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‘Massive cover-up’

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ALY Raisman criticizes USAG for preventing release of details on Larry Nassar abuse scandal. RONALD MARTINEZ/Agence France-Presse

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman lashed out on Monday at a settlement put forward by USA Gymnastics for the Larry Nassar abuse scandal, describing the proposals as “offensive” to survivors of the jailed team doctor’s crimes.

In an interview with NBC television’s Today morning news show, Raisman accused USA Gymnastics (USAG) of attempting to prevent release of details which would show how Nassar was able to abuse athletes for years.

Raisman’s criticism followed reports last month that a tiered settlement system would be used to pay damages to Nassar’s victims, with payments ranging from $82,550 to $1.25 million.

However, attorneys for hundreds of women abused by Nassar have said the deal is insufficient, arguing it releases too many individuals and organizations from further claims, including the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and former USAG chief Steve Penny.

“It’s honestly offensive,” Raisman said Monday. “It shows they don’t care. They’re just trying to push it under the rug and hoping people will forget about it when they watch the Olympics this summer.”

The 25-year-old, a member of the US women’s team which won gold at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, has been backed by former teammate Simone Biles, who has also voiced dismay over the proposed settlement.

In a series of posts on Twitter on Saturday, Biles spoke of her anguish at the ongoing wrangling, accusing USAG and US Olympic chiefs of failing to conduct an independent investigation into the scandal.

“Ugh at the airport. Heading to team camp,” Biles wrote. “Still want answers from USAG and USOPC. Wish they BOTH wanted an independent investigation as much as the survivors & I do.

Anxiety high. Hard not to think about everything that I DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT!!!”

In a following post she added: “Don’t THEY also want to know HOW everything was allowed to happen and WHO let it happen so it NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN? Shouldn’t people be held accountable? Who do I ask??? I’m torn at this point.”

Both Raisman and Biles have said they were abused by Nassar, 56, who was jailed for life in 2018 for a catalogue of abuse involving more than 250 girls.

Raisman, who in a tweet on Saturday accused USAG and the USOPC of a “massive cover-up,” said the failure to obtain accountability over the scandal was “devastating.”

“It’s incredibly draining. USA Gymnastics, United States Olympic Committee — they refused to take any accountability to address the issue, to figure out what went wrong.”

“I personally would like to see USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee release all their documents and data because they are not doing that. They’re not answering our questions.”

The outcry over the settlement comes with US gymnasts, including Biles, preparing for July’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Raisman, who is now retired, spoke of her pride in her former teammates’ preparations for the Olympics despite the settlement controversy.

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Star setter Jia Morado now engaged

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(Photo: Jia Morado's IG post)

Philippine volleyball star setter Jia Morado just got engaged to longtime boyfriend Miguel De Guzman.

The Creamline ace announced the exciting news Thursday afternoon through her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Morado, 25, posted a photo of her and De Guzman while holding her hand in front of the camera to show a ring on her finger.

“On October 1, at exactly 11:11 a.m., my wish came true,” read Morado’s caption on her social media post.

 

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On October 1, at exactly 11:11am, my wish came true. ☺️💍

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James keeps eye on ultimate prize as Lakers win NBA Finals opener

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LeBron James, seeking a fourth NBA title in his 10th Finals appearance, has no trouble keeping his Los Angeles Lakers’ dominant victory in game one of the 2020 title series in perspective.

The Lakers shook off a slow start to lead the Miami Heat by as many as 32 points on the way to a 116-98 victory in Orlando, Florida, but James insisted it was no time to celebrate.

“The best teacher in life is experience,” James said. “I’ve experienced moments in my career where you have all the momentum in the world and you felt like you had the game under control, and one play here or one play there could change the course of a series or change the course of a game.”

James is still rankled by the memory of Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals, when he played alongside Dwyane Wade for the Heat against the Dallas Mavericks.

“D-Wade hits a three right by their bench,” James recalled. “I believe it put us up either 13 or 17.

“From that moment on, Dallas went on a hell of a run and finished it off with a Dirk Nowitzki left-hand layup to steal that game.

“That burns me to this day,” James said, adding that’s why he was already looking forward to seeing where the Lakers can improve before Game 2 against the Heat on Saturday (Manila time).

“I’m extremely amped up about watching the film with our ballclub tomorrow,” he said. “I’m going to watch some tonight obviously by myself, but I’m looking forward to getting together as a group tomorrow.”

