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Japeth flashes old grit as Gin Kings stay clean

Japeth Aguilar scored 20 points for his best outing so far inside the bubble. (PBA Images) Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio showed signs of slowly regaining their form Sunday night as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel rolled past Meralco 105-91 for its third straight win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center. Struggling since entering the bubble days before the start of the season, Aguilar and Tenorio played important roles in Ginebra taking control of the first meeting with Meralco since winning the Governors’ Cup crown last January. Aguilar scored 20 points as coach Tim Cone opted to field him even when the game was already in the bag while Tenorio scored all six points in the second quarter while dishing out four assists as the Kings rejoined the TNT Tropang Giga and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on top of the standings. Stanley Pringle continued his consistent showing for Ginebra with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Jeff Chan had 12 points and four assists while rookie Arvin Tolentino posted a season-high 11 points in a starting role. It was only the second time that Ginebra started a conference with a 3-0 record since coach Tim Cone took over in the 2015-16 season. Like in the Governors’ Cup Finals, Ginebra was able to take control against a Meralco squad that fell to 1-2 which Cone cited for the way his team’s defensive effort. “I just think that it was really a great defensive effort tonight,” said Cone, who also thought that Ginebra “created a lot of our offense up on our defense.” The lopsided nature of the contest also allowed Cone to insert veteran Mark Caguioa to make his bubble debut and in the process set a PBA record. Caguioa played more than six minutes and scored a basket in the game that made him break the record for most seasons by a player for one team. The 40-year-old officially played his 18th season for Ginebra, breaking his tie with Purefoods legend Alvin Patrimonio and current TNT forward Harvey Carey. Allein Maliksi scored 18 points and Reynel Hugnatan had 16 points and seven boards for Meralco in the loss. Raymond Almazan, whose knee injury during Game 3 contributed to Meralco’s defeat to Ginebra in the Finals, had six points and two rebounds in 12 minutes. The scores: GINEBRA 105 — Aguilar J. 20, Pringle 16, Chan 12, Tolentino 11, Mariano 8, Thompson 7, Tenorio 6, Devance 6, Dillinger 5, Balanza 3, Caguioa 2, Salado 0, Aguilar R. 0. MERALCO 91 — Maliksi 18, Hugnatan 16, Amer 10, Newsome 10, Almazan 6, Jackson 6, Hodge 5, Black 5, Quinto 4, Jamito 4, Jose 3, Pinto 2, Caram 2, Salva 0. Quarters: 20-20, 51-39, 74-60, 105-91......»»

Category: newsSource: mb.com.ph mb.com.phOct 18th, 2020

Cone rewards Japeth with more minutes ‘to get him in shape’

Japeth Aguilar topscored Barangay Ginebra with 20 points against Meralco. (PBA Images) Some were probably wondering why coach Tim Cone kept Japeth Aguilar on the floor even though Barangay Ginebra San Miguel already had the game won against Meralco Sunday night. “I left him out there the whole time, just so to get him in shape,” Cone said after Ginebra’s 105-91 victory at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center. Aguilar finished with a game-high 20 points, scoring nine during a nine-minute appearance in the fourth quarter, something Cone said is something he rarely does. But Cone explained that having such exposure even in a blowout contest could bode well for Aguilar in the long run since the Finals Most Valuable Player of last season’s Governors’ Cup entered the bubble only days before the restart. And it has resulted in averages of 9.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in wins over NLEX and Blackwater. “We really don’t have time to get him in shape by working out because the games come so fast,” said Cone.  “Though we have a big margin, I wasn’t taking Japeth out. That’s unusual for me, but I saw it as a purpose and to stay on the floor and keep working. Hopefully that will make him better into our next game.” Ginebra is hoping that would be the case as it enters a stretch of difficult games against tough opponents. The Kings return to action on Wednesday against the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, who opened the conference with two straight wins. Next is Ginebra’s “Bubble Clasico” showdown with Magnolia on Sunday followed by a clash with another sister team in defending five-time champion San Miguel Beer on Oct. 30......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2020

