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Adelaide 36ers coach immediately excited about signing Kai Sotto

Sotto will reinforce an Adelaide squad bannered by Josh Giddey and former Kentucky star Isaac Humphries......»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarApr 22nd, 2021

Sotto reaffirms duty for Gilas Pilipinas 5

Philippine basketball pride Kai Sotto reaffirmed his commitment to the Philippine national men’s basketball team program despite his contract to play with the Adelaide 36ers of Australia’s National Basketball League......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsMay 5th, 2021

Sotto all set for Gilas duty

Filipino basketball wunderkind Kai Sotto reaffirmed his commitment to the Philippine national men’s basketball team program despite his contract to play with the Adelaide 36ers of Australia’s National Basketball League......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 4th, 2021

& lsquo;Sotto will be pushed physically, mentally& rsquo;

Kai Sotto, the second youngest Adelaide 36ers’ player being groomed for next year’s NBA rookie draft, is expected to have his hands full playing against players much older than him very soon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsApr 28th, 2021

Red-carpet welcome for Sotto in Australia

Adelaide-bound Filipino cager Kai Sotto is assured of a red-carpet welcome when he arrives in Australian to join his 36ers team in the National Basketball League......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsApr 25th, 2021

Kai Sotto: G League Ignite taught me to be a pro

Now with a new destination in mind with his contract with the Adelaide 36ers, Sotto bared the learnings he took from the developmental league's professional pathway......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 24th, 2021

Tab Baldwin: Australian NBL an excellent match for Kai Sotto

With Sotto being 7'3", the NBL becomes an ideal place to develop his skills to become NBA calibre as he works with the Adelaide 36ers......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2021

Kai Sotto s Adelaide 36ers jersey now available for pre-order

Fans of Kai Sotto can now pre-order his official Adelaide 36ers jersey......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2021

With 36ers, Sotto free to render Gilas duties

Filipino wunderkind Kai Sotto’s upcoming trip to “Down Under” to play for the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League is more than just a new beginning......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2021

Double jackpot for Australia-bound Kai Sotto

Filipino wunderkind Kai Sotto's upcoming trip to "Down Under" to play for Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League is more than just a new beginning as he has also hit double jackpot with regards to his Gilas Pilipinas commitment and ultimate NBA dream......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2021

Kai signs with Adelaide 36ers

Kai Sotto’s trek to the NBA has reached a new stop, and this time he’s heading “Down Under” to play for the renowned Adelaide 36ers club in the National Basketball League......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 21st, 2021

Kai Sotto to play in Australia s NBL

First reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, Sotto will be playing for Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 21st, 2021

Kai Sotto s coach at TSF believes he s ready for the big time

The coach that guided Kai Sotto when he first went to the US believes that it's just a matter of time before the 7'2" Filipino teen phenom plays in the NBA. When Sotto decided to go to America to chase his NBA dream, he landed in Atlanta and played for The Skill Factory under coach Rob Johnson. In less than a year there, Johnson saw more than enough to believe that Kai is destined for the big time. After his stint at TSF, Sotto took a major step towards the NBA by signing with the G League, where he'll team up with other top prospects like top-ranked Jalen Green. "I believe the G League will be a great challenge for Kai. I believe he is prepared to play at that level," Johnson told the Olympic Channel. "He just needs to take advantage of the opportunities in front of him and continue to improve," he added. The level of play Kai will face in the G League will be different and far better. But based on his time at TSF, Johnson is confident that Sotto will be able to take everything in and come out as an evolved as an evolved player. "Kai has a great attitude about training, he is a gym rat. He loves finding out information to apply to his game and to help him improve," Johnson said. "Kai has great basketball IQ. He is easy to coach and understands instructions and concepts at a very high level," he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2020

Sotto ‘excited’ over Shaw’s appointment

Kai Sotto was thrilled with the appointment of five-time NBA champion and coach Brian Shaw as head coach of the new G League team bannered by the seven-foot 2 Filipino basketball prodigy and other rising stars. “Much respect and excited to be led by Coach Shaw,” Sotto posted on his official Twitter account @kzsottolive on […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsJun 10th, 2020

Even at home, the work continues for Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton

