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Alab Pilipinas re-ignites in ABL after repulsing Macau

Once more in the continuation of their title defense in the 2018-2019 Asean Basketball League, Alab Pilipinas came off a loss, came through in the next game, and came away with a big-time triumph over another contender. Renaldo Balkman’s game-long brilliance coupled with total team effort in the endgame proved to be the difference on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre as the Filipinos turned down the lights on visiting Macau, 106-99. The two teams were going at it for majority of the matchup until Balkman, PJ Ramos, and Pao Javelona got together for a 10-1 run bridging the third and fourth quarters that built up an 82-73 edge for the home team. Of course, the Black Bears would only battle back and pulled within two points inside the last six minutes only to see Balkman and Ramos connive yet again, this time alongside Ray Parks Jr., Ethan Alvano, and Caelan Tiongson in a 16-3 answer that re-increased the Alab lead to 106-91. Both the lead and the momentum would remain with them until the final buzzer. In the end, Balkman 37 points, nine rebounds, four steals, and three assists while fellow Puerto Rican reinforcement Ramos contributed his own 21-marker, 14-board double-double. Parks Jr. also did damage with 13 points and 10 assists while point guards Javelona and Alvano merged for 16 markers, 14 dimes, and eight rebounds. This strong showing was nothing but a welcome development as, just five days ago, the Filipinos fell for the second time in the last four games. With the bounce back win, though, the defending champions remained alone atop the leaderboard now at 7-2. On the other hand, Macau dropped to 6-5 in the standings despite the best efforts of Anthony Tucker who had 22 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds to his name. BOX SCORES ALAB PILIPINAS 106 – Balkman 37, Ramos 21, Parks 13, Domingo 13, Javelona 9, Alvano 7, Tiongson 6, Urbiztondo 0, Rosser 0. MACAU BLACK BEARS 99 – Watkins 24, Tucker 22, Yu 20, McKinney 18, Liu 12, King 3, Lai 0. QUARTER SCORES: 20-19, 47-48, 79-73, 106-99. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: Sports14 hr. 5 min. ago Related News

Irving s 27 points, 18 assists leads Celtics past Raptors

By Jimmy Golen, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Kyrie Irving hit a foul-line fadeaway to give Boston the lead, then hit a 31-foot three-pointer to finish with 27 points and lead the Celtics past the NBA-leading Toronto Raptors 117-108 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Returning after missing the last game with a bruised right leg, Irving had 10 points and six of his career-high 18 assist in the fourth quarter — including passes to set up Boston's last three baskets in a game-ending 17-4 run. Al Horford scored 24 and Jayson Tatum had 16 points with 10 rebounds for Boston, which returned home after losing three straight on the road. Kawhi Leonard scored 33 points and Serge Ibaka had 22 with 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who had won five in a row heading into the matchup of two teams that consider themselves the heir to LeBron James' Cavaliers as the best team in the East. Toronto (33-13) fell percentage points behind Milwaukee (32-12) for the best records in the NBA. Toronto led 104-100 after Leonard's three-point play with 4:22 left before Boston scored 17 of the next 19 points. Tatum had a three-point play and then a three-pointer to give Boston a 106-104 lead, before Toronto tied it. Irving then hit consecutive baskets, popping his jersey for the adoring crowd after connecting on the second from just a step or two inside the center tipoff circle. He then went to the pass, assisting on Boston's last three baskets of the game before Toronto's last bucket ended it. After adding Leonard in the offseason, the Raptors have zoomed to the top of the conference standings. But despite getting Irving and Gordon Hayward back from injuries that kept them out of last year's playoffs, when the team went to the conference finals, the Celtics have stumbled their way to the fifth-best record in the East. Leonard scored nine in the first quarter, when the Raptors opened an 18-7 lead in the first five minutes. Boston cut it to six at the end of the first and then went on a 12-2 run early in the second to take the lead. It was 46-44 with just over four minutes left in the half when the Celtics scored 11 of the next 13 points to open a double-digit lead. In all, Toronto scored just 17 points in the second, missing all nine 3-point attempts. The Celtics made just one of their first 11 shots in the fourth, giving up nine straight points to trail 92-89 midway through the quarter. But Aron Baynes, who had made 12 three-pointers all season, hit one from the top of key to stop the run and tie it. TRAINER'S ROOM Kyle Lowry, who finished with 10 points and seven assists, was poked in the left eye by teammate Pascal Siakam while the two were trying to defend Marcus Smart in the lane. Lowry went down under the basket for the rest of the possession but stayed in the game after a timeout. Baynes, who missed a month with a broken bone in his left hand, returned and played 14 minutes, scoring nine points with five rebounds. Irving and Smart also returned after missing Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) game in Brooklyn. UP NEXT Raptors: Return home for the second half of a back-to-back against the Phoenix Suns. Celtics: Host Memphis on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 17th, 2019Related News

Balanced Bullpups sweep Sotto-led Eaglets in UAAP Jrs. eliminations

STANDINGS NU 7-1 FEU-Diliman 6-2 Ateneo 5-3 Adamson 5-3 UST 4-4 DLSZ 3-5 UE 1-7 UPIS 1-7 Yet again, Carl Tamayo came up big for Nazareth School of National University in its heavyweight bout against Ateneo de Manila High School in the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament. Tamayo’s basket and bonus quelled the Blue Eaglets’ late uprising and carried the Bullpups to a hard fought 78-71 decision on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre. The versatile big man only had seven points to go along with nine rebounds, but it was his offensive board and ensuing short stab that re-increased his team’s slim one-point margin into a 73-69 lead. “Good thing he converted it kasi he was in and out kanina,” head coach Goldwin Monteverde said post-game. Still, the defending champions had 46.3 ticks to go and Forthsky Padrigao’s scoop shot was able to pull them within two points. It was at that point, however, that Ernest Felicilda’s steady hands from the line joined forces with a stout defense to put the game away for NU. Felicilda wound up with 14 points, four coming from the free throw line in the last 27 seconds, on top of six assists, five rebounds, and four steals. Gerry Abadiano and Terrence Fortea also added 16 points apiece as the Bullpups started the second round by downing Ateneo – the same story from how they finished the first round. Now at 7-1, they have also widened the distance between them and now second-running Far Eastern University-Diliman. Nonetheless, coach Gold said they haven’t won anything just yet. “It’s just part of the war. We still have six games to go in the eliminations and ang importante ngayon, our next game,” he said. Sotto paced the Blue Eaglets with 24 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. He was well-defended in the endgame, however, and saw his side fall to their rivals for the second straight time. In the day’s other game, the University of the Philippines Integrated School finally got a taste of victory after downing De La Salle Zobel, 64-56. Rookie Allen Torres scored 22 points, including a pair of booming threes inside the last five minutes, while graduating guard Polo Labao did it all with 18 markers, nine rebounds, six assists, and five steals to make sure the Junior Maroons improved to 1-7. On the other hand, the Junior Archers dropped to 3-5 following the shock loss. BOX SCORES THIRD GAME UPIS 64 – Torres 22, Labao 18, Tuazon 12, Estrera 4, Vergeire 4, Gomez de Liano 4, Galotera 0, Cordero 0, Lopez 0 DLSZ 56 – Macasaet 18, Jomalesa 15, Pingol 5, Subido 4, Sevilla 4, Milan 3, Villarin 3, Cudiamat 2, Buncayo 2, Luna 0, Unisa 0 QUARTER SCORES: 15-12, 23-24, 50-41, 64-56 FOURTH GAME NU 78 – Abadiano 16, Fortea 16, Felicida 14, Quiambao 10, Gonzales 8, Tamayo 7, Torres 5, Javilonar 2, Dayrit 0, Mailim 0, Alarcon 0, Enriquez 0. ATENEO 71 – Sotto 24, Chiu 12, Padrigao 12, Espinosa 8, David 6, Jaymalin 3, Diaz 2, Fetalvero 2, Salandanan 2, Coo 0, Zyrus 0. QUARTER SCORES: 11-13, 36-35, 57-52, 78-71. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 13th, 2019Related News

