Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Champion vs Champion set for ONE: Iron Will main event

ONE Championship
Current ONE Featherweight and Lightweight World Champion Martin Nguyen has a shot to make history, as ONE Championship has set him up for a title match at ONE: Iron Will.

Set to take place on March 24 at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, "The Situ-Asian" is the title challenger for the ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes, with the matchup set to be the main event for ONE: Iron Will. A win would turn the Sydney native into a champion across three divisions.

ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong views the Fernandes-Nguyen as a "tremendous matchup," adding that it is "one that the whole world wants to see." He also shares, "I have no doubt that these two warriors will be putting on a great show for everyone watching live in Bangkok."

Nguyen is fresh from claiming the ONE Lightweight title from Eduard Folayang, becoming the first fighter in ONE Championship to hold titles in different weight divisions simultaneously. A win against current champion Fernandes would further etch his name in greatness.

Fernandes is one of the best mixed martial artists in the world today, regardless of promotion. He has yet to be defeated in ONE Championship action since becoming the ONE Bantamweight champion in 2013. He is fresh from forcing Andrew Leone to tap via rear-naked choke in the first round.

For further details on ONE: Iron Will and other updates from ONE Championship, one can check out www.onefc.com.

Alab vs Chong Son on tap for ABL on S+A

ABL on S+A tonight
Alab Pilipinas will have a formidable task looming tonight at the Sta. Rosa Sports Complex in Laguna, as it hosts league contenders Chong Son Kung Fu in ASEAN Basketball League play.

Alab is currently on a three-game winning run and six of its last seven, and a win for the hosts would put them even closer to league leaders Hong Kong Eastern. They are fresh from a 95-87 victory over the Saigon Heat in Vietnam this past weekend to move them to 6-4 and fourth place.

This winning stretch has been largely through the efforts of their reinforcements Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman. The latter duo combined for 51 points and 35 rebounds against the Heat. According to resident league broadcast analyst Marco Benitez, Alab can overcome its rebounding disadvantage due to its lack of ceiling through its hustle and athleticism, something that can be done against the likes of Chong Son.

This is their first meeting against the Chinese newcomers, who tote a 6-1 record and are currently second in the league. Chong Son are coming off a 96-79 victory over Westports Malaysia Dragons. Mikhael McKinney contributed 32 points and four rebounds, while Caelan Tiongson added 18 points and eight rebounds. A win would move them to just two wins behind the defending champions.

Those who want to watch it can do so on S+A starting at 8pm LIVE.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Mathysse-Kiram and Linares-Gesta available on SKY PPV

Boxing this Sunday. Check it on Sky PPV.
Filipino Boxing fans with access to SKY PPV will be in for a treat this coming Sunday, as HBO's first boxing event under its fabled Boxing After Dark series will be shown locally via pay-per-view.

The main event of this Sunday's Boxing After Dark will have the WBA welterweight title will be up for grabs, with Lucas Matthyse and Tewa Kiram set to scrap for the belt.

This is Matthyse's second fight in this division, having beaten Emmanuel Taylor this past May in the undercard of Canelo vs Julio Cesar Chavez jr.. The 35-year-old has defeated the likes of Humberto Soto, Lamont Peterson, and Ruslan Provodnikov.

Matthyse, however, will be facing someone who is about to make his overseas debut. Kiram is ten years younger and has won all 38 of his fights. For the former Muay Thai fighter, this is arguably the biggest test of his boxing career.

Meanwhile, serving as the undercard for Mathysse-Kiram is Jorge Linares against Mercito Gesta.

Linares is the current WBA lightweight world champion, and he will be making his sixth title defense. The Tokyo-based Venezuelan hopes that a convincing victory here could potentially net him future opportunities against the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko.

Gesta has won five of his last six matches, with two of those coming by way of knockout. The San Diego-based Cebuano is currently being trained by Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, the same man taking care of Manny Pacquiao.

Telecast is slated to begin at around 1030am, and for those interested, it is available for only PhP 149 at SKY Sports Pay-Per-View. This is for all One SKY, SKYCable, and SKYDirect subscribers, via channels 160 and 260 for SD and HD for those living in Metro Manila and nearby provinces and 60 and 960 for SD and HD for those in places like Baguio, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, General Santos, and Dumaguete. As for SKYbroadband customers, one can access it through SKY on Demand.

Purchasing the PPV is relatively simple. Just text BoxingPPV to 23662. For postpaid subscribers, one can text SKY to 23668, whilst prepaid subscribers can text PPV Boxing [box ID] to 23667. Those who are also Kapamilya Thank You members will be eligible to receive Kapamilya Thank You points upon availing of the PPV.

For those who need further details, visit www.mysky.com.ph/boxingppv, call 418-000, or head to your local SKY office.

Season 3 of Beach Volleyball Republic to commence today

BVR kicks off today!


Beach Volleyball Republic heads north to start off its third season, as the BVR On Tour hunkers down at the Ichthus Beach Resort in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur starting today.

Twenty-five pairs are participating in this leg of the tour, with the winners of both the Men's and Women's divisions receiving PhP 50,000 each. PhP 30,000 and PhP 20,000 awaits the second and third place finishers, respectively.

The women's division is composed of the following duos:

Dzi Gervacio and Charo Soriano (Perlas 1)
Bea Tan and Amanda Villanueva (Perlas 2)
Amy Ahomiro and Gizelle Tan (Perlas 3)
Judy Caballejo and Coyah Abanto (Air Force 1)
Jossa Calbasa and Jen Manzano (Air Force 2)
Dhamae Demontano and Jackie Estoquia (Iloilo)
Louann Latigay and Maru Banaticla (PLDT)
Jem Gutierrez and Nene Bautista (Army 1)
Tin Agno and Jeanine delos Reyes (Army 2)
Rapril Aguilar and Danika Gendrauli (Cebu)
Ivana Agudo and MJ Ebro (FEU)
Babylove Barbon and Genesa Eslapor (UST)

The men's division is composed of the following duos:

Ranran Abdilla and Jessie Lopez (Air Force 1)
Pol Salvador and James Buytrago (NU)
Joel Villonson and Jayson Uy (Army)
Henry Pacana and KR Guzman (UST Thunders)
Brian Nordberg and Giovanni Maria Musillo (Hong Kong)
Jayson and EJ Ramos (Team Ramos)
Raffy Mosuela and Jeffrey Malabanan (Air Force 2)
Chris Macasaet and Renz Casanova (DLSUAAi)
Jade Bacaldo and Fort Libres (Cebu 1)
Kevin Juban and Raphy Abanto (Cebu 2)
Pemie Bagalay and Alfred Valbuena (Manila)
Jaron Requinton and Efraim Dimaculangan (UST)
Gilbert Longavela and Calvin Sarte (Perlas)

The men's division has a team from Hong Kong participating, which is one of the major developments that will be introduced for the upcoming BVR on Tour season. Fille Cainglet-Cayetano shares, "With all the experiences we've had bringing it around the Philippines, we feel nothing but excitement for what's to come. With our mission of growing the sport and building our community of athletes, we are making our making BVR On Tour open to international teams this year."

The other major development is that BVR will be inviting a group of fans to join the BVR contingent on one of its legs to watch the action. Details will be made available through the BVR social media accounts.

For this particular leg, ABS-CBN Sports will be streaming the action via its YouTube page.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

S+A to showcase Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League opener

MPBL kicks off today
The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League is set to commence its inaugural season later today, January 25, at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The festivities will start with the Opening Ceremonies at 7pm, followed by the lone matchup of the Paranaque Patriots against the Caloocan Supremos. Both events will be shown LIVE on S+A and S+A HD. Subsequent games will be aired on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays between 7-11pm on said channels.