When the NBA was postponed in mid-March due to a player testing positive for COVID-19, there was immediately an air of uncertainty as to whether the world’s biggest basketball league would resume action later on in the year. Now, over a month later, that uncertainty remains there, even more so now. The playoffs should have started by now, which makes the NBA’s return even more of a question mark, especially in terms of how the league would decide to go about getting the season back on track. For now, there are definitely more questions than answers, but for most of the players and the coaches and the people involved in the league, work continues, even at home. That’s very much the case for Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton, who says he continues to find ways to continue to get things done, even under quarantine. When the season came to an abrupt halt, the Kings were 11th in the Western Conference, but were tied with the tenth and the ninth seeds at 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, meaning that they were very much in the running for the last spot in the post-season. With a jump straight into the playoffs being discussed as an option for the league’s return, it would mean that they would once again miss the post-season without having the chance to make one final run in the regular season. Right now however, Walton says that the focus is on the safety of everyone from this dreaded disease. “Normally, I would say that yes, it would feel like [a missed opportunity for a playoff chase]. But again, this is one of those rare circumstances in life where the safety of everyone involved is really what we’re thinking about,” Walton said in an interview with the NBA. “And if that means that were the case then hey, we continue to look forward. We continue to learn from what we did have this year and we take that information and we go full steam ahead into next season.” The Kings were set to take on the tenth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans in an important battle for playoff positioning the day that the league ultimately decided to postpone the games. If the league decides to jump right into the post-season, Walton says that they’d be fully behind the decision if it means finally having the season back. “This is one of those few times where truly the most important thing is that we get past this [pandemic] together. And by together, I mean everybody. Together, we get past this. If that’s what it takes for the NBA to come to a decision, we will be behind it. Normally I would say basketball is more important than most things I’ve gone through in life, but with this the only thing that really matters is that we get through it.” Walton adds that prior to the postponement, there was an excitement within the team because of how they were playing and the position that they were in. “We were excited. Like I said, we were playing high level basketball. As far as a team embracing what it needs to do. What I mean by that is individuals understanding their roles, individuals understand-ing what we need out of them and those individuals making sacrifices for the betterment of the team. I think that’s why we were winning games at a pretty solid rate towards the end.” “As a coach, that is what you’re looking for. As you said, Alex [Len], [Kent Bazemore] coming over to add some tough-ness and physicality that we needed and the defensive level that was being played. A big part of it was having De’Aaron [Fox] get going like that and getting to the free-throw line consistently. In the last few games, I know it’s a small sample size, he was shooting around 90 percent and if you get there eight times a game, that is going to help. Buddy [Hield] was just really dominating his role for us coming off the bench. [Bogdan Bogdanovic] in the starting lineup was making nice basketball plays. We had a lot of good positive things going for us as a team and we were excited. We were looking forward to every matchup that we had, and our guys were giving us everything they had,” he added. On a personal level, Walton says that it doesn’t know if the league will indeed return to finish off the 2019-2020 season. “Honestly, I have no idea. I think everyone wants to play but I think everyone understands top priority is the safety of the fans, the media and everyone that’s involved in this. As much as everyone wants to get back to playing, no one is pressing it and we know what is most important.” For now however, Walton says that he and the players are doing the most that they can during the extended time off. He does admit however, that these past month and a half has been tough. “It’s a challenge. In staying in communication with our guys and what we’ve all come to realize is what is most important and that is the health and safety of everybody; the fans, the players, the families and as much as we want to get out there and play basketball, coach basketball, and compete and be a symbol of strength for our community during this time, we know the most important part of this is the social distancing, staying healthy, and keeping people healthy. To answer your question, there isn’t a lot that the guys can do. We sent out exercise machines, there are workouts online, there [are] option-al Zoom yoga classes. A lot of guys at this point are at home and whether that’s a basketball hoop at home or a treadmill, they are doing what they can under the circumstances.” Walton adds that he has also done some additional coaching at home by homeschooling his children, before doing his work as a coach for the Kings. “We practice social distancing and take it very seriously. My family and I are still up here in the Sacramento area and we have young kids, so the mornings are dedicated to homeschooling and going on walks around the neighborhood.” “When we get done with that, that is when I start checking in with some [players] and some of the coaches and dedicate some time to move our work forward. In the evenings, we’ll either watch some shows or I’ll turn on some of our game film from earlier this year to look at different things and keep trying to grow and learn and understand our team a little more. Then, it’s pretty much like Groundhog Day. We wake up and do the same thing the next day. We are staying busy. We know the top priority, again, is the safety for everyone. I’m trying to use this time to continue to grow and continue to understand our guys more,” he continued. Walton adds that he hopes the players also use this time to get into other things as well and not just spend their free time playing video games. “A big part of what I believe in as a coach, is player development. Especially in today’s NBA, part of that is developing off the court as well. This is a great time for some of those things, whether it is like you said, reading books, listening to podcasts. Meditation is something we encourage our players to do and get into. That’s something that we’re constantly trying to get our players to accept and do. One, because we feel like as coaches, it’s the right thing to do to help people grow. And two, we feel as if you’re helping people grow off the court as people, the quicker they’re going to mature on the court as players. Yeah, this is a time that all those things are available to do. We can’t and we won’t force anyone to do them, but it’s highly encouraged that our players are taking the time to continue to chal-lenge themselves and grow in different areas.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 24th, 2020

