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New original docuseries, Stephen vs The Game now available on Facebook Watch

MANILA, 3 May 2019 – Unanimous Media and Facebook have teamed up to deliver a new six-episode original docuseries, Stephen vs The Game, which chronicles three-time NBA Champion Stephen Curry’s journey throughout the 2018-19 season. The series premieres today, exclusively on Facebook Watch.  Stephen vs The Game delivers an unprecedented look into the life of Curry, a transcendent athlete who, through is uncanny three-point shooting ability and unbridled joy for the sport, continues to reinvent the way basketball is played. The series will explore what drives him on and off the court, including his family, faith, personal passions, and legendary work ethic — all of which have helped him become one of the most revered athletes in the world. The documentary will also include never-before-seen childhood footage of Curry and behind-the-scenes footage from his 2018 NBA championship run.  Executive produced by Unanimous Media and Religion of Sports and directed by Gotham Chopra, the series marks the second installment in the Facebook Watch VS series, which aims to explore the personal motivations that drive some of the world’s most accomplished athletes. The first installment, Tom vs Time, aired in 2018 and chronicled Tom Brady's quest to outlast Father Time as a 40-year-old championship-caliber quarterback in the NFL. “This past year has been an incredible chapter in my life—from the birth of my first son to winning a third championship—and we’ve been capturing it all,” Curry says. “This series is deeply personal, providing an in-depth look into the pivotal moments from the last year and exploring everything that is important to me. It’s been a fun project to work on with my Unanimous team and Facebook. I have incredible fans, and I’m excited to share my life with them in a way I never really have before.”  “Stephen has an amazing story that should really resonate with the Facebook community, which makes him the perfect next subject for our VS series,” Chopra says. “A lot of people have heard about his faith, but I don’t think they know the half of it. Being able to ride shotgun with Stephen across this historic season and get a glimpse into the three foundational elements of his life - faith, family, and hoops - has been an amazing ride and something I think millions around the world will be fascinated by.”  "Stephen has become one of the most beloved athletes in the world, and for the first time in his nine years in the league, we're getting unprecedented access into his life and journey,” say Jeron Smith and Erick Peyton, co-founders of Unanimous Media. “It’s been great to work with Religion of Sports on extending the franchise and bringing the vision for this series to life. Stephen's social media presence has always been engaging and genuine, and we're excited to offer fans a richer storytelling experience and honest look at who he really is on Facebook Watch. It's another example of Stephen and Unanimous creating unique and compelling content that brings people together and simply entertains."  Curry has developed a vibrant community on Facebook and Instagram by using the platforms to give people a window into his personal life, speak directly to fans, and raise support and awareness for important causes such as Nothing But Nets. Stephen vs The Game will be yet another way for Curry to meaningfully connect with this community—including basketball-loving Filipinos who enjoy and admire Curry's game-changing style of play.  In addition to the docuseries, Curry will interact with fans in his official Facebook Group, provide real-time updates via Facebook and Instagram Live broadcasts, and use Instagram Stories and IGTV to share bonus content from the series.  Filipino fans can add episodes to their Watchlists by following the VS on Watch Facebook Page......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 3rd, 2019

New original docuseries, Stephen vs The Game now available on Facebook Watch

MANILA, 3 May 2019 – Unanimous Media and Facebook have teamed up to deliver a new six-episode original docuseries, Stephen vs The Game, which chronicles three-time NBA Champion Stephen Curry’s journey throughout the 2018-19 season. The series premieres today, exclusively on Facebook Watch.  Stephen vs The Game delivers an unprecedented look into the life of Curry, a transcendent athlete who, through is uncanny three-point shooting ability and unbridled joy for the sport, continues to reinvent the way basketball is played. The series will explore what drives him on and off the court, including his family, faith, personal passions, and legendary work ethic — all of which have helped him become one of the most revered athletes in the world. The documentary will also include never-before-seen childhood footage of Curry and behind-the-scenes footage from his 2018 NBA championship run.  Executive produced by Unanimous Media and Religion of Sports and directed by Gotham Chopra, the series marks the second installment in the Facebook Watch VS series, which aims to explore the personal motivations that drive some of the world’s most accomplished athletes. The first installment, Tom vs Time, aired in 2018 and chronicled Tom Brady's quest to outlast Father Time as a 40-year-old championship-caliber quarterback in the NFL. “This past year has been an incredible chapter in my life—from the birth of my first son to winning a third championship—and we’ve been capturing it all,” Curry says. “This series is deeply personal, providing an in-depth look into the pivotal moments from the last year and exploring everything that is important to me. It’s been a fun project to work on with my Unanimous team and Facebook. I have incredible fans, and I’m excited to share my life with them in a way I never really have before.”  “Stephen has an amazing story that should really resonate with the Facebook community, which makes him the perfect next subject for our VS series,” Chopra says. “A lot of people have heard about his faith, but I don’t think they know the half of it. Being able to ride shotgun with Stephen across this historic season and get a glimpse into the three foundational elements of his life - faith, family, and hoops - has been an amazing ride and something I think millions around the world will be fascinated by.”  "Stephen has become one of the most beloved athletes in the world, and for the first time in his nine years in the league, we're getting unprecedented access into his life and journey,” say Jeron Smith and Erick Peyton, co-founders of Unanimous Media. “It’s been great to work with Religion of Sports on extending the franchise and bringing the vision for this series to life. Stephen's social media presence has always been engaging and genuine, and we're excited to offer fans a richer storytelling experience and honest look at who he really is on Facebook Watch. It's another example of Stephen and Unanimous creating unique and compelling content that brings people together and simply entertains."  Curry has developed a vibrant community on Facebook and Instagram by using the platforms to give people a window into his personal life, speak directly to fans, and raise support and awareness for important causes such as Nothing But Nets. Stephen vs The Game will be yet another way for Curry to meaningfully connect with this community—including basketball-loving Filipinos who enjoy and admire Curry's game-changing style of play.  In addition to the docuseries, Curry will interact with fans in his official Facebook Group, provide real-time updates via Facebook and Instagram Live broadcasts, and use Instagram Stories and IGTV to share bonus content from the series.  Filipino fans can add episodes to their Watchlists by following the VS on Watch Facebook Page......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2019