While the championship series stage is nothing new to James — or the 16-time champion Lakers franchise — it’s a first for star teammate Anthony Davis.

Davis scored 34 points in an impressive Finals debut, but he, too, said the Lakers should have started and finished the game better.

The underdog Heat jumped to a 13-point lead midway through the first quarter. And even after injuries to Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo they were able to narrow the final margin with a solid fourth-quarter performance.

“We have to be able to come out a little bit more aggressive and come out with a little more sense of urgency, and that’s on the starters, especially me and Bron,” Davis said. “But it feels good to get the first game.

“We’re not satisfied. We don’t like how we ended the game. That wasn’t a championship mentality, and you know, we have to be better in that regard.

“We’ll take the win, but we’ll watch film and try to take advantage, as well.”

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Bruised Butler vows to bounce back after Lakers mauling

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Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat talks to the media after the game against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game One of the NBA Finals on September 30, 2020 at The AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. (AFP)

Jimmy Butler called on his battered and bruised Miami Heat team-mates to toughen up after their game one mauling by the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals on Wednesday.

Miami talisman Butler was one of several players who picked up knocks during an emphatic 116-98 defeat in Orlando which saw key Heat players Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo both exit with injuries.

Butler played down the significance of his twisted ankle and said the team would have to recover with or without Dragic in game two.

“We just got to be tougher,” Butler said. “We got to put up more of a fight. I don’t think we did that. And then it doesn’t help whenever we don’t make shots.

“It’s been that way all year long, whenever we start to miss a couple of shots, we don’t do what we’re supposed to do on the other end.”

Unconfirmed reports on Wednesday said Dragic had suffered a torn plantar fascia, a foot injury which would almost certainly rule him out of the remainder of the best-of-seven series.

A defiant Butler said Miami had enough depth to counter the loss of the Slovenian shooting guard if confirmed.

“We got to try to cover up what he gives us and make up for it,” Butler said.

“We’re capable of it. We have to be. Moving forward with or without Goran we better hurry up and tie it up 1-1.”

Butler meanwhile said Miami were clear on what needed to be improved.

“We talk about how damn near perfect that we have to play, and that was nowhere near it,” he said.

“There’s nothing to be said. We can watch all the film in the world, we understand, we know what we did not do.

“We didn’t rebound, we didn’t make them miss any shots, we didn’t get back, all of those things led to the deficit that we put ourselves in.”

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said a string of mistakes had left his team with too much ground to make up as the Lakers surged into a 32-point lead at one stage.

“There were too many possessions where it was either a poor offensive possession or a miss that led to a couple of poor possessions defensively or vice versa, and those stacked on top of each other,” he said.

“We’re much better than we showed tonight. I don’t have my message right now, but I’ve got a night to figure it out.”

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Lakers beat Heat in NBA Finals opener

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LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket during the game against the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. (AFP)

LeBron James flirted with a triple-double while Anthony Davis dropped 34 points as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat, 116-98, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday (Manila time).

James had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers. Davis pulled down nine boards and dished out five assists while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 13 points for Los Angeles.

The Lakers started slow trailing by 13 points in the early going of the first quarter before stepping on the gas to make their first Finals appearance in a decade into a statement win.

Davis gave Los Angeles its biggest lead, 87-55, off a slamdunk with 6:04 left in the third period.

Rookie Tyler Herro cut Miami’s deficit, 109-96, with 2:31 left in the game but came a little too late for the Heat, who are in their first Finals appearance since 2014.

Jimmy Butler led Miami with 23 points, Kendrick Nun had 18 while Herro scored 14. Bam Adebayo was limited to only eight points and four rebounds.

The Heat, the Eastern Conference fifth seeds who swept the Indiana Pacers before toppling the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics on the way to the Finals, showed no sign of nerves in an energetic start that saw them take a 25-12 lead midway through the first quarter.

But the Lakers inexorably seized control, building on a three-point at the end of the first quarter as the Heat saw key contributors Goran Dragic and Adebayo exit with injuries and Butler hobbled by a twisted ankle.

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Historic comeback

Bea Micaller

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Players and coaches observe all health and safety protocols in the resumption of the PBA’s 45th season. / Photographs by jonas reyes for the DAILY TRIBUNE

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is tipped to essay another chapter in its 45-year history when it formally becomes the first league to open its season in the coronavirus era.
The league would formally open on 11 October at the Angeles University Foundation gymnasium.