Fil-Am baller Vanessa De Jesus set to go to Duke

While Filipino-American five-star recruit Jalen Green’s decision to sign with the NBA G-League’s Professional Pathway Program has been the talk of the town for the last couple of days, another Fil-Am recruit’s decision to join a prestigious collegiate basketball program has flown under the radar. In late-2019, through the early-signing period, collegiate basketball powerhouse Duke University secured the services of Vanessa De Jesus, the senior star point guard of the Sierra Canyon Girls’ Basketball Team. Sierra Canyon is also home to the sons of NBA stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. "Vanessa is a person of incredible character and consistency," said Duke University Women’s Basketball Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie, via GoDuke.com. "She plays the game immediately all the time. Vanessa has a great three-ball, can go off the bounce, can play the one or the two, and it's her maturity and her mindset that she really brings to the table.” The 5-foot-8 De Jesus averaged 15.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals in her sophomore year while leading Sierra Canyon to a 33-1 record and the state championship. In her senior year, De Jesus put up 15 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists.  A full-blooded Filipina based in Valencia, California, De Jesus also recieved offers from other universities such as Gonzaga, San Diego, and Washington. De Jesus’ impressive resumé includes being named to the All-CIF Open Division 1st team and Gold Coast League MVP in 2020 ,and the the All-CIF Southern Section Co-Player of the Year in 2019. What a game-winning shot by Vanessa De Jesus. Sierra Canyon wins in OT over Windward 56-54 pic.twitter.com/rBcEBoCUqp — eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) January 23, 2020.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 18th, 2020