“The Last Dance” premiere episodes a big hit with 6.1 M US viewers

Fans missing sports tuned to ESPN and ESPN2 in droves to watch the first two episodes of “The Last Dance,” the 10-part documentary series about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ quest to win a sixth NBA title in eight years. “The Last Dance” averaged 6.1 million viewers for episodes 1 and 2 across ESPN & ESPN2 from 9-11 p.m. ET. Of those 6.1 million, 3.5 million were in the 18-49 demo. Episode 1 (9-10 p.m.) averaged 6.3 million viewers and episode 2 (10-11 p.m.) averaged 5.8 million viewers. In addition to viewership, “The Last Dance” dominated the conversation on social media. On ESPN alone, the two hours averaged 5.3 million viewers, with episode 1 delivering 5.6 million viewers and episode 2 delivering 5 million. The premiere episodes rank as the two most-viewed original content broadcasts on ESPN Networks since 2004, surpassing “You Don’t Know Bo” (3.6 million). It is also the most-viewed telecast on ESPN since the CFP National Championship Game. Additionally, “The Last Dance” ranks as the most-watched telecast among adults 18-34 and 18-49 since sports halted across broadcast and cable networks. The top 5 rated metered markets for ESPN and ESPN2 included: Chicago (12.1 rating), Raleigh-Durham (6.5 rating), Norfolk (4.9 rating), Charlotte (4.7 rating), Greensboro (4.7 rating). The West Coast Prime re-airs at 12am ET averaged an additional 794,000 viewers, of which 414,000 were in the 18-49 demo. Episode 1 averaged 903,000 viewers and episode 2 averaged 685,000 viewers. “The Last Dance” dominated the cultural conversation: The Last Dance premiere dominated cultural conversation and interest as the #1 trending topic yesterday on Twitter and at one point, 25 of the 30 trending topics were all related to the show. It was also the top Google Search Trend in the US on Sunday. On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, “Last Dance” posts from ESPN accounted for a combined 9 million engagements. Two pre- and two post-digital live shows combined for 3.5M viewers and 2.6M minutes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2020

NBA veteran Muggsy Bogues believes he can play in today s less physical game

In basketball, height is often might, but throughout the years, there have been a number of guys on the smaller side who have managed to impact the game on so many levels.  Today, the likes of Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Kemba Walker, and Kyle Lowry among others are some of the NBA's most notable stars just a little over six feet tall.  But if we're talking about small guards, probably no other player in NBA history impacted the game quite like the legendary Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues.  At just 5-foot-3, Bogues played 14 seasons in the league and was one of the key pieces of the original Charlotte Hornets franchise back in the 90s. The 12th-overall pick from Wake Forest had career averages of 7.7 points and 7.6 assists.  Currently in the Philippines for an NBA 3X event on August 3 and 4, Bogues got to do some media rounds with ABS-CBN and got to talk a bit about his career as well as the major differences of today's NBA and the NBA that he played in.  "I had a decent career, I believe," Muggsy shared. "I had a career where I was able to play in three decades, in the 80s, the 90s, and the 2000s. I played with amazing talent, I played against some amazing talent. Got drafted by the Washington Bullets in 87, so I thank them for that opportunity to be selected 12th overall, then I went on to showcase most of my talents in Charlotte, played two years in Golden State, two years in Toronto, I went to New York but didn’t really play, I was hurt, got traded and went to Dallas." "After the 14th year, my mom passed away, and had three years left on my contract, but I just couldn’t go out there anymore, I just didn’t have the energy. Mr Cuban, at the time, the owner of the Mavs, he decided to honor my contract and just allowed me to ride off into the sunset. 14 years of playing, 15 years of payment, but throughout all of it, I wouldn’t change, not one minute. My journey was an amazing journey. No one thought that I would be able to do what I was able to do." During his time with the Hornets, Muggsy got to play alongside the likes of Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, and was able to help the team to three playoffs appearances.  "It was awesome, I mean it was a dream come true, playing in the NBA and playing with the best in the world and having teammates like Larry and Alonzo and Dell Curry and those guys made the cause that much more special. The bond and the war that you went to so many battles with." "We had some great moments in Charlotte, I spent nine years of my NBA career in Charlotte and played with some talented players and played against some amazing talents, like Michael Jordan and the Bulls, but we just couldn’t get past those guys because of that number 23, it was kinda tough, but again, that was the nature of the business back then," he added.  The diminutive Bogues earned a reputation as being a hard-nosed defender during his time in the NBA, something that he's extremely proud of.  When asked about todays game and who he would like to try his hand at stopping, Bogues welcomed the challenge of containing today's best stars.  "I’d like to guard ‘em all today, the way the salaries are," he said with a chuckle before detailing how different today's game is compared to when he was on court. "It’s truly fun to watch today, the game is totally different than what we played. It’s more uptempo, there’s not as many positions, just be able to be on the floor depends on what type of skillset you have. You got 7-footers now facing the basket, opposed to when we played, guys played with their backs to the basket, at that size, but it’s a great game today, there’s a lot of entertainment, a lot of long-ball shooting, so guys really have to work on that skillset to try to compete. The NBA is a trend, you have to be able to match that thing that’s happening, that trend that’s going on today." Muggsy believes that his tenacity and his defensive skillset is something that would translate well into today's NBA as well.  "Well every player feels like they can play in any era, and I believe that I can play in this era. It’s not as physical as it was back then, the lane is more open, so I feel like I can move my way anywhere on the court and still be able to be effective, and for defensively, I don’t want to say there’s not much defense taking place, but nobody plays defense the way I play," said Bogues. "I don’t see no guys hitting you up 94-feet. A couple of them you got, like [Eric] Bledsoe or maybe Patrick Beverley, maybe those guys that may get into you really aggressively, but there’s not as many," he added......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2019