NU finally gets on the board in Philippine Baseball League

Coming off back-to-back losses, the National University Bulldogs bounced back from a close loss last Saturday by repulsing the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 10-1, on Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium. This is NU's first win in the Philippine Baseball League while hading UP its third straight loss. After the game against undefeated La Salle, first-year NU head coach Egay Delos Reyes told his boys to shake the loss off.  "Ang sabi ko kailangan naming ma-refocus sa game, kasi natalo kami kahapon because yung errors. Sabi ko kailangan nating magpakita ng magandang depensa, para ma-complement yung hitting natin," shared Delos Reyes, who is part of the coaching staff of the national team as well. The gameplan was followed to the tee as his wards responded early at bat, taking advantage of the miscues of the Fighting Maroons' defense. The result was a six-run onslaught in the second inning that turned out to be the defining inning for NU. It started despite dealing with two outs as UP starting pitcher Kenneth Marinas gave the free pass to Clarion Santos before three straight hits scored four for the Bulldogs. The Bustillos-based side then added insurance runs in the next few innings to seal their maiden win.  The victory was certainly a welcome thing for the Bulldogs as they want to regain their form after placing at the bottom of the standings in the last UAAP season.  "Kailangan magpakita rin tayo image na hindi tayo basta-basta mai-intimidate," the seasoned mentor added. "Morale-boosting sa kanila going into the UAAP because UAAP is three weeks to go na lang. Maganda na makita nila na mananalo at kahit sino kaya nilang labanan." Earlier in the day, the Adamson Soaring Falcons scored a massive upset against the Ateneo Blue Eagles in an abbreviated seven-inning outing, 15-2, to take their second straight win of the competition. The first inning was huge from the reigning UAAP champions, breaking Paolo Macasaet's defense with five runs on five hits, all of them singles. And notwithstanding a run from the Blue Eagles during the top of third, the Soaring Falcons detonated eight more runs to pull away for good. Lexter Carandang produced a booming triple to the right field to score slugger Christian Maigue capping of the offensive avalanche. The latter earlier sent two home himself after a huge hit in the previous sequence. In the third game, the Itakura Parts Philippines Corporation Nationals bounced back and took their third win, after taking down the UST Golden Sox, 8-4......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 13th, 2019Related News

MVP Ladder: Giannis bolsters case with key win in Houston

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t think he’s quite “there yet” when it comes to the Kia MVP chase. With all due respect, Mr. “Greek Freak,” the basketball world begs to differ. You are definitely there, sir, based on your performance through the midpoint of this NBA season. In fact, if there were hardware to hand out from Kia Race to the MVP Ladder HQ at this point, Antetokounmpo would be the recipient (edging out a crowded field that includes the reigning MVP, James Harden). By the grace of the scheduling gods, the two leading candidates just happened to hook up on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), the official halfway point of 2018-19. And they put on a show worthy of MVP mention, with Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks knocking off Harden’s Houson Rockets at Toyota Center. Harden continued his torrid scoring streak, collecting his league-leading 14th 40-point game of the season. In doing so, he tied Tracy McGrady for the second-longest 30-point streak since the ABA/NBA merger at 14. (Kobe Bryant has the record at 16 straight.) But Harden didn’t have his most efficient outing (shooting 13-for-30 overall with nine turnovers) as the Bucks took control late. All Antentokounmpo did was shred the Rockets for 27 points on 8-for-16 shooting to go along with a career-high 21 rebounds, five assists and yet another showcase performance for his MVP resume. (The Bucks pounded the Rockets to the tune of a 70-24 advantage in points in the paint and outscored them 19-2 in fast break points.) The Bucks have won seven of their past eight games heading into today’s game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. They’ve stormed the top of the Eastern Conference standings and own a 10-5 record over Western Conference opponents with Antetokounmpo as their undisputed leader and, yes, MVP. Not there yet, huh? Yeah, right. * * * The top five this week in the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 26.6 points, 12.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.3 steals Antetokounmpo seems to be the only person on the planet who isn’t moved by his consistent brilliance this season. If he doesn’t think he’s "there yet," then the rest of the league should brace themselves for whatever comes next. He’s been an unstoppable force on both ends of the floor, but particularly as an offensive catalyst on one of the most improved teams in the league. Doing it without the aid of a reliable long-distance shot is what has made watching Antetokounmpo crush the competition so intriguing. If there was any skepticism about the Bucks being both a legitimate threat in the East and a title contender, that should be vanishing as the second half of the season begins. As long as Antetokounmpo stays focused and healthy (he’s probable Saturday, PHL time, with right quadriceps soreness and a left hip bruise), the possibilities are endless. 2. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 33.9 points, 8.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals Harden has moved into hallowed ground with his current scoring barrage, as his 14 straight games of 30-plus points ties Hall of Famer (and fellow Rockets legend) Tracy McGrady for the second-longest streak since the ABA/NBA merger. Those debates about whether or not Harden is the best offensive player ever aren’t out of line, not when you consider the way he generates offense for himself and his teammates. Harden has a chance to obliterate the record with the Rockets’ friendly upcoming schedule (they play seven of their next 10 games at Toyota Center). The only glitch for Harden as he's hit this nuclear level is the one key flaw in his game is rising, too. He’s averaging 5.7 turnovers this season, which ties his career-high from 2016-17. He's up to 7.3 tpg in his last five games, which he, of course, would point out is world-class nit-picking of a guy playing as well as he is. 3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 28.9 points, 5.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals Curry shot a rather un-Splash Brother-ish 5-for-19 in Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) home win against the New York Knicks, which includes an ugly 3-for-12 showing from three-point range. That was a huge come down from his 42-point outburst (including 10 made three-pointers) Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) in a road win against the Sacramento Kings. But as often happens with a rare rough shooting night for the two-time former MVP, Curry displayed a brilliant floor game against the Knicks. He finished with 14 assists (and just one turnover) while grabbing seven rebounds as Klay Thompson went off for 43 points and Kevin Durant dropped 24. Curry’s had just three hiccups since returning from his 11-game, groin-injury induced absence on Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time). Over his last 18 games, Curry has failed to score at least 20 points only once. What should worry the Chicago Bulls, who visit Oracle today, is what Curry has done in those other two games after he struggled (averaged 32.0 points). 4. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.9 steals MVP voters must decide if the work Leonard did while he was playing outweighs how good the Raptors were all season whether he was in or out of the lineup. As convenient as it might be to try to diminish what Leonard has done by knocking him for the games he missed, you’d be wise to pay attention to just how good he's been when he plays. The Milwaukee Bucks can certainly attest to his impact after what Leonard did to them Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). He logged 30 points and a season-high five steals, playing his trademark lockdown defense, as the Raptors won the battle between the NBA’s top two teams (in the standings). Leonard has such tight control over his own game that he continues to play as efficiently as anyone on this list. He has notched eight games this season where he’s scored 30 or more points while shooting better than 50 percent, including his last two games (30 on 50 percent shooting in the win against the Bucks and 31 points on 61.1 percent shooting in their recent win against the Hawks). 5. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets Last week: No. 7 Season stats: 19.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.5 steals Jokic continues to deliver for the Nuggets in every category, doing his crafty best to help keep coach Michael Malone’s team at the top of the Western Conference. He notched his 21st career triple-double (18 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and two blocks) in Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) win over the LA Clippers. It was his second straight triple-double, coming two days after lighting up the Heat in Miami for 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. In doing so, he tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-most career triple-doubles by a center and can now chase Wilt Chamberlain’s big man record of 78. Jokic will probably dig into that deficit considerably the season if he keeps playing the way he has to kick off 2019 (27.2 points on .523 shooting, 12.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.4 steals in his last five games). Jokic and the rest of the Nuggets are focused on team goals first, of course. After missing out on the playoffs on the season's final night in 2017-18, they’re making sure to avoid any such drama this time. * * * The next five 6. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers 8. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers 9. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 10. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans And five more: DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers;Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers; Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 12th, 2019Related News

