Men's Basketball Tournament. After ending a 21-year playoff drought and then a 32-year Finals absence in Season 81, the Fighting Maroons scored their first-ever second-seed and twice-to-beat advantage in Season 82. Ultimately, State U has yet to win its first championship since 1986, but the fact remains that it is now a legitimate contender. With that, comes heavier weight in terms of recruitment. And with that, comes more promising prospects. "That's one of the major changes our program is enjoying right now. We became a destination for players who years before, wouldn't even think about going to UP," head coach Bo Perasol said in the Hoops Coaches International webinar on Wednesday. "As a result of the success we have had in the past years, 'di na kami last option. Nagiging first option pa nga." Indeed, the floodgates once opened by Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan is now wide open what with UP getting to recruit all of Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, and Ricci Rivero as well as Joel Cagulangan and Malick Diouf. ABS-CBN Sports even named the Fighting Maroons co-King of Recruiting for 2019 after a their heavyweight haul that included talented transferees Paras and Rivero. In the same light, however, coach Bo said that recruitment remains to be a game played by the same select hands. "It's really getting out of hand," he answered when asked if the arms race in collegiate basketball is proving to be much too much. He was quick to add, though, "I'm part of that also, alam ko naman." The always amiable mentor has long said that perennial contenders such as Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, and San Beda University have always had the first cracks at blue-chip recruits - and it was State U's goal to be at par with them. Now they are, Coach Bo hopes that even more collegiate teams get to make noise in terms of recruitment for the betterment of the sport. "Sa akin, looking forward, dapat hindi lang yung well-funded teams ang magkaroon ng pagkakataon to recruit para magkaroon ng magandang competition," he said. He then continued, "Importanteng magkaroon ng balance na everybody could compete in terms of recruitment, in terms of playing. That's how I think basketball will be better in our country." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2020

PB(A)BL: Christian Standhardinger adds to own hype with Hong Kong stop

Not all players take the same route going to the PBA, each player will have his own story to tell. This series will be about those who chose a different path, those who had to hustle overseas at one point in their careers before eventually landing in the PBA. Here, we take a look at current big-name PBA players who spent some time in the other major basketball league with Philippine teams in the region: the Asean Basketball League. They don’t have to play for a Filipino team, after all, the ABL is a great place where Filipino talents can shine even while playing for other countries. [Related: PB(A)BL: Like a Dragon, Matthew Wright brought fire in Malaysia's dream season] The penultimate entry to the series is about Christian Standhardinger and impressive season with Hong Kong Eastern.   Stop and Go Christian Standhardinger became one of the busiest basketball players in the region by the time he travelled to Manila in mid-2017 following his call-up to Gilas Pilipinas. The Fil-German forward became the national team’s de facto naturalized player during that year’s Jones Cup, FIBA-Asia Cup, and SEA Games. After Gilas was removed from medal contention in the FIBA-Asia Cup in Lebanon, Standhardinger left to join the SEA Games team in Kuala Lumpur. In between, Standhardinger found the time to sign with the ABL’s Hong Kong Eastern and make himself available for the PBA Draft (more on that later). Standhardinger officially debuted for Hong Kong Eastern on November 19 2017, scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in a win against Alab Pilipinas. Hong Kong entered the 2017-2018 season as defending champions and with Standhardinger, the team obviously targeted back-to-back titles. Unfortunately, HK couldn’t keep its success against Alab. Despite taking home-court advantage, Hong Kong got swept in the semifinals by the Philippine team led by Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman. Alab would go on to win the championship, beating Mono Vampire in five games. Standhardinger played a total of 22 games in his lone ABL season for Hong Kong, shooting 50 percent from the field for 22.5 points per game on top of 11.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals. He had his most productive outing in Thailand, posting 40 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, and five steals in a Hong Kong win over Mono Vampire.   Gilas to ABL to PBA Christian Standhardinger officially made his Gilas debut in July 2017 in the Jones Cup and would eventually help the team to a fourth-place finish. Exactly one month after his Gilas debut, it was reported that he would suit up for Hong Kong Eastern. In early September, Standhardinger declared for the PBA Draft and was taken first overall by the Beermen on October 29, 2017. The Draft became infamous as San Miguel made a deal with Kia to acquire the number 1 pick. The deal, approved by then PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa, caused enough controversy that the PBA Board actually separated into two separate factions. The deal also paved the way for Narvasa’s resignation and Willie Marcial stepping in to become the new PBA Commissioner. But back to Standhardinger, CS didn’t immediately join the Beermen as less than a month after the PBA Draft, the ABL season would start. After months of anticipation, Standhardinger finally debuted for San Miguel in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup but the Beermen failed to defend their mid-season title, losing to Ginebra in the Finals. Despite a rocky stint with San Miguel, CS would win two championships with the team in the 2019 season. But even as the Beermen went through all that trouble to acquire the rights to pick him first, Standhardinger only lasted four full conferences with the team. Standhardinger’s trade away from San Miguel made big news late in 2019, but the move pretty much “freed” the hard-working forward. With Northport Standhardinger led the Batang Pier to the Governors’ Cup semifinals, having a better finish than San Miguel. CS also won his first-ever Best Player of the Conference award after an incredible breakout performance for his new team.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2020