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

Professional Fighters League launches OTT platform

NEW YORK – Professional Fighters League (PFL), the first organization ever to present MMA through a Regular Season, Playoffs, and Championship format, today rolled out a new OTT platform, providing fight fans with access to hundreds of hours of premium PFL content wherever they are, with no restrictions. The PFL MMA app is available now for free on Apple TV, Roku, Fire, Android, and iOS devices. “With the launch of our first OTT platform, we’re excited to fulfill the growing global demand for our product by providing fight fans around the world with free access to premium PFL content wherever, whenever and however they want to consume it,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “Professional Fighters League is a media and content company. As we continue to grow, innovate, and reimagine MMA, we have placed an emphasis on engaging fans all year long through impactful storytelling and unprecedented access to the sport, our fighters, and the action inside the cage. As the app continues to evolve, this will especially be a destination for international fans outside the US.”  PFL Unlocks Its Vault – Access Classic Fights On Demand  Professional Fighters League is delivering a full fight library, from classic matchups to million-dollar championship fights, featuring PFL stars such as Kayla Harrison, Ray Cooper and Emiliano Sordi. Fans will also gain access to never-before-seen World Series of Fighting matchups. Relive all the memorable moments in one location, at your fingertips.  Enjoy Original Programming From PFL Studios  In addition to event replays, fans will enjoy original storytelling from PFL Studios, a fully integrated global media division of the Professional Fighters League producing original MMA content for all platforms including television, digital and mobile. Murray drew inspiration for PFL Studios from his time with NFL Films and has assembled a top executive team, including Executive Producer and 16-time Emmy winner George Greenberg and Chief Digital Officer Dan Ghosh-Roy, to lead the effort.  Go Behind-The-Scenes  PFL MMA will feature exclusive, never-before-seen interviews and footage that will provide fans with unprecedented access to the league. Hear from PFL stars like Rory MacDonald and personalities like MMA legend Randy Couture, in addition to celebrity fans.  The league will monetize the OTT platform through sponsorship and advertising opportunities for leading brand partners, in addition to microtransaction purchases for fans tied to gaming and exclusive content.  Professional Fighters League partnered with ViewLift to bring the PFL MMA OTT platform to life. ViewLift offers end-to-end solutions for creating, launching, and monetizing video applications across mobile, over-the-top, connected TV and game consoles. For more info visit www.PFLmma.com and follow PFL on Instagram (@PFLmma), Twitter (@ProFightLeague), and Facebook (/PFLmma)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2020

Ken Tuffin, Taranaki fight for right to advance in NBL playoffs

Having lost their last game in the elimination round of the 2020 Sal's New Zealand National Basketball League, Ken Tuffin and Taranaki find themselves in a do-or-die situation. Still, Far Eastern University's captain is nothing but upbeat that the four-seed Mountainairs will come out on top of five-seed Franklin on Wednesday. "Tomorrow is another opportunity to bounce back," he said, talking about his first playoff game in the Kiwi league tipping off at 3:30 PM (Philippine time) to be streamed live on Smart Sports Facebook. "I feel like when I play well, the team reflects my energy as well." Tuffin shone bright in his first nine showings for Taranaki as he normed 10.8 points on 51.5 percent shooting and 5.7 rebounds, but dimmed as of late with averages of 6.5 markers on 32.1 percent shooting and 4.0 boards in the last four games. That includes his most recent outing where he went scoreless as they bowed to the Bulls, 65-92, last Thursday. That loss forced them to settle for the four-seed in the playoffs, leading to a knockout bout with the five-seed for the right to move on to the semifinals. For him, though, this win or go home match opposite the very same squad that had downed them to end the elims is just another golden opportunity for the Mountainairs to send a statement they are for real. "Games are always going to be like that. You have good games, you have bad games," he said. He then continued, "I'm just looking forward to another opportunity tomorrow to bounce back. Hopefully, we can get it done." Even better, the 6-foot-4 versatile forward will be much more energized for his first playoff game as it will be steamed live for the benefit kababayans. As he put it, "That's awesome! Hearing about that makes me want to give that extra, knowing that people will be watching and supporting from the Philippines." Other players to watch apart from Tuffin are Taranaki's Derone Raukuwa, the league's leading scorer, and Marcel Jones, its leading rebounder, as well as Franklin's  Dominique Kelman-Poto and Isaac Davidson. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 28th, 2020

NBA and Titan announce multiyear merchandising partnership in the Philippines

MANILA, PHILIPPINES, July 23, 2020 – The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Titanomachy International, Inc. (Titan), the Philippines’ leading basketball specialty concept store, announced today a multiyear merchandising partnership to relaunch the official online NBA Store in the Philippines.   Operated by Titan, NBAStore.com.ph will go live Thursday, Aug. 6 and will provide fans across the Philippines with access to official NBA products on all mobile devices.  NBAStore.com.ph will offer a comprehensive selection of authentic NBA merchandise from all 30 teams, including jerseys, shirts, footwear, headwear, outerwear, accessories, and equipment from brands including Nike, Jordan Brand, Mitchell & Ness, New Era, Herschel, Spalding and Stance.   “Our partnership with Titan provides an exciting opportunity to engage and deliver an enhanced digital retail experience to NBA fans in the Philippines,” said Lesley Rulloda, NBA Asia Associate Vice President of Global Merchandising.  “We look forward to providing passionate Filipino fans with unprecedented access to authentic NBA products through the relaunch of the league’s online store.” “At Titan, our mission is to inspire consumers to love the game through the best basketball products, stories and experiences,” said Mike Ignacio, Managing Director of Titanomachy International, Inc.  “Our newly-forged partnership with the NBA will enable us to cater to a wider range of Filipino basketball fans and equip them with new ways to express their love for their favorite teams, players and league.” As the league’s 25th branded international online store, NBAStore.com.ph will offer special collections and exclusive product releases highlighted by locally designed apparel.  During the launch, NBAStore.com.ph will showcase the NBA Philippines Tees Collection, featuring four unique designs inspired by the country’s premier NBA fanbase and passion for the game of basketball. Fans can visit www.nbastore.com.ph and sign up for the newsletter to get access to exclusive offers on authentic NBA merchandise, and follow NBAStore.com.ph on Facebook and Instagram for more information on NBA product launches and brand highlights.   Filipinos can also watch NBA Republika Huddle on the NBA Philippines Facebook page, designed as a platform for local influencers, sports personalities and fans to discuss the latest events and happenings around the league. For all the latest NBA news and updates, visit www.nba.com and follow NBA Philippines on Facebook and Twitter......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 23rd, 2020