Irving says team meeting helped Celtics clear air, find rhythm

NBA.com staff report The Boston Celtics are perhaps starting to show the kind of teamwork they've been looking for all season. Star guard Kyrie Irving said Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) that a team meeting held after a Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks helped players to clear the air about several topics. "We could pinpoint a lot of turning points," Irving told reporters after yesterday's win vs. Indiana, per ESPN's Tim Bontemps. "We just want to build that chemistry first. Just getting with one another, really put everything out there and then move on from that point. "At that point, playing against Milwaukee, we weren't at rock bottom, but we needed to address some [expletive] in this locker room. It's just good to get stuff out in the air. As grown men and guys that have expectations for themselves, it was good to hear guys talk about what they wanted for themselves and what they wanted for this team." The Celtics dismantled the Indiana Pacers 135-108 to notch their fourth straight win, with the victory coming largely because of Boston's willingness to share the ball. The victory marked their fifth straight game with at least 30 assists (after failing to reach that mark in nine of their previous 10 games). Since Dec. 23 (Dec. 24, PHL time), the Celtics rank No. 2 in assist percentage (70.2) and are among the league leaders in offensive rating, net rating, true shooting percentage and more during that span. The Celtics had 32 assists last night and put together their highest scoring game this season. Boston (25-15) also ended a three-game skid against the Pacers, who entered the night third in the Eastern Conference having won seven of eight. Additionally, Boston led 68-53 at halftime after shooting 56.5 percent (26-for-46) in the first half. That Dec. 23 (Dec. 24, PHL time) date is an important one, since it was Boston's next game after the Bucks loss that capped off a three-game losing streak. After that loss to the Bucks, the Celtics were mired in the lower-half of the Eastern Conference standings and had their team meeting. The Celtics have seen a slight uptick in pace (they rank 18th in that category overall) since Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time), and are getting more comfortable in terms of team chemistry. Overall, Boston has won seven of its last nine games to stay within striking distance of the upper crust in the East. ''We're all understanding that we're trying to play faster and the ball movement has been working for us,'' said Al Horford, who led Boston last night with eight assists. ''It keeps the defense on their toes, really makes the other team work. It's kind of contagious.'' “Well, you see the type of connection that we have out there in terms of our pick-and-roll and what we do and how we talk is pretty seamless,” Irving said, per Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. “We came in the same time and have this understanding of where our journeys have started and where it is now and an appreciation of where we are. So we just want to take full advantage of it for this year.” Since Thanksgiving, the Celtics are No. 1 in offensive rating, have a net rating of 11.2 (tops in the NBA) and are 16-6 (the best record in the league). In short, Boston is finding its way -- at least over the last few weeks -- and developing chemistry with a roster filled with talent. “It was hard to find good clips at the start of the year,” coach Brad Stevens said, per the Boston Herald. “And I think some of that was because we were pressing; some of that was because we missed shots when the ball was moving.  All looks a little bit better when it finishes with a make, but that’s who we have to be." Information from The Associated Press was used in this report......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 10th, 2019Related News

Name recall, track record work for Senate aspirants — Pulse Asia exec

Name recall and track record are key factors helping some Senate aspirants get good standings in voter preference surveys, a top official of polling agency Pulse Asia said Thursday.   Pulse Asia president Ronnie Holmes noted that re-electionists, who topped a recent survey, easily got public support because of their track record in the Senate.   "Even in the past, people who are running for reelection or are associated with the Senate would not have a hard time mobilizing support, especially if they're not portrayed in a negative manner," Holmes said in an interview over the ABS CBN News Channel.   He said that the work put in by re-electionists in th...Keep on reading: Name recall, track record work for Senate aspirants — Pulse Asia exec.....»»

Source: Inquirer InquirerCategory: Jan 10th, 2019Related News

Malaysia Dragons deal Alab Pilipinas 1st loss in ABL stunner

      MANILA, Philippines – The Westports Malaysia Dragons successfully defended their home floor after a stunning 72-71 win over defending ABL champion San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, January 9. The Dragons prevented a losing skid and rose to 3-3 in the standings while Alab suffered its first loss ........»»

Source: Rappler RapplerCategory: NewsJan 9th, 2019Related News

Leonard, Siakam each score 30 points, Raptors beat Bucks

By Joe Totoraitis, Associated Press MILWAUKEE (AP) — Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam each scored 30 points, with Siakam setting a career high, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 123-116 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) in a matchup of the top two teams in the NBA standings. Serge Ibaka added 25 points and nine rebounds, Fred VanVleet had 21 points, and Danny Green 12 points and nine rebounds. The Raptors slowly took charge in the second and third quarters and withstood the Bucks' comeback attempt in the fourth. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 43 points and 18 rebounds for Milwaukee. Malcolm Brogdon added 15 points, and Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe each had 14. The Bucks had won five straight. Milwaukee was coming off a 144-112 victory over Atlanta on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), while Toronto had a day to rest following a 125-107 loss to the Spurs on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) in Leonard's return to San Antonio. The Raptors put it away with a 15-2 run, taking a 110-98 lead on Siakam's wide-open triple from the corner with 5:14 to play. Trailing by as much as 13, the Bucks opened the fourth quarter with a 14-4 run, capped by Antetokounmpo's layup and three-pointer, and led 96-95 with 8:12 left. TIP-INS Raptors: C Jonas Valanciunas (left thumb dislocation) missed his 11th consecutive game. G Kyle Lowry (lower back pain) missed his sixth straight game. ... The last time Lowry and Leonard played together was Dec. 9 (Dec. 10, PHL time) against Milwaukee. Bucks: F Ersan Ilyasova scored three points in 13:23 minutes in his second game back from broken nose. ... G Sterling Brown was back after missing one game with a right ankle injury. UP NEXT Raptors: Host Indiana on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Bucks: Host Utah on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time)......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 6th, 2019Related News

Best, worst NBA teams for December 2018

By Khari Arnold, NBA.com Just when mock drafts were beginning to list the San Antonio Spurs as a certified lottery team -- something that hasn’t happened in over two decades -- a vigorous December stretch has Gregg Popovich’s squad clicking and back among the top eight in the Western Conference standings. The Spurs struggled severely in November, pairing their below-average offense with the NBA’s worst defense. They finished the month with a 5-10 record and sat 10-12 overall, just in front of the lowly Phoenix Suns. Injuries began to pile up, LaMarcus Aldridge struggled shooting and their ability to win on the road was nonexistent. While the latter issue still hasn’t been fixed, a shift occurred for the Spurs in December. San Antonio finished No. 1 in offensive efficiency during the last month of 2018 and ranked among the top 10 in defensive efficiency. Seeming to have found their rhythm, the Spurs shot a league-high 51.2 percent from the floor in December, boasted the NBA’s best Net Rating and closed the year out winning 10 of their last 13 games. Talk about ending a year on the right track. Here’s a look at the best records, offenses and defenses based on numbers from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31 (Dec. 2-Jan. 1, 2019, PHL time) only. Five best records Indiana Pacers: 12-3 Houston Rockets: 11-4 Milwaukee Bucks: 10-4 San Antonio Spurs: 11-5 Golden State Warriors: 10-5 The Pacers have quietly climbed to third in the Eastern Conference standings, holding the same amount of wins as the first-place Bucks. Five worst records New York Knicks: 2-12 Cleveland Cavaliers: 4-12 Detroit Pistons: 4-11 Phoenix Suns: 5-11 Memphis Grizzlies: 5-10 The sweepstakes for Zion Williamson, who played at Madison Square Garden in December, roll on. Top five offenses (Points scored per 100 possessions) San Antonio Spurs: 116.6 Boston Celtics: 115.5 Houston Rockets: 113.4 New Orleans Pelicans: 112.2 Minnesota Timberwolves: 111.6 While the Spurs are rolling, the hottest team in Texas -- and the NBA for that matter -- is Houston. James Harden is carrying the Rockets offense without Chris Paul at a historic pace. Bottom five offenses Chicago Bulls: 98.7 Orlando Magic: 101.7 Detroit Pistons: 102.4 Memphis Grizzlies 102.7 New York Knicks: 104.6 Dwane Casey's first year in Detroit hasn't gone according to plan -- yet at least. His offense committed the second-most turnovers per game in December. Top five defenses (Points allowed per 100 possessions) Indiana Pacers: 99.6 Utah Jazz: 100.5 Oklahoma City Thunder: 101.7 Milwaukee Bucks: 102.1 Miami Heat: 104.1 The Lakers, who had a top-three Defensive Rating in November, fell out of the top 10. Bottom five defenses Cleveland Cavaliers: 116.9 New York Knicks: 115.9 LA Clippers: 114.3 Atlanta Hawks: 112.6 Phoenix Suns: 112.4 The Clippers' defense is tumbling despite being in the playoff hunt. Top 10 individual scorers (Points per game) James Harden: 36.4 Paul George: 30.8 Anthony Davis: 29.6 Kawhi Leonard: 29.1 Stephen Curry: 28.1 Damian Lillard: 27.1 Bradley Beal: 26.5 Devin Booker: 26.2 Kevin Durant: 26.1 LeBron James: 25.8.....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 2nd, 2019Related News