Durant s injury devastates victorious Warriors as they head home

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com TORONTO — When a superstar crumples to the floor like that, after everything he’d been through, after mustering the will to return to action, after giving his team the lift it so desperately needed in a win-or-go-home game, everything that happens next is muted: The flow of a tense game, the pulsating fourth quarter, even the Warriors’ inspired Game 5 victory in the final seconds. All that’s left is a siren blaring and asking … Why? Why did the Warriors clear Kevin Durant to return to the NBA Finals on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time)? Why did he feel compelled to do so after missing nearly a month with a calf strain? Why did a segment of the basketball populace question the severity of his injury -- and, by extension, his heart -- during the lead-up? And why do the basketball Gods seem to have it in for a two-time Finals MVP and all-time great who put his team first, and possibly just put his career in jeopardy? The Raptors fans who lined up 24 hours early in the rain just to watch on TV outside Scotiabank Arena aren’t shook. The citizens who braced for a championship celebration into the wee hours and now must deal with deflation aren’t shook. Not even the Raptors, who coughed up a six-point lead with 3.5 minutes left and now must fly 3,000 miles for another tip. No, it’s the Warriors who were left dazed and confused despite extending the series to another game with the 106-105 victory, and it was all captured in the quivering voice of team president Bob Myers while revealing Durant suffered an Achilles injury early in the second quarter. “He’s a good teammate,” Myers finally managed to say. “He’s a good person … it’s not fair … he just wants to play basketball and right now he can’t.” No, he can’t, and Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) MRI will determine when that can happen again. Slow-motion TV replays that showed Durant executing a dribble move past Serge Ibaka and then dropping quickly to the floor were not positive. When Durant grabbed his leg on May 8 (May 9, PHL time), he reached high on his calf. This time, he reached low. A segment of the fans initially cheered Durant’s misfortune, and when Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka put them in check, the reaction quickly flipped from insensitive to respectful. But it didn’t matter in the big picture that they applauded Durant. He was helped to the locker room by director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini and Andre Iguodala. Stephen Curry left the bench and walked behind Durant, consoling him. Durant cursed loudly as he reached the tunnel. Then he disappeared from view and later left the arena by crutches right after halftime. In the history of the NBA Finals, there was no tougher scene to witness, no matter the rooting interest. This was a basketball betrayal, pure and simple, that happened to Kevin Durant. But should it have? Plenty of questions now surround the medical protocol used by the Warriors. Durant took part in what was loosely termed a practice for the first time just a day earlier. Was that enough? Did he pass all the stress tests by then? Did the exams and MRIs give a green light? Were the experts fully apprised? And, perhaps most crucially, how much of this Achilles injury could be directly related to the calf injury and should that have been perhaps a larger concern? “He went through four weeks with a medical team and it was thorough and we felt good about the process," Myers insisted. "He was cleared to play tonight, that was a collaborative decision. I don’t believe there is anyone to blame, but I understand in this world that if you have to, you can blame me.” Beyond that, was there any pressure -- either implied or indirectly placed or discreetly suggested -- within the organization for Durant to return and rescue the Warriors? They were down 3-1 without him. Durant is famously sensitive about how he’s perceived, especially regarding his toughness. Maybe he felt pressure himself to quiet the noise and whispers. Complicating matters is his pending free agency. Durant stood to make hundreds of millions on the market this summer, and a torn Achilles, if that’s what the MRI will show, can require a year to rehab. In the moment, Durant's injury had a temporary bonding effect between the two teams; a handful of Toronto players approached Durant before he checked out and both benches appeared equally stunned. “In this league,” explained Lowry, “we’re all brothers, and it’s a small brotherhood and you never want to see a competitor like him go down.” Before the injury, Durant showed flashes of the next-level skills that helped him lead the Warriors to the last two championships. He hit his first two shots, both from deep. He commanded coverage from Kawhi Leonard, Toronto’s best defender. He had a presence. This injected confidence within the Warriors, who broke out a nine-point lead with Durant on the floor and seized early command. He, Curry and Thompson were 12-for-19 shooting for 36 points through the early second quarter. With their missing star in the fold for the first time this series, Golden State looked whole again. Once Durant left the floor, the game tightened until the fourth. Leonard (26 points), who shot poorly to that point, made his move, with 10 quick points to send a quake through the arena. Curiously, Raptors coach Nick Nurse called a timeout with his team buzzing and up five with three minutes left. Did that kill the momentum? Curry and Thompson answered with consecutive three-pointers to tie and then take the lead with 56 seconds left. Then, on Toronto’s final possession, Thompson and Andre Iguodala trapped Leonard and forced him to surrender the ball. It found its way to Lowry, deep in the corner. But Draymond Green got his fingertips on the ball, Lowry’s shot was harmless and the buzzer sounded. No confetti fell from the ceiling, no bottles were popped in the home locker room, no trophy was ceremoniously awarded. Curry and Thompson combined for 57 points and took 27 three-pointers, making 12. They’ll need to duplicate that production Thursday (Friday, PHL time) in Oakland and beyond if the Warriors force a seventh game. DeMarcus Cousins was helpful post-Durant and had 14 points. “They’ve accomplished so much over the years and that doesn’t happen just with talent,” Kerr said. “There has to be more that goes into it and it’s that fight, that competitive desire and ability to stay poised under pressure. It was brilliant to watch.” And yet: There was little joy. “It’s hard to even celebrate this win,” said Klay Thompson. “I told the team I didn’t know what to say because, on one hand I’m so proud of them for the amazing heart and grit they showed, and on the other I’m just devastated for Kevin," Kerr said. "So it’s a bizarre feeling that we all have right now.” It’s a reflex to say the Warriors were inspired by Durant and perhaps they were. When he fell, they had their excuse, yet thought otherwise. For them to play the final 2.5 quarters while dealing with a fractured state of mind says plenty about their mental toughness. “It had made it difficult, especially with the start we got off to and Kevin was playing so well, so it was a real shock when he went down,” said Kerr. “So I give our guys credit.” Durant at times became a magnet for his personality quirks and especially his non-commitment regarding free agency; it was even raised by Green when the two infamously clashed on the bench earlier this season. If nothing else, the injury further endeared Durant to the locker room and, in particular, to his fellow MVP. “Everybody gets so wrapped up in chasing championships, but life is more important in terms of caring about an individual and what they’re going through,” Curry said. “And you see the commitment and the challenges and just what has been thrown at KD this whole year, really. He gave us what he had, he went out there and sacrificed his body and we know how that turned out. “When you get to know somebody and see how genuine they are and how committed they are to basketball, you root for those type of guys. All those emotions come into play when you see him go down like that. It’s not even about this series; it’s about long term, his mindset and being able to get back to being the player and the person he has shown consistently over the course of his career.” The Warriors return to Oracle Arena for the final game in the old barn before moving to San Francisco next season, so there is motivation to shut it down in style. Of course, there’s the goal of forcing a seventh game, and finally, to win a title so Durant’s injury won’t be in vain. “We do it for Kevin,” said Thompson. “He wants us to compete and the highest level, and we’ll think of him every time we step on the hardwood. You think of him every time you dive for a loose ball or go for a rebound, because I know him and I know how bad he wants to be out there. I’m going to miss him, man. It’s not the same being out there without him.” Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2019

