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Freedom to choose

Agence France-Presse

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MALCOLM Brogdon hints that some NBA players may skip the resumption of the NBA season. Jesse D. Garrabrant/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK (AFP) — Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon said some National Basketball Association (NBA) players are considering skipping the planned 22-team restart to the coronavirus-halted 2019-20 campaign in Orlando next month.

The NBA shut down in March due to the deadly virus outbreak but is expected to return in late July once final details are worked out between the league and the National Basketball Players Association.

Speaking on a podcast by New Orleans Pelicans guard J.J. Redick, union executive Brogdon cited several reasons why some players are having second thoughts, including coronavirus safety issues and concerns over isolation for weeks in the Florida “bubble” environment.

“I’ve talked to a few guys who are super interested in sitting out possibly,” Brogdon said.

“I was actually talking to (Oklahoma City guard) Chris Paul the other day, and he said, ‘Man, this is an individual decision that every man has to make for himself.’”

“And I think that’s exactly what it is. It depends on your perspective.”

Brogdon said some players are concerned about going into quarantine for weeks as major changes in the black community are underway across the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody and the worldwide protests and social movements that followed.

Playing basketball when racism and police brutality concerns are high might not be a comfortable mix for some players, Brogdon said.

“Some guys are going to say, ‘For health reasons, and COVID, and the long-term effects that we don’t understand about COVID, I want to sit out,’” Brogdon said.

“Other guys are going to say ‘the black community and my people are going through too much for me to basically be distracted with basketball. I’m not going to prioritize this over the black community. I’m going to sit out.’”

“Then there’s another group of guys who are going to say ‘this is the most amount of money I’m going to make in my lifetime. It doesn’t make sense to hand this money back. I can do so much good in my community if I have this money.’”

“It’s a matter of perspective. I think guys are gathering to really talk about and dive deep into the idea of not playing.”

Brogdon also said players should note the focus they will draw as the playoffs continue.

“The attention on you and your platform actually grows the farther you stay in Orlando,” he said.

“That’s a perspective I want guys to think about and understand before they make a decision.”

Reports said hotel workers could enter and exit the bubble area, which could add to safety concerns about possible contraction of the deadly virus.

Brogdon averaged 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 7.1 assists for the Pacers when the shutdown came with Indiana at 39-26 and fifth in the Eastern Conference.

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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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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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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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LeBron faces biggest challenge

It’s probably been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done as far as a professional.

Agence France-Presse

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LeBron James says navigating the NBA's "bubble" season has been the toughest challenge of his career.

MIAMI (AFP) — LeBron James said leading the Los Angeles Lakers into the NBA Finals after nearly three months inside the league’s “bubble” in Orlando ranks as the biggest challenge of his career.

The 35-year-old superstar is readying for a 10th NBA Finals appearance on Wednesday when the Lakers face the Miami Heat in the championship round of an unprecedented season that began 11 months ago.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the NBA to shut down in mid-March, and anger over racism and police brutality almost prompted James and the Lakers to abandon the season in August.

James, who is hoping to win a fourth championship ring with a third different team after previous victories with Miami and Cleveland, said Tuesday that this year’s disjointed season ranked as the toughest of the lot.

“It’s probably been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done as far as a professional, as far as committing to something and actually making it through,” James told reporters.

“But I knew when I was coming what we were coming here for. I would be lying if I sat up here and knew that everything inside the bubble, the toll that it would take on your mind and your body and everything else, because it’s been extremely tough.”

“But I’m here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to compete for a championship. That was my mindset once I entered the bubble, once I entered the quarantine process the first two days. The main thing was for us to finish the season and compete for a championship.”

James, who in July jokingly compared entering the bubble in Orlando to starting a prison sentence, said he had lost track of time in Florida.

“I don’t even know how many days it is. However, many days it is, it feels like five years,” he said.

“So it really doesn’t matter. I’ve been as locked in as I’ve ever been in my career.”

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Hotshots lose seasoned stars

Bea Micaller

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Magnolia would be walking wounded entering the resumption of the 45th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) inside the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.

The Hotshots, who are one of the only two teams that saw action in the opening salvo of the Philippine Cup last March, entered the bubble at Quest Hotel lacking veteran presence following the absence of Marc Pingris, PJ Simon and team manager Alvin Patrimonio.

Pingris is nursing an ankle injury while Simon had already announced his retirement.

On the other hand, Patrimonio, the face of the franchise back in the day, opted to stay in home as the league requires each team to bring 25 members.

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said their absence would definitely make an impact on their campaign.

“Their absence will really be a big factor and will affect our rotation, especially since we will be playing non-stop inside the bubble,” said Victolero early Wednesday.

“But it is what it is. We have to live with what’s left of us and hope that everyone will step up since the voids left by Ping (Pingris) and PJ would be hard to fill.”

Magnolia, which surrendered a 78-94 decision to San Miguel Beer in the opener before the league halted its operations following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, entered the bubble on Monday with a crew of young guns who are looking to give the squad its seventh All-Filipino crown.

Victolero said without Pingris, they would turn to young forwards like Jackson Corpuz, Kyle Pascual and rookie Aris Dionisio for defensive muscles while Paul Lee and Marc Barroca are tipped to fill the void created by the absence of Simon.

“Ping and PJ are the most vocal leaders of this team. We lost two veterans and because of that, we also lost their leadership on the floor,” Victolero said.

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Hotshots walking wounded

Bea Micaller

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Magnolia would be walking wounded entering the resumption of the 45th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) inside the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.