Around 350 members composed of players, coaches, team staff, PBA personnel, television crew and media would be housed at Quest Hotel for more than two months in which everything will be taken care of from their accommodation to food and regular swab testing.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said this is a testament that the league can withstand all kind of storms.

After all, they kept their survival during turbulent times in Philippine history like the martial law, the assassination of opposition leader Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, the EDSA Revolution, Asian financial crisis and various man-made and natural calamities.

Their biggest challenge came three years ago when the PBA board of governors found itself greatly divided on whether to accept or not the resignation of former commissioner Chito Narvasa.
In the end, Narvasa was let go and the PBA board reached a happy compromise under the leadership of Marcial and PBA chairman Ricky Vargas.

Now, it is facing another opponent.

Only this time, it’s more powerful, devastating than before with a death toll of more than a million worldwide.

But the PBA overcame it.

“This is what I’m telling everybody: Here comes the PBA,” said Marcial, who has been burning the telephone lines for the past couple of weeks just to bring the country’s favorite pastime back on television.

“We are happy because we can bring basketball back. That’s our motivation. This is for the fans. It’s to give it back for them,” Vargas said.

Expensive restart
The PBA restart comes with a handsome price.

Vargas disclosed that the league would be shelling out P65 million to cover the restart of its 45th season.

Although the Bases Conversion and Development Authority headed by a staunch sports supporter in Vince Dizon chipped in significant amount by covering the testing kits and making sure that the league would get discounts from the hotel and other suppliers, the amount is still too steep for an organization that has been losing P30 million a month for the past six months.

Still, Vargas said this is the only way to bring back basketball.

And with basketball back on television, the Filipinos would get a semblance of normalcy despite losing their jobs, getting significant cut on their paychecks or, worse, losing their loved ones to the deadly pulmonary disease.

“We just can’t wait for the vaccine to resume the season,” Vargas said.

“We have to move forward and continue with what we are doing because if we aren’t, then that says a lot about the PBA as a whole.”

Vargas said they are making a huge sacrifice by bringing back the PBA.

But that’s the only way they know to bring the smile back to the faces of struggling Filipinos.

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Ready for kick off

I am overlooking no one, but in my opinion, we are the team to beat.

Ian Suyu

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UNITED City FC remains the team to beat in the upcoming PFL season. / PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF CERES NEGROS/FB

No matter what name it uses, United City FC remains the team to beat when the Philippine Football League (PFL) rolls out its fourth season this month.

No less than skipper Stephan Schrock claimed that they are still the strongest team on paper despite having a new coach and a new management following the decision of Ceres-Negros FC to pull out its ownership.

Trevor Morgan, a seasoned mentor who called the shots from London to Bhutan, had been hired to lead the team that also has OJ Porteria, Bienvenido Maranon and Robert Mendy together with other fresh recruits.

Schrock said they are in good position to extend their reign that started back in 2017.

“I am overlooking no one, but in my opinion, we are the team to beat,” said the Filipino-German star who will serve as playing assistant coach.

“Personally, I think other teams have the qualities, but they are all approaching the game in a specific skill set where they have to be successful. Otherwise, they will fail.”

Schrock said they would settle for no less than the crown.

“Our team is full of crafty individuals and masters of adjustments. The goal is always to be on top of the game regardless of what position or job you are tasked to do,” he said.

“Aside from learning and observing, implementing and helping are the things that I have to do for the club.”

No easy foe
No wonder, Kaya FC-Iloilo and Maharlika Manila FC agree with Schrock.

Kaya team manager Paul Tolentino said United City remains the strongest team on paper and would be very dangerous, entering the season with an abbreviated format inside a bubble at the Philippine Football Federation training center in Carmona, Cavite.

“Of course, I think United City still have the strongest lineup although other teams are extremely dangerous because of the new format this season,” Tolentino said.

“Every team has enough quality to create problems for other teams so I don’t think that anyone has a greater advantage than anyone else. But on paper, I would still put United City as the strongest team.”

Still, Tolentino believes that their consistency would help them pull the rug from heavily favored United City.

“If we can bring a fair amount of our core players together and add some younger players to bring freshness to the squad, I think the team is ready to pull off the biggest surprise this year,” said Tolentino, rattling off the names of his key players like Jovin Bedic, Simeone Rota and veteran stopper Louie Casas.