PBA: Confident Nambatac lights up Ginebra with career shooting performance

Down 0-2 to start the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Rain or Shine wanted to avoid a 0-3 hole at all costs. Friday against defending champion Ginebra no less, the Elasto Painters did just that and finally got their first win of the mid-season joust with a convincing 23-point win. Import Denzel Bowles did his part, coming through with a strong double-double performance, but it was guard Rey Nambatac who was key for ROS in the victory. Nambatac was hot all game long, firing seven triples on his way to a career-high 30 points. He already had 21 at halftime to help the Elasto Painters weather a strong start from Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee and Japeth Aguilar. “Lucky day lang. Kailangang mag step up kasi last two games ang kulang talaga [from] young guns tulad ko,” Nambatac said. “Kasi yung mga veterans namin, especially yung import namin si Denzel, ginagawa nila ng maayos yung roles nila sa team. So kami, parang kami yung nawawala sa team,” he added. With ROS having so many weapons, Nambatac says it’s important to just stay ready. His number will be called and the ball will find its way to him. When that happens, he should be ready to take advantage. Against the Gin Kings, it was Nambatac that got the good looks and he made the most out of all of them. “Tiwala lang sa sarili. Syempre confident lang din ako na pag pinasahan ako, kailangan maisu-shoot ko,” Nambatac said. “Kasi kung ako naman yung nagpasa tapos wide-open shot, talagang nakaka-frustrate yun eh. At ayaw kong mangyari yun sa mga teammates ko na mafrusfrustrate sila. Kasi open shot tapos di masushoot? Kumpyansa lang talaga,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2019