Harden caps preseason with a scoring flourish

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — James Harden sure seems in midseason form. Russell Westbrook isn’t there yet. Harden, the reigning NBA scoring champion, scored 44 points in 35 minutes — 18 of those points coming in the third quarter — and the Houston Rockets ended the preseason with a 144-133 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). “James was ridiculous,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. Harden was 12-for-26 from the field, 8-for-16 from 3-point range and 12-for-13 from the foul line. He also had seven assists and five rebounds, and finished the preseason averaging 31.5 points. “That’s the way he’s wired,” D’Antoni said. “He loves to play. I couldn’t take him out in the fourth quarter if I wanted to. He’d play 48 if he could. He’s wired that way. He gets better every time. I don’t know what his ceiling is. But he’s, to me, the most improved player every year. He’s just ridiculous.” The Rockets didn’t get out of the game unscathed, however. Austin Rivers could play only seven minutes before being downgraded to out with neck soreness, and Westbrook — who has been dealing with some dislocated fingers on his right hand — left the game in the fourth quarter in obvious discomfort. Westbrook lost the ball, immediately grabbed at his right hand, then ran off the court and straight into the tunnel leading to the Rockets’ locker room without stopping. He finished with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists on 6-for-13 shooting in 26 minutes. “Both of them told me they were OK, so we’ll take that,” D’Antoni said. D’Antoni said Westbrook aggravated the finger issue, and will be fine. A top task for the Rockets in this preseason was figuring out all the ways to best utilize their new point guard, with D’Antoni acknowledged is still a bit of a work in progress. “I was with him for eight summers in USA Basketball,” D’Antoni said. “He’s a great guy. Works hard. Unbelievable athletically. Just the speed and power that he can play with ... he’s relentless.” Some of D’Antoni’s favorite moments during Westbrook’s brief Houston tenure so far have been ones that few people have seen — since they’ve come in practice, in moments where the competitive juices have perhaps overflowed. “He gets ticked off in practice sometimes and the next three minutes, he’s killing people,” D’Antoni said. “He needs that competitiveness to juice him up. He’s not like the old guy at the Y who will knock you down and shoot it. No, no, he’s coming at you with all the athleticism that he has.” Westbrook will have a few extra days to get through the issue with his fingers. He and the Rockets don’t open the regular season until playing host to Milwaukee on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). Eric Gordon scored 23 points for Houston and Clint Capela finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Kendrick Nunn scored 40 points in 40 minutes for Miami, making 15-of-27 shots. Tyler Herro scored 14 points and Bam Adebayo made all six of his shots on the way to a 13-point, 11-rebound night. Jimmy Butler didn’t play for the Heat, held out to rest. PRESEASON STANDINGS Friday’s (Saturday, PHL time) slate marked the end of the preseason, with Milwaukee (5-0), New Orleans (5-0), Boston (4-0), and Denver (4-0) all finishing unbeaten. The regular season starts Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) when NBA champion Toronto getting its rings before playing host to New Orleans, followed by the Lakers and Clippers meeting in the first battle of Los Angeles this season. SATURDAY’S (PHL TIME) GAMES PELICANS 117, KNICKS 116 Nickell Alexander-Walker and Josh Hart each scored 17 points, and New Orleans wrapped up an unbeaten preseason without injured No. 1 pick Zion Williamson. Williamson has a sore right knee and remained in New Orleans to undergo further testing and evaluation. Coach Alvin Gentry said he didn’t have any update on the power forward’s condition, though ESPN.com reported Friday, citing sources, that Williamson would miss multiple weeks. Even without him, the Pelicans (5-0) put up plenty of points after coming into the game scoring a league-leading 127.8 per game during the preseason. Brandon Ingram scored 16 points and JJ Redick had 14. Williamson looked as good as advertised while averaging 23.3 points on 71.4% shooting in four preseason games, and Gentry was asked if he was concerned the injury would dampen enthusiasm in New Orleans. “Yeah, but it’s not anything that we can worry about,” Gentry said. “We’ve got games to play and bottom line is that we will be in Toronto in a few days playing on opening night and we’ll have to put five guys out there and play.” Julius Randle had 20 points and nine rebounds against his former team, but missed a three-pointer that would have won it at the buzzer for the Knicks (1-3). Rookie RJ Barrett, the No. 3 pick who was Williamson’s Duke teammate, added 19 points. WIZARDS 112, 76ERS 93 Jordan McRae scored 17 points and Thomas Bryant finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for Washington. Moritz Wagner scored 14 and Bradley Beal — one day after signing a $72 million, two-year extension — scored 13 for the Wizards. Joel Embiid scored 17 points in 23 minutes for Philadelphia, which played without Ben Simmons. Tobias Harris had 13 for the 76ers. RAPTORS 123, NETS 107 OG Anunoby scored 18 points and Toronto had nine players score at least nine points. Fred VanVleet scored 16 points and handed out eight assists for Toronto, which got 15 points and 11 rebounds from Serge Ibaka. Kyle Lowry got his first — and only — action of the preseason, scoring nine points in 26 minutes. Kyrie Irving got his first extended action of the preseason for Brooklyn, scoring 19 points in 25 minutes. Irving played only 66 seconds in the Nets’ first game against the Los Angeles Lakers in China last week before aggravating a facial fracture and not playing on the remainder of that trip. Some fans at the game wore shirts, held signs and chanted in support of Hong Kong during the Nets’ first game since returning from China. One sign was critical of Nets owner Joe Tsai, co-founder of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, who had written a Facebook post explaining why Houston general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters was upsetting to Chinese. SPURS 104, GRIZZLIES 91 Patty Mills was 4-of-5 from three-point range and scored 16 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 14 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio. DeMar DeRozan and Bryn Forbes added 14 points each and Rudy Gay scored 13 points for the Spurs (2-3). Ja Morant had 16 points and six assists, Jae Crowder added 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Brandon Clarke had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies (3-2). WARRIORS 124, LAKERS 103 Stephen Curry scored 32 points and D’Angelo Russell added 29 for Golden State, each making six 3-pointers. The Warriors (2-3) took the lead early in the second quarter and held off a run that got the Lakers (3-3) within five points early in the fourth. Glenn Robinson III had 13 points and Draymond Green had nine points and 12 rebounds. Zach Norvell Jr. made 5-of-10 from three-point range and scored 29 points for Los Angeles. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 25 points and Devontae Cacok had 16 points and 10 rebounds......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2019

