Unbeaten Foton guns for 5th win

by Kristel Satumbaga

Games Today
(The Arena, San Juan City)
5 p.m. – Generika vs Foton
7 p.m. – Cignal vs Petron

Powerhouse Foton stakes its unbeaten record today as it looks to cement its hold of the top spot in its group in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.

The Tornadoes seek their fifth victory in their 5 p.m. confrontation with the Generika-Ayala Lifesavers.

Photo: Petron’s Mika Reyes during the PSL All-Filipino Cup game against Generika Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Petron won 25-21, 24-26, 25-21, 25-18. (Rio Leonelle Deluvio | Manila Bulletin)

Preliminary standings determine the quarterfinal seedings where teams from the two pools clash in a knockout, crossover format for semifinal berths.

Foton still has one match left after this duel – against dangerous Petron on Saturday – and a victory is important if it wants to earn the Pool C top seeding and a quarters meeting with the No. 4 squad in Pool D.

Foton coach Moro Branislav casts his eyes anew on collegiate standout Jaja Santiago of National University after the 6-foot-4 spiker erupted for 26 points in their 25-22, 16-25, 25-22, 25-14 win over Cignal last week.

Offensive help will also come from University of Santo Tomas’ EJ Laure and Maika Ortiz.

Generika, however, aims for a better standing after dropping to 2-2 following its 25-21, 24-26, 25-21, 25-18 loss to Petron two days back.

The Lifesavers will continue to parade Fiola Ceballos, Patty Orendain, and Angeli Araneta to match the Tornadoes’ strength after the trio finished in double figures the last time.

Equally exciting is the Petron-Cignal tussle at 7 p.m., where both squads are set to untangle themselves from a logjam with similar 3-1 cards behind Foton.

Smith saves TNT

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.


Poels upbeat about securing a place in Team Sky’s Tour de France squad

Wout Poels is optimistic about securing a place in Team Sky’s Tour de France squad after returning to racing at the Route du Sud in the Pyrenees following a knee injury.


The Dutchman had not raced since the Ruta del Sol in early February. His knee pain meant he was unable to defend his 2016 victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and his chances of riding in support of Chris Froome initially seemed slim. However, Poels is considered one of Froome’s key support riders in the mountains after helping him win the Tour in 2015 and 2016.

Poels has now been back in full training for several weeks and is hoping the Team Sky management will trust him to come good in the mountain stages of the Tour de France.

"I confident that I’m in [the Tour de France squad]. The progression I’ve made in recent weeks is clear to see. As a domestique for Froome, I don’t need to be good from the first day. I need to be fresh to work in the third week, in the Alps,” Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf report Poels as saying after he finished 41st overall at the Route de Sud.

Competition for the nine places in Team Sky’s squad for the Tour de France is intense, with 13 riders on a long list. Chris Froome is targeting a fourth victory and will need strong support as he competes against Richie Porte (BMC), Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Geraint Thomas and Michal Kwiatkowski are expected to play key supporting roles for Froome, with Peter Kennaugh, Sergio Henao and Mikel Landa all under consideration as mountain domestiques. Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Christian Knees, Vasil Kiryienka and several other riders are in line for domestique duty on the flatter stages.

Team Sky is likely to confirm its final line-up after next weekend’s national championships races.

Poels explained that he has not felt any pain in his knee for several weeks. In the spring, he felt what he described as a sharp pain, forcing him to make a very gradual recovery. He will continue to train in the Pyrenees in the hope of securing one of the nine places in the squad.

The Tour de France starts in Dusseldorf, Germany on Saturday, July 1.

“I’m going to continue training in the Pyrenees to study some of the climbs," he said. "These are signs that the team has confidence in me. We’ve also spoken about the Vuelta a España. I think I can do well after three months out. I’ll still be fresh. But first, I’m hopeful of riding alongside Chris at the Tour.”

Boston Celtics Trade No. 1 Overall Draft Pick to Philadelphia 76ers



Photo: The Celtics selected Kevin McHale with the No. 3 pick in the 1980 draft, which they had acquired in a deal with the Golden State Warriors. Credit Focus on Sport, via Getty Images

BOSTON — As the 2017 N.B.A. draft approaches, history is, perhaps, repeating itself in Boston. If it is, Celtics fans will be immensely gratified.