PB(A)BL: Like a Dragon, Matthew Wright brought fire in Malaysia s dream season

Not all players take the same route going to the PBA, each player will have his own story to tell. This series will be about those who chose a different path, those who had to hustle overseas at one point in their careers before eventually landing in the PBA. Here, we take a look at current big-name PBA players who spent some time in the other major basketball league with Philippine teams in the region: the Asean Basketball League. They don’t have to play for a Filipino team, after all, the ABL is a great place where Filipino talents can shine even while playing for other countries. [Related: PB(A)BL: Chris Banchero's hot streak with San Miguel Beer] Today, we focus on Matthew Wright and his incredible one-and-done season with the Westports Malaysia Dragons.   Enter the Dragon Long before he ended up being a regular to Gilas Pilipinas, Matthew Wright actually already suited up for the national team via the U-18 squad in 2008. The Fil-Canadian then went home to Toronto and played in the NCAA tournament via St. Bonaventure. As a 25-year-old shooter, Wright got close to his other home when he suited up in the ABL for the Wesports Malaysia Dragons with his future Phoenix head coach Ariel Vanguardia and another prospect in Fil-Am Jason Brickman. With the Dragons, Wright set the ABL on fire with his scoring exploits. In his lone stint during the 2015-2016 season, Wright set the league record for most three-point shots made in one game at 10. He also set the record for most three-point shots made in a single season at 71 and his total points of 461 were the 4th highest of all-time and most by a non-World Import. Wright ended up being the ABL’s first-ever Heritage MVP, leading the league with an average of 23.1 points on 41.8 percent shooting from deep. He also added 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists. More importantly, Wright helped the Dragons to the no. 1 seed in the 2016 season with a strong 16-4 record. The crowning achievement was Malaysia winning its first, and so far, only ABL title by taking out the Singapore Slingers in the Finals, 3-2.   ABL to Gilas to PBA After leading the Westports Malaysia Dragons to the ABL championship, Wright was added to a Gilas Pilipinas pool that included guys like then amateurs Kiefer Ravena, Mac Belo, Ray Parks Jr., Kevin Ferrer, and Jio Jalalon. Wright was later named to the actual Gilas Pilipinas Cadets team and entered the PBA through the 2016 Draft. While no order was revealed, Wright joined the Phoenix Fuel Masters, reuniting with Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia. Once in the PBA, Wright’s scoring exploits continued, in one game scoring 42 points, which was the most for a rookie since Eric Menk scored 43 for Tanduay since 1999. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year race and was part of the All-Rookie Team. The Fil-Canadian sniper also became a regular for Gilas Pilipinas since, consistently making the final team for tournaments like the SEABA Championship, the FIBA Asia Cup, and the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. In the 2019 season, his third with Phoenix, Matthew Wright led the Fuel Masters to a breakthrough semifinals appearance in the Philippine Cup as the no. 1 seed. He also ended the year as the league’s no. 2 scorer.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2020