Harden and Westbrook back together to chase title in Houston

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden and Russell Westbrook are thrilled to be reunited in Houston and can’t wait to prove they will work just fine together. And Harden knows the rest of the team is excited about the addition of the eight-time All-Star as well. “I enjoy it but I know that everybody else enjoys it, too,” he said. “They get more shot opportunities ... with another guy that gets to the rim and draws so much attention to create opportunities for his teammates. Obviously he plays at a different pace than I do. He plays way faster than I do but we are both trying to accomplish the same thing, making sure our teammates get involved and we share the wealth.” Westbrook joined the Rockets this summer in a stunning trade that sent the longtime face of the Oklahoma City Thunder to Houston in exchange for Chris Paul. The deal brought Harden and Westbrook back together after the guards spent three seasons together with the Thunder at the start of Harden’s career. It was a trade that came with questions about how two players used to handling the ball will be able to work together. Both brushed off the concerns, and insist they’ll make it work to chase an NBA championship in a conference loaded with powerhouse teams. “I impact the game in so many different ways and I’ve proven that for many years and that’s why I’m not worried,” Westbrook said. “I don’t have to have the ball to impact the game. I don’t have to score. I can defend. I can rebound. I can pass. I can lead.” Westbrook, the 2017 MVP who is entering his 12th season, said statistics don’t matter to him. “My main goal and main focus is to win,” he said. “I can go in a game and be scoreless and if we win that’s the best thing that ever happened and that’s all I care about and all I’ve always cared about.” Harden, who led the NBA in scoring last season for the second straight year by averaging 36.1 points, said he welcomes having another player on the team who can lessen his load a bit. And while Harden believes that Westbrook will help the Rockets get to the next level, he’s comfortable with the fact that the team’s success or failure will always be linked to his performance. “If we don’t win I’ll take all the blame for it,” he said. “It comes with it. That’s why we have to go out there and win. That’s why we work extremely hard in the offseason to bring players in and bring whatever is necessary in to give ourselves that chance to win. I know what’s at stake.” The Rockets open the season Oct. 24 (Oct. 25, PHL time) against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. CHINA RELATIONS The Rockets are eager to move on from the distraction caused by a since-deleted tweet by general manager Daryl Morey in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong that angered China and many fans. The Rockets were in Hawaii on Oct. 4 (Oct. 5, PHL time) to play a preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers on the first leg of a trip that included two games in Japan when Morey tweeted an image that said: “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.” His tweet was in reference to pro-democracy demonstrations in the semiautonomous Chinese territory that has been mired in escalating violence between protesters and law enforcement. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly rebuked his GM with a tweet saying that Morey does not speak for the team, but the damage was done. The Chinese Basketball Association, headed by former Rockets star Yao Ming, suspended its ties to the Rockets over the tweet. Events in China promoting a Lakers-Nets series were canceled, NBA media partner Tencent said it was evaluating its plans to cover the league and some Chinese corporations have suspended relationships with the NBA. HOUSE PARTY The Rockets signed G/F Danuel House to a three-year, $11.1 million contract this summer after the 26-year-old split time between Houston and the G-League last season. Coach Mike D’Antoni is glad he’ll have House in Houston all season this year after he averaged 9.4 points in 39 games last year. “Danuel House excites me,” D’Antoni said. “He should have a big year.” HEY OLD FRIEND Power forward Ryan Anderson is back with the Rockets after signing as a free agent just before the start of camp. The 12-year veteran spent two seasons in Houston before being traded before last season. HARDEN’S LEADERSHIP D’Antoni doesn’t believe Harden can do much more statistically this season after putting up gaudy numbers the past several seasons. But he likes the way he’s grown as a leader in the last couple of years and hopes to see him continue to evolve in that area this season. “His leadership is getting better every year,” D’Antoni said. “He understands the importance of being positive. That’s invaluable and it’s invaluable that we keep that attitude all year.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2019