The Patriots are led by former Perpetual stalwarts Jett Vidal and Juneric Baloria, while the Supremos have the combination of Mar Villahermosa and Jan Colina.

Action resumes this Saturday with the Paul Varilla and Mark Olayon-led Batangas City Athletics against the Valenzuela Classic at 7pm, followed by the Ron Dennison and Joseph Gabayni-led Navotas Clutch against the Chito Jaime and Al Vergara-led Muntinlupa Cagers at 9pm.

The MPBL was organized by Senator Manny Pacquiao with the aim of providing another venue for basketball players to showcase their skills and continue their pursuit of their dreams. It also dovetails with the objective of discovering new talents at the grassroots level.

According the league's head of production and marketing Arnold Vegafria, "Through Senator Manny Pacquiao's vision, we have a basketball league that truly reaches the grassroots level. Finally, Filipinos from all walks of life who have the talent and passion for the game will be able to show their mettle in the hard court. This is another platform where Pinoys can find their potential basketball heroes."

ABS-CBN Integrated Sports head Dino Laurena also expressed his excitement about the league, noting its vision is in tune with ABS-CBN Sports' mission, adds, "It was very natural for us to get together because of our shared vision for Philippine sports and our desire to support Filipino athletes at the grassroots level."

Much like the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), the MPBL features teams that represent a locality and also utilizes a home-and-away format that enables teams to be able to play in their own home court in front of their fanbase. There are ten teams for the inaugural season, all of which are based in Luzon, although it has been bared that there is a possibility for expansion into Visayas and Mindanao in the future.

Teams are also mandated to have at least three truly home-grown players on its roster.

Notable MPBL players in its inaugural season are the likes of Gary David and Pari Llagas, as well as former NCAA standouts Gab Dagangon, Ryusei Koga, and Khiel Misa.

To encourage fans to attend the opener at The Big Dome, the league will raffle off a car and ten motorbikes.

Make sure to check out the MPBL on S+A and S+A HD, as well as on iwantv.com.ph and skyondemand.com.ph.

Football legend Zico set to visit Manila

Zico for the Selecao
This weekend, one of the football greats from the 20th century will be headed to Manila.

Arthur Antunes Coimbra, more recognized in the football world as Zico, is slated to visit Manila on January 27-28.

His appearance in the country is through the assistance of Seven Seas Properties, which promotes Filipino properties and investments in Japan. According to its President, Yukihiro Nishimura, "We are delighted to welcome Zico to the Philippines. I'm sure he will give a big boost to the growing football scene here."

Coming to prominence in the late 70s to early 80s, Zico is a retired Brazilian international who scored 48 goals in 71 appearances. He finished 8th in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote in 1999, and was included in the list of the world's greatest living players by FIFA in 2004.

He also played for iconic Brazilian club side Flamengo, as well as Italian Serie A side Udinese, before finishing his playing career with the Kashima Antlers in Japan.

Zico then entered into managing, helping the likes of Fenerbahce, Olympiacos, and CSKA Moscow to titles in their respective leagues. He also solidified his iconic status in Japanese football by taking the Samurai Blue to the AFC Asian Cup title in 2004.

His presence in Manila is highlighted by two activities. On Saturday, January 27, he will be attending a CSR event with young footballers from underprivileged communities. Then on Sunday, January 28, he will conduct and oversee a football clinic for elite young players and coaches at the McKinley-Hill Stadium in Taguig.

Aside from Seven Seas Properties, Zico's presence here in Manila is also made possible by Otsuka - Solar Philippines, Inter Sports Partners, AgriNurture, and Primex.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Smorgasborg of Sporting Action on S+A

Lots of stuff on S+A.

This weekend on S+A will be packed with amazing sporting action that different kinds of fans will enjoy.

In the ASEAN Basketball league, Alab Pilipinas travels to Indonesia for their matchup against the CLS Knights. To be shown LIVE starting at 8pm, the lone Filipino squad in the ABL seeks to follow-up its smashing 114-87 victory over Mono Vampire last week.

MMA on S+A kicks off with the first ONE Championship event for the year, ONE: Kings of Courage. Held at the Jakarta Convention Center also on Saturday, it features the crowning of the first ONE Women's Strawweight Champion. Tiffany "No Chill" Teo and Jingnan "The Panda" Xiong will fight it out for the belt in the main event. The card has one Filipino participant, as Rene Catalan goes up against Xuen Peng. Coverage begins at 10pm.

Football fans take their turn on S+A, with Newcastle visiting current Premier League pacesetters Manchester City LIVE at 125am on Sunday. S+A will then show the matchup of Burnley against Manchester United at 330am. If Spanish football is what one prefers, Real Madrid faces Deportivo at 1110pm LIVE on Sunday night.

A potential NBA Western Conference Finals preview is on tap on Sunday morning, as the matchup with the Golden State Warriors traveling to Houston to face the Rockets, LIVE at 930am, with a replay telecast immediately scheduled at 12nn.

Then starting at 3pm, ABS-CBN will be presenting the LIVE airing of the Galaxy Battles: Emerging Worlds DoTA 2 tournament finals. Emanating from the Philippine Arena, the Filipino gaming community will be able to watch noted DoTA 2 teams like OG and TNC engage in tactical warfare. noted TierOne shoutcasters Nico Nazario, Jaz Comoda, and Bianca Yao will be on deck to share their know-how to eSports fans.

Make sure to check out S+A and sports.abs-cbn.com for more details on the different sporting action this weekend.

ONE Championship set to stream select fights on Twitter

Twitter and ONE Championship revealed a partnership that would showcase certain portions of the ONE: Kings of Courage MMA event on the social media platform.

All three preliminary matches will be shown through the @ONEChampionship handle on Twitter live, as well as two matches on the main card (Victorio Senduk vs Yohan Mulia Legowo and Yusup Saadulaev vs Masakazu Imanari).

According to ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, "I am thrilled to announce ONE Championship’s partnership with social media platform, Twitter. This will allow us to further showcase the beauty of martial arts to a global audience. This partnership signifies the two companies’ commitment to developing martial arts in Asia and extend the reach of our exciting live and digital content. Martial arts fans, particularly those on the Twitter platform, will be able to enjoy free ONE Championship bouts while engaging in real-time conversation."

Twitter's Head of Sports Partnerships for Southeast Asia Maurizio Barbieri adds, "ONE Championship is a true sports media powerhouse. We are excited to team up with them to increase their reach to millions of fans around Asia and the rest of the world. More than ever before, if you can’t make it ringside, Twitter will be the best place to follow the action live, right when it is happening."

ONE Championship takes pride with its reach, whether through traditional means or via social media. From 352 million in 2014, its social media impressions has reached fourteen billion with its annualized run rate. It is set to breach 2.6 billion video views on social media, compared to just 312 thousand three years earlier. As for television ratings, Peak TV is rising at 11-36 percent, marking up to 36x growth. That also includes an increase in annual TV broadcast per core country, reaching to 100-2800 hours, which reflects a spike of at least 230x.


The ONE Championship and Twitter partnership will encompass all 24 ONE Championship events on tap in 2018.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rizal Memorial set to host final Philippine AFC Asian Cup Qualifier

The Azkals have a new (old) venue to play in
There has been a slight tweak on the final AFC Asian Cup Qualifier for the Philippines against Tajikistan on March 27.

The Philippine Football Federation has secured consent from the Asian Football Confederation to switch its venue from Pana-ad Park and Stadium in Bacolod to Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.