Beermen stay hot after surviving Gin Kings in thriller

It wasn't as dominant as their last couple of wins but it was a win regardless. Two-time defending Philippine Cup champion San Miguel pushed its winning streak to six games after surviving sister team Ginebra in a low-scoring affair, 72-70, Sunday at the Big Dome. Already assured of a quarterfinal berth after taking care of Blackwater just two days ago, the Beermen have started their quest for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. The champs also maintained their stranglehold of first place after pushing their record to a near-perfect 7-1. San Miguel appeared to cruise to a victory, leading by eight with two minutes to go but Ginebra got two booming treys from Joe Devance and LA Tenorio to make things interesting. With 11 seconds to go, the Gin Kings had the chance to tie or go for the win after Marcio Lassiter missed two crucial free throws but Tenorio's floater was way short against the defense of Arwind Santos. 'I know from the start na this will be a tight game for us dahil I think the energy of our team has gone down since our last game against Blackwater,' head coach Leo Austria said who once again started his post-game talk with his now infamous 'well ah...' remark. 'Mabuti na lang talagang may kaunti pang Petron na laman ang gas tank ng mga players,' he added finding time to put a little product placement here and there. Despite a broken nose, Alex Cabagnot once again led the Beermen in scoring with 16 points while Santos posted a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds. Ronald Tubid came off the bench to add another 10 points for the champs. Meanwhile, Ginebra's up-and-down season continued as the Gin Kings dropped to 3-4 in the Philippine Cup. Japeth Aguilar picked up where he left off from Christmas and paced Ginebra with 17 points.   The scores: SAN MIGUEL 72 - Cabagnot 16, Tubid 12, Santos 10, Fajardo 9, Lassiter 7, Espinas 7, De Ocampo 5, Ross 4, Garcia 2, Heruela 0. GINEBRA 70 - Aguilar 17, Mercado 11, Tenorio 8, Devance 7, Ferrer 7, Thompson 6, Cruz 6, Ellis 2, Mariano 2, Marcelo 2, Caguioa 2. Quarters: 15-17, 32-31, 53-49, 72-70   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Gin Kings outlast Tropang Giga in OT, take Game 1

After Arvin Tolentino rose to the occasion with a clutch layup that sent the game into an extra period, Stanley Pringle and Japeth Aguilar sparked the Ginebra offense to win the tightly contested affair......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 30th, 2020

Coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown dead at 78

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2020

No live audience? No problem: Ginebra still a charmer with massive online turnout

Japeth Aguilar of Barangay Ginebra goes for a dunk. (PBA Images) Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s drawing power remains evident even in defeat after One Sports once again garnered huge viewership online. Almost 180,000 viewers watched the live broadcast of Ginebra’s 85-82 overtime loss to Rain or Shine on One Sports’ Facebook page a day after TV5’s sports division garnered big numbers during Phoenix Super LPG star Calvin Abueva’s much-awaited return from a 16-month suspension. Abueva’s first game inside the bubble known as Smart Clark Giga City got a live viewership of 120,000 on Monday that saw Phoenix winning over NLEX, 114-110. Tuesday’s game which aired primetime got plenty of viewers late when Ginebra made a run in the fourth quarter to even take a 76-73 lead with seconds to go. But Ginebra fans were left disappointed when Rain or Shine’s Rey Nambatac tied things up with a three-point shot before Beau Belga came through with clutch baskets in overtime to seal the victory. It was Ginebra’s second straight loss after starting the PBA Philippine Cup with four consecutive wins. Ginebra absorbed its first defeat over the weekend with a 102-92 setback to sibling rival Magnolia. The Kings have another marquee game on hand this Friday against the defending champion San Miguel Beermen......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 27th, 2020

Dirty Places at Home and Cleaning Products to Use

The Covid-19 is a global pandemic affecting thousands of people. Without a cure in sight, this virus is easily spread with droplets from sneezing or coughing. Healthcare professionals suggest handwashing, covering coughs, and using face masks when sick as preventive measures. Another tip is to stay away from dirty places and to clean homes and […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsSep 24th, 2020

Ginebra Gin Kings itching to resume practice

    By JONAS TERRADO     Barangay Ginebra San Miguel star Japeth Aguilar said he and his teammates are raring to get back into practice after spending months discovering new things amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Mga teammates ko parang batong-bato na,” Aguilar said during a Facebook live session of Aclan Sports Skills Factory. “Before diba, […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2020

PBA: Ginebra s solution to no Slaughter? More of Stanley Pringle

Without Greg Slaughter, Barangay Ginebra's campaign in the PBA was dealt with a huge blow. Slaughter's sudden sabbatical back in February came as a shock for the Gin Kings and it will surely be a different dynamic for Ginebra the next time the team takes the court in the PBA, whenever that is. Regardless, the Gin Kings will have to figure things out and part of the adjustment is to unleash Stanley Pringle and pair him with Japeth Aguilar. "We still have a lot of weapons," Ginebra coach Tim Cone said on Coaches Unfiltered. "We have Stanley. Stanley is somebody who is still very much exploring how to best use his talent and where he fits. There's a lot to still find out about him," coach Tim added. While Pringle ended up winning his first PBA title with Ginebra last season, he's only been with the Gin Kings for less than two full conferences. Stanley was acquired in a trade with Northport in the middle of last year's Commissioner's Cup where the team lost in the semifinals to TNT. By the Governors' Cup, Ginebra was back as champions after taking down Meralco in the Finals. [Related: PBA: Pringle relishes "special" PBA title with Ginebra] Aside from Pringle, Cone says Ginebra will cope up without Slaughter by giving larger roles for their crew of younger players. "We feel very good about our young guys, some of our younger veterans in Aljon Mariano, of course Art Dela Cruz," Cone said. "Then our young rookies, we have a lot of fate in Arvin Tolentino, I like Arvin's game. It's just a matter of whether we could get him to our culture and get him turned on playing how we want him to play," coach Tim added. [Related: Greg Slaughter signs with same agent as Nikola Jokic] Slaughter, who recently signed with the same agent as that of Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, is a huge loss for the Barangay. But the Gin Kings will be alright. "We'll make up for Greg in other ways. It's gonna be tough because he can be a force at times and it's real tough having something ripped away from you like that without having being given anything in return," Cone said. "But we'll find ways to replace him, maybe a little more Japeth, a little bit more of Stanley," coach Tim added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2020