Consider that in the summer of 1980, as in the summer of 2017, the Celtics were coming off a loss in the Eastern Conference finals and needed an upgrade. In 1980, as in 2017, the Celtics held the No. 1 pick in the N.B.A. draft, not by virtue of having the worst record, but because of a trade.

And, as was the case in 1980, the Celtics in 2017 have traded the No. 1 pick for the No. 3 pick and other goodies. The Celtics made the swap Monday with the Philadelphia 76ers, obtaining a future No. 1 pick from them in addition to the No. 3 selection this year.

Back in 1980, the Celtics traded the No. 1 pick to the Golden State Warriors for Robert Parish and the No. 3 pick. And Boston then used the No. 3 pick to draft Kevin McHale.

As landscape-altering deals go, the 1980 swap may have set the gold standard. Parish and McHale became Hall of Famers and helped the Celtics win three N.B.A. titles in the 1980s.

The Warriors, with the No. 1 pick they received from Boston, took Joe Barry Carroll. And with the No. 13 pick, which they also received from Boston in that deal, they selected Rickey Brown. Neither had much impact on a Warriors team that was going downhill at the time.

There is no way of knowing if the 2017 trade will work out for Boston the same way. On Thursday night, when the draft takes place, the 76ers are now expected to use the No. 1 pick to take Washington guard Markelle Fultz. The Celtics will then make their selection two picks later — assuming they do not make another deal before then.

Still, just getting the Celtics to this point inevitably draws parallels between the Celtics’ current general manager, Danny Ainge, and the renowned Red Auerbach, who engineered the 1980 deal.

In 1980, the Celtics had the No. 1 pick because of a complicated deal with the Detroit Pistons. The Celtics had signed the Pistons’ M. L. Carr as a free agent in the summer of 1979; in those days the team losing the player and the team acquiring him then tried to work out an equitable compensation package. If there was no agreement, the N.B.A. commissioner had the final word.

After much back and forth, the Pistons agreed to what now looks like a ridiculously one-sided deal: They would take Boston’s Bob McAdoo as compensation for losing Carr but would also send the Celtics a juicy draft package.

And when the Pistons finished with a 16-66 record, the worst in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics suddenly found themselves with a 50 percent chance of securing the No. 1 pick in 1980.

Back then, there was no lottery. The No. 1 pick was decided by a coin flip between the worst teams in each conference (or by the club that held the worst team’s draft rights.) The Utah Jazz had the distinction of being the worst in the West and won the right to make the coin-flip call. Frank Layden, the general manager of the Jazz, called heads, going with the advice of his daughter. The coin came up tails, giving Boston the No. 1 pick and setting the stage for the swap with Golden State.

Ainge secured the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft by virtue of a deal with the Nets in 2013 that still remains hard to believe.

The Nets, thinking instant gratification under their new owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, agreed to part with No. 1 picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, along with the right to swap No. 1 picks in 2017. In exchange, they obtained Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, two famous, but fading, players. Other pieces were in the deal, but the draft picks were all that really mattered to Boston.

Since that trade, the Celtics have used the Nets’ No. 1 picks to draft James Young (No. 17 in 2014) and Jaylen Brown (No. 3 in 2016).

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In 1980, the consensus No. 1 pick was Carroll of Purdue. But when Auerbach won the coin flip, and the rights to the No. 1 pick, he had his eye on someone who was not on anyone’s draft board at the time, Ralph Sampson, who had just completed his freshman year at the University of Virginia.

There was no early entry deadline for the draft as there is today; an underclassman could simply declare for the draft citing financial hardship as a reason. Magic Johnson had done the same thing the year before after playing two seasons at Michigan State.

So Auerbach made a concerted effort to lure the 7-foot-4 Sampson out of Charlottesville. But Sampson, to Auerbach’s fury and amazement, turned down the Celtics’ boss. Auerbach fumed to reporters, stating that “maybe Ralph Sampson and his parents will come to their senses.’’