How Pinoy athletes kept winning during the lockdown

Sporting events may be suspended or canceled, but that won't stop your favorite Filipino athletes from inspiring or entertaining people as they spend their extra time off doing worthwhile activities during the lockdown period. From reaching out to affected communities to learning a new skill, here are what your idols are up to during the community quarantine. 1)  Proudly serving the nation as frontliners Some athletes have taken their in-game dedication off the court, as they proudly serve the country as frontliners during the COVID-19 pandemic. MPBL players such as Bacoor City's Eric Acuña and Bacolod-Master Sardines' Jopher Custodio are currently heeding the call as frontliners for the Philippine Army, as well as their fellow soldiers UST women’s volleyball coach Kung Fu Reyes and volleyball star Jovelyn Gonzaga. Pasay Voyager's Dhon Reverente also suited up for the Philippine Navy while his teammate Jesse Bustos is serving in the frontlines in another way, using his camera as a photojournalist for a daily newspaper.  2)  Raising funds and holding donation drives Your beloved players continue to exemplify teamwork in these challenging times as they help the dedicated frontliners and affected households in different parts of the country. UST student-athletes joined former Golden Tigresses star Sisi Rondina in auctioning their jerseys for a cause to donate supplies to the frontliners of Barangay Luz in Cebu City. Meanwhile, volleyball legends Alyssa Valdez and Charo Soriano led a fundraiser called "Volleyball Community Gives Back PH," which aims to supply frontliners in the country with PPEs and other essentials—with celebrities like Kathryn Bernardo and Pia Wurtzbach joining their cause. Former DLSU Lady Spikers standout and Creamline utility spiker Michele Gumabao also provided relief packs and gave them personally to the affected communities in Pampanga with the help of the group Your 200 Pesos. 3)  No days off for training and getting the gains Leagues and competitions may have been put on hold, but athletes won't be stopped from keeping themselves in tiptop shape. Observing quarantine, ONE Championship's heavyweight champion Brandon Vera took his workout to the forest, preparing for his upcoming bout against Arjan Bhullar, while Team Lakay fighters, such as Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, and Joshua Pacio improvised household materials as gym equipment. National athletes, such as karateka Junna Tsukii, wushu artist Agatha Wong, and Olympic medalist Hidilyn Diaz, did rigorous training sessions at home to keep themselves in form for upcoming tournaments. High-flyer Ricci Rivero also taught his fans some basic dribbling drills to improve basketball handles—as seen in an episode of "Upfront" on LIGA cable sports channel. 4) Unlocking new skills and focusing on fave hobbies Your fave sports idols also overcame boredom by learning new skills and focusing on their favorite hobbies. For instance, DLSU Green Archers guard Aljun Melecio learned to cook scrumptious lechon while taking a time-out from the hardwood. UAAP volleyball champion and national team player Rex Intal also reminded us that he is a dedicated painter with his mixed portrait of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, channeling his passion for sports and art into one. And did you know that top local setter Jia Morado is a talented photographer? Check out her Instagram and be amazed by her works. 5)  Taking their talents to TikTok Athletes joined the trending TikTok craze as a source of entertainment during the lockdown. Former UAAP stars Kim Kianna Dy and Jema Galanza posted their dance covers of Young Thug's "Relationship," and Deanna Wong took on "The Weekend" dance challenge. UST Golden Tigresses' rookie Imee Fernandez also wowed the TikTok crowd with a pre-workout dance video, which garnered over 600,000 views online. For Ateneo Blue Eagles guard SJ Belangel, TikTok has also been his avenue to overcome his shyness, doing hilarious skits online.   6)  Becoming stars online No live sports to entertain the audiences? It's not a problem for these athletes who continue to provide fun content to every sports fan, with the help of ABS-CBN Sports. Catch Shaun Ildefonso as he does an entertaining commentary about everything sports on "SRSLY." Also watch Cherry Nunag’s wacky chikahan with famous athletes in "Kalye Confessions: Stay-at-Home Edition." Lastly, the lockdown won't stop the basketball conversation as Beau Belga chats with your favorite hoop idols online, while still chowing down on their fave treats on "Extra Rice with Beau Belga." Watch all of these on ABS-CBN Sports' Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and YouTube channel. Also stay tuned for more new offerings from the sports arm of ABS-CBN.  These athletes have proven they are truly winners in and out of the court. While waiting for live sports to return, you can rewatch the best games of these athletes on LIGA (SD channel 86 and HD channel 183 on SKYCable) and game highlights and special features on ABS-CBN Sports' social media pages and official YouTube account. ABS-CBN Sports will continue its commitment to providing a variety of world-class, exciting, and inspiring content to every Pinoy sports fan. Visit sports.abs-cbn.com and follow @ABSCBNSports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For updates, you may also visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom or follow @ABSCBNPR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