Kings Parker cleared to end self-isolation after positive test

Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton says forward Jabari Parker has been cleared to end his self-isolation following a positive test for the coronavirus. Walton also spoke to Parker about handling himself in public after photos surfaced last week of the forward playing tennis without a mask following his positive test. Center Alex Len and guard Buddy Hield also announced they contracted the coronavirus, and Walton says all three are “doing much better” while being tested every other day. No players have told Walton they don’t want to take part as the Kings (28-36) prepare to play their final eight games in Orlando beginning at the end of this month. “This is a grown men’s league,” Walton said on a call Wednesday. “We talk to our guys but you can’t make them do anything. All we can do is encourage them to follow the guidelines that we’ve all been given: Do your best to social distance, wear a face mask when you’re out, wash your hands as often as possible, stay away from shaking hands, those type of things.” One of Walton’s top priorities now is “making sure everyone’s comfortable” — which will mean players bringing their own workout gear and leaving an extra pair of shoes that stay at the practice facility or arena......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2020

AP Was There: Seles tops Graf in riveting French Open final

By The Associated Press EDITOR’S NOTE -- Every French Open features matches that are memorable for one reason or another. There are upsets. Comebacks. Dramatic moments. Historic accomplishments. The AP is republishing stories about a handful of such matches while the postponed Grand Slam tournament was supposed to be played. One match memorable for the drama and competition between two all-time greats was the 1992 final at Roland Garros between Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. Less than a year later, Seles was stabbed by a spectator at a match in Germany. The following story was sent June 6, 1992. ___ By STEPHEN WILSON AP Sports Writer PARIS (AP) — This was a match no one deserved to lose. Monica Seles and Steffi Graf dueled for two hours and 43 minutes Saturday, matching each other shot for shot, fighting for the lead game after game. Finally, after an epic third set lasting 18 games and 91 minutes, Seles emerged with a 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 victory for her third straight French Open title. “It’s the most emotional match I’ve ever played,” said Seles, who is now halfway to winning the Grand Slam. “This one’s always going to stay in my memory.” “It really couldn’t have been a better final,” she said. “It shows women’s tennis is getting more and more exciting. It’s just too bad for whoever lost. Both deserved to win.” Even in defeat, Graf agreed it was a memorable match. “If you play 10-8 in the final set, it definitely is special,” she said. “Those are very special matches, even if you lose.” Seles became the first woman to capture three consecutive French Opens since Germany’s Hilde Sterling accomplished the feat from 1935 to 1937. Seles, strengthening her hold on the No. 1 ranking, has now won six Grand Slams in her career, including the last five in which she has appeared. She missed Wimbledon last year, but will be competing there in two weeks to try to win the third leg of the Grand Slam. Saturday’s third set provided some of the greatest drama in tennis — men’s or women’s — in recent years. “I’ve never played a set like that in my life,” Seles said. There were furious rallies, fantastic gets, lunging winners, frequent shifts in momentum. Despite fatigue, both players were so pumped up they showed their emotions after nearly every point. Graf would yell “Yes!” clench her fist and slap her hip after a winner. When Seles lost a point, she would shriek “Noooo,” close her eyes and grimace in agony. The lead swung back and forth. Seles was up 5-3. Graf saved four match points in the next game and moved ahead 6-5 and 7-6. Seles broke and went up 8-7. Graf broke back for 8-8. Seles broke again and then finally held serve to close out the match. “I never thought it would last so long,” she said. “I was getting getting a little bit tired. But I could have stayed out there if I had to.” The 18 games in the final set was the most in a women’s final here since 1956, when Althea Gibson beat Angela Mortimer 6-0, 12-10. The 35 total games was one short of the record for a French final since the Open era began in 1968. The 36-game mark was set in 1973 when Margaret Court beat Chris Evert 6-7, 7-6, 6-4. Graf paid tribute to Seles’ refusal to give up. “You have seen it in other matches,” she said. “She is definitely a tough one. Even if it’s close, if she’s tired, she is always going for it. That is definitely a big, big quality.” Graf found no satisfaction in her own gutsy performance. “I mean it’s great the way I came back, the way I fought every time,” she said. “I think it was a very good effort, especially being down 5-3 in the third set. But I’m disappointed the way I played when I was leading.” “Every time I gave her those games,” she said. “I didn’t play those points good enough. I didn’t really try like the games before to run everything down and to go for every shot. But it’s difficult if you have to do that all the time.” The crowd was overwhelmingly in Graf’s favor, repeatedly breaking into rhythmic clapping and chants of “Steffi! Steffi!” “I really can’t say that I have had that support ever before,” Graf said. “It was just amazing.” Seles controlled the first set, winning 12 out the first 14 points. Graf started to raise the level of her play at the end of the first set, even breaking Seles at love in one game. The German seemed to get a psychological boost early in the second set when she saved a break point to prevent Seles from taking a 2-0 lead. Graf gained the edge when she broke for 4-3. She saved three break points to hold for 5-3, then broke Seles at love to win the set. Seles didn’t even bother to chase Graf’s forehand winner on set point. Seles was up a service break at 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3 in the final set. Then came the four match points on Graf’s serve. She erased the first with a deep forehand, the second with a forehand putaway, the third with a forehand into the corner, and the fourth with a skidding slice backhand approach shot. “I said to myself, ‘Just go for it,’” Graf said. “On those points I really didn’t give her a lot of chances. I was trying to be the one who is aggressive.” “Steffi played some great shots under pressure and I played too safe,” Seles said. Seles served for the match in the next game, but Graf kept dictating the points with her big forehand and broke at 15 to even the set at 5-5. The two continued on serve until Seles broke for an 8-7 lead as Graf missed on a short forehand. But Graf broke right back, hitting a perfect backhand drop shot on one point. In the next game, Seles crushed a short crosscourt backhand after a long rally to break for a 9-8 lead. Serving for the match for the third time, Seles went up 40-15. On match point No. 5, Graf responded by ripping a clean forehand winner. But on the sixth, she pounded a forehand into the net. “It was totally up and down,” Seles said. “One or two points really decided it.” Seles won $372,896, putting her over the $5 million mark in career earnings. Graf won $186,457......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2020