Harden s 43 points, triple-double lead Rockets over Memphis

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden had 43 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists in his fourth straight 40-point game, leading the Houston Rockets over the Memphis Grizzlies 113-101 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) for their fifth consecutive victory. Harden set an NBA record with his eighth straight game with at least 35 points and five assists, besting Oscar Robertson, who twice had seven-game streaks. Harden finished with his fourth triple-double this season and 39th overall. Houston has won 10 of its last 11 to improve to 21-15. Harden continued his incredible run that has powered Houston’s surge up the Western Conference standings after a slow start, making six three-pointers and 21-of-27 free throws. He has made at least four three-pointers in eight straight games has finished with 30 points or more in 10 games in a row. The Grizzlies cut the lead to nine with about 90 seconds left. But P.J. Tucker made a free throw for Houston before Austin Rivers added a layup to make it 113-101 and seal the victory with about 35 seconds left. Harden grabbed his 10th rebound seconds after that to complete his triple-double. Kyle Anderson had 20 points and Mike Conley added 19 for the Grizzlies, who lost for the seventh time in nine games. Houston was up by 13 to start the fourth and back-to-back baskets by Clint Capela made it 93-77 with about nine minutes left. Harden made four straight free throws for the Rockets later in the fourth to leave them up 98-83. But the Grizzlies scored four quick points, with the last basket coming when Anderson stole the ball from Harden, to cut it to 98-87 with 5.5 to go. Gerald Green answered with a three-pointer and Houston stretched the lead to 103-87 with about four minutes left. The Rockets led by double digits for most of the night and were up by 23 after two free throws by Harden midway through the third quarter. Memphis closed out the third with a 14-3 run to get within 86-73 entering the fourth. Marc Gasol led the way in that stretch, scoring five points. The Rockets led 61-38 at halftime behind 28 points from Harden. He capped his huge first half by making two three's in the last 31 seconds of the half, capped by one that was well behind the line with Anderson in his face. TIP-INS Grizzlies: Gasol has at least one three-pointer in 13 straight games, which ties a career-high. Rockets: James Ennis missed his 10th straight game with a strained right hamstring. Coach Mike D’Antoni said he should return for Houston’s next game. ... Chris Paul missed his fifth game with a strained left hamstring. He said Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) that he’s doing better but doesn’t know when he’ll return. ... Green made four three-pointers in the first quarter and finished with 18 points and six three's. ... Eric Gordon sat out with a bruised right knee. UP NEXT Grizzlies: Host Detroit on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Rockets: Visit Golden State on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 1st, 2019Related News

Balance of power in L.A. to be decided in July

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com The Friday (Saturday, PHL time) game at Staples Center is one of 82, in a sense. The two L.A. teams who share the building will meet for the first time this season. The young Lakers will be without their superstar leader -- LeBron James, still nursing a strained groin -- and the Clippers bring a scrappy group that’s resourceful without a true star. Those are the credentials that give each a measure of pride; the Lakers are suddenly vibrant again since LeBron’s arrival while the Clippers’ nearly identical record gives them a sense of satisfaction and pride for doing more with less. Their first “contest,” however, must wait until next summer, when victory will go deeper than the standings. The Lakers and Clippers will each have massive room under the salary cap and, therefore, ample chances to chase A-list free agents in what will be a limited market for superstars, surely pitting one team against the other in most if not all cases. Lakers vs. Clippers? Is this the one-sided arm wrestle that it appears to be strictly from a historical standpoint, or will the Clippers make this more suspenseful than anyone would’ve imagined? Yes, a decade ago in such a situation, the only glance that a franchise player would shoot in the direction of the Clippers would be a side-eye. Former Clipper Ron Harper once joked that whenever strangers asked which team he played for, he’d answer “Los Angeles,” which meant he wasn’t lying, and also meant he probably wouldn’t be heckled. But those Clippers, long the butt of jokes, constantly mismanaged, perpetually dealing with doses of bad luck and ruled by the one and only Donald Sterling, are six feet under. Whether they’re still dealing with the ghosts of the past and outdated images of buffoonery will be determined by their skill in free agency. In fact, the case could be made that the franchise is in better shape, from an all-around standpoint, than at any time in their history. Yes, that’s quite a statement, considering the Clippers had Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin all in their prime and for over half a decade, and that crew was coached by Doc Rivers, who’s still at the helm. But those Clippers, mayors of Lob City, mainly teased. They never went anywhere special (no conference finals, no NBA Finals) and arguably underachieved from a bottom-line standpoint. Entertaining and interesting? Sure. Box office? Yes. Successful from October through April? Absolutely. Yet, in the end, duds. Plus, with all due respect to Rivers, who also handled the personnel duties until two summers ago, the Clippers never pulled off a franchise-changing move to supplement their All-Star core and give them a leg up on the competition. These Clippers are in good shape on the court and great shape on the salary cap, which is bringing the flexibility of a gold medal gymnast. They don’t have LeBron to entice free agents, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe that actually works to their advantage. Clippers to A-lister: Why play next to LeBron when you can be our LeBron and help put your own team together? The Clippers have enough room to sign two lead singers if they rescind their "Bird rights" on leading scorer Tobias Harris, who's only 26: For example, imagine Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard to get the conversation started. And what’s best is they wouldn’t have to gut the team. They have enough players either on team-friendly contracts or rookie contracts to stick around: Montrezl Harrell, a worker bee who’s improved; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a wise point guard at age 20; and Lou Williams, a scorer who’s comfortable coming off the bench. They could also exceed the cap to re-sign Harris. To recap, the Clippers have money, Rivers as coach, good players to surround a star, a loaded owner in Steve Ballmer, all the LA perks enjoyed by the Lakers. Everything except tradition and Jack Nicholson. Is that necessarily a deal breaker? And wouldn’t the Clippers qualify as a bolder challenge for a superstar than riding shotgun with LeBron for a franchise already with 16 titles? You could picture someone like Durant, searching for a team to call his own, anxious to add something special to his legacy, taking the bait. Maybe Leonard, too, who’s from the Pasadena area. And also Jimmy Butler, who spends his offseasons in LA. However, the Lakers’ footprint in LA is so massive that it must be respected. Hard to say no to Magic Johnson and LeBron, a pair of certified winners and all-timers. LeBron is the most unselfish scorer the game has ever seen. He dominates the ball but doesn’t overwhelm it. Every major co-star, from Dwyane Wade to Chris Bosh to Kyrie Irving, won championships next to LeBron. And in this late stage of his career, he’d probably be more willing than ever to share the ball, the wealth, the load, whatever, just to grab another ring before walking out the door for good. Plus, the Lakers have assets on rookie deals: Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball. Brandon Ingram’s contract comes up for renewal next summer, so that’s trickier. No matter; point is, any incoming free agent will have help besides LeBron. The wild card is Anthony Davis and whether he forces his way out of New Orleans next summer by refusing to extend his current deal, which runs through 2019-20, with a player option for 2020-21. The Pelicans would either keep Davis until the contract is up, hoping his changes his mind in the process, or trade him. Short of squeezing the Pelicans for Davis, the Lakers will be anxious to add help because LeBron, who turns 34 in a few days, is on the clock even though it doesn’t reflect in his play right now. So those are the choices for the impatient free agent star looking for a change of scenery and wanting to relocate to Los Angeles. It’s Lakers or Clippers, the chance to be next to LeBron or be away from his shadow, start a new legacy for a franchise or add to a franchise that’s already rich. Two Los Angeles teams meet Friday in a game, months before the “contest” that will dictate their future and direction. Next year’s first game between these two will tell us how their summer went. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsDec 29th, 2018Related News