Muzzle Mr. Met? Mascots wonder why they re banned from MLB

By DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Phillie Phanatic had stories of his favorite adventures -- from the Galapagos Islands to the cobblestone streets of Philadelphia -- read to him most weeks from his very best buds. The Philly furball was tucked in with a bedtime story from Bryce Harper. Andrew McCutchen and manager Joe Girardi stopped by as guest readers to entertain fans and unite the Phillies community. But should the Phillies play ball this year, well, the book will close on the Phanatic. MLB wants to ban the birds -- sorry, Pirate Parrot -- and Bernie Brewer, Blooper, Bernie the Marlin, heck, all costumed creatures great and small from the ballpark this season. Firebird, Paws, the Oriole Bird, all face extinction -- at least this season, should baseball resume. Not even a muzzle on Mr. Met or a mask on Mariner Moose would help the cause. Gasp! Baseball’s furriest and funniest fans are forbidden from entering a ballpark. And that’s not cool. “Every mascot should be essential because of its ability to connect and distract with fun,” mascot guru Dave Raymond said. Raymond should know as well as any performer, as the first person to take on the 6-foot-6, 300-pound, 90-inch waist frame of the Phanatic. He’s since become a mascot consultant to the stars and helped create, brand and train the next generation of hundreds of stadium characters. Mascots are as much a ballpark staple as hot dogs and the long ball, and each fuzzy fist bump or chance concourse encounter hooks the youngest fans on the game. As baseball prepares for a summer slate without fans, Raymond wonders: What’s a game without a mascot? “You don’t have to convince me of that,” Raymond said. “It’s the powers that be that don’t understand that simple truth.” There’s already a blueprint MLB could follow that explains why mascots fit in barren ballparks. Take a look across the globe. Mascots remained a staple of baseball games in Taiwan and the KBO League in South Korea. American fans who stayed up late (or is it, woke up early?) to watch KBO games on ESPN were mesmerized by mascots gone wild in empty stadiums. The LG Twins mascots -- twin robot boys named Lucky and Star -- wore masks. So did cheerleaders and a drum section that provided the soundtrack for an otherwise dreary atmosphere. The Chinese Professional Baseball League barred spectators over concerns of spreading the new coronavirus in a crowded space, but the league decided it was safe to let in cheerleaders and costumed mascots. “This is the most important time to leverage fun, when people are sick and dying and dealing with the brutality of life,” Raymond said. “That is the time that you find a way to distract people and entertain them.” Philadelphia Inquirer cartoonist Rob Tornoe drew the Phanatic (wearing a mask) sitting atop the dugout with his phone and on hold with the unemployment office. “This is life or death now for a lot of characters, a lot of performers,” former Timberwolves mascot Jon Cudo said. It’s not that dire for most MLB performers who often have other duties within the organization or remained active in the community with food drives, firetruck parades or other feel-good efforts during the pandemic. Raymond had former and current mascots, including Cudo, join this week on his webinar, “What The Heck Should My Mascot Do Now?” The best suggestion to stay connected with fans -- with the ATV temporarily parked -- is engaging through social content. Mascot Mania has gone wild on Instagram and TikTok. Mr. Met cleans windows. D. Baxter the Bobcat taught crosswalk safety. Wally the Green Monster records virtual messages for charity. Then again, mascots have problems just like us: Who gives the Phanatic a trim during quarantine? “The Phanatic doesn’t need to get his hair cut,” Raymond said. “It’s actually a positive when it gets unkempt and long.” The Phanatic already underwent one makeover this year — his new look features flightless feathers rather than fur-colored arms, stars outlining the eyes, a larger posterior and a powder blue tail, blue socks with red shoes, plus a set of scales under the arms — because of a lawsuit filed against the team by the creators of the original Phanatic. The creators threatened to terminate the Phillies’ rights to the Phanatic as of June 15 and “make the Phanatic a free agent” unless the team renegotiated its 1984 agreement to acquire the mascot’s rights. Mascots were lumped in with other baseball traditions that would be weeded out under a 2020 proposal. The traditional exchange of lineup cards would be eliminated, along with high-fives, fist bumps and bat boys and girls. “I don’t know of anybody who bought season tickets to watch the bat boy,” Raymond said. “But you can say that in spades for the mascots. We’d be losing one of the draws that brings in people beyond the statistic nerds.” Plus, any fan who attended a Phillies game in the late 1990s at Veterans Stadium knows the Phanatic can play in an empty ballpark. Mascots just want to honk, honk, honk for the home team and they do care if they ever get back. “I’m just imploring them to value the character brands,” Raymond said. “There is a safe way for you to have fun, and frankly, fun is the most important thing you can invest in right now.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 31st, 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

Prepare for The Last Dance with these essential Michael Jordan pieces

The highly-anticipated Michael Jordan documentary series, The Last Dance is finally here. Over two decades after his final game as a Chicago Bull, the GOAT is once again ready to take the world by storm, especially during this time of great uncertainty. Showing on ESPN and Netflix, The Last Dance details Jordan’s last season in Chicago over 10 episodes. In 1998, Jordan’s Bulls completed their second three-peat in eight years, once again beating the Utah Jazz in an NBA Finals Rematch. The season was capped by “The Shot” and Jordan cemented his place as basketball’s greatest. Tuning in to The Last Dance for 10 episodes will surely be a treat, however, it’s not the first definite look at Michael Jordan’s work as a Chicago Bull. Hopefully, it won’t be the last as well. Just before everyone makes a deep dive in His Airness’ latest documentary series, here are some essential viewing and reading to truly appreciate Michael Jordan’s last dance.   Take Flight Before The Last Dance, these were the documentaries that made up the essentials if you wanted to get close with Michael Jordan himself. Come Fly With Me (1989) and Michael Jordan’s Playground (1990) both last less than 45 minutes, but they offer a great perspective on the man himself before he started his championship runs with the Chicago Bulls. Arguably the two best Michael Jordan documentaries, Come Fly With Me detail’s the GOAT’s beginnings all the way to his MVP award in the 1988 All-Star Game. Michael Jordan’s Playground is pretty straightforward, telling Jordan’s story from the start – from the playground. Michael Jordan: Air Time, came out in 1993 and it follows the GOAT’s first two championships from the previous two seasons. The 1996 piece, Michael Jordan: Above and Beyond, is pretty much the sequel to Air Time and it follows his time away from basketball after the 1993 championship. After the first three-peat, MJ tried his luck in baseball. However, it was also the time when MJ dealt with the murder of his father, James. Jordan’s time in baseball didn’t last long though, as two words delivered via the most iconic press release of all time announced the GOAT’s return to the court. 1999’s Michael Jordan: His Airness features the 1998 Finals against the Jazz, making it closer to what The Last Dance has to offer. It should be a nice review piece for every Jordan fanatic.   The Specials Another video worth the watch is Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame Speech in 2009. It’s much more than just the birth of the epic Cying MJ meme. Swear. Buzzfeed Unsolved also has an interesting Jordan piece, exploring the conspiracies of MJ’s first retirement after the 1993 title. It has been long rumored that Jordan’s first retirement was related to gambling. A more recent video is MJ himself appearing on Good Morning America to discuss The Last Dance. The rare interview is really the perfect preview for the upcoming docuseries.    Good Reads While waiting for new episodes of The Last Dance, catching up on some Michael Jordan books seems like a great idea as well. Sam Smith’s The Jordan Rules chronicles MJ’s first championship season in 1991, but it was definitely not all good propaganda towards Jordan as it showed a supposed different side to Michael. Arguably the most definitive book on the GOAT, Michael Jordan The Life by Roland Lazenby explores the man himself to the fullest. It is the story of Michael Jordan.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2020