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2020

LIST EM: Modern PBA Commissioner s Cup Best Imports

The PBA going back to a three-conference format in the 2011 season meant the return of the Commissioner's Cup and the Governors' Cup. For the first time since 2002, the two conferences returned, paving the way for a number of memorable imports to enter the league as a result. For this latest entry of List 'Em, we focus on the imports that came to play in the Commissioner's Cup. The best ones actually. The PBA typically allows teams to employ imports with a 6'10" height limit for the mid-season joust, but Best Import winners in this conference have come in all shapes and sizes. Let's go through each and every one of them.   2011 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Nate Brumfield, Ginebra < In 2011, Ginebra's Nate Brumfield got the honor of being the first Commissioner's Cup Best Import since Talk 'N Text's Jerald Honeycutt in 2002. Ironically, Brumfield beat a TNT import for the award, outlasting Paul Harris for the win. Brumfield had the Gin Kings in the Finals of the Commissioner's Cup, losing in six games to Harris and the Tropang Texters. 2012 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Denzel Bowles, B-Meg Derby Ace Denzel Bowles winning Best Import in 2012 gets lost in the mix because he actually did greater things during his first time playing in the PBA. With B-Meg trailing by two in Game 7 of the Finals against defending champion Talk 'N Text, Bowles went to the line with 1.2 seconds to go for a chance to tie. He calmly made both to force OT. In extra time, Bowles led the Llamados to the championship, sealing his place in league history with one of the most clutch plays ever. 2013 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Robert Dozier, Alaska Rob Dozier fit right in with the Aces in the 2013 Commissioner's Cup and Alaska went on a tear, finishing as the no. 1 seed with a two-game lead from second place. Dozier was a beast on both ends, proving to be sturdy foundation to Alaska's impressive playoff run. The Aces only lost once in the playoffs, securing the title with a Finals sweep of Barangay Ginebra. 2014 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Richard Howell, Talk 'N Text There was really no doubt on who was the Best Import in the 2014 Commissioner's Cup. Richard Howell put up monster numbers and led the Tropang Texters to an undefeated streak through the semifinals. Unfortunately, Howell's Talk 'N Text became the third victim during San Mig Coffee's Grand Slam run. 2015 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Wayne Chism, Rain or Shine Rain or Shine sure aced its import choices in the early 2010s with Wayne Chism becoming the third Best Import winner for the Elasto Painters since 2011. Chism's versatility allowed ROS to make it to the Commissioner's Finals against Tropang Texters. In Game 7, Chism and the Elasto Painters finally surrendered the title after two overtimes. 2016 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Arinze Onuaku, Meralco Meralco's ascent as a contender in import conferences started in 2016 when the Bolts brought a dominating presence in Arinze Onuaku. Onuaku powered his way to a Best Import win and had Meralco on the verge of its first-ever Finals appearance. Alaska put a stop to those plans as the Aces took out Meralco in the semifinals. 2017 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Charles Rhodes, San Miguel The Beermen finally got an import to stay in the passionate Charles Rhodes. Rhodes delivered a first performance to remember, taking out longtime rival Ricard Ratliffe and the Star Hotshots in the semis before outlasting TNT in the Finals. San Miguel ended a near two-decade title drought in the Commissioner's Cup with Rhodes as Best Import. 2018 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Justin Brownlee, Ginebra Justin Brownlee's lone Best Import win came in the Commissioner's Cup, not even his original conference. Wearing throwback inspired jerseys, Brownlee had the Gin Kings in the Finals to challenge defending champion San Miguel Beer and old pal Renaldo Balkman. Ginebra got its third title with JB with a six-game decision over the Beermen. 2019 Commissioner's Cup Best Import: Terrence Jones, TNT Terrence Jones took the PBA by storm last year and led the TNT juggernaut all the way to the Finals. In the semifinals, Jones and the KaTropa handed Brownlee his second-ever series loss in the league and effectively ended a two-way race for Best Import. However, the former Houston Rocket was grounded in the Finals, with San Miguel Beer frustrating the top-ranked KaTropa to win the title after six games.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 7th, 2020