Pana-ad had been originally pegged as original venue for the qualifier, but the PFF cited "difficulties in securing fully-equipped training venues" in making the switch back to Rizal Memorial. The complex previously hosted the ACQ against Nepal back in March last year, where they defeated Nepal, 4-1.

The statement from PFF President Mariano V. Araneta, Jr. is as follows:

"We announce that the AFC has approved the PFF’s request to move the final match of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers back to Manila. This match will be a crucial match as it will decide the Philippine Men’s National Team’s chances of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup."

The Azkals are currently on top of Group F, toting nine points, with their Central Asian counterparts in third place with seven points. With three straight draws in the qualifiers, including a goalless draw against Nepal in Kathmandu back in November, the Philippines can secure its Asian Cup berth for as long as they do not lose against the visitors.

Araneta adds, "We hope all football stakeholders and supporters rally behind the Men’s National Team. Qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will be a historic moment in Philippine football."

The federation adds that ticketing details will be announced soon when more information becomes available.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

SKY Select now offers cockfighting coverage via SLTV

Cockfighting on Sky? Channel now coming soon.

SKY is set to offer the first 24-hour channel specially tailored for Philippine cockfighting in the form of SLTV.ph.

SLTV airs up to twelve hours of live and replay broadcasts of hackfights, derby programs, as well as other cockfighting-related shows from various cockpit arenas in the country.

Interested viewers can avail of SLTV.ph for a thousand pesos monthly via ONE SKY, SKYCable, or SKYdirect. For further details, one can contact 418-0000 or www.mysky.com.ph/getsltv.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League taps ABS-CBN for a broadcast deal

Witnessing the MPBL-ABSCBN deal: (Standing) MPBL Head of Operations Zaldy Realubit, MPBL Assistant Commissioner Satar Macantal, S+A Channel Head Vince Rodriguez, MPBL Team Coordinator Emmerson Oreta
(Seated) MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, ALV Events International Chairman Arnold Vegafria, ABS-CBN Sports head Dino Laurena, ABS-CBN CFO Aldrin Cerrado
The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) is set to have a home on television.

Manny Pacquiao's start-up basketball league entered into an agreement with ABS-CBN Sports to have its games shown on S+A last week. Witnessing the agreement are top MPBL officials like League Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, Head of Operations Zaldy Realubit, Assistant Commissioner Satar Macantal, and Team Coordinator Emmerson Oreta, while on the ABS-CBN side are Sports head Dino Laurena, S+A Channel Head Vince Rodriguez, and CFO Aldrin Cerrado. Also present in the proceedings is ALV Events International Chairman Arnold Vegafria.

The league will be kicking off on January 25 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. The Opening Ceremony and the games slated on that day will be shown LIVE on S+A and S+A HD, with subsequent Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night telecasts between 7-11pm.

According to Vegafria, who also serves as the MPBL's overall head, "Through Senator Manny Pacquiao's vision, we have a basketball league that truly reaches the grassroots level. Finally, Filipinos from all walks of life who have the talent and passion for the game will be able to show their mettle in the hardcourt. We are thankful for I hope advertisers and basketball fans will support this. This is another platform where Pinoys can find their potential basketball heroes." He adds that league will not be possible without the vision and passion of Senator Manny Pacquiao, setting up this novel project "to give chance to athletes that have the capacity but never had the chance to play in the other leagues."

For Laurena, this is a reflection of the continued commitment of ABS-CBN for grassroots development. He shares, "It was very natural for us to get together because of our shared vision for Philippines sports and our desire to support Filipino athletes in the grassroots level. Serendipitously, we are celebrating the anniversary of the MBA (Metropolitan Basketball Association) this year, which had the same concept and objective."

The MPBL aims to give grassroots athletes, as well as undrafted or untapped basketball players a venue to showcase their skills and continue to pursue their basketball dreams. Much like the MBA, the teams represent either a municipality, city, or province, and will have a home-and-away format. The league currently has ten teams strewn all across Metro Manila and Luzon, although there are plans for the league to expand to Visayas and Mindanao in the future.

To highlight that homegrown objective, Duremdes highlighted a mandate that teams have to roster at least three players that are truly homegrown to their respective areas. He adds, "The advantage of this is really the pride of the players playing for their respective provinces and cities. We also believe that it will be more exciting because of the support of the fans for their teams. In the preseason, we can really see that they are excited as they also want to see their home players succeed."

Oreta shares that the league's long-term goal is to have all-homegrown players featured on all the teams. In fact, he adds, the MPBL's preseason champions, the Bulacan Kuyas, is comprised with such a roster.

To encourage fans to check out the opening at The Big Dome, Vegafria revealed that they are going to give away a car and ten motorbikes on that day.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Liverpool-City highlighting S+A club football coverage this weekend

Embed from Getty Images

Top-notch club football returns on S+A this weekend, highlighted by the much anticipated matchup between Manchester City and Liverpool on Sunday night at 1155pm.

The Reds are seeking to be the first team to defeat the Sky Blues this season, with the chance to move up to as high as second in the Premier League. They are, however, going to attempt to do this without Philippe Coutinho, as the midfielder has since taken his talents to FC Barcelona. Trying to offset his loss is the presence of Dutch international Virgil van Dijk, who score the game-winner in their third round FA Cup match against Merseyside rivals Everton.

Under Pep Guardiola, City has romped all across English football, erecting a fifteen-point lead against rivals Manchester United. They have done so through offensive firepower, with Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero netting 27 out of the 64 goals they have scored this season. Liverpool themselves became one of those witnesses of such outbursts, suffering a 5-0 defeat back in September.

Earlier this morning, S+A showed live La Liga action, with Getafe sending Malaga to their fourth straight league loss. Juan Cala scored the lone goal of the match in the 73rd minute to secure a key victory for the hosts as they get themselves within an earshot of continental play next season. The loss keeps the visitors level on points at the bottom of the league, alongside Las Palmas.

Later tonight, though, S+A will be showing another stellar matchup between two top Spanish sides, as Villarreal visit the Santiago Bernabeu in the Spanish capital to face Real Madrid at 1110pm.

The Yellow Submarine seek to bounce back from a disappointing exit in the Copa del Rey against Leganes, whilst the Galacticos have yet to really impress since being tagged with a 3-0 defeat to rivals FC Barcelona.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ernie Nierras on recent club football developments

In light of the recent developments that have affected club football, Stallion FC Laguna and Philippines Senior Women's National Team Technical Manager Ernie Nierras sent this statement below.
What do I think about the latest events, Meralco leaving and Kaya relocating?

As negative as some people might think this is, I believe these are all positive events. Let me address the obvious.

Was the PFL responsible for the loss of Meralco? If that were the case why are the other clubs still existing? That was a management decision of Meralco, and I would leave it at that. I’m confident that Meralco as an organization is not giving up. They are just falling back to regroup.

The loss of Meralco created talent consolidation and market correction in our league. There are a lot of talented players in Meralco that are now available for the remaining clubs to sign. In my opinion, this will benefit the PFL in the immediate future why? The talent level will rise. This may give birth to a 2nd division league because the players who were not or are not ready for the PFL may opt to develop their skills in lower level leagues before moving to the PFL.

We have to be honest and realistic as well. Not all our local talents are ready for the PFL. During Stallion tryouts alone, I’ve encountered so many local and Fil-foreign players who think they can just show up in the PFL, and a club will sign them. I believe a lot of players, may it be foreign, fil-foreign, and local have discovered that the PFL is a very competitive league. Around 60-80 aspiring players show up for open tryouts. Most of them attend multiple tryouts on any given day. But their football level is not high enough. Indirectly it will also help the UAAP and NCAA teams. Maybe some of the college players will decide to extend their college careers instead of opting for the PFL immediately? In turn, these players will get the valued playing time which will help develop their game.