Shaun Ildefonso stars in ABS-CBN Sports’ “SRSLY” digital series

UAAP star Shaun Ildefonso brings his A game from the basketball court to the digital world in the new series “SRSLY” of ABS-CBN Sports. In “SRSLY,” the NU Bulldogs team captain gets to speak his mind and let his personality shine as he talks about sports culture and trending topics in the sports world with a no-holds-barred approach. The show, shot entirely in Shaun’s home due to the enhanced community quarantine, can be viewed on ABS-CBN Sports accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube, where its first four episodes have already garnered 5.5 million views across all platforms. As the star of the show, the 22 year-old forward brings the same intensity that he is known for inside the court, where he is used to banging bodies and roaring at the crowd, while also showing his fun and charming side as he reacts to viral social media posts. In the first three episodes, Shaun called out haters while praising UAAP volleyball athletes, gave his two cents on how athletes are coping without sports, and provided a critique on the tribute performance of PBA players. In the latest episode, he gives his take on famous athlete-couples such as Kiefer Ravena and Alyssa Valdez and Deanna Wong and Jema Galanza. “I think the authenticity of my reactions and genuineness of my opinion sets this series apart,” said Shaun, who’s used to sharing the spotlight with his father, basketball legend Danny Ildefonso, and brother Dave, another UAAP superstar and a Gilas Pilipinas pool member.   But while the show allows him to freely express his thoughts, Shaun said that “SRSLY” looks to remind viewers to not take everything too seriously. He hopes that his good vibes rub off to his viewers as he believes that having a good laugh from time to time is needed. “Stay lighthearted in these times of anxiety and uncertainty, take moments to relax and get a good laugh in because everyone needs it,” he said.  “SRSLY” is one of the exclusive social media content being offered by ABS-CBN Sports as its parent network ABS-CBN transitions into a digital company, with the biggest online presence among all media companies in the Philippines and a growing list of digital properties.  Watch the first four episodes on the YouTube channel, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts of ABS-CBN Sports, the sports arm of the country’s leading media and entertainment organization. Celebrate sports culture in the Philippines with Kapamilya sports fans. Follow @ABSCBNSports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and subscribe to the ABS-CBN Sports YouTube channel. To watch more sports videos, visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abscbnpr.com.      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 19th, 2020

Sports leagues seek return to play but with no guarantees

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 19th, 2020

Cherry Nunag shares her journey from volleyball player to Kalye Confessions host

Volleyball has taught Cherry Nunag a lot of lessons that she now applies in her new role as host of “Kalye Confessions,” the newest segment of ABS-CBN S+A’s  “The Score”.  As an athlete, volleyball has taught her how to manage her time and the importance of building a relationship with the people around her. Now that she has turned to hosting, Cherry knows these two things will be key to her success. “Iba ‘yung turo sa akin ng volleyball. ‘Yung makipagkapwa-tao, kung paano mo pagkakasiyahin ‘yung oras mo, ‘yung tiwala sa mga taong nakapaligid sa ‘yo (Volleyball taught me about relating to other people and how to manage my time, who to trust around me),” she shared.  Like a player who is pumped up for the season opener and ready to hit the hardcourt, but all of a sudden feels a cold sweat right when they step on the floor, the Petro Gazz Angels’ middle hitter had first game jitters as a host. “Noong nagstart na ‘yung shooting, kinakabahan na ako tapos tinatanong ko na ‘yung sarili ko na ‘kaya ko na ba talaga (When we started shooting, I got nervous. I asked myself, can I really do this?)” As soon as she was able to relax and get into the conversation, Cherry realized that she just had to be herself. It was as if she made her first spike in the game and then there was no stopping her. “Noong lumabas yung pilot episode and dami na nagme-message sa akin. Saka ko lang na-realize na kaya ko pala, tama pala ‘yung mga pinaggagawa ko (When the pilot episode came out, a lot of people were messaging me. Only then did I realize that I am cut for this. That I am doing it right),” she added. She said what makes “Kalye Confessions” special is that guests are comfortable enough to be themselves because they are talking to a fellow athlete. “Iba kasi makipag-usap kapag player to player. Iba kapag komportable ka sa kausap mo and naiintindihan ka nung kausap mo (It’s different when you are talking to a fellow player, to someone you are comfortable with and who understands you),” she said.  Cherry is also able to display proper time management in accepting this gig while her PetroGazz team is preparing for this year’s Premier Volleyball League (PVL). Not wasting time, Cherry grabbed the opportunity to make to explore new things and other passions. After all, her friends have always encouraged her to pursue this path ever since, as she is known to effortlessly make people laugh. “Maraming nagsasabi sa akin before na bakit ‘di daw ako gumawa ng vlog kasi for sure papatok ‘yun kasi nakakatawa daw ako (People have been telling me to start a vlog because they know it’s going to be hit because of my humor),” she shared.  In terms of her idol in hosting, Cherry named someone very famous for being outrageously funny. “Syempre Vice Ganda! Sobrang funny niya kasi then ang bilis niya din mag-isip ng ijo-joke niya (Vice Ganda, of course. Vice is so funny and quick to come up with jokes),” she shared. Cherry follows in the footsteps of fellow athletes like Alyssa Valdez, Michele Gumabao, Gretchen Ho, and Beau Belga who all began their careers on the court but were eventually welcomed by ABS-CBN Sports as hosts or analysts. With the help of the sports arm of the country’s leading media and entertainment company, they are able to step out of their comfort zone and find success outside of their sport. With Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine, Cherry is unable to take another celebrity athlete out for a drive. However, with the help of technology, fans of the segment can look forward to another episode of “Kalye Confessions” as it launches its “Stay-at-Home” edition with the same “chickahan and kulitan” via video chat soon. For the meantime, watch “Kalye Confessions” on ABS-CBN Sports’ platforms on TV on ABS-CBN S+A and on digital on the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook page and YouTube channel. Follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visitsports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abscbnpr.com......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 27th, 2020

How to Watch Stranger Things on Smartphone

I SWEAR, these days, I could not go around the city without the sight of anything Stranger Things related coming my way. It is simply everywhere! From Instagram ads, Facebook ads to Youtube, this Netflix original has conquered the world in a storm! Another television series released on Netflix, Stranger Things is science fiction at […] The post How to Watch Stranger Things on Smartphone appeared first on Pinoy Parazzi......»»