UFC champ Miocic welcomes octagon s return, has concerns

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer CLEVELAND (AP) — Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic welcomes UFC's plans to reopen the octagon. The fighter — and firefighter — does have some concerns, though. After scrapping an idea to hold fights on tribal land in California and cancelling or postponing several events since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, UFC will return to competition May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida. UFC President Dana White recently announced UFC 249 will be held without fans at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Two additional fight cards are scheduled for May 13 and May 16 at the venue. Miocic said his only reservation about the sport's reopening is related to health reasons. “As long as everyone is safe, I hope it works out,” said Miocic, who has continued to work as a firefighter and paramedic during the outbreak. "And not just the fighters, I worry about everyone’s safety. It takes one person to (infect) three people, and how fast it can spread, it’s crazy.” Miocic recaptured his title belt in August by pummeling Daniel Cormier at UFC 241. On Thursday, the affable 37-year-old said his recovery following surgery to repair a torn retina continues to go well — “I have some spots, but definitely I can see" — and that he misses his training routine while awaiting a return to normalcy. Until then, Miocic has been working shifts for the Valley View (Ohio) Fire Department. Personal safety is always a priority in his “other” job, and Miocic said he and his co-workers have remained vigilant during these unprecedented times. “I have a job to do, and when I go to the station I make sure I stay clean,” he said on the phone from his home in North Royalton, Ohio, “We’re smart. We’re clean. We’re masked. We wear goggles, gloves and gowns when he have to. It’s our routine, so I’m not really worried about that.” Miocic has teamed with Modelo beer to raise funds for personal protection equipment for first responders during the pandemic. On May 5, the brewer has pledged to donate $1 (up to $500,000) for any social media post using the hashtag #CincUp. Miocic also has been working out, but not like he normally would while training for a fight. A third matchup with Cormier, who knocked him out in the first round in 2018, appears likely but isn’t official. He joked that most of his cardio work these days comes from chasing his young daughter around the house. Already proven to be adept with his hands, Miocic has filled idle time with home projects. He’s surprised himself with a knack for wallpapering. Removal, that is. “I’m good at bringing things down,” he joked. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, Miocic was pleased with the Browns’ selections in last week’s NFL draft. “I thought we did really well actually,” said Miocic, who trained last year with Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett. “We were smart. I think we got a few of the pieces that we need. I think we’re doing the right things.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2020