We have a lot of potential players in the Philippines. However, they are not of 1st division caliber yet! We also know that our top players have caught the eye of top leagues in Asia and SEA. Especially with the 3+1+1 foreign player rule observed by some SEA countries? We will see more of our local talent ply their trade in AFC member countries. The talent consolidation will only improve the level of competition in the PFL.

From a business perspective, clubs will be wiser in getting value for their money? Supply and demand. Clubs will learn from what Meralco went through. The PFL will be also want to work with clubs more intimately, knowing that the survival of the PFL is dependent on the survival of the clubs. The PFL and the Clubs need to find a win-win solution for the survival of professional football in the Philippines. We have to figure how to get more fan support, both as clubs and the league? Cities like Bacolod, Cebu, and Davao have proven that fans watching the matches, and purchasing club merchandise help a club’s survival. Social media fans are helpful, but we need fans to troll the stadiums as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Lessons learned early in any undertaking will always help in the process of growth. Meralco leaving may be a bitter pill to swallow, but lessons have been learned, and now is the time to move forward, and not dwell on the negativity of this event.

Was Kaya FC’s move from Makati to Iloilo a good one for the PFL? I believe Kaya FC has one of the most diehard ULTRA’s fans in the PFL. Regardless of where Kaya FC plays, they will only attract more fan support. I also believe that a club is entitled to one strategic move! Stallion FC did it last year, as well as Global FC. Stallion FC survived the move, and now we are growing as a club. We have the Lakeside Squad to thank for that. The Ultras Sugbo fans have done the same thing for Global FC.

That one move is strategic and must be well thought of. In our case, we needed to find a home stadium to play in. Last year the Iloilo Sports Center was still under renovation. Now we are based in the City of BiƱan where the local city government is very supportive. We have a City Mayor, Vice-mayor, and Congresswoman who decided to invest money in building a world-class FIFA 2-star football pitch, and a 2500 seater stadium. What more can a team ask for? That was a strategic move for our club. Not only do we have the newest and one of the best stadium in the PFL, we have the support of the local government, a growing fan base, and a legitimate Football Academy which is improving every season. Our decision to relocate created stability for Stallion Laguna FC.

Indirectly our relocation created a well-timed opportunity for Iloilo to attract a PFL team in Kaya FC, which in turn opens the door for a new club to emerge, or a current club to call UMAK their new home pitch? This will also allow UMAK the downtime needed to rehabilitate and improve their football pitch as well. Maybe another FIFA 2 star or equivalent pitch in the making?
Relocation and consolidation are good things. It may not look like it in the short term, but I believe it creates opportunities. The important part is how will the PFL react to these new opportunities? I can only speak for SLFC when I say that we are ready to sit down with the PFL, and participate in creating a roadmap to success for our league.

To the current and future club and league fans, you must decide to be part of something. Don’t waste this opportunity presented to the new generation of football fans, and let the potential of professional football in the Philippines go to waste. The club owners have and are investing millions of pesos to put our money where our mouth is. We are not all talk. We are investing in the future of Philippine football. We need your help to make this a reality. We need your passion as well as financial support. Come join and watch the 2nd season of the PFL. Fill the grandstand and proudly wear your club colors. Support your club sponsors as well. Without our sponsor's financial hardship may prevent your beloved club from growing. BE PART OF US!
Meanwhile, the Philippines Football League has announced that it is seeking new blood within its ranks.

According to them, they are seeking the following:

1. Head of Finance
2. Head of Legal
3. Head of Marketing
4. Media Officer
5. Head of Competitions
6. Competitions Executive

Although there are no details as to the requirements, interested parties can send their curriculum vitae here.

The league also released their statement on the Sparks here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

CM Paradise Run brings ten thousand runners together

CM Paradise Run participants having a good time afterwards
Over ten thousand runners kicked off 2018 in style with the CM Paradise Run last January 7 at the SM Mall of Asia Event Grounds in Pasay City, with the likes of Sam YG, Xian Lim, Dingdong Dantes, Ico Ejercito, and Kim Atienza taking part in this mammoth occasion.

This event marks ColorManila's 6th year in providing entertaining concept fun runs, with now over 160,000 participants enjoying the different kinds of activities.

According to ColorManila VP Justine Cordero, "Each year, we try to come up with a different concept that our runners will enjoy and would make the experience memorable. Thank you to all our followers, we wouldn’t last this long without your support. We hope you can continue supporting ColorManila, as we try to introduce new race and fun-run concepts in the near future."

The next ColorManila event is scheduled on February 24, the CM Blacklight Run that is to take place at McKinley West area of the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. One can check out colormanila.com for further details about this and other CM-related activities.

Alab Pilipinas looking to extend good form vs Singapore

Tanduay-Alab Pilipinas seeks to extend its winning run in the ASEAN Basketball League tonight to four games, as they host the Singapore Slingers at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Set to tip off at 8pm with LIVE coverage on both S+A and S+A HD, this is the second of their home-and-home matchup against the two sides, with Alab ekeing out the 89-80 OT victory at the OCBC Arena.

Justin Brownlee contributed seventeen points, seven rebounds, and eight assists, while Renaldo Balkman added 26 points, eight rebounds, four steals, and a couple of blocks while also dealing with Chris Charles.

Local ABL experts are impressed with Alab's current form so far, which has put them at .500 for the season, just behind the Saigon Heat for fourth place in the standings.

According to Marco Benitez, "If Alab can continue to improve their chemistry and the support from the local players, having Brownlee and Balkman -- both do-it-all imports – it will likely be able to carry them to the top 6 in the standings, enough to make it to the postseason. The major area of concern for Alab is on the rebounding end, as they will be facing teams, like Chong Son for instance, with taller and better rebounders. But if they can overcome that with their hustle and athleticism, then there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to compete against the best the ABL has to offer."

Anton Roxas echoed the former Blue Eagle's sentiments, "They (Brownlee and Balkman) have proven to be a winning combination so far and I expect them to continue playing well all throughout January. I will mark my calendar for January 31 though as Alab hosts the currently undefeated Chong Son Kung Fu at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex. That should be a very interesting contest."

Meanwhile, Martin Javier shares that "After a slow start, they're riding a 3-game winning streak to begin 2018. If they're able to sustain it, this kind of firepower can carry them to at least a semis and hopefully maximize the talent to get past top teams like Chong Son Kung Fu and defending champs, Hong Kong Eastern. The addition of their newest world imports and a very capable bench unit could be a recipe for success for Alab this year."

The Slingers, on the other hand, have slumped, with the OT loss against Alab dropping them to 3-5 with their fourth loss in their last five matches.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Malditas raring to go for the AFC Asian Cup


Ongoing right now in Corona, California is the latest training camp for the Philippines Senior Women's National Team. Set to last for a few months, this allows the coaching staff led by Rich Boon to fine-tune things in the run-up to the AFC Women's Asian Cup set this April.

There are currently five locally-based camp participants in Corona. Four of them managed to answer a few questions relating to the campaign.

On the #RoadToJordan:

Camille Rodriguez: I'm very excited with the journey ahead of us. We're already one foot in making it to the WCQ, so we need to perform our best in April to get both feet in for the World Cup. And it's the World Cup we're talking about! That's something every footballer can ever dream to be participating in! Personally I'm in this a hundred percent, nothing less. I'm looking forward to learning from my coaches, teammates, opponents, and the whole experience. At the end of the day, this is for the betterment of Philippine football, especially for the women's game.