Sampson ended up staying at Virginia for four years and was then drafted by the Houston Rockets. Auerbach, rebuffed by Sampson, hatched the trade with Golden State.

Parish became a Celtic immediately, and McHale joined him as the No. 3 pick of the 1980 draft after Utah had chosen Darrell Griffith with the No. 2 pick. The rest is history. The question is whether Ainge, with his deal with the 76ers, is on his way to making history, too.

Pacquiao tapering training for Horn

By: Roy Luarca - Editor / @RLuarcaINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Photo: Manny Pacquiao during training at Elorde Gym in Pasay City. He is preparing for a title defense against Jeff Horn on July 2 in Australia. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

This early, Manny Pacquiao is ready to wage war against Jeff Horn.

Though the World Boxing Organization welterweight title bout is set on July 2 yet, Pacquiao’s training team led by Freddie Roach has declared him fit to fight the Australian at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Fact is, Roach decided to move Pacquiao’s tapering phase a few days earlier so as to prevent the eight-division world champion from over-training.

From 12 rounds of sparring last Thursday, Pacquiao’s practice session against three spar mates was cut to just ten rounds, according to training assistant Roger Fernandez, Sunday.

And, starting Monday, the training and sparring at Pacman Gym in General Santos City will gradually become shorter and lighter.

According to Fernandez and fellow training assistant Jonathan Peñalosa, a former World Boxing Council international flyweight champion, Pacquiao showed impressive form last Saturday, particularly against Mexican Adrian Young, who bore the brunt of the Fighting Senator’s speed and power.

Pacquiao caught Young, who holds a 23-win, 3-loss,

2-draw record with 18 knockouts, with an uppercut to the chin that made the Mexican prospect groggy in the second round.

Only the ropes prevented Young from going down, and, of course, Pacquiao did not unleash follow up blows.

The same thing happened in the fourth round, Peñalosa narrated, making Roach, assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez and strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune happy.

Peñalosa said Pacquiao is 99 percent ready and is primed for a knockout if he catches Horn early in the 12-round bout.

For his part, Roger Fernandez said Pacquiao can tangle with Horn as early as Monday.


Imports TNT X-factor

By: Musong R. Castillo - Reporter / @MusongINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer Tristan Tamayo/

Photo: TNT KaTropa is still undecided on which import to play in Game 1—at least—of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Wednesday.

Joshua Smith, the Texters’ 330-pound banger, attended the title series press launch on Monday, giving the impression that he will play despite torn ligaments in his right toe that left him hobbling in the last two games of their Final Four series against Barangay Ginebra.

But over at another table sat Mike Myers, an equally impressive specimen who is listed as standby by the coaching staff in case medical examinations to be done later in the day would keep Smith out of commission.

So where does this leave pre-series favorite San Miguel Beer which must prepare for every single component of its title series foe?

And does TNT coach Nash Racela, in keeping his cards close to his chest, have an advantage in any way? Is he throwing San Miguel’s preparations off?

Grand Slam-winning coach Tommy Manotoc feels that both teams have an advantage, albeit slight, with the element of surprise belonging to the Texters because they have two imports at their disposal.

“It will take San Miguel three quarters at most to adjust [to the new import of TNT], but that’s all,” Manotoc said over the phone. “But you have to keep in mind that even [the local players of] TNT would have to adjust [playing] with their new import in such a high stakes game.”

“So it can work both ways—the positives and the negatives,” he said. “The advantage that TNT has is that it has two imports at its disposal and the advantage that San Miguel has is that it still has (June Mar) Fajardo and (Charles) Rhodes.”

Manotoc feels that TNT must have its import—whether that be Smith or Myers—neutralize Fajardo, leaving Rhodes as Racela’s other defensive concern.

“The question mark is if a local can guard Rhodes,” Manotoc said. “TNT’s locals would have to defend him, and he will be a handful.”

San Miguel team manager Gee Abanilla has compiled materials of Myers’ past games in the US and Korea since seeing him behind the TNT bench on Saturday night.

And Abanilla feels that TNT will be playing with Smith, at least for the 7 p.m. game slated Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.


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