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Second to Nunn

Kendrick made some big-time shots.

Agence France-Presse

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KENDRICK Nunn powers the Miami Heat past the Philadelphia 76ers.   AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Kendrick Nunn scored 26 points as the Miami Heat ended the Philadelphia 76ers’ unbeaten home record with a 108-104 victory on Wednesday.

Nunn led the scoring in a solid all-round offensive display for the Heat, who improved to 20-8 to finish the night in third place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Power forward Bam Adebayo had 23 points with nine rebounds while Jimmy Butler added 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Miami.

The Heat seized control after a see-saw opening two quarters, which saw the Sixers dominate offense early on.

The hosts raced to a 29-19 lead by the end of the first quarter and opened up a 41-29 lead with just over seven minutes of the second quarter remaining.

But the Heat exploded for a 27-7 scoring run to close the half with an eight-point lead, leading 56-48 at the break.

Miami never lost their grip on the lead after that second-quarter blitz as the Sixers struggled to find their shooting range.

Joel Embiid led the scoring for the Sixers with 22 points and 19 rebounds while Tobias Harris added 20 points. The Sixers fell to 20-9 with the loss.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said his team had been determined to deliver a strong performance after a chastening 118-111 defeat in Memphis on Monday.

“Everyone was really frustrated, disappointed, angry yesterday with our performance in Memphis,” Spoelstra said.

“So all you can do is to get to work. We had a long painful film session going through the autopsy of our lack of winning plays, and I thought we made a lot more winning plays tonight.”

Spoelstra said Nunn and other younger members of the Heat squad carried the team to the win.

“Kendrick made some big-time shots,” Spoelstra said. “Our young guys were very good tonight. They took a beating in the film session yesterday but they took it on the chin and they produced tonight.”

Sixers head coach Brett Brown said his team had struggled to adapt to the Heat’s zone defense when the points dried up in the second quarter.

“It was as much a mentality and mood swing as anything,” Brown said.

“We had a lack of aggression and were sort of stuck in mud. And it crept into our defense, sometimes it’s just not your night.”

Elsewhere, the Boston Celtics exploited the absence of Luka Doncic to claim a 109-103 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Texas.

Kemba Walker led the Boston scoring with 32 points, with Jaylen Brown adding 26 and Jayson Tatum 24.

Kristaps Porzingis top-scored for Dallas, which fell to 18-9 following the defeat. The Mavericks remain in the fourth spot in the West.

Boston’s win leapfrogged the Celtics over Miami into second place in the Eastern Conference at 18-7, 4.5 games adrift of the leading Milwaukee Bucks.

In other games, the New Orleans Pelicans ended a 13-game losing streak after downing the Minnesota Timberwolves, 107-99, on the road.

Brandon Ingram was the standout for the Pelicans, scoring 34 points with six assists and five rebounds.

In Detroit, NBA champion Toronto Raptors eased to a 112-99 win over the Pistons with hefty contributions from Pascal Siakam (25 points), Kyle Lowry with 20 points and Serge Ibaka, who had 25 off the bench.

Toronto is in fourth spot in the Eastern Conference following the victory.

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This is our job so we really have to do it — Tenorio on PBA bubble

Bea Micaller

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(Photo: Rio Deluvio)

LA Tenorio is getting anxious over the possibility of leaving his family to enter the bubble in the resumption of the 45th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) on 9 October.

Tenorio, the peppery playmaker of Barangay Ginebra, has yet to miss a single game since getting drafted in 2006, but the PBA bubble inside the Clark Freeport Zone could give him trouble.

“In the earlier part of the bubble discussion, I was excited because after six months, I can finally play basketball,” said Tenorio in the latest episode of The Athletes’ Tribune late Monday.

“But as discussion furthers, I was experiencing anxiety knowing that I will be gone for almost three months.”

Holding the league inside an isolated area is the most effective and safest way to restart the PBA season.

The games would be held at the Angeles University Foundation while the players would be housed at Quest Hotel for more than two months starting 27 September until mid-December if their respective advance all the way to the best-of-seven finals.

Tenorio’s college teammate, Larry Fonacier of NLEX, was the first to opt out of the bubble.

Road Warriors coach Yeng Guiao said they decided to excuse Fonacier since his wife has some health issues.

“Yes, we excused him. His wife has health issues,” Guiao said in a statement Monday.

“The team and management understand his situation. Family is always a priority.”

Tenorio appears to be on the same boat.

After all, his wife – Chesca – had just given birth to their first daughter and she and their three sons need him in this time of pandemic.

Still, his family understands his situation.

“I think it will really be hard because I will be away from them for months. But I already talked to my family and they understand the situation,” he said, admitting that there are some reservations on his mind.