MVP Ladder: Irving enters chase with work on, off the floor

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com The best of Kyrie Irving, both on and off the floor, has been on display the past few weeks. With the Boston Celtics’ season at an early crossroad, of sorts, it was Irving who stepped into the leadership void to steer things in the right direction. With injuries to key players complicating matters and chemistry issues still being sorted out, Irving was the veteran willing to step up and speak out in an effort to make sure the Celtics dealt with their issues head on. The Celtics had an inconsistent start to the season (10-10) before going on a eight-game win streak that was more like what was expected of them, only to hit the skids again briefly and lose three straight games before Irving piped up. "I think everyone can see that we've obviously had some inconsistencies regarding our play,” he said, “so I think it was just time to address it." A 36-minute players meeting in the locker room after a Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) home thumping from Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks was enough for Irving, who didn’t spare anyone (himself included) from the harsh spotlight. It was a cathartic moment for the Celtics, who saw Al Horford return from a seven-game absence just in time for Sunday’s win in Charlotte. Kyrie was at his superstar best with the bright lights shining on Christmas. He torched the Philadelphia 76ers for 40 points, unleashing his full offensive arsenal (shooting 17-for-33 from the floor, 5-for-10 from deep), while also grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out three assists. He was in showtime mode again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) against James Harden and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center, finishing his night with 23 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and just one turnover. The Celtics simply had no answer for Harden, who like Irving moves up the ranks on this week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder. But it’s clear Irving is ready to shoulder the burden of leading these Celtics, in whatever way necessary. * * * The top five this week in the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 26.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.3 steals Antetokounmpo turned Madison Square Garden into his very own Christmas playground when he smoked the Knicks for 30 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks to kick off the league’s showcase day. And just so the Knicks know it wasn’t a fluke, he hurried them again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum with 31 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks in another rout. The Greek Freak is making it tough for anyone to nudge him from the top spot on this list; he’s averaging 24.8 points (on 60.9 shooting), 12.6 rebounds  5.6 assists and 1.7 blocks in his last 10 games. The Bucks are cruising during this stretch as well, solidifying their position as one of  the top teams in the Eastern Conference and the entire league at the close of the calendar year 2018. If this is just the warm up for 2019, Antetokounmpo can really crank up his MVP campaign between now and the All-Star break. 2. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 26.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals Leonard and the Raptors didn’t get an opportunity to showcase themselves for the world to see on Christmas but made up for that scheduling snafu with an instant classic in a win over Miami on the day after the holiday. Leonard scored 30 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had two assists and two steals in the winning effort. December has been good to the Raptors’ prized summer acquisition — he’s averaging 30.1 points (on .520 shooting) to go along with his 8.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals. For all of the chatter about how good the Raptors have been with Leonard out of the lineup and how good their quality depth is and has been all season, the fate of this team rests on Leonard’s broad shoulders come playoff time. He’s the one element they’ve lacked in previous runs, as a true crunch-time, go-to player in the postseason. All that noise about him not being an ideal vocal leader looks like just that at this stage of his tenure in Toronto. 3. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.3 steals Lakers Nation held its collective breath earlier this week, awaiting the word on LeBron’s MRI after he heard a “pop” when he went down in the third with a groin injury in the third quarter of the Lakers’ Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) blowout over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The news was better than expected but the catalyst for the Lakers’ revival this season is still expected to miss “several games.” This could actually prove to be a critical stretch for the Lakers. If they can manage to maintain their position in the Western Conference standings without LeBron in uniform, it’ll speak volumes about the growth and development of their youngsters. It will also instill some confidence in the entire group if they can piece together a few wins without the new king of Los Angeles. All that said, it would be shortsighted of anyone to dismiss the work LeBron has put in during the early-season turnaround this team has undergone. He was playing as well as anyone in the league this month (25.8 points on .516 shooting, 9.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.3 steals). 4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 28.6 points, 5.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals Curry bounced back from yet another uncharacteristic Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) performance (just 15 points on an ugly 5-for-17 shooting) with a big night against his brother Seth and the Portland Trail Blazers. But his 29 points and a triple-double from Kevin Durant wasn’t enough to lift the Warriors past Damian Lillard’s late-game heroics against his hometown team. If there was ever a time to be concerned about Curry and these Warriors, it’s now. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson cannot find their marks. The bench production is non-existent at times. And the edge the Warriors have used to their advantage for years seems to have vanished. The boost they need is more than just adding a superstar talent like Boogie Cousins (whose recovery from his Achilles injury seems to be in hyperdrive). The Warriors might need both Curry and Durant to go off script a bit and shake things up by going nuclear offensively to strike fear in teams the way this team once did. They’ve become far too predictable a target without the proper support from their other stars. 5. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 7 Season stats: 32.3 points, 8.4 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals The reigning Kia MVP will not be denied any longer. Harden has been on an absolute tear of late and is bringing the Rockets back into focus in the Western Conference playoff chase while doing so. He’s posted back-to-back 40 point games (45 in their Friday, PHL time showdown win over the Boston Celtics and 41 in their Dec. 26, PHL time win over the Oklahoma City Thunder). He’s currently on a career-best eight-game run scoring 30 or more points, the first player to do so since Russell Westbrook did it in November of 2016. Harden’s the first to score 35 or more in six straight games since former teammate Carmelo Anthony accomplished the feat in April of 2013. Harden’s eight games of 40 or more points this season leads the league (Anthony Davis is second with five). The Celtics tried every player in uniform to stop him but to no avail. But Harden’s best work has been pulling the Rockets out of their sub-.500 hole at Thanksgiving to a season-best four games over .500 as they close out the 2018 portion of their schedule. * * * The next five 6. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets T-8. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors T-8. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers 10. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics And five more: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans; De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings; Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers; Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsDec 29th, 2018Related News

PBA 43 Review: Is Rain or Shine still a contender?

The PBA's 43rd season was a loooooong one. Seriously, it started December of 2017 and it ended December of 2018. That's 12 months of almost non-stop basketball. But with the current PBA season finally drawing to a close, it's time we look back at how each team fared in 2018. Today, we take on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters   WHAT NOW? Rain or Shine won a title just two years ago. Easy to forget that now with all the turnover the team has experienced. While the changes were not as drastic as last season when head coach Yeng Guiao and star guard Paul Lee left, ROS still had to deal with quite a few movements this season. As one of the steadier teams over the last couple of seasons, this season for the Elasto Painters was anything but steady. The top-2 movements were the departures of guards Jericho Cruz and Don Trollano, two more losses from Rain or Shine's last title team. The Elasto Painters also had to deal with the Raymond Almazan AWOL situation, which coincided with the team's collapse in the Governors' Cup. Finally, guard Chris Tiu is now contemplating retirement. All of that development and drama and still, Rain or Shine is one of the top-5 teams in terms of cumulative standings this season. Their playoff streak continued in the Philippine Cup and the Elasto Painters even took the number 1 seed in the Commissioner's Cup, which eventually allowed the team to represent the country in the Asian Games. The reinforced Elasto Painters finished in 5th place. The Governors' Cup performance was downright ugly but for next season, ROS should remain as contenders. The Elasto Painters still feature one of the stronger guard rotations in the league, but questions about their frontline and the team's ceiling persist. Just what can Rain or Shine accomplish in 2019? We'll find out soon enough.   Rain or Shine ELASTO PAINTERS in the 2017-2018 PBA Season Philippine Cup: 6-5 (5th place) Commissioner's Cup: 9-2 (1st place) Governors' Cup: 3-8 (10th place) Overall: 20 wins and 21 losses. Two playoff appearances, one semifinals.   POST DRAFT NOTE: Loaded with guards, ROS took San Beda forward Javee Mocon in the first round. Mocon should fit right in with the Elasto Painters, giving the team size, shooting, and championship pedigree. ROS also added Jjay Alejandro and Paul Varilla for more scoring and Kent Lao for insurance at the forward spots. All these rookies however, will have to fall in line as the Elasto Painters feature a veteran squad. Still, that's not such a bad thing as Rain or Shine now has some nice depth and they can take time to develop all these players or maybe use them as trade pieces.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsDec 28th, 2018Related News