FIBA: Time investment key to unlocking Gilas Pilipinas potential says Chot

For all intents and purposes, Gilas Pilipinas right now is on a rebuilding phase in order to recapture lost glory and also to prepare for the 2023 hosting of the FIBA World Cup. To start, the national team has identified a number of young players to make the initial pool of talent, highlighted by the five guys drafted in the special Gilas Draft of 2019, led by top pick Isaac Go. Gilas is also in the process of selecting a new head coach. While the system appears to be off and running, former head coach Chot Reyes says that the Gilas Pilipinas program will come down to one thing: time. "It’s hard to say and I don’t want to comment because I’m no longer the coach, but I’m sure there’s a disadvantage and that disadvantage is time," Reyes said. Coach Chot was one of the latest special guest to Ariel Vanguardia's webinar for the Hoops Coaches International podcast. "The team you saw in 2013 against Korea and more so the team you saw in 2014 in the Worlds, the reason we played there because I think that was our most prepared [team]," Reyes continued. "By most prepared, I mean one-month preparation. We were given one month to play the best teams in the world, as in July 28 or something, we arrived in Miami and that was the first time the players met Andray Blatche. Can you imagine if we had two months or three months?" Coach Chot added. True enough, since the success of Reyes' Gilas 2.0, every succeeding version of the national team has had limited preparation regardless of what tournament they're competing in. The regular schedule as of late is that Gilas meets to practice once a week every Monday, with more practices added depending on how close the upcoming tournament is already. However, one of the main problems is that Gilas typically starts practice around 2-3 weeks before game time. The latest Gilas team to compete in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers had barely two weeks to cut down its original pool of 24 players. "The one disadvantage really that any Gilas team faces is just time, just to get time to come together and get to play to the best of their ability," Coach Chot said. With that in mind, Reyes believes that the best of Gilas Pilipinas is yet to come. It might sound so simple and trivial but it truly only takes an investment in time to bring out the best in the Philippine national team. "Our Gilas team, you haven’t seen the best of us. You haven’t seen as at our peak," Coach Chot said. "We have not seen a Gilas team go out and play at its peak. Even us, as well as we played in 2013-2014, we were not in our peak," Reyes added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2020

PBA Best Imports: Allen Durham, Hulking Thoroughbred

Local players are not the only ones that have become stars over the years in the Philippine Basketball Association. Foreign players reinforcing teams, or those they call imports, can be just as beloved. An import playing in the PBA is expected to deliver big numbers; however, production is not the only criteria that makes one successful in basketball on this side of the world. Winning, charisma, and actual love for the PBA and its fans also heavily go into it. The Best Imports will be recognized in name, but the truly great ones that have made their mark here are more than just one-hit wonders. In this series, we take a look at some of the reinforcements who have truly made a home in the PBA. Let’s continue with the electrifying Best Import, Allen Durham.   Thoroughbred Allen Durham’s PBA career actually started in 2014 with Barako Bull, but he found his true home with the Meralco Bolts. Upon returning to the league for the 2016 Governors’ Cup, Meralco head coach Norman Black described the hulking Durham as a thoroughbred. He was right. Norman Black is not just one of the best coaches in the PBA, he’s also one of the best imports in league history. He knows a great import when he sees one so of course he was right about AD. In Durham’s first full conference in the PBA, he led the Bolts to their first-ever Finals appearance. Meralco took down an upstart Mahindra team and the 10-1 TNT KaTropa on its way to the championship round. If not for a certain shot by another Best Import to be featured in this series, the Bolts would most likely have a championship already. In Durham’s first full conference in the PBA, he averaged a strong 29.4 points, 15.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks when he won his first Best Import trophy.   Best Import x3 It’s quite unfortunate for an import like Durham to not have a championship after multiple stints in the PBA. He just keeps running into Justin Brownlee’s Barangay Ginebra. In four seasons with Meralco, Durham had the Bolts to three Governors’ Cup Finals, each time losing to Brownlee and the Gin Kings. The only time Meralco didn’t reach the Finals with Durham, the Bolts survived six straight knockout games to set up a semifinals series against Best Import Mike Harris and the Alaska Aces.  Save for the Finals defeats at the hands of Ginebra, Meralco’s winning culture is mostly thanks to Durham. The Bolts repeatedly falter in the All-Filipino, but they’re a top-4 team whenever Durham suits up. AD also consistently puts up monster numbers, that and the impact to Meralco’s wins make him an obvious choice for Best Import each and every season. Durham has won the award three times in the Governors’ Cup for the years 2016, 2017, and 2019. Durham is second in the all-time list and only Bobby Parks Sr. has more Best Import wins than him at seven. After his first Best Import win in the Governors’ Cup in 2016, Durham came back stronger in 2017, leading Meralco to the no. 1 seed and to Game 7 of the Finals in front of a record crowd at the Philippine Arena. In between, AD averaged an incredible 25.4 points, 20.06 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.3 blocks to win a second Best Import plum. Durham is also the most recent winner of the Best Import award in the PBA, averaging 29.8 points, 15.4 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in the 2019 Governors’ Cup. Just like in previous years, AD beat Brownlee for Best Import but it was the Gin Kings that took the title. Durham is still pretty dead set on winning a PBA title, whether he returns to Meralco or any other team in the future remains to be seen. Regardless, Allen Durham is a true PBA Best Import, his name already sealed in history. Best Import, Allen Durham: - Five PBA conferences for Barako Bull and Meralco - 3-time Best Import - Second all-time for most Best Import wins behind Bobby Parks Sr.     — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2020