Maharlika coach Roxy Dorlas agrees, saying that United City’s core remains intact and will be the toughest challenge for any team this season.

“We have to consider United City as the strongest club in the PFL,” said Dorlas, who will be mentoring a new squad with veteran core like former Azkals stars Anton del Rosario and Misagh Bahadoran.

“Even though they now have a new name and management, we can see that most of their players from Ceres are still there. They haven’t lost many key players.”

Battle for survival
Meanwhile, Mendiola FC head coach Dan Padernal said the upcoming season would be a battle for survival.

And for them to remain afloat, they have to overcome powerhouse squads like Kaya and Stallion Laguna FC.

“For us, the team to beat this season would really be Kaya and Stallion. If we beat them, we can gain momentum needed for the tough grind ahead,” Padernal said.

“We know that Stallion and Kaya are up there in the standings, so we will really try to beat them.”

Padernal said they would be marching to the season as underdogs despite the presence of skipper Ashley Flores and Iranian reinforcement Hamed Hajimehdi.

“Of course, we still identify ourselves as underdogs here, but we always give our best whenever we play against any team,” he said.

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WANTED: Tigers coach

Bea Micaller

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Tanquincen / PHOTOGRAPHs COURTESY OF PBA

It’s been a month since it gave Aldin Ayo the boot, but University of Santo Tomas (UST) has yet to take down the huge sign that reads “Wanted: Coach” on its door.

Yes, the most coveted job in college basketball remains open.

From a high school principal to fitness guru, former professional cager, intramurals hero and some former UST stars, everybody seems to be applying for the position not only for its honor and prestige, but also for a rare shot at bringing back the lost glory of the Growling Tigers.

School insiders claimed that the school had already appointed a new Institute of Physical Education and Athletic director in Fr. Rodel Cansancio, whose first order of business is to interview the applicants.

The list may be growing by the day, but here are some applicants who were reported to have an inside track in the UST coaching job.

Sean Chambers
Younger generation may not know him, but Sean Chambers is perhaps the greatest import ever to play in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

He may not be as flashy as a Billy Ray Bates, Kenny Redfield, Lamont Strothers or a Norman Black, but Chambers got the job done during his playing years, leading Alaska to six PBA titles, including the Best Import honor when it clinched the grand slam in 1996.

Chambers

He was a workhorse, a team player and a disciple of the Triangle Offense, something that could help the Growling Tigers in regaining their bearings.

More than that, he is a teacher at heart as he now serves as Dean of Students at Fern Bacon Middle School in Sacramento and director of the Just Believe Sports basketball program, which specializes in teaching the game to young girls.

We wouldn’t be surprised if Chambers bags the position.
After all, he is exactly what the Tigers need at this point: A teacher and a leader.

Siot Tanquincen
It is not yet clear if Siot Tanquincen submitted his application, but his name keeps cropping up every time the school needs a new mentor.

The reason was pretty obvious.

Tanquincen may not be a star player in college, but he is arguably one of the most accomplished Tigers ever to coach in the PBA after winning three titles with Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer.

Aside from that, he served as assistant at De La Salle University and College of Saint Benilde, making his transition to the UST very smooth.

Insiders said Tanquincen has an inside track not only for leading UST to a four-peat more than two decades ago, but also for his motivational chops and deep knowledge of the game.

Chris Gavina
He considers himself as an outsider, but Chris Gavina still took a leap of faith and threw his name in the UST coaching derby.

In fact, in his application letter to the school, the United States-raised former strength and conditioning mentor of the Philippine Patriots and Globalport said his skills set and leadership would significantly impact the UST men’s basketball program.

He is planning to turn the Tigers into one of the most conditioned teams in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines and revive their shattered ego triggered by the departure of marquee players in the wake of the unlawful training in Sorsogon masterminded by their former coach.

Gavina

Gavina also had PBA experience after calling the shots for KIA before serving as Caloy Garcia’s assistant at Rain or Shine.

Aris Dimaunahan
Aris Dimaunahan failed to crack the UAAP roster during his time with UST.

His most memorable moment came in the school’s inter-college tournament in which he led the College of Commerce to glory while playing a minor role for the national youth squad.
But those setbacks could be washed away.

Dimaunahan declared eagerness to apply for the school’s vacant coaching position following a colorful professional playing career that he earned, not by talent or sheer star power, but by hard work and determination to succeed.

Dimaunahan

He is a regular fixture in Blackwater bench and even called the shots for the Elite when head coach Bong Ramos tendered his resignation.