VOLLEYBALL IS LIFE: A look back at Philippine volleyball in 2018

Glorious victories, dynasties, historic feats, controversies and memorable moments once again highlighted another fruitful year for Philippine volleyball.   Now, let us take a look back in the year that was in volleyball:   DYNASTY Powerhouse teams continued to thrive in the country’s most popular collegiate leagues. Arellano University muscled its way back into the NCAA Season 93 Finals and met a newcomer in San Beda University. The Lady Chiefs did find the Lady Red Spikers as feisty opponents in their first championship meeting, needing five sets to survive San Beda in Game One. But it didn’t take long for Arellano U to stomp its class over the newbies to capture its second straight title and fourth overall crown in five years. De La Salle University painted UAAP Season 80 green after annexing its third straight title handing legendary head coach Ramil De Jesus his third grand slam in the country’s most popular and competitive collegiate league. Second year setter Michelle Cobb stepped up to the challenge of filling the big shoes left by Kim Fajardo and complemented the depth and firepower of DLSU. Far Eastern University, which advanced into the Finals for the first time after a decade, stood no chance against the onslaught of the Lady Spikers, which swept their way onto throne. University of Perpetual Help completed a four-peat in the NCAA juniors after sweeping Letran. Philippine Air Force snatched the Premier Volleyball League men’s Reinforced Conference crown and the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference title. Sisi Rondina cemented her legacy as the UAAP’s queen of the sands after completing a three-peat in women’s beach volleyball. Rondina wrapped her tour of duty with four titles in five years. The Tigers ruled the men’s division.       YEAR OF THE UNDERDOGS San Beda University made great strides in NCAA Season 93 after earning its first-ever Finals appearance behind the efforts of Cesca Racraquin and twins Nieza and Jiezela Viray. The Lady Red Spikers closed the elims with an 8-1 win-loss record and took down Perpetual in the semis. Languishing at the bottom half of the standings since the return of its women’s volleyball program in 2008, Jose Rizal University made history by advancing into the Final Four. Shola Alvarez capped the Lady Bombers’ remarkable season by pocketing the Most Valuable Player award.   Far Eastern University made it to the UAAP women’s volleyball Finals by booting out crowd-favorite Ateneo de Manila University in the semis.  For the first time in five years, the Blue Eagles found themselves in a very difficult position in the Final Four. With a twice-to-win disadvantage, the Marck Espejo-led Ateneo shocked FEU – a team that beat them twice in the elims – to march to its fifth straight championship appearance.      But the real underdog story belonged to NU. After three years of finishing runner-up to the Blue Eagles, the Bulldogs led by Bryan Bagunas finally got their long-awaited revenge as they swept Ateneo off its three-year reign at the throne.     OFF COURT STORIES, CONTROVERSIES University of the East parted ways with head coach Francis Vicente midway in Season 80 after three and a half seasons with the Lady Warriors. Vicente left for ‘personal reasons’ with a UE coaching record of 2-45 (win-loss). Red Warriors head coach Sammy Acaylar also resigned from his post midway in the season. University of Sto. Tomas hitter EJ Laure after months of speculations to the real reason of her sitting out UAAP Season 80 broke her silence by saying that needed time to recover from her right shoulder injury to end all the rumors circulating including an alleged pregnancy.    Sound bites, videos and clips that show collegiate players’ ‘human side’ made its rounds around social media that drew mixed reactions from fans.  Just like in the previous years, controversy filled the formation of the national women’s volleyball team. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. initially named Ramil De Jesus as the national team coach but just two months after his designation, the multi-titled DLSU mentor resigned from his post citing ‘conflict of schedule’. Shaq Delos Santos took over De Jesus’ spot. Netizens went abuzz when the composition of the national team that participated in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games was released as fans give their different views on who should and should not be included in the roster.             LVPI named a new president in Peter Cayco of Arellano U to replace Joey Romasanta during the association’s election.   WRITING HISTORY Smart’s Cuban import Gigi Silva carved a world scoring record in the Philippine Superliga after scoring 56 points in a lost cause against Cocolife in the 2018 Grand Prix. Silva pounded 53 kills and had three aces to land her name in the fourth spot in the women’s world scoring record behind Polina Rahimova of Azerbaijan’s 58 points in 2015 while playing in Japan, American Madison Kingdon’s 57 (2017 Korea Volleyball League) and Bulgarian Elitsa Vasileva’s 57 (2013 Korea Volleyball League). Silva also surpassed the 55 points of Americans Nicole Fawcett (2013 KVL) and Alaina Bergsma, who led Petron to the 2014 PSL Grand Prix crown, (2016 KVL).     Not to be outdone, local volleyball star Marck Espejo had a 55-point explosion of his own in the Blue Eagles’ five-set Game 1 UAAP Final Four win over FEU. The five-time MVP pounded 47 attacks, had six kill blocks and two service aces for the Katipunan-based squad. Espejo scored 11 points in the deciding frame including Ateneo’s last four to seal the win in the match that lasted for two hours and 21 minutes. Espejo’s feat fueled Ateneo’s eventual semis series win over the twice-to-beat Tamaraws.  Espejo and DLSU libero Dawn Macandili were named as the Philippine Sportswriters Association’s 2017 Mr. and Miss Volleyball.     The Philippines saw three players make their mark in the international scene this year as Espejo and sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat were tapped as imports in Japan’s V. Premier League. Espejo is now playing for Oita Miyoshi Weiss Adler while Jaja and Dindin suit up for Saitama Ageo Medics and Toray Arrows, respectively.     After 36 long years, the Philippines sent a women’s volleyball team to participate in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The squad won against Hong Kong in straight sets in pool play in the country’s first Asian Games victory since defeating India in the 1982 New Delhi Games. The PHI advanced in the quarterfinals but went home empty-handed. The Filipinas ended up at ninth place in the AVC Asian Cup. Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio made waves in the country’s hosting of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open after the duo barged in the quarterfinals. The tandem eventually bowed down to eventual champion Japan. The NU Bulldogs brought its bark into the international scene and howled its way to giving honor to country by winning the ASEAN University Games gold medal at the expense of Thailand. Volleyball proved to be the most talked about sport in the country as #UAAPSeason80Volleyball became the most tweeted sports hashtag in 2018.   SMASHING WIN, BLAZING VICTORY Creamline became the most successful club in the Premier Volleyball League this year after winning its breakthrough Reinforced Conference crown before following it up with a title romp in the Open Conference. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought after leading the Cool Smashers to the Reinforced Conference throne.   Creamline’s Michele Gumabao joined Binibining Pilipinas and represented the country im the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania, landing at the top 15.     Petron lorded it over in the PSL after winning the Grand Prix and All-Filipino Conference titles at the expense of archrival F2 Logistics, which ruled the Invitational Conference. University of the Philippines ended a 36-year title drought by claiming the PVL Collegiate Conference championship and followed it up by reigning supreme in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam The SiPons tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons of Petron annexed their second straight PSL Challenge Cup beach volleyball title. University of Perpetual Help reclaimed the NCAA men’s title after taking down Arellano University as the Altas bagged it 11th title overall.           National University took back the title it lost last year in the UAAP boys’ tournament while De La Salle-Zobel bagged the girls’ mint. The Beach Volleyball Republic continued its advocacy of propagating the sport throughout the country.   END OF THE ROAD After winning three straight UAAP titles, the Lady Spikers bid goodbye to its Big Three in Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili. Season 80 saw the end of the six-year Ateneo-DLSU Finals rivalry as the Lady Eagles bowed down to FEU in the semis. The Blue Eagles three-year reign ended at the hands of NU as Ateneo gave its farewell to its greatest men’s volleyball star Marck Espejo and prized setter Ish Povorosa.    NU’s four-year domination in the girls’ division was snapped by DLS-Zobel. After a dry 2018 PVL season, Pocari Sweat parted ways with its franchise player Myla Pablo as newcomer Motolite agreed to buyout the hitter’s last three contract years.      Thai coach Tai Bundit after five years and bringing two titles including a rare tournament sweep to the Lady Eagles finally called it quits after Ateneo’s campaign in UAAP Season 80. Creamline gave Bundit a farewell championship trophy in the PVL.      A NEW BEGINNING It was a colorful 2018, indeed, for volleyball but 2019 is another promising year for the sport. Can the Lady Chiefs complete a three-peat in the NCAA? Newcomers are sure to bring more excitement and interest in the UAAP. DLSU will try to extend its reign for another season while NU is looking for a repeat crown in the men’s side. Another season for the PSL and the PVL will open while the national men’s and women’s team will highlight the country’s Southeast Asian Games hosting.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsDec 27th, 2018Related News