“Honestly, I am thinking twice, but I think I really have to do this (not only) for the team but also as a professional basketball player.”

“This is our job so we really have to do it.”

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Ex-Fighting Maroon netted in drug sting

Kristina Maralit

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Former University of the Philippines varsity mainstay Kevin Rae Astorga was among those collared by anti-drug operatives in a buy-bust operation in BF Homes, Parañaque City past midnight on Tuesday.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents led by team head Jill Salamanca conducted the drug sting at the JEMP Building in the said locality following months of surveillance.

Arrested with Astorga were Agustin Montejo, Jerico Dumagan, Karen Salvajan, and Mico Mojares.

Seized from their possession were 150 grams of Kush, or high-grade marijuana, and several self-sealing plastic sachets containing cocaine, two mobile phones, and the P150,000 marked money used by the PDEA agent who acted as a poseur-buyer.

The estimated value of the confiscated narcotics is still being verified based on the “standard price of Kush”.

Initial reports yielded that Astorga, who last played for the UP Fighting Maroons in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) in the 2009-2010 season, was having a pot session to celebrate his birthday when the raid happened.

A Daily Tribune source at the PDEA said Astorga, who was also team captain of the 2004 SEABA U-18 team, was the one operating the drug den and would occasionally hold private parties for his clientele.

Authorities are now conducting follow up operations to determine Astorga’s sources of the contraband and his other accomplices.

PDEA will also be looking into the possibility of former and active varsity players being on Astorga’s client list.

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NBA legend Michael Jordan buys NASCAR team

Agence France-Presse

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His Royal Airness is now a NASCAR franchise owner.

Basketball icon Michael Jordan announced Monday he has purchased a NASCAR Cup series charter team and recruited trailblazing black driver Bubba Wallace to race for the new outfit next season.

Jordan, widely regarded to be the greatest player in NBA history with an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion, will be the majority owner in the new franchise with veteran racer Denny Hamlin as minority partner.

“Growing up in North Carolina, my parents would take my brothers, sisters and me to races, and I’ve been a NASCAR fan my whole life,” the six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls said in a statement.

“The opportunity to own my own racing team in partnership with my friend Denny Hamlin, and to have Bubba Wallace driving for us is very exciting for me,” added the five-time NBA Most Valuable Player.

Jordan, who also owns the Charlotte Hornets NBA team, said he hoped his ownership could bring new audiences to the white-dominated world of NASCAR and boost involvement of minorities.

“Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few black owners,” Jordan said.

“The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more. In addition to the recent commitment and donations I have made to combat systemic racism, I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for black people in racing.”

Wallace, the only black driver in NASCAR, will spearhead the team behind the wheel. The 26-year-old had confirmed earlier this month that he would not race again for Richard Petty Motorsports.

Wallace has spoken out against racism repeatedly this year in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, and in June called on NASCAR chiefs to ban the Confederate flag from racetracks used on the circuit.

The flag has long been a staple at NASCAR tracks in the sport’s southern US heartlands, but it remains a symbol of slavery and racism for many. NASCAR later banned displays of the flag at its races.

Wallace was involved in controversy in June, after his team reported that a noose had been found hanging in the team garage at Talladega Superspeedway.

A subsequent investigation by the FBI determined Wallace had not been the victim of a hate crime and that the noose was a pull-down rope on a garage door that had been there since 2019.

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Lina joins Maroons

TDT

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Bismarck Lina formalized his transfer to the University of the Philippines (UP), becoming the eighth player to bolt out the embattled University of Santo Tomas in the wake of its unlawful training in Sorsogon.

UP head coach Bo Perasol made the confirmation, saying that Lina already joined them Monday afternoon.

He would be part of a star-studded Fighting Maroons squad in Season 84 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines that will feature fellow transferees Joel Cagulangan, Jancork Cabahug, Maodo Diouf and, of course, CJ Cansino, who blew the whistle on the illegal training masterminded by their former coach Aldin Ayo.

“Bismarck is going to be part of the Season 84 team,” said Perasol, who is looking to lead the Fighting Maroons to their first title since 1986.

“He is a young man with great potential and great fighting attitude.”

Aside from Lina and Cansino, also leaving UST were Rhenz Abando, Ira Bataller and Brent Paraiso, who moved to Letran College, Mark Nonoy and Deo Cuajao, who joined De La Salle University, and Jun Asuncion, who connived with Mapua University.

Perasol said the 19-year-old Lina would be a big help, especially since he served as heart and soul of the UST juniors squad while playing for Gilas Pilipinas Youth in major international tourneys.

“He brings a lot to the table,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to having him.”