Sara Castaneda: Mainly just excited about it, especially because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Inna Palacios: We want to give our best efforts when we get to Jordan. Having the camp in California is providing the training and recovery we will need in our preparations up until April. It’s exciting to fresh faces and other girls who want to represent the Philippines, all fighting for a spot to help qualify [for France] in Jordan. It will be just a small step on improving women’s football back home.

Patrice Impelido: I’m excited for the start of camp and to meet the entire coaching staff and my teammates. I know it’ll be very competitive because we’re all fighting for a spot on the team. But it’s great that we’re able to start preparations early. This preparation will be very crucial because it’s only three months before the tournament. Team chemistry will be very important. I’m ready to face the challenges ahead.

On representing the locally-based players:

PI: Definitely feeling the pressure, but it’s also an honor. There will be only seven representing the local talent. Being from the US originally, having played Division I soccer, living in the Philippines the past three years, having the most international experience, having been assistant coach for the youth national teams, I have the great responsibility to share my experience, guide, and be an example for all the players.

On the likelihood of being homesick:

CR: It's always going to be hard being away from family but I rest easy knowing they're only one message away. Besides, I have pieces of home with me — my teammates. I'd also like to believe that my previous experience performing my student-athlete and national team duties have prepared me for this. While this will be the longest time away from home yet, commitments really call for sacrifices, and this sacrifice is one I'm more than willing to make.

IP: It’s weird being away from home and not having the vibe of the Philippines, but this is the sacrifice asked of us to represent the flag. It’s important to push through adversity. We all come from different places and having us altogether for this camp helps us bond and get some team chemistry which will hopefully show on the field.

On balancing being a student-athlete with national team duties:

SC: Hopefully they will allow me to go back and forth during our breaks so I can still play games.

Tanduay-Alab Pilipinas vs Singapore Slingers on tap for ABL play

ABL on S+A tomorrow
Tanduay-Alab Pilipinas heads to the OCBC Arena in Singpore to face the Singapore Slingers in ASEAN Basketball League action tomorrow.

Alab is fresh from a 90-79 victory over Westports Malaysia Dragons earlier this week at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan, and are raring to avenge their 97-83 loss back in November in Sta. Rosa. They will be doing so with a couple of new reinforcements who made impressive debuts.

Justin Brownlee stuffed the stat sheet with 28 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and a couple of blocks. Renaldo Balkman wasn't too shabby himself with seventeen points, eleven rebounds, an assist, four steals, and a couple of blocks.

Reigning ABL MVP Rayray Parks was thankful for the presence of the former PBA imports, as it frees him up to focus more on defensive responsibilities. He shares, "Balkman and Brownlee are athletic, and they make us get up and down the floor, making us a way faster team, it’s a great fit. They’re great talents, which makes everything easier in facilitating and creating and at I can focus more on putting pressure on opposing guards."

Dondon Hontiveros adds, "We needed imports who are fast. With Justin and Balkman, these are the types of guys that (Coach) Jimmy wants for our team, they can switch and guard multiple positions aside from creating their own offense. Aside from that, they have experience, with Brownlee coming off a championship and Balkman from a stellar tour of duty overseas, with national team stints."

Meanwhile, the Slingers are playing their first game in 2018 after ending 2017 with an 82-79 defeat to Hong Kong Eastern. Like Alab, they also have a new reinforcement, enlisting two-time World Import MVP Chris Charles alongside Xavier Alexander and AJ Mandani.

The game will be shown LIVE on S+A and S+A HD at 4pm, with a replay scheduled at 8pm.

Giannis leads NBA All-Star fan vote



The first set of returns are out, and there is a surprise early leader in the NBA All-Star fan vote.

Milwaukee Bucks do-it-all superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo emerged as the leading vote-getter in the race to be named as one of the two captains in the NBA All-Star Game. The "Greek Freak" received 863,416 votes for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, beating out LeBron James by over seven thousand votes. The Cavs superstar is one of two other players with over eight hundred thousand votes, alongside former teammate Kyrie Irving.

For the other captaincy, Kevin Durant is leading his teammate Stephen Curry, 767,402 to 735,115. James Harden is the only other in the Western Conference with over five hundred thousand votes, at 602,040.

The league will next update the tabulations on January 12. Deadline for voting is at 1159pm on January 15 (which is 1259am on January 16). The pool of starters, including the captains, will be announced on NBA Tip-Off on January 19 (Manila time).

The fan vote comprises fifty percent of the computations needed to determine the All-Star Game Starters. One fourth of the computation depends on votes from the media, while the remaining one fourth depends on votes from the players.

The computation to determine the pool of All-Star starters can be seen below:

After all votes are tallied, players will be ranked in each conference by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups – fan votes, player votes and media votes.  Each player’s score will be calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fan votes, the player votes and the media votes.  The five players (two guards and three frontcourt players) with the best score in each conference will be named NBA All-Star Game starters.  Fan voting will serve as the tiebreaker for players in a position group with the same score.

The leading vote-getters can be seen below.

Eastern Conference

Frontcourt
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 863,416
2. LeBron James (CLE) 856,080
3. Joel Embiid (PHI) 433,161
4. Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) 359,459
5. Kevin Love (CLE) 221,969
6. Al Horford (BOS) 120,016
7. Jayson Tatum (BOS) 98,586
8. Andre Drummond (DET) 85,374
9. Enes Kanter (NYK) 83,102
10. Dwight Howard (CHA) 57,730

Guards
1. Kyrie Irving (BOS) 802,834
2. DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 259,368
3. Victor Oladipo (IND) 251,886
4. Ben Simmons (PHI) 210,085
5. John Wall (WAS) 175,990
6. Dwyane Wade (CLE) 165,163
7. Isaiah Thomas (CLE) 87,680
8. Kyle Lowry (TOR) 85,070
9. Bradley Beal (WAS) 71,079
10. Jaylen Brown (BOS) 51,562

Western Conference

Frontcourt
1. Kevin Durant (GSW) 767,402
2. Anthony Davis (NOP) 393,000
3. DeMarcus Cousins (NOP) 356,340
4. Draymond Green (GSW) 325,612
5. Paul George (OKC) 291,495
6. Kawhi Leonard (SAS) 212,650
7. Carmelo Anthony (OKC) 194,239
8. Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 188,240
9. Kyle Kuzma (LAL) 184,338
10. LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS) 153,599

Guards
1. Stephen Curry (GSW) 735,115
2. James Harden (HOU) 602,040
3. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 438,469
4. Klay Thompson (GSW) 359,442
5. Manu Ginobili (SAS) 231,460
6. Chris Paul (HOU) 174,343
7. Damian Lillard (POR) 148,622
8. Lonzo Ball (LAL) 120,817
9. Devin Booker (PHO) 91,562
10. Jimmy Butler (MIN) 88,009

Fans can vote in a variety of ways, all of which are documented here.

ABS-CBN to show DoTA 2 finals on S+A

Tier One + ABS-CBN Sports = Galaxy Battles on S+A
ABS-CBN Sports this week entered into a partnership with Tier One to show the Galaxy Battles: Emerging Worlds DoTA 2 tournament on free television.

The partnership will have ABS-CBN Sports show the Finals of the said tourney on January 21 on S+A and S+A HD.

The broadcast will be conducted in full Filipino, with Tier One talents and shoutcasters like Nico "Kuyanic" Nazario, Jaz "Heneral Tuna" Comoda, and Bianca "Biancake" Yao providing this unique persepective for the Filipino gaming community.