The Hotshots, who are one of the only two teams that saw action in the opening salvo of the Philippine Cup last March, entered the bubble at Quest Hotel lacking veteran presence following the absence of Marc Pingris, PJ Simon and team manager Alvin Patrimonio.

Pingris is nursing an ankle injury while Simon had already announced his retirement.

On the other hand, Patrimonio, the face of the franchise back in the day, opted to stay in home as the league requires each team to bring 25 members.

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said their absence would definitely make an impact on their campaign.

“Their absence will really be a big factor and will affect our rotation, especially since we will be playing non-stop inside the bubble,” said Victolero early Wednesday.

“But it is what it is. We have to live with what’s left of us and hope that everyone will step up since the voids left by Ping (Pingris) and PJ would be hard to fill.”

Magnolia, which surrendered a 78-94 decision to San Miguel Beer in the opener before the league halted its operations following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, entered the bubble on Monday with a crew of young guns who are looking to give the squad its seventh All-Filipino crown.

Victolero said without Pingris, they would turn to young forwards like Jackson Corpuz, Kyle Pascual and rookie Aris Dionisio for defensive muscles while Paul Lee and Marc Barroca are tipped to fill the void created by the absence of Simon.

“Ping and PJ are the most vocal leaders of this team. We lost two veterans and because of that, we also lost their leadership on the floor,” Victolero said.

“But we still have a lot of options like Paul (Lee), Mark (Barroca) and other guys whom I am confident of stepping up.”

The Hotshots are just waiting for the result of their pre-entry swab testing before kicking off their scrimmages.

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LeBron says ‘bubble’ season the toughest challenge of career

TDT

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LeBron James says leading the Los Angeles Lakers into the NBA Finals after nearly three months inside the league’s “bubble” in Orlando ranks as the biggest challenge of his career.

The 35-year-old superstar is readying for a 10th NBA Finals appearance on Wednesday when the Lakers face the Miami Heat in the championship round of an unprecedented season that began 11 months ago.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the NBA to shut down in mid-March, and anger over racism and police brutality almost prompted James and the Lakers to abandon the season in August.

James, who is hoping to win a fourth championship ring with a third different team after previous victories with Miami and Cleveland, said Tuesday that this year’s disjointed season ranked as the toughest of the lot.

“It’s probably been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done as far as a professional, as far as committing to something and actually making it through,” James told reporters.

“But I knew when I was coming what we were coming here for. I would be lying if I sat up here and knew that everything inside the bubble, the toll that it would take on your mind and your body and everything else, because it’s been extremely tough.

“But I’m here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to compete for a championship. That was my mindset once I entered the bubble, once I entered the quarantine process the first two days. The main thing was for us to finish the season and compete for a championship.”

James who in July jokingly compared entering the bubble in Orlando to starting a prison sentence, said he had lost track of time in Florida.

 

Feels like five years

“I don’t even know how many days it is. However many days it is, it feels like five years,” he said. “So it really doesn’t matter. I’ve been as locked in as I’ve ever been in my career.”

James said until the Lakers departed Los Angeles for Orlando in July, he hadn’t even been certain that the season would be completed.

“I didn’t know that this was a possibility until we actually got on the plane in LA to fly here to Orlando,” he said.

“Until we landed here, actually got off the plane, got on the bus and pulled up here to the hotel, that’s when it became a reality to me.

This year’s finals pits James against his old team and former coach Erik Spoelstra. James won back-to-back titles with Miami in 2012 and 2013, but departed the franchise in 2014 to return to Cleveland.

James, who is reputed to have had sometimes tense relationship with Spoelstra during his time with the franchise, said winning against Miami would carry no added satisfaction.

“Absolutely not,” James said. “It’s no extra meaning to winning a championship, no matter who you’re playing against. It’s already hard enough to even reach the Finals, to be in this position.

“If you’re able to become victorious out of the Finals, it doesn’t matter who it’s against. I’m just happy that I’m here with the opportunity to represent not only myself but represent our fans, our fan base, our organization, my teammates, our coaching staff, our training staff and so many others that represent this organization to the utmost respect.”

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Clippers put Doc away

Agence France-Presse

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Doc Rivers loses his job as Los Angeles Clippers coach following another Playoff flop. / Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images/Agence france-presse

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers has parted company with the franchise in the wake of the team’s latest playoff flop, the coach confirmed Monday.

In a statement on Twitter, Rivers said he was no longer the coach of the Los Angeles club.

“Thank you Clipper nation for allowing me to be your coach and for all your support in helping make this a winning franchise,” Rivers wrote.

“When I took this job, my goals were to make this a winning basketball program, a free agent destination, and bring a championship to this organization.

“While I was able to accomplish most of my goals, I won’t be able to see them all through.”

Rivers’ departure comes after the Clippers agonizing loss in the Western Conference semifinals, when they blew a 3-1 series lead before losing, 4-3, to the Denver Nuggets.

The 58-year-old Rivers joined the Clippers from the Boston Celtics in 2013. Although the team was consistent qualifiers for the playoffs, Rivers was unable to take it beyond the Western Conference semifinals.

Six of the team’s playoff campaigns under Rivers ended in the first round.

Rivers however insists he believes the Clippers, who had high hopes of reaching the NBA Finals this year after recruiting Kawhi Leonard in 2019, are close to competing for championships.

“Though it was a disappointing ending to our season, you are right there and I know what this team is capable of accomplishing with your support,” Rivers said in his message to fans.

“Thank you to all the players, coaches, and staff for helping us get there. Most importantly, thank you to the fans. We went through a lot, and I am grateful for my time here.”

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