Liverpool goes 6 points clear after Man City slips again

By Tony Jimenez, Associated Press Rafael Benitez has little doubt Liverpool is ready to end a 28-year wait to win the English title. While Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp refused to get carried away after his team surged six points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday, Benitez was certain his former club had the quality to stay in first place for the rest of the season. "They showed they are good enough to win the title," Benitez said after watching his Newcastle side being dismantled at Anfield. "They have a very good team but a very good squad. When you want to win a league title you need to be consistent and they can do it." Defending champion Manchester City, which started the day in second position, suffered its second surprise loss in four days when it was beaten at Leicester 2-1. Tottenham followed up a 6-2 romp at Everton on Sunday with another big win as a 5-0 thrashing of Bournemouth took the London club one point ahead of Manchester City in the standings after 19 rounds, the midway point of the season. Paul Pogba grabbed two goals to help interim coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrate his first home match in charge of sixth-placed Manchester United with a 3-1 victory against bottom club Huddersfield. Eden Hazard scored his 100th and 101st goals for the club as Chelsea won at Watford 2-1, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted his 13th league goal in Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Brighton. Fulham climbed off the foot of the standings by drawing with Wolverhampton 1-1. A double from Lucas Digne led Everton to win at Burnley 5-1 and Crystal Palace, which beat Manchester City on Saturday, drew with Cardiff 0-0. LOW-KEY KLOPP Newcastle last won in the league at Liverpool in 1994, and its latest chance was damaged as early as the 11th minute thanks to a striker's finish from defender Dejan Lovren. Three minutes after the break, Paul Dummett hauled down Mohamed Salah in the box and Liverpool's top scorer bagged his sixth goal in five matches by converting the penalty. Xherdan Shaqiri made it 3-0 with 11 minutes to go, then substitute Fabinho bundled home a corner as the home team kept its 12th clean sheet of the campaign, the same number it achieved when last winning the title in 1990. Klopp, however, played down the significance of Liverpool's six-point lead. "That means nothing," he said. "I had no idea how any other teams were playing. Afterwards I got the results and I can say it didn't do a lot for me. It is just information. It's good we have six more points, but that is pretty much all." GUARDIOLA GLOOM Manchester City recalled Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne after Saturday's shock defeat at home to Crystal Palace but it had little effect as Pep Guardiola's men lost again at Leicester. Bernardo Silva gave the visitors a 14th-minute lead before Leicester, which caused an upset of its own at the weekend by winning at Chelsea 1-0, rallied with goals from Marc Albrighton and Roberto Pereira. To add to City's troubles, defender Fabian Delph was sent off for a bad tackle near the end. "The reality is we have lost three in four," Guardiola said. "We have made an incredible amount of points at this stage and if we can get the same, or more, in the second half of the season then we are fighting to win the championship. But at the moment, the reality is two teams are better than us." SON SHINES Two goals by Son Heung-min and one apiece from Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura, and Harry Kane helped Tottenham outclass Bournemouth 5-0 and record an eighth win in nine league games. Just like Klopp, however, Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino refused to get overly excited: "It doesn't mean too much to us to be second or third, or first, I think the most important thing is where you finish in May.".....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsDec 27th, 2018Related News

Reasons to watch 2018 slate of NBA X mas day games

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Bucks vs. Knicks (1am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: Two words; Giannis Antetokounmpo. The most dominant force in the league this season resides in Milwaukee. That’s right, the Greek Freak sits atop the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder heading into the Christmas Day showcase games. And with good reason. The Bucks are riding the wave their dynamic superstar forward has created in his first season in Mike Budenholzer’s system. Open it up and enjoy because … The Bucks are more than a one-man show. Antetokounmpo should be joined on the All-Star team this season by Khris Middleton, who is playing at that level, and point guard Eric Bledsoe is shooting better than he ever has in Budenolzer’s aggressive, shooter-friendly system. Watching the Bucks try and set a record for three-pointers taken and made should be entertaining enough. But the Knicks will offer some entertainment value of their own as they attempt to match the Bucks shot-for-shot with Tim Hardaway Jr. leading the way. The gift we’re hoping for is … The Knicks could use a statement win before a global audience to jump start the post-Christmas portion of their season-long grind. The Bucks have spent most of this season frightening the competition, both in the Eastern Conference and beyond. They’ve got the gift that’ll keep on giving for years in Antetokounmpo, who’ll get another chance to show the basketball public that what they’ve hard about a contender rising in the Central Division is real. Thunder vs. Rockets (4am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: Do we really need anyone to remind us to tune in for every Russell Westbrook-James Harden matchup for the foreseeable future? Didn’t think so. The matchup of the last two Kia MVPs winners is enough of an incentive to lock in on this one. And the fact that the Thunder occupy the space in the standings most thought was reserved for the Rockets only adds to the intrigue. Open it up and enjoy because … The real showstopper in this one isn’t either one of the MVP winners. Thunder swingman Paul George is the player you need to lock in on as he continues his dark horse MVP campaign for a much-improved team (the Thunder are light years away from the group that started the season 0-4). There are few soap operas better right now than the Rockets, who are dealing with yet another injury to All-Star point guard Chris Paul (hamstring) and a failure to play up to expectations that threatens to swallow up their season before Santa’s finished off his cookies and milk. The gift we’re hoping for is … What Westbrook and Harden wear into the building is worth a few moments of your time as these two fashion-forward superstars never fail to make an impression. But it’s the competitive fervor on the court that should provide the ultimate viewing pleasure. The Thunder would love to take over the position the Rockets held last season, as the legitimate threat to the Golden State Warriors’ stranglehold on the Western Conference throne. In the absence of a Christmas tilt against the two-time defending champs, the Rockets make an ideal fill in. Sixers vs. Celtics (6:30am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: The Eastern Conference version of Thunder-Rockets, the schedule makers look pretty good slotting the Sixers and Celtics in this spot. No one relishes an opportunity to take down a projected heavyweight the way the Sixers do (what else would you expect with Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid leading the charge?). The suddenly chummy Celtics, however, appear to be the team most eager to prove that they are indeed who we all thought they were in the summer, when they were the consensus pick to ascend to the top of the heap in place of Cleveland. Open it up and enjoy because … Kyrie Irving has embraced his role as the leader of this disjointed Celtics bunch in ways that fans in Cleveland have to be enjoying with an eyebrow raised. Kyrie trying to convince his young teammates to follow his lead is rich, given his reluctance to do exactly that when he was in their shoes. As far as rivalries go, this is perhaps the day’s deepest and most volatile. The Sixers are still smarting from that playoff ouster at the hands of the Celtics. And they won’t have ant sympathy for the Celtics as they continue their search for good health and better chemistry. The gift we’re hoping for is … A Ben Simmons-Kyrie point guard duel will make this game shine even brighter than usual. And they’re both more than capable of going off on the big stage. But the real treat here is going to be watching Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum match wits in what could be a preview of fireworks to come in a potential playoff matchup. Tatum’s sophomore season has been a bit choppier than expected. And Butler, whose shown a penchant for schooling youngsters (teammates and opponents) is surely betting on himself in this game within the game. Lakers vs. Warriors (9am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: With all of the recent history dripping off of this LeBron James-Warriors rivalry, the inclusion of the Los Angeles Lakers into the mix only serves to take this spectacle to the next level. LeBron insists this isn’t a measuring stick game for the upstart Lakers, not against a Warriors juggernaut that has won three of the last four Larry O’Brien trophies. Yeah, whatever you say big fella. Folks who haven’t watched a minute of NBA basketball season will be tuned into this one. Count on it. Open it up and enjoy because … Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have moved into that cosmic zone that only the all-time greats are capable of locating (see their work in their Monday, PHL time win over the Los Angeles Clippers for proof). We already know how the superstars respond in a matchup of this nature. The great unknown is how the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball will react to the marquee spotlight at Oracle Arena. The Lakers’ youngsters have thrived at times and struggled at others in their first season inside the LeBron bubble. But they haven’t seen anything like what they’ll experience in Oakland on this night. The gift we’re hoping for is … Draymond Green hasn’t had a true breakout game since returning from his extended injury absence. With Lance Stephenson in uniform on the other side, the opportunity for fireworks would appear to be extremely high. We’d settle for some Finals-level intensity from both of the world class agitators in the building. That and vintage performances from LeBron, Steph, KD and Klay Thompson are expected. Anything else beyond that is really gravy on the best basketball meal of the day. Trail Blazers vs. Jazz (11:30am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: We’re dubbing the nightcap of the Christmas Day showcase the “Respect Bowl.” The Trail Blazers are always on the hunt for more respect and the Jazz, one of the trendy summer picks as a team poised to become a contender in the Western Conference this season, could stand to show a little self-respect in the way they tackle the remainder of this season. Open it up and enjoy because … Second-year Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is suffering from the same sophomore spell that has plagued Jayson Tatum in Boston. It’s one thing to surprise the basketball world as a rookie and another to come back better and even more dangerous the second time around. We’re betting on Spider showing up and showing out for the Christmas Day crowd. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Damian Lillard will not allow someone else to steal the spotlight from him. He warmed up for Mitchell and the Jazz by finishing off Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks Sunday night. You know his swagger travels, so expect to see his competitive best against Mitchell and the Jazz. The gift we’re hoping for is … Joe Ingles stealing the show would make for an ideal end to a day full of some the league’s biggest and brightest superstars. And the sweet-shooting Jazz swingman is one of the league’s criminally underrated stars. It would also be nice to see the rest of that Jazz team we expected to make things interesting this season make an appearance. Christmas Day games have always served as a launching pad/turning point for teams willing to dive in. And the Blazers and Jazz both seem like prime candidates to take advantage of the opportunity. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsDec 25th, 2018Related News