Sixteen teams are expected to participate in Galaxy Battles, including local side TNC Pro team.

ABS-CBN Integrated Sports head Dino Laurena says that this partnership is in line with the network's advocacy of supporting local athletes, as well as enables its continued efforts to diversify its content on S+A. He says, "Our advocacy in sports also extends to the fast-growing community of Filipino gamers here, who have already shown that they can compete alongside the best in the world of eSports. We believe they can serve as role models in responsible gaming and show the youth how to raise their game to a competitive level, where dedication and discipline is needed and where it is definitely more than just clicking a mouse or a specific key on the keyboard."

Tier One Chief Executive Officer Tryke Gutierrez expressed excitement with this partnership, acknowledging this as a landmark moment in the local eSports scene. He adds, "I truly believe that in order for eSports to be appreciated by a wider audience here in the Philippines, it has to be covered by local eSports talents in the local language. Most sports coverages are done in Tagalog, why not eSports? I’m just happy to have one of the biggest networks in the country believe in what we’re trying to achieve."

Celebrities excited for the CM Paradise Run

"Kuya" Kim Atienza addressing the crowd at a ColorManila Event
With the CM Paradise Run slated tomorrow at the SM Mall of Asia Event Grounds, here are some celebrities who have partaken of the ColorManila experience.

(Binibining Pilipinas 2017 4th Princess) Zara Carbonell: "The best part of the ColorManila experience is its ability to keep you in the moment, reminding you that it is worth celebrating. Above all, it is the warmth of everyone who joins. It definitely feels like coming home."

(Rugby player) Chris Everingham: "I love it! It gets better and better every year! The best way to start the year!"

(TV/Radio host) Sam YG: "It’s always mas fun, pag may ka-ColorManila run." He is also expected to host the post-run festivities like in previous CM Runs.

The sixth edition of the ColorManila Run has four race distances (3K, 5K, 10K, 21K), with the runners going through a variety of color stations with palm trees, garlands, and hammocks. As noted by ColorManila VP Justine Cordero, “When you start joining a ColorManila race, you go through the race route, we don’t want you to hurry up and just aim for the finish line. It’s not about that.  You enjoy the journey, you enjoy each color station, you roll in the streets, we see runners do ‘color angels’ and take photos. Because these memories are going to last forever.”

Afterwards, they will get to have fun during the CM Color Festival, wherein they will simultaneously throw colored powder in the air while grooving to music.

Registration is still ongoing at colormanila.com, with participants having the option to pick their preferred kits below.

The Deluxe Kit, which is priced at P950, comes with a dri-fit shirt, sunglasses, race bib, color packet, and finisher’s medal.

The Rockstar Kit, priced at P1,500, comes with a dri-fit shirt, sunglasses, race bib, color packet, finisher’s medal, drawstring bag, and headwear.

The 21K Kit is priced at P1,900 and comes with a singlet, sunglasses, race bib with timing tag, color packet, finisher’s medal, and a finisher’s shirt.

The VIP Kit, which is priced at P2,500, comes with a dri-fit shirt, VIP sunglasses, race bib, color packet, finisher’s medal, drawstring bag, headwear, and VIP Access.

VIP Access includes the following: Access to the Premium Lounge with a changing tent, portalets, special redemption area for baggage, hydration, color packet, and medals. In addition, one can also avail of the exclusive 10% discount in all CM Merchandise. It also enables access to designated VIP parking at the SM Mall of Asia grounds.

Ongoing promos for interested participants include a Buy 4 Take 1 Rockstar Kit Promo, a fifty percent discount for OFWs, and free runs for kids under the age of seven.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Aron Baynes conference call with the International NBA media


Aron Baynes attempting a shot at Madison Square Garden (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Earlier this week, the NBA had a conference call with select members of the international media as part of the run-up to the 2018 edition of the NBA London Game, slated to take place later this month. It involved a few members of the Boston Celtics, who will face the Philadelphia 76ers for that matchup.

One of those involved is Aron Baynes. And here are some of his thoughts.

On the potential revival of the Celtics-Sixers rivalry: "I do think there's definitely a great young core group on both teams. That's one of those things that's exciting about this game coming up in London is there is so much young talent. We have Jayson [Tatum], who is playing phenomenally. He has had a lot more on his plate than anyone really thought coming into the season. And then Jaylen [Brown]  is backing up his rookie year very well. They've added a lot of pieces around here, so there's a great young core here. And then Philly, they've got Simmons and Embiid, and that's definitely their core. It's going to be for a long time coming into it. It's one of those things that's going to be hopefully a good rivalry over the next few years. It will be a fun one when we get out there in London, for sure."

On Ben Simmons and his potential for Australia: "Definitely excited to incorporate Bennie into the Boomers' program. We have that solid core group of guys, but we have a lot of young guys coming through as well. Not only Bennie but there's Jonah [Bolden], and there's a whole list of young guys that are going to be the foundation for the Boomers moving forward. So over the next couple of years trying to integrate those guys into the system is going to be a lot of fun for us. We're looking forward to it because a lot is going to be on their plate when they come into the national team, and we're going to be feeding off what they bring us a lot. Bennie gives a lot of different teams different looks. He's such a big point guard, and he comes down and he causes some matchup problems. But that's why we're lucky as well, because we're so versatile that we can throw different looks at him defensively, and we don't give him the same look. When he keeps getting that same look throughout the 48 minutes, that's  when he really gets comfortable and starts finding a rhythm for himself. He's looked great over the first half of the season so far. It's one of those things that we're just going to try to give as many different looks as we can and see how that plays out."

On how the Celtics handled adversity with Hayward's injury: "It's definitely been a big change from the beginning. You can't ever make up for what you lose in Gordon, but it's one of those things where we're getting different things from different guys and everyone is trying to take a little piece of what he brought to the team. We can't really replace what he's going to bring, so we've incorporated a few different things. Some guys have gotten a lot more playing time as well, and that's really been able to progress us along. You know, the biggest thing is just playing within Brad's system. [Brad Stevens] always puts us in a place to succeed, so when we play within the system, we usually look pretty good. It's when we start doing our own thing that we kind of slow down, and we don't look so good out there. So we're trying to stay within what Brad puts us in, because like I said, he puts us in  the right place most of the time."

On comparing the Spurs and the Celtics: Yeah, one of the biggest things I learned in San Antonio is less is more. Pop [Gregg Popovich] always preached that when we are working, we put everything we've got into it and we do everything at game speed and try and get the most out of it, but when we're not, then you've got to get off your feet and try to recover because we play 82 regular season games. It's a long grind, and you want to stay as fresh as possible for the game time. You don't want to burn yourself out. It's about playing late into June. That's when every team still wants to be playing, so you can't really go out there and use it all up straightaway. Coming in here to the Celtics, Coach Stevens is all about getting off the feet as well, but we're also learning while we're off our feet. He really emphasizes us watching a lot of video and film and breaking down games and just trying to learn that way as well. Everyone is trying to be a student of the game here under Coach Stevens. I've been lucky, with both coaches I've gotten more about basketball than I've ever learned. I'm just trying to learn every single time around them and soak up as much as I can."

On the London Game: "I know we're definitely looking forward to it. There's a great following for the NBA over there, and we're excited to get over there. It's a different culture for everyone to learn. I don't know if it's going to be colder. I think it's negative-17 Celsius here today. It's probably a little bit warmer over there for us. At least we'll go and thaw out a little bit while we're in London, which you don't hear too often. We're looking forward to getting over there. The game is definitely our No. 1 focus, but also getting out, seeing some of the sights. I know my wife is coming over, and she wants to go to a play in the West End and we'll go to a couple other places. Being from Australia, we learned about the British history growing up, so it always takes it to another level for us being able to go over there and walk through Piccadilly Circus and see Leicester Square. There's stuff that is pretty awesome for us, seeing Buckingham and Parliament, Big Ben. That's what we grew up learning about, so it's always good to be able to go over there. It'll be my wife's first time in London as well, so she's definitely looking forward to it."