Forgotten Finals: James Yap and friends combo breaker

Out of the 12 active teams in the PBA today, only half of them have won a championship. While all title wins are special, they’re definitely not created equal. Some just stand out more than others. In this short series, we’ll take a look back at the Forgotten Finals won by the six active PBA teams with rings. The Magnolia Hotshots (under the name of Purefoods TJ Giants) complete the series.   2010 Philippine Cup (4-0 win vs. Alaska) [Related: LIST 'EM: All of the PBA Fiesta Conference Champions] After losing the previous year’s Philippine Cup Finals, Alaska remained a juggernaut, earning the no. 1 seed and a playoff bye. Once the Aces actually saw playoff action, they didn’t lose, sweeping Ginebra in the semifinals on their way to taking on Purefoods for the title. Alaska would never win again. [Related: Forgotten Finals: Captain Hook's Talk 'N Text title] The TJ Giants got the third seed over Ginebra, after beating the Gin Kings on a second tiebreaker.  After initially struggling in the playoffs, having to play a Game 5 in the quarterfinals and trailing San Miguel Beer in the semis, Purefoods would win seven straight games to clinch the championship. In Game 1, despite James Yap and Marc Pingris leading the team in scoring in rebounding, it was role players like Rafi Reavis that pushed Purefoods to a close Game 1 victory. And that’s the story of these Finals, despite it ending in a clean sweep, the TJ Giants had to scrap by and win four close games. In Games 2 and 3, Purefoods won by a combined two points.   James Yap’s 32 points sparked a fourth-quarter comeback from 14 points down but the TJ Giants got the Game 2 win off a Kerby Raymundo free throw that came after a rather controversial foul called on Alaska’s Joe Devance. Game 3 followed mostly the same pattern but without the controversial ending, with Purefoods storming back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to steal a win. Now up 3-0, the TJ Giants would control Game 4, having multiple double-digit leads. After answering every Alaska rally, Purefoods would get the most lopsided win in the series, closing things out with an 86-76 win. James Yap won Finals MVP, leading Purefoods in scoring in all four games.  He was also the Best Player of the Conference, which ultimately set up his second MVP season. Purefoods’ win was the only sweep from 2000-2010 and at the time, the TJ Giants snapped the 7-game finals streak that PBA enjoyed. Prior to the 2010 Philippine Cup Finals, the PBA had five straight title series go a full seven games, the longest streak in league history. Sweeps rarely happen in the PBA, so most end up being Forgotten Finals, just like when Purefoods did it one decade ago.     — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 10th, 2020

Forgotten Finals: James Yap and friends combo breaker

Out of the 12 active teams in the PBA today, only half of them have won a championship. While all title wins are special, they’re definitely not created equal. Some just stand out more than others. In this short series, we’ll take a look back at the Forgotten Finals won by the six active PBA teams with rings. The Magnolia Hotshots (under the name of Purefoods TJ Giants) complete the series.   2010 Philippine Cup (4-0 win vs. Alaska) [Related: LIST 'EM: All of the PBA Fiesta Conference Champions] After losing the previous year’s Philippine Cup Finals, Alaska remained a juggernaut, earning the no. 1 seed and a playoff bye. Once the Aces actually saw playoff action, they didn’t lose, sweeping Ginebra in the semifinals on their way to taking on Purefoods for the title. Alaska would never win again. [Related: Forgotten Finals: Captain Hook's Talk 'N Text title] The TJ Giants got the third seed over Ginebra, after beating the Gin Kings on a second tiebreaker.  After initially struggling in the playoffs, having to play a Game 5 in the quarterfinals and trailing San Miguel Beer in the semis, Purefoods would win seven straight games to clinch the championship. In Game 1, despite James Yap and Marc Pingris leading the team in scoring in rebounding, it was role players like Rafi Reavis that pushed Purefoods to a close Game 1 victory. And that’s the story of these Finals, despite it ending in a clean sweep, the TJ Giants had to scrap by and win four close games. In Games 2 and 3, Purefoods won by a combined two points.   James Yap’s 32 points sparked a fourth-quarter comeback from 14 points down but the TJ Giants got the Game 2 win off a Kerby Raymundo free throw that came after a rather controversial foul called on Alaska’s Joe Devance. Game 3 followed mostly the same pattern but without the controversial ending, with Purefoods storming back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to steal a win. Now up 3-0, the TJ Giants would control Game 4, having multiple double-digit leads. After answering every Alaska rally, Purefoods would get the most lopsided win in the series, closing things out with an 86-76 win. James Yap won Finals MVP, leading Purefoods in scoring in all four games.  He was also the Best Player of the Conference, which ultimately set up his second MVP season. Purefoods’ win was the only sweep from 2000-2010 and at the time, the TJ Giants snapped the 7-game finals streak that PBA enjoyed. Prior to the 2010 Philippine Cup Finals, the PBA had five straight title series go a full seven games, the longest streak in league history. Sweeps rarely happen in the PBA, so most end up being Forgotten Finals, just like when Purefoods did it one decade ago.     — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 10th, 2020