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Davis delivers dagger

Agence France-Presse

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ANTHONY Davis (right) nails a buzzer-beating trey to lift the Los Angeles Lakers past the Denver Nuggets. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI (AFP) — Anthony Davis drained a three-pointer as time expired to seal the Los Angeles Lakers’ 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets for a 2-0 lead in the NBA Western Conference finals.

Davis scored 31 points and pulled down nine rebounds while LeBron James added 11 rebounds as the Lakers turned back the determined Nuggets, who had taken a 103-102 lead on Nikola Jokic’s driving basket with 20.8 seconds remaining.

Jokic scored 11 straight points for the Nuggets down the stretch, finishing with 30 points, six rebounds and nine assists to lead Denver.

Jamal Murray added 25 points, and the Nuggets battled in a furious fourth quarter but finally came up short.

“People talk about I’ve never been in this moment before, pressure, am I ready for it,” Davis said.

“I want to take those shots.”

Davis and Jokic traded baskets down the stretch, Jokic tipping in a miss from teammate Murray to put the Nuggets up,101-100, with 31.8 seconds left, only for Davis to answer at the other end.

After Jokic scored to put the Nuggets ahead by one again, Alex Caruso missed a three-pointer, and Murray blocked a shot by Danny Green, giving the Lakers a chance to inbound the ball.

Rajon Rondo found Davis, and the All-Star forward drained the game-winner over Jokic.

The Lakers will try to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series on Tuesday in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

James powered the Lakers early, scoring Los Angeles’ first 12 points.

But the rest of the Lakers warmed up and Los Angeles put together an 18-3 scoring run that included a galvanizing dunk from Caruso.

The Lakers pushed the lead to as many as 16 points in the second quarter, but the Nuggets never surrendered.

Murray scored nine of his 25 points in a Nuggets surge that spanned the third and fourth quarters.

His reverse layup gave Denver an 87-86 lead with 7:26 left in the fourth quarter — the Nuggets’ first lead since the first quarter.

“We put the effort, we put the fight,” Jokic said.

“Maybe we lost the game, but I think we played well.”

“Most of the game, we were down, but we came back again, so we’re going to keep our heads up and (go) on to the next one.”

For Davis, the game-winner was a career moment for a player who sought a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans so he would have a chance to challenge for an NBA title.

“Special moment for a special player,” James said.

“It’s not about making the shot, it’s about having the belief of just taking it, and living with the result.”

“You’re not going to make them all. Tonight was his moment — Rondo was able to find him and he knocked it down — big-time play.”

The only thing that might have made it better, both James and Davis said, was if the big shot had come at Staples Center before a packed house of Lakers fans instead of in the bubble where only some friends and family of players are in attendance.

“I wish we were playing at Staples,” James said.

“I miss our fans so much. I would have loved for him to have that moment.”

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Magnolia bids Simon goodbye

Bea Micaller

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Peter June Simon is no longer expected to return to Magnolia. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBA

It looks like the PJ Simon era in Magnolia is finally over.

Hotshots coach Chito Victolero yesterday confirmed that they already dropped Simon, putting an end to a 15-year career that is regarded as one of the feel-good stories in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Victolero said Simon has not been reporting for practice, prompting them to leave him in the free agency that would make him available for other teams.

Multiple sources claimed that Simon has yet to communicate with the Magnolia management following the death of his father on 2 September.

“Right now, he’s a free agent and any team can acquire him for that matter,” Victolero said.

“He is not going to join us in the bubble and I want him to be the one to announce what his decision will be moving forward.”

The 40-year-old Simon is one of the league’s success stories.

After a stellar career in the Metropolitan Basketball Association and the Philippine Basketball League (PBL), Simon entered the PBA as the 43rd overall pick of the disbanded Sta. Lucia Realty in the 2001 Rookie Draft, way below the top three picks in Willie Miller, Mike Hrabak and Mark Caguioa.

His first three years didn’t pan out as expected until the Purefoods franchise picked him up three years later to play behind superstar James Yap, where he emerged as an eight-time champion and an eight-time All-Star.

Simon told Daily Tribune in February that the Philippine Cup would be his last conference, but it seems that the plan would come earlier than scheduled as the Hotshots dropped him from the roster.

Still, Victolero said they are looking forward to clear things up with Simon, who played his entire 17-year career with the franchise.

“We are really planning to give PJ a proper send-off because this team will not be where it is today if not for his talent and skills,” he said.

“So if everything gets back to normal, we will prepare something for him.”

Victolero said there no sense of urgency to look for Simon’s replacement.

After all, they still have enough firepower in the backcourt with Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, Chris Banchero and Justin Melton.

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Lina joins Fighting Maroons   

Bea Micaller

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The mass exodus continues in España with another promising talent bidding the University of Santo Tomas (UST) farewell.