Category: newsSource:  pinoyparazziRelated NewsMar 26th, 2020

UAAP 82: For Faith Nisperos, Ateneo has always been where the heart is

The lights will be no brighter and the stage will be no bigger for Faith Nisperos as she embarks on her rookie year for Ateneo de Manila University. No matter what everybody else expects from her, however, Nisperos can rest assured about one thing - she's at home. "It really feels like a homecoming. I've been to a different school - it was a different environment, a different culture," she shared. She then continued, "I'm really thankful na God has given me an opportunity to come back here. I've missed this eh." Before starring for Nazareth School of National University's championship teams, the 5-foot-11 spiker was a prized prospect from Ateneo de Davao. And when the time came for her to decide on the next step for her future, she heeded her original alma mater's call to come back. Despite being one of the undisputed rookies to watch in the UAAP 82 Women's Volleyball Tournament, however, Nisperos said she will take it all in at her own pace. As she puts it, "I just wanna do my best. I won't pressure myself in trying to push myself too hard." She then continued, "Ang goal ko lang naman is gampanan yung role ko sa team." That goes as well for what will be a much anticipated matchup against National U - also her alma mater and Ateneo's chief rival to secure her services. When that time comes, the 19-year-old said she will just keep playing her game. "That day na makakalaban ko former teammates ko, knowing myselft, magiging emotional ako that day. But emotions aside, laro lang pagdating sa court," she said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2020

It s halftime in the NBA, and time to look at some trends

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press It’s halftime. The midway point of the NBA regular season arrives this week -- there are 1,230 games between October and April, and after Thursday night’s (Friday, PHL time) slate goes into the books 618 games will have been played with 612 left to go. Making statistical judgments after a few games, or even a few weeks, isn’t the wisest thing. But with 50% of the season done, it seems like appropriate enough of a sample size to point out a few trends. 3’S, AGAIN The league records for 3-pointers made and attempted are going to get broken for the eighth consecutive year. But the growth rate in that department seems to be slowing down. First, the numbers: NBA teams combined to make 27,955 3-pointers last season and attempt 78,742, both of which are records. That was an increase of 8.3% on makes from 2017-18 and an increase of 10.4% on attempts. This year, the league is on pace to make more than 29,000 3-pointers and attempt nearly 83,000 of them. Both would be records, of course, but the increases over last season are on pace to be only 4.7% on makes and 5.1% on attempts. And while the league’s love affair with the 3-pointer is nothing new, it’s still a bit mindboggling to put it in perspective. When this soon-to-be-eight-year run of record-setting began, NBA teams made 17,603 3’s and attempted 49,067 of them. How much has it changed? This year’s projected final numbers, compared to those -- up 66% percent on makes, up 69% on attempts. SCORING DOWN (SORT OF) Maybe defenses have caught up to the offense-friendly officiating emphasis that went into place at the start of last season. Scoring is down a tiny bit from last year. In 2018-19, teams averaged 111.2 points per game. This year, it’s down to 110.4 per game. But that is still on pace to be the 15th-highest scoring season in the NBA’s 74-year history -- and the second-highest in the last 35 years. JAMES HARDEN Any look at numbers must include what Houston guard James Harden is doing. He’s averaging 37.7 points per game, putting him on pace for the fifth-highest mark in NBA history. Wilt Chamberlain owns the top three (50.4 in 1961-62, 44.8 in 1962-63 and 38.4 in 1960-61). Elgin Baylor is fourth, at 38.3 per game in 1961-62. Harden’s scoring will be (and already has been) a rallying cry for his MVP candidacy, just as it was last season when he averaged 36.1 points per game -- and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award. Precedent is not in Harden’s MVP favor. Chamberlain didn’t win MVP in his three highest-scoring seasons, nor did Baylor when he had his best scoring year. In all three cases, Boston’s Bill Russell won the award -- without averaging more than 18.9 points per game in that stretch. He did average nearly 24 rebounds in each of those seasons, and the Celtics won the NBA championship in all three of those years as well. Harden, however, could seriously challenge the 3-point single-season record. Golden State’s Stephen Curry made 402 in his unanimous MVP season of 2015-16; Harden is on pace for 414 this season, provided he plays in every Houston game the rest of the way. LEBRON’S ASSISTS LeBron James is well on his way to winning his first assist crown, leading the NBA with 10.7 per game entering Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) -- more than one assist per game ahead of Phoenix’s Ricky Rubio. Like so many other things James does, an assist crown would be historic. James is 35. He would become the second-oldest assist champion in NBA history; Steve Nash was 37 when he won that title for the final time. As far as first-time winners, James would become the oldest. Jerry West won his lone assist title when he was 33. Lenny Wilkens and Mark Jackson were both 32. Wilt Chamberlain and Rod Strickland were both 31. Even Utah’s John Stockton -- the king of assists -- was 34 when he won his final assist title. A LOT OF GOOD ... There is a chance that there could be as many 50-win teams as the league has ever seen. At the midway mark, there are 12 teams with realistic chances of getting to 50 wins this season. If they all get there -- and it’s not exactly improbable, either -- it would tie the record for most teams reaching that standard in a single season. The mark is 12 set in 2009-10. That season, Boston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Cleveland, Phoenix, Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah, Portland, Orlando, Denver and Atlanta all won between 50 and 61 games. ... AND A LOT OF BAD Meanwhile, there are 17 teams on pace to finish with losing records. As of now, there are the 12 teams with a great shot at 50 or more wins. Then there’s Oklahoma City, the lone team in the middle, on pace for about 46 wins. And then there is everyone else, all with records below .500 at this point. Call it an erosion of the NBA’s middle class. The last time the league had only one team finish between 41 and 49 wins -- including adjustments for labor-issue-related shortened seasons -- was 1966-67. Of course, the NBA only had 10 teams then, with two (Philadelphia and Boston) having winning percentages of .741 or better, the San Francisco Warriors at 44-37, and then the other seven teams all with losing records. THE WEEK AHEAD A game (or two) to watch for each of the next seven days (PHL times listed) ... Wednesday, Houston at Memphis: Don’t look now, but the Grizzlies are really in the West playoff mix. Thursday, San Antonio at Miami: Impossible for these teams to play and not think of 2013 and 2014. Friday, Boston at Milwaukee: A matchup of two of the best in the Eastern Conference. Saturday, Portland at Dallas: It should be an elite guard showdown, Damian Lillard vs. Luka Doncic. Sunday, Sacramento at Utah: In what is becoming an annual tradition, the Jazz are wildly underrated. Next Monday, Indiana at Denver: Pacers still hovering on pace for 50 wins, Nuggets just keep winning. Next Tuesday, Toronto at Atlanta/New Orleans at Memphis: The league celebrates the life Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with 14 games -- including these two, Atlanta being where he was born and Memphis being where he was killed. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2020