Brad Stevens conference call with the International NBA media

Brad Stevens during Game 6 of last season's Eastern Conference Semifinals vs Washington Wizards
(Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earlier this week, the NBA had a conference call with select members of the international media as part of the run-up for the 2018 edition of the NBA London Game, slated to take place later this month. It involved a few members of the Boston Celtics, who will face the Philadelphia 76ers for that matchup.

One of those involved is Brad Stevens. And here are some of his thoughts.

On how the London Game can help the Celtics grow as a team (like how it was for KG in 2008 preseason game in Rome): "It's one of the reasons why we actually -- we very rarely in the last couple of years have left our practice facility to do anything in the preseason. But we went away to a college about an hour and a half away to spend time together, eat meals together, do things together at the start of training camp, with a condensed training camp this year, with only three weeks to get ready for our first game, and knowing all the while that we have this trip ahead of us to do the same thing. I think it's really important. It's important for us from a practice standpoint. It's important for us from a spending-time-together standpoint. And we've got to balance well the preparation and time spent together and the opportunity to see the sights for a day or two. I think that's something that I really want to give our guys a chance to do."

On preparing for the London Game: "Well, these guys are so used to playing in big arenas and special venues that we don't give a second thought to that. I think it's more the opportunity we do get to practice at least once or twice there, and we get to work on some things we need to work on. I mean, a lot of times in the NBA you're playing one night, hopping on a plane, playing somewhere else the next and then flying out. This is the most unique part about this trip, other than the fact that it's across the ocean in London, is the fact that we're actually going to be in a city for a couple of days before we play and have a chance to work together. So that's a real unique part from a travel perspective, from a preparation perspective. But everything else will be what I would say is pretty similar to the norm."

On working with this iteration of the Celtics: "Well, first and foremost, I really enjoy coaching this group. We have a long way to go. I don't think we're playing at the level of a 60-win team, so we'll find out how good we are when everything is done."

On the Popovich comparisons: "As far as being compared or talked about in the same breath as Coach Popovich, I would have to check the source and tell them they probably don't know what they're talking about. I'm not in that ballpark, and I'm pretty cognizant of that. This is a league that is incredibly humbling to be a part of because the players and coaches are so good. Every single day you have to stay on your toes just to survive, and I think that that's something that you don't take for granted. This is a difficult task against the best of the best. To be compared to somebody like Pop, again, it's flattering, but I don't take it too seriously because I know how far away I am from a guy like him."

On Daniel Theis: "Daniel is an awesome guy. He's a tremendous teammate, and he is probably as comfortable in his role and what he does well as anybody that I've coached. He knows what he does
well. He stays in that box, and as a result has had a great first 40 games. As a rookie and undrafted guy, a guy that had never played in the NBA before, it's incredible how impactful he's been for us. There will certainly be games where he plays more than others just based on matchups and everything else, but he's a guy that we believe strongly in now and as we move forward."

On what Kyrie Irving needs to get better: "I think he can get better in every area on the court, and I think the best players in the league consistently have that focus. If you look at the last few MVPs in the league, especially as you go through [Stephen] Curry and then [Russell] Westbrook, the jump they made from the year before to their MVP year was as big as anybody. I think sometimes we look at most improved players as people that come off the bench and then start or go from not playing to a sixth man role, and we miss the fact that oftentimes the best players in the league are the most improved players from year to year, and there's a reason why they're where they are. Kyrie works the right way. He's got a great attitude about it. He wants to be great. He doesn't take for granted what he's already achieved. He works to be great the next day. And that's why I think he'll keep getting better."

On the NBA having these overseas events: "I think we all recognize the impact of the NBA but certainly the impact of basketball across the world. I think of all the many incredible things that basketball has given to me, it's been the opportunity to go to different places because of the game. When I was a college player, I played in four different countries in Europe. When I coached at Butler, we took our team to Finland. We took our team to Italy. We had set up a trip to go to Australia right before I left. As part of the NBA, I've already gotten a chance to coach in Madrid and Milan and also go on an NBA Cares trip to Johannesburg, and now we get to come to London. Without basketball, I don't get to go to any of those places. To me, it's just another thing to speak to why we're so thankful to get an opportunity to do what we do, and kind of, I guess, the global impact of the game and how we're all tied by the love of the game, and I think that that for a basketball junkie like me is the fun part of it."

On trying to minimize the effect of "hitting the wall" on the young guys: "I think that you always think about that every single day and what you're preparing to do. There's a reason why we haven't practiced much over the last 60 days, is because we didn't want to add the extra wear and tear. We would manage it through the games. We've got, I think, one guy on our team in the top 50 in minutes in the NBA. So I feel like we've managed that well, and we've asked guys to be very forthright with us about how they're feeling so we can manage it even better. Now we have a little bit more chance to practice. We'll be on the court a little bit more on off days, but we'll still do so with the big picture in mind. Everything that we're always doing from a coaching standpoint and a sports standpoint is all geared towards trying to navigate the long season, maximize each moment, but then be ready to be your best at the end of the year."

On the Cavs: "I think as far as the Cavs go, they're the class of the East. They've been the class of the East for the last two and a half years, and everybody, including us, is chasing them."

On the NBA's international influence: "As far as the international influence on the NBA, I don't think there's any doubt that it's one of the coolest parts of my job. I mean, we have a player from the Dominican Republic, we have a player from Germany,  we have a player from Australia, we have a player from France, we have a player that was born in Egypt. It's a special thing to be around people from all over the world working toward one common goal. That's why people love sports, because we get a chance to see that kind of intentional pursuit, and it's certainly a great part of the NBA, especially with all the different backgrounds on every team."

On Gordon Hayward's status: "Gordon Hayward will not travel. He has not traveled on any of our road games yet and probably won't for a little bit longer, until basically he doesn't need our equipment here to do what he needs to do. So that's still down the road a little bit."

Daniel Theis conference call with the International NBA media

Daniel Theis holding the ball for the Celtics at Madison Square Garden (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earlier this week, the NBA had a conference call with select members of the international media as part of the run-up to the 2018 edition of the NBA London Game, slated to take place later this month. It involved a few members of the Boston Celtics, who will face the Philadelphia 76ers for that matchup.

One of those involved is Daniel Theis. And here are some of his thoughts.

On being one the Celtics fan favorites: "I would say the Boston fans are special anyway, so every game is sold out. Every play I get, it's loud from the fans for me. I mean, I should say some fans. It's an honor for me, for sure. I just try to play like I've played the last years, bring energy."

On whether he gets teased by the other German NBA players (All other Germans in NBA are with struggling teams: Maxi Kleber and Dirk Nowitzki with Dallas, Dennis Schroeder with Atlanta, Paul Zipser with Chicago): "For the other German players, now in Chicago they've made a run. They're getting better. They have played the last year on the highest level. [Chicago's Paul Zipser] played a lot of games. So I hope all the other German players and teams they play for, they're going to get better this season."

On excelling his role as an off the bench big: "I don't mind starting or coming off the bench for the game. Like I said, I've been doing this in Bamberg for years. I just try to bring energy, play defense when I step on the court. For me, it doesn't matter if I start the game, come off the bench or whatever, so whenever the team needs me, I try to be ready."