Tim Cone on winning a PBA Grand Slam: 'Everything has to work'

One of the greatest dynasties in PBA history was Alaska in the 1990s. In four seasons from 1995 to 1998, the Milkmen won seven championships in 12 conferences. Of course, the crown jewel came in the middle in 1996 with Alaska's Grand Slam win. As everyone knows, it’s not easy to win a Grand Slam in the PBA. The 1996 Alaska team was the fourth team to accomplish the rare feat. In the 45-year history of the league, only five teams have been able to complete as a season sweep. In a special reunion in the the 2OT podcast of PBA broadcasters Magoo Marjon and Carlo Pamintuan, several key members of the 1996 Alaska Grand Slam team reminisced about their heydays. Easily the most insightful is just how much it takes for a team to complete a triple crown. Coach Tim Cone went through what his Alaska team did to win the Grand Slam in 1996, and as a two-time Grand Slam winner, Cone is the one with the most authority to discuss the topic. “A lot of teams get there, but very few finish the job,” Cone said. “There’s a lot of teams that have won the first two conferences, and then for some reason, the chemistry is just hard to sustain all the way through the whole year. You saw what happened to San Miguel last year, they had a lot of pressure and kinda implode in that third conference,” he added. After the 1996 Alaska team, the 2014 San Mig Coffee also coached by Cone ended up as the last team so far to win a Grand Slam. The 2011 Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters came one win away from a Grand Slam but their Finals series against Petron showed a lot of cracks for what was supposedly a very composed squad. They lost Game 7 to Blaze Boosters pretty bad. San Miguel had a shot at the Grand Slam in 2017 and 2019, but the Beermen lost to Cone’s Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals of the Governors’ Cup each time. In 2019, San Miguel imploded in the third conference, with three local players suspended for a fight in practice with injured import Dez Wells. Having a strong team is not enough to win a Grand Slam, everything has to fall into place pretty much. “People kinda throw out the Grand Slam easily, but everything has to work,” Cone said. “The third conference is the hardest, because there’s just so much more added pressure. But what made this group special [1996 Alaska] was that pressure didn’t affect them because the chemistry was so tight and we were so comfortable with Sean [Chambers],” coach Tim added. The 1996 Alaska team was meticulously built for years ever since the Milkmen won their first-ever PBA title in 1991. For the Grand Slam season, Alaska broke through with a Philippine Cup title win against Purefoods before Sean Chambers returned and the team outlasted an underdog Shell team to win the Commissioner’s Cup in seven games. With Chambers back for the Governors’ Cup, Alaska struggled to start but ended up tearing the whole league up, rolling to a 4-1 Finals win over Ginebra to complete the triple crown. “Sean was like a baby’s blanket for us. When he came in, we all hugged that blanket and took it wherever we could,” Cone said. “We didn’t have a normal pressure that other teams went through with an import that doesn’t really understand what’s going on and how important this is to everybody. Sean knew, and he already won the second conference for us. It was a perfect storm,” Coach Tim added. The Alaska episode of 2OT can be watched in full here, with a lot of stories of how Coach Tim avoided being fired in the early 1990s as they built the eventual Grand Slam team, acquiring key pieces like Jeffrey Cariaso and Bong Hawkins.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2020