UST Tiger Cubs product and Growling Tigers-commit Bismarck Lina is the latest face to bolt the embattled school in the aftermath of the ‘Sorsogon bubble’ fallout as he decided to transfer to the University of the Philippines.

UP Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol confirmed to Daily Tribune that Lina, one of the most sought-after young bruisers in the country, has indeed relocated to Katipunan.

“Bismarck is going to be part of the Season 84 team,” Perasol said. “(He is a) young man with a great fighting attitude and potential.”

The 19-year-old Lina will reunite with former UST team captain CJ Cansino and Gilas Pilipinas Youth teammates in Carl Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano and RC Calimag, who earlier gave their commitment to the Fighting Maroons.

Lina will become the eighth player to depart from Espana following Cansino, Rhenz Abando, Brent Paraiso, and Ira Bataller, Mark Nonoy, Deo Cuajao, and Jun Asuncion.

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Davis drills game-winning trey as Lakers take 2-0 West Finals lead

Agence France-Presse

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Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a three-point basket to win the game over Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. (AFP)

Anthony Davis drained a three-pointer as time expired to seal the Los Angeles Lakers’ 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets Sunday for a 2-0 lead in the NBA Western Conference finals.

“People talk about (I’ve) never been in this moment before, pressure, am I ready for it,” Davis said. “I want to take those shots.”

Davis scored 31 points and pulled down nine rebounds, and LeBron James added 26 points and 11 rebounds as the Lakers turned back the determined Nuggets — who had taken a 103-102 lead on Nikola Jokic’s driving basket with 20.8 seconds remaining.

Jokic scored 11 straight points for the Nuggets down the stretch, finishing with 30 points, six rebounds and nine assists to lead Denver.

Jamal Murray added 25 points, and the Nuggets battled in a furious fourth quarter but finally came up short.

Davis and Jokic traded baskets down the stretch, Jokic tipping in a miss from teammate Murray to put the Nuggets up 101-100 with 31.8 seconds left, only for Davis to answer at the other end.

After Jokic scored to put the Nuggets ahead by one again, the Lakers’ Alex Caruso missed a three-pointer, and Murray blocked a shot by Danny Green, giving the Lakers a chance to inbound the ball.

Rajon Rondo found Davis, and the All-Star forward drained the game-winner over Jokic.

The Lakers will try to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series on Tuesday in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

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Boston back in business

Agence France-Presse

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Marcus Smart (right) and Kemba Walker join hands in helping the Boston Celtics win Game 3. KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IMAGES/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI (AFP) — The Boston Celtics hit back on Saturday, leading wire-to-wire in a 117-106 victory over the Miami Heat that cut the gap in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference finals to two games to one.

Jaylen Brown scored 26 points and Jayson Tatum added 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who avoided falling into an 0-3 hole from which no NBA team has rallied to win a best-of-seven playoff series.

After their 17-point lead slipped away in a game-two loss on Thursday — the second straight game they surrendered a double-digit lead in defeat — Celtics players could be heard exchanging heated words in their locker room.

But they were all on the same page on Saturday, displaying a sense of purpose in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida, and maintaining their poise as the Heat narrowed a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit to five with less than a minute to play.

Marcus Smart, a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line, produced a string of clutch free throws and the Celtics hung on for the win.

“Down 0-2 in the series, we played some games we thought we should have played better,” Brown said. “We wanted to make it an emphasis to come out tonight and play 48 minutes, and we did.”

Center Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 27 points, 16 rebounds and three steals. Rookie Tyler Herro scored 22 points for Miami and star forward Jimmy Butler scored 17.

But Boston outscored Miami 60-36 in the paint and held the Heat to 38.8 percent shooting from the floor.

“They came out, Boston did, with great force in this game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You do have to credit them for that. “They sustained it for the better majority of the game. We were on our heels most of the game.”

The Celtics were buoyed by the return from injury of playmaker Gordon Hayward, who played 30 minutes off the bench and scored six points with five rebounds and four assists in his first game in more than four weeks.

“The first five minutes I was gassed,” admitted Hayward, adding that he was feeling it in the right ankle he sprained in game one of the Heat’s first-round series against Philadelphia.

Hayward left the bubble to rehabilitate the injury, returning and going through quarantine before he could return to the court.

Boston led 31-22 at the end of the first quarter, and were up by 12 early in the second before the Heat surged back.

Miami, led by Herro’s 16 points in the period, twice cut the deficit to three points before the Celtics reasserted themselves to take a 62-50 lead into halftime.

“There’s some great guys in that locker room,” Brown said of the Celtics’ unity. “A lot of emotion, a lot of passion, but we’re a family and we’re here for each other.

“We exemplified that when we came out together and stayed together during some tough moments. They made a big run I think at the end of the second quarter, Tyler Herro made some big plays.

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