HBO GO launched in the Philippines

Want to binge-watch all seasons of  Game of Thrones  this holiday season? Or watch the latest episodes of  Watchmen  the same time as the U.S.? Stream and download your favorite HBO Original series on your mobile phone and connected devices with the HBO GO app. No contract or TV subscription required......»»

Category: entertainmentSource:  thestandardRelated NewsDec 11th, 2019

Nationals fans rejoice in red as hometown heroes are honored

By Carole Feldman and Lynn Berry, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — The song "Baby Shark" blared over loudspeakers and a wave of red washed across this politically blue capital Saturday as Nationals fans rejoiced at a parade marking Washington's first World Series victory since 1924. "They say good things come to those who wait. 95 years is a pretty long wait," Nationals owner Ted Lerner told the cheering crowd. "But I'll tell you, this is worth the wait." As buses carrying the players and team officials wended their way along the parade route, pitcher Max Scherzer at one point hoisted the World Series trophy to the cheers of the crowd. At a rally just blocks from the Capitol, Scherzer said his teammates grinded their hearts out to "stay in the fight." And then, after backup outfielder Gerardo Parra joined the team, he said, they started dancing and having fun. And they started hitting. "Never in this town have you seen a team compete with so much heart and so much fight," he said. And then the Nats danced. Team officials, Nationals manager Dave Martinez and several players thanked the fans for their support through the best of times and staying with them even after a dismal 19-31 start to the season. "I created the circle of trust and I trusted these guys," he said. The camaraderie among the players was a theme heard throughout the rally. "It took all 25 of us, every single day we were pulling for each other," said pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the World Series MVP. Nationals veteran slugger Howie Kendrick, 36, said that when he came to the Nationals in 2017, "I was thinking about retiring. This city taught me to love baseball again." Mayor Muriel Bowser declared DC the "District of Champions." The Capitals won Stanley Cup in 2018, the Mystics won the WNBA championship this year, and now the Nationals. The city had been thirsting for a World Series championship for nearly a century. The Nationals gave them that by winning in seven games over the Houston Astros; the clincher came on the road Wednesday night. "I just wish they could have won in DC," said Ronald Saunders of Washington, who came with a Little League team that was marching in the parade. Nick Hashimoto of Dulles, Virginia, was among those who arrived at 5 a.m. to snag a front-row spot. He brought his own baby shark toy in honor of Parra's walk-up song, which began as a parental tribute to the musical taste of his 2-year-old daughter and ended up as a rallying cry that united fans at Nationals Park and his teammates. As "Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo" played on a crisp morning, early risers joined in with the trademark response — arms extended in a chomping motion. Chants of "Let's go Nats!" resonated from the crowd hours before the rally. Kimberly Ballou of Silver Spring, Maryland, said sports "is a unifier" that transcends race, gender and class and brings people together. The crowd along the route was deeply packed. Cheers went up and fans waved red streamers, hand towels and signs that said "Fight Finished" as the players rode by on the open top of double-decker buses. General Manager Mike Rizzo, a cigar in his mouth, jumped off with the World Series trophy to show the fans lining the barricades and slap high-fives. Manager Martinez also got in on the fun. "We know what this title means to DC, a true baseball town, from the Senators to the Grays and now the Nationals," Bowser said at the rally. "By finishing the fight you have brought a tremendous amount of joy to our town and inspired a new generation of players and Nationals fans." Bowser added: "We are deeply proud of you and I think we should do it again next year. What do you think?" Then she started a chant of "Back to back! Back to back!" Martinez said he liked to hear the mayor pushing for back-to-back championships and said: "I get it. I'm all in. But let me enjoy this one first. I don't know if my heart can take any more of this right now. I need to just step back and enjoy this." Martinez, who had a heart procedure recently, said that during the Series, as things heated up, players and fans shouted at him to watch out for his heart. "All this right here has cured my heart," he said. And as the "Baby Shark" theme played once more, team owner Lerner told the team's veterans, "From now on, you can call me 'Grandpa Shark.'" President Donald Trump has invited the Nationals to the White House on Monday, though relief pitcher Sean Doolittle doesn't plan to attend. "There's a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country," Doolittle told The Washington Post. Doolittle found support from Larry Stokes of Boyds, Maryland, citing Trump's stand on immigrants. "They're playing this game, but he doesn't like immigrants," Stokes said. But to fan Bridget Chapin, who came from Burke, Virginia, with her husband, Mark, "Regardless of how you feel, you go to the Oval Office. I'm really weary of athletes making political statements. I watch sports to get away from all that." The president attended Game 5 in Washington and was greeted with loud boos when he was shown on the giant video screen during a tribute to veterans. The boos more than overwhelmed a scattering of cheers. Delores Smith of Washington, a longtime baseball fan who said she had an uncle who pitched in the Negro Leagues, said the World Series was "a big win" for the city. "This is the first time in a long time that I've seen the whole city come together. There's no fussing about Trump." Even with the threat of stars leaving for free agency — as outfielder Bryce Harper did after 2018 — fans hoped the Nationals' success would continue. "I don't think it's going to be our last time. This team, even when our last superstar left, this team rallied around, they played as a team," Larry Stokes said. Fans urged the Nationals to re-sign third baseman Anthony Rendon, who was greeted with chants of MVP......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2019