Raptors hungry for another title run, even without Leonard

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard has moved on and Danny Green is gone, but the Toronto Raptors still have an NBA title to defend. This season, a group led by All-Star guard Kyle Lowry, breakout talent Pascal Siakam and defensive standout Marc Gasol is turning "We the North" into "We Want More." "If I had to express it in one word, I would say 'hungry,'" Gasol said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) when asked what he expects of the new-look Raptors. "I think it's a very hungry team. We all understand what Kawhi meant to the team and how well he played in the playoffs. But we also understand how good we can be as a team, and we're all going to invest everything in it to be that team." Leonard signed a free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Clippers after leading Toronto to six-game NBA Finals victory over Golden State in his lone season north of the border. Once Leonard passed on returning to the Raptors, Green did the same, signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. General manager Masai Ujiri, who traded franchise icon DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio to acquire Leonard and Green, insisted he had no reason to be upset with the way his big move worked out. "That's just the nature of the business," Ujiri said. "We understand it and we move on as an organization. I think there are many bright spots with our team, whether it's our veteran players, whether it's our players coming up, and the younger group we're developing." Still, even Ujiri couldn't fail to notice what had changed around him since the start of training camp last year, when he sat at the podium in front of a packed crowd, flanked by newcomers Leonard and Green. This year, Ujiri was on stage all by himself. "I'm lonely," he joked. One thing hasn't changed: the Raptors still have talent. Lowry, Toronto's longest-tenured player, has been an All-Star for five straight seasons. Siakam is poised to take another step after running away with the league's Most Improved Player award last season, while Gasol, veteran Serge Ibaka, and youngster OG Anunoby round out an imposing frontcourt. "I think guys are going to step up, I think guys are up for the challenge," Ujiri said. The ultra-competitive Lowry certainly is. His expectation this season? Another title. "It's always the same goal for me," Lowry said. "I'm more motivated than ever." MORE CHANGE COMING? Don't expect this Raptors group to stick together much longer. Lowry, Gasol, Ibaka and guard Fred VanVleet are all eligible for free agency at the end of the season. So is forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who signed with Toronto in free agency. The Raptors will have money to spend next summer and are likely to look at younger players rather than paying to retain veterans. PASCAL'S FUTURE Siakam has two years left on his rookie contract, but the Raptors have already approached the young star about a new deal. "We've had conversations with Pascal's representation and we're excited," Ujiri said. "He's somebody we're definitely going to keep." With Leonard and Green gone, coach Nick Nurse sees room for Siakam to become more of a weapon. "He's going to be given a great chance, a great opportunity here to really expand his role and his game," Nurse said. "There's going to be lots of opportunity for him to have the ball." VanVleet isn't putting a limit on his expectations for Siakam's growth. "There's nothing he can't do," VanVleet said. CONTENDERS TO THE THRONE After another busy summer of free agency, Ujiri sees new balance around the league and no clear-cut challenger to Toronto's title. "If you say who's going to come out of the East, I think it's a question," Ujiri said. "I think, for the first time, it's a question who's going to win the NBA championship. I don't think anybody knows. I don't think anybody knows who's going to come out of the West and there are very, very strong teams there." CHRISTMAS WISH The reigning champs got a Christmas Day game, Toronto's first holiday appearance since visiting the Knicks in 2001. This year, the Raptors are hosting Boston in a noon start. "It means everything," guard Norman Powell said. "I've grown up always looking forward to the Christmas Day games, watching the NBA after opening up gifts and presents. I know everybody's really tied and locked into those games." BANNER MOMENT Toronto opens the season at home to rookie sensation Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on Oct. 22. The Raptors will raise their championship banner and hand out rings before tipoff. "I think that's when it's going to finally hit me," Lowry said. "I just feel I haven't let it sink in as much. When the banner rises and the rings come on, that's when you really feel it.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2019

Tim Cone excited to work as Gilas Pilipinas coach in SEA Games

MANILA, Philippines – Tim Cone will immediately buckle down to work as he takes over the coaching reins of Gilas Pilipinas for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games, which the country will host later this year. Reported to be at the top of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas' (SBP) wish list to ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsSep 24th, 2019

FIBA: “Impressive” Kiefer Ravena resumes basketball rise

On Sunday, Kiefer Ravena played his first basketball game in 18 months. Despite the long layoff, the Phenom didn’t look like he missed a beat. In 17 minutes against Australia’s Adelaide 36ers, Kiefer was the top local for Gilas Pilipinas with 11 points on a solid 5 of 8 shooting. In the second quarter, Ravena started with seven straight points as he tried to spark the national team offense. Despite limited action, Kiefer showed what he’s got and renewed his trust to national team head coach Yeng Guiao, also his coach in the PBA. “I’m happy. I’m satisfied. I’m impressed, actually,” Guiao said of Ravena’s comeback game. “And the good thing about Kiefer is he’s not just contributing on the floor, he also contributes off the floor. As young as he is, he is well-respected as a leader of this team,” he added. Against the 36ers, Gilas Pilipinas actually lost, 75-85. However, the national made a huge run in the fourth quarter, cutting a once 21-point lead to just seven points. Guiao wanted to put Ravena late to finish the comeback but opted not to. He’ll save the Phenom as his trump card in the World Cup. “Sabi ko ise-save ko na lang muna,” coach Yeng said. “I was already happy with what I saw. He [Kiefer] will still get better,” Guiao said.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2019