Displaying items by tag: basketball

Smith saves TNT

  • Published in Sports

Last-second shot by injured import gives Texters 1-0 series lead over Beermen
By: Musong R. Castillo - Reporter / @MusongINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer 

Photo: Joshua Smith vs June Mar Fajardo. PBA IMAGES

Joshua Smith continued to hobble on one good foot and remained to be the big difference for TNT KaTropa.

The 330-pounder drove for a running baby hook in the final 1.6 seconds on Wednesday night and keyed a 104-102 decision by the Texters over highly favored San Miguel Beer for a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven series for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Taking charge upon realizing that their final play off an inbounds was broken by the San Miguel defense, Smith put the ball on the floor and got a shot off June Mar Fajardo as the Texters belied all pre-series predictions and immediately took the upperhand in the series.

“I screwed up in the last play,” TNT coach Nash Racela said as he really called for Jason Castro to have the ball with the game on the line. “San Miguel did a good job covering Jason and Joshua just had the presence of mind to attack.

“They denied everyone [from receiving the inbounds, except Smith], and he really had no choice but to make the play,” Racela added.

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Smith, who has torn ligaments in his right foot, is still day-to-day even if he made the game-winning shot, according to Racela.

But San Miguel counterpart Leo Austria is now firm in his belief that their “problem” will be back, at least for Game 2 slated Friday also at the Big Dome.

“Next time, we have to contain Smith, he’s the problem,” Austria, obviously dejected after coming out of the locker room, said. “It was hard preparing for this game because we didn’t know (until the last minute) who we will be playing against.

“For sure, Smith will be there in Game 2 for them,” he said.

Smith finished with 21 points with rookie RR Pogoy leading the Texters with a career-high 27, counting 13 in the final frame that helped keep the Beermen at bay.



Ginebra-SMB showdown looms anew

  • Published in Sports

By: Ernesto A. Gonzales - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer /

Looks like there will be a repeat of the San Miguel Beer-Barangay Ginebra title showdown in the Philippine Cup last May.

Both finishing strong, the Beermen and the Gin Kings wound up tied for top spot with the Star Hotshots with nine wins against two losses at the end of the eliminations last week of the mid-season Commissioner’s Cup.

Ginebra, which lost to SMB, 4 games to 1, in their best-of-seven duel in the traditional all-Filipino tournament kicking off the league’s 2016 season, went on to clinch the top ranking on a higher quotient on the strength of earlier wins over the Beermen and the Hotshots.

SMB salvaged second place having also downed Star in their first meeting and will go into the quarterfinal playoffs enjoying a twice-to-beat bonus like Ginebra against the two teams that completed the eight-team qualifying cast.

There was actually a similar three-way tie at 4-7 for the last two quarterfinal slots but Phoenix, just like Ginebra, was ranked higher and nailed the No. 7 slot over Alaska and GlobalPort with earlier victories over both squads.

But there’s no rejoicing for Phoenix in the playoffs with SMB as its next rival. The Aces and the Batang Pier were disputing the eighth and last berth at presstime with the winner also facing the daunting task of meeting Ginebra as a quarterfinal foe.

As the top two qualifiers, the Kings and the Beermen will need only to win once to reach the semifinals. The two other semifinal berths will be at stake in two separate best-of-three series pitting Star against No. 6 qualifier and defending champion Rain or Shine (5-6) and No. 4 TNT (8-3) Katropa against No. 5 Meralco (7-4).

Barring monumental upsets, Ginebra and SMB will face the survivor of the TNT-Meralco duel and the Star-Rain or Shine clash, respectively, in the semis, which will be a best-of-five affair. The finals will be another best-of-seven confrontation.

Reinforced by Justin Brownlee, the Kings finally topped an elimination phase of an import-flavored tournament for the first time in 20 years although coach Tim Cone, who joined the team last year from Purefoods which later became Star also last season, said he expected a tough road ahead.

“It’s good to be the top seed but there’s the high expectation you have to deal with,” he said.

Brownlee, at 6-foot-5 one of the smallest in a tournament where 6-10 imports are allowed, remains the biggest factor for the Kings. He is best remembered for clinching the Governors’ Cup crown for Ginebra with a buzzer-beating trey against Meralco last season.

Ginebra fans also await the return of 7-footer Greg Slaughter, who, reports say, may be fielded in the playoffs after recovering from a leg injury.

Slaughter had battled 6-10 June Mar Fajardo as amateurs in Cebu before his wide-bodied rival became the toast of the league as three-time Most Valuable Player for SMB.


Warriors' Steve Kerr returns to the bench to coach Game 2

  • Published in Sports

By Janie McCauley (Associated Press)

OAKLAND, California — Steve Kerr received a rousing ovation Sunday night (Monday morning Manila time) as he returned to the bench at last.

Kerr is back coaching the Golden State Warriors after more than six weeks, feeling well enough that he plans to coach the remainder of the NBA Finals.

Smiling, cracking jokes and looking more comfortable than he has in recent weeks, Kerr declared himself ready to be back on the bench for Game 2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was the first time he coached the Warriors since April 19.

He waved to the fans who roared when he walked onto the floor shortly before the start.

Kerr said he decided Sunday morning that he was able to return to coaching after being sidelined by constant pain because of complications following a pair of back surgeries nearly two years ago.

"The intention is to coach tonight and the rest of the series," said Kerr, who last coached in Game 2 of the Warriors' first-round playoff series against Portland. "I'm feeling better. I'm feeling more like I did at the end of the regular season. Last couple weeks have been good in terms of running practice, film sessions, coaches meetings, that kind of stuff. I wanted to string together a few good days. I did that, and feeling well enough to coach. ... The intention is to go the rest of the series.

"So, I'm excited and it's good to be back."

The unbeaten Warriors had been 11-0 under acting coach Mike Brown — "My guy did OK while I was gone," Kerr said with a grin. Kerr had his initial procedures in 2015 after guiding the organization's first championship in 40 years as a rookie coach.

"What's our record now without me, like 800-12?" quipped Kerr, who missed the first 43 games during last season's record 73-win campaign.

The 51-year-old Kerr underwent a procedure to repair a spinal fluid leak on May 5 at Duke University but was still experiencing debilitating symptoms such as pain and headaches. He attended the pregame news conference Sunday and said he had not yet told his players that he would be back coaching, though said they knew in recent days that he was improving.

There was a lot of positive reaction to the news of Kerr's return.

"It's awesome," Klay Thompson said. "I'm so excited. Mike did a phenomenal job though."

Former coach and player Al Attles said it was "terrific" news.

"There's an old saying, 'You don't miss the water 'til the well runs dry,'" the 80-year-old Attles said after receiving the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award. "It's not a reflection on who was coaching. He's just a man that we really, really respect and hope that he keeps on doing it."

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue also was thrilled to hear Kerr was back on the opposite bench.

"Steve Kerr's a guy I respected even before he started coaching," Lue said. "I just like who he is as a person, and throughout the course of the playoffs I've checked on him and we text and talk. So it's good to have him back over there."

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