Left alone: Alba proving perfect sidekick for Lionel Messi

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — With Lionel Messi wowing fans game after game, it's easy to overlook Jordi Alba, the player who often puts him in position to score so many impressive goals. Alba has become the indispensable sidekick for Barcelona's all-time leading scorer. "Leo and Jordi understand one another perfectly," coach Ernesto Valverde said after Saturday's 2-0 win over Celta Vigo when Alba helped set up both of Barcelona's goals. Alba first passed for Messi to shoot, with a rebound of a save falling to Ousmane Dembele to finish off. Alba then assisted Messi for his league-leading 15th goal of the season. "Their relationship clicks," Valverde said. "Sometimes rivals try to block their passing angles, but Jordi has a great sense of timing. And even though adversaries know it's coming, it continues to work." Alba has been running up and down Barcelona's left flank for seven seasons now, but his importance to his team's attack used to be secondary to the sparkling play of former stars Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. Neymar's exit two summers ago marked a turning point for Alba. With the Brazil forward no longer soaking up all the weight of the attack on Barcelona's left side, Alba was free to fully exploit his speed and passing ability. As Alba told Spanish sports daily Sport in 2017, "now I have the entire left side to myself, and that is much better." Messi often starts his attacks from the right or center of the field to have his preferred left boot set to shoot. That leaves Alba in an ideal position to stretch the defense with carefully timed bursts of speed to break into the area behind the opposition's backline, often after exchanging passes with Messi. The 29-year-old Alba has developed the knack of knowing where Messi will dart to in the box, often behind a dummy run by Luis Suarez, where he can receive Alba's passes in a scoring position. "They are very quick moves against defenses that really close down the open spaces," Alba said after Saturday's strong performance. "But Messi always waits for the opportune moment to find space, and I connect with him." Alba has done his part in ensuring Barcelona went into the Spanish league's winter break with a three-point lead atop the standings. "Most of the passes that I give Messi end up in goal," Alba said. "Leo never misses." ADIOS ATLETICO? Second-placed Atletico Madrid heads toward the winter transfer window with big questions about two of its top young players: France defender Lucas Hernandez and midfielder Thomas Partey. Hernandez has been linked to interest by Bayern Munich in triggering the 80 million euro ($91 million) buyout clause that would free him from his contract. While Atletico has denied that Hernandez wants to leave, coach Diego Simeone appears to accept that he could lose the 22-year-old defender. "Lucas knows what I told him. I love him a lot, we have watched him grow up," Simeone said after Saturday's 1-0 victory over Espanyol. "Let him decide what he thinks is best and I will support him." Thomas, who can play either as a holding midfielder or further up in the formation, has also made it publicly known that he wants to play more. "I have a deep affection for Atletico and I am grateful for all that it has done, as well as for the fans, but sometimes I feel unhappy at Atletico," Thomas said Saturday. LLORENTE'S MOMENT Ignored by previous managers, 23-year-old Marcos Llorente is playing well enough to threaten Casemiro's spot in the starting 11 as Real Madrid's holding midfielder. Llorente has started nine matches since Santiago Solari took over from the fired Julen Lopetegui two months ago, benefiting from Casemiro twisting an ankle. Llorente scored his first goal for Madrid on Saturday when he struck a powerful shot from outside the area to help beat Al Ain 4-1 in Abu Dhabi. Madrid won its third straight Club World Cup. "Life, like football, can change just like that," Llorente said......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsDec 24th, 2018Related News

Leverkusen fires Heiko Herrlich, signs Peter Bosz as coach

LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AP) — Bayer Leverkusen has fired coach Heiko Herrlich despite two Bundesliga wins in a row. The German club, which is ninth in the standings, says former Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz is taking over and will start preparations for the second half of the season on Jan. 4. Bosz, who led Ajax to the Europa League final in 2017, agreed a deal through June 2020. Leverkusen wanted to sign Bosz in the summer of 2017 but instead he joined Dortmund, which sacked the Dutchman after a good start was followed by a slump that saw the side claim one win in 13 games across all competitions. Leverkusen says it decided to let Herrlich go - despite four wins from five games across all competitions - due to a "stagnation in the development of the team." He won 22 of 51 Bundesliga games with the club. Herrlich previously led Jahn Regensburg to the second division from Germany's fourth tier......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsDec 23rd, 2018Related News

Alab Pilipinas weathers Singapore storm to stay spotless in ABL

Alab Pilipinas may have been the last team to make their debut in the 2018-2019 Asean Basketball League, but once they did, they wasted no time making noise. Fresh off a convincing victory over second-running Formosa, the Filipinos also outclassed third-ranked Singapore with a well-earned 77-71 win on their home floor at the Caloocan Sports Complex on Sunday. With two wins against the erstwhile hottest squads in the span of three days, the Philippines is now off to a 4-0 start in its title defense. This contest was close for the first eight minutes and the Slingers actually led by one until the home team ignited a 13-3 blast that boosted them to a 30-21 advantage in their favor at the midway mark of the second quarter. Singapore would not quit just yet and import John Fields, who once played for Columbian in the PBA, scored eight unanswered points inside the last two minutes to pull them within 71-75 only to see Ray Parks Jr. convert his couple of charities to put the game away once and for all for Alab. Parks Jr., the back-to-back Local MVP, wound up with 18 points, six rebounds, three steals, two assists, and a block to make sure they remained alone atop the leaderboard. The Puerto Rican pair of PJ Ramos and Renaldo Balkman also remained a force for Alab with the former finishing with 26 points, 17 rebounds, and five assists and the latter ending with 20-marker, 16-board double-double to go along with three blocks. The Filipinos now have triumphs over the two teams right behind them in the standings. This, after they had to wait one month since the season started to play their first game. On the other hand, Singapore suffered a second straight setback to fall to 5-3. BOX SCORES ALAB PILIPINAS 77 – Ramos 26, Balkman 20, Parks 18, Tiongson 7, Alvano 4, Rosser 2, Domingo 0, Urbiztondo 0, Javelona 0. SINGAPORE SLINGERS 71 – Fields 35, Young 17, Alexander 10, Goh 6, Ng 3, Low 0, Lim 0, Tay 0. QUARTER SCORES: 22-18, 43-31, 62-55, 77-71. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsDec 23rd, 2018Related News