Should Dimaunahan bag the coveted position, it would go down as one of the feel-good stories in Philippine basketball as he would formally complete his two-decade journey from being a mere intramurals hero into a head coach of the same team he wanted to play in college.

Other notable applicants:
Potit de Vera, Ed Cordero, Estong Ballesteros, Chris Cantonjos, Gilbert Lao.

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Limit on five-set matches

Similarly, a 10-point tiebreak is now implemented at 6-all in the final set at the Australian Open.

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Italian Lorenzo Giustino returns against Frenchman Courentin Moutet in the second longest match at Roland Garros. / Agence France-Presse

PARIS, France (AFP) — Two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson called Tuesday for French Open organizers to consider introducing a fifth set tiebreak to bring the tournament into line with similar rules in place at the other three majors.

Wimbledon and the Australian Open have revised their final-set rules in recent years to reduce the demands on players, following the policy of the US Open established in the 1970s.

Roland Garros remains the only Slam to use the advantage set rule requiring a player or team to win the deciding set by two games.

“I think instituting something would be good,” said Anderson, whose 26-24 defeat of John Isner in the fifth set of the 2018 Wimbledon semifinals prompted the All England Club to adopt a tiebreak to settle matches that reach 12-all in the decider.

Similarly, a 10-point tiebreak is now implemented at 6-all in the final set at the Australian Open.

“If it was up to me, I would think that capping it at some point in time. I know every Grand Slam is different,” continued the South African, a runner-up at the US Open in 2017 and Wimbledon the following year.

“I think I would encourage the French Open to put some sort of limit on it. I mean, even like Wimbledon, 12-all. My personal opinion is I think at 6-all, that’s a good time to play a tiebreak.

“If somebody had to ask me, that’s what I would choose. As you’ve seen, when it does go past that, it can be very taxing. At some stage it does get a little bit much.”

Isner was also famously involved in the longest match in Wimbledon history when he beat Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the deciding set in 2010 after over 11 hours on court over three days.

Anderson’s remarks came a day after the second longest match ever at the French Open, a six-hour and five-minute marathon between Lorenzo Giustino and Corentin Moutet.

Italian qualifier Giustino outlasted Frenchman Moutet 18-16 in the final set in a contest that fell 28 minutes short of the tournament’s record tie between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement in 2004.

However, Anderson stood firm in his belief that matches at majors should retain their best-of-five sets format.

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Obiena conquers the world

I give him eight out of 10.

Ian Suyu

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EJ Obiena soars high against the best athletes in the world. / Photograph courtesy of EJ OBIENA/FB

If there’s something that EJ Obiena had accomplish in his pandemic-wrought season, it was the fact that he can stand tall against the best pole vaulters in the world.

Obiena, the first Filipino to punch a ticket in the Summer Games, made heads turn when he came up with six podium finishes in eight tourneys against an elite circle that included past Olympic champions, world champions and the reigning world record-holder.

With that, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) leadership believes that he is getting near an elusive medal in the Tokyo Olympics.

“I give him eight out of 10,” said PATAFA president Juico when asked on his assessment on his prized ward.

Obiena truly deserves the mark.

Despite a damaged morale due to the cancellation of the Games, long delay of training and a back injury, Obiena still came up with a flying start as he had six podium finishes, including a gold medal in the Ostrava Golden Spike tournament and a pair of bronze medals in the prestigious Diamond League.

In the process, he outclassed some of the biggest names in the sport like Thiago Braz of Brazil and Renaud Lavillenie of France as well as world champion Sam Kendricks of the United States, giving him the reputation as one of the top contenders for an Olympic medal next year.

“He has already turned himself into a contender for an Olympic medal. He will be facing the usual suspects like Thiago, (Sam) Kendricks and Lavillenie,” Juico said, adding that they are closely monitoring Obiena’s development in a bid to surpass his career-best 5.81 meters.

“This season, his team used so many techniques to improve his performance. As far as I’m concerned, he can even reach the six-meter mark.”

“But technically, there are still changes that he needs to make to ensure that it will lead to a better performance.”

But more than, these achievements serve as proof of Obiena’s fighting mentality and good example as a topnotch national athlete.

“His output really made a huge impact for Philippine athletics because he serves as a role model for the athletes here,” Juico said.

“By bursting into the scene, he becomes a spark plug for further prominence of his sport as well.”

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