On whether he has friends and family heading to London for the game:  "I've got my brother coming with his girlfriend to London. My wife is coming from Boston to London. And I've got some friends or people I know that play in London, like all around London, soccer, they're coming to the game, too."

On the prospects of a European NBA franchise: "I think it would work, but we'll see how it goes in London. I think London is a good place to play also for NBA teams and franchises, for sure."

On travel concerns with regards to playing in London: "I think with the schedule, with so many games, playoff games, I think we have close to 100 games, it's hard  to do it because it takes a week for us and Philadelphia to play one game in London. I think it's possible for one or two games in a season when a team goes around like two or three cities maybe, but permanent or for different teams I think it's hard to get it done because the schedule is so packed with all the games and everything.
I would say if teams go around like when we would go to London, we could go maybe to one or two places. But it takes a lot of time for us to travel there, prepare everything, then of course with jet lag, time difference, I think it's six hours or seven hours to London. But for this one game, I think it's going to be special for both teams, for fans all over the world or in Europe. They have a chance to come to London and see the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers. I think it's going to be a big thing for the NBA and also just for people and fans in Europe.

On whether his friends in the Premier League or the senior German national football team has touched base with him or have shown inclination to watch the game in London: Yes. One guy plays in Germany first league. I don't know where he plays right now, somewhere in -- I think in the Premier League. He's a friend of mine, plays in Germany first division. He's coming to the game. I think the German guys or some of them that play for Arsenal are also interested in basketball. I think we're going to meet with some of the players, for sure."

On dealing with playing an 82-game season as a rookie: "We played almost 70 games last year with Bamberg with the EuroLeague, but we had the chance to rest a lot of players in the German league, too. With the NBA's schedule, the games are like back to back. We've played 40 games right now, and the season is two months old. Especially our schedule was really tough because we only played two games right now the whole season with two days in between. I think that's the part that makes it harder than in Europe because in Europe, with EuroLeague, you have Monday to Wednesday for practice or preparing, and then you know you play maybe Thursday, Saturday, like two games a week. And right now with the NBA schedule, we play like four to five games a week."

On dealing with the protective mask: "Since I got the second one, the fitted one, it's way better so I can see more. But I thought it's gone for the London game. I'm not going to miss it."

On comparing the NBA style of play to Europe's: "I would say the NBA game is a little bit -- it's faster, more athletic than Euro, and also offensively you take open shots. Even if it's the first pass, you take it if the open shot is a good shot. In Europe, we used to play in Bamberg, you run through the system, you make the defense run, so you are a little bit more patient.

Jayson Tatum conference call with the International NBA media

Jayson Tatum attempting a layup against the Washington Wizards (Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earlier this week, the NBA had a conference call with select members of the international media as part of the run-up for the 2018 edition of the NBA London Game, slated to take place later this month. It involved a few members of the Boston Celtics, who will face the Philadelphia 76ers for that matchup.

One of those involved is Jayson Tatum. And here are some of his thoughts.

On facing the Sixers in London: "It's going to be fun. It's going to be a great game. There's a lot of talent on the floor on both ends, especially young talent, and I'm excited to have the fans over there get to see it up close and personal."

On trying to hold on to the best record in the East: "We've got a lot of games left, and now we've got some time off where we can practice and regroup and tighten things up that we need to work on, and take it one day at a time and practice one game at a time."

On how his rookie season has been going: "I think my rookie year has been going pretty well. Obviously, we're winning. That's what really matters, and I'm having fun doing it."

On playing the Cavs: "We get a chance to play the Cavs again tomorrow and hopefully get them back from the first game of the season."

On what he is most looking forward to in London aside from playing: "My mom is coming over, so just go find nice places to eat, go sightseeing, walk around. It's a little bit warmer over there than it is here, so try to get out of the hotel."

On how he can improve his game further: "Just continue to get better each and every day and just soak up as much information and just learn as much as I can each and every day to try to get better, help the team out."

On how the team prepares for the London Game: "I don't know. I will have to wait and see if we do anything different in practice or what Brad [Stevens] thinks, but I personally don't know."

On the biggest adjustment he made from college to pro: "And the biggest adjustment is just we play so many more games than we do in college, so you've got to really take care of your body."

On his effectiveness shooting from beyond the arc: "I've been working on it a lot, but I didn't think I would shoot it this well."

On whether the Rookie of the Year award serves as one of his goals: "That's always been one of my goals, to win that award. But I think just focusing on team goals first, and if we keep winning, the rest will take care of itself."

On the transition from playing one season in college to playing in the pros: "I think playing for Coach K and Duke prepared me. I just carried that over to this season. Just come in every day and work hard and just try to get better."

On how the team adjusted after losing Hayward: Obviously, when Gordon went down, it was tough. Basically, everybody had to do more on the offensive end and defensive end. We had to come together and still find ways to be effective and win games, and we really triggered in on defense.


On Brad Stevens potentially winning the Coach of the Year nod: We have the best record in the East, and obviously Brad is one of the best coaches in the league. Hopefully we keep winning, and we'll see what happens.

On whether he expected the Celtics' immediate success: No, I didn't. Obviously, when Gordon got hurt, people got more playing time and got more opportunities, and guys just had to step up. From that being the first game of the season, we had to catch on quick.

On Kyrie Irving: He's a great person. He's a great teammate. He's always working and leads by  example. Any questions that we have, especially younger guys, he's always willing to help and show us things and just talk us through film or anything like that. So he's just an all-around great teammate.

Al Horford conference call with the International NBA media

Al Horford passing the ball during Boston's game vs Houston. (Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earlier this week, the NBA had a conference call with select members of the international media as part of the run-up for the 2018 edition of the NBA London Game, slated to take place later this month. It involved a few members of the Boston Celtics, who will face the Philadelphia 76ers for that matchup.

One of those involved is Al Horford. And here are some of his thoughts.

On the Celtics having what it takes to be competitive against Cleveland: "I feel like we've been playing really good basketball. I feel like we have a really young group that our guys just keep getting better as the season goes along. As a group, we're going to keep getting better, and I do feel like we have what it takes to contend for a championship."

On having the chance to play in London (Al missed the chance to play when Atlanta played there a few years ago): "I'm very excited. As soon as we found out earlier this summer we were going to play in London, my wife and I were just ecstatic, very happy about it. I'm really trying to make the most out of the trip. We've been to London before. We love the city. So we're looking forward to spending a couple days over there."

On facing the Cavs: "It'll be a fun matchup tomorrow, to go against Cleveland and see some of the former teammates. It's going to be very competitive. We're excited about the challenge."

On how the young players are able to immediately contribute: "I've been very encouraged by how quickly some of our younger guys have been able to come along and help us as a team. Part of our success is because they've been able to do what Coach [Brad Stevens] is asking of them. They've been put in tough positions, and they've been able to handle it really well. I feel like they're going to continue to get better, and I'll be very eager to see how we're looking at the end of the year because I feel like they'll be much more comfortable and we'll be better as a group."

On playing with Aron Baynes: "Playing with Aron Baynes has been a lot of fun, not only on the court but off the court. He's a great teammate. He's the kind of guy that you want to have on your side because he's going to play the right way. He's going to compete. And he really takes a lot of pressure off of me on the defensive end. I'm able to get out and run a little more and do different things."

On how the team has handled the lineup changes: "I think that one of the strengths of our team is the ability of always being able to change. Coach has challenged us a lot, changing lineups, because of, like you said, injuries or things. But I've felt like our team has handled that really well. Guys are not making excuses. We're stepping up to the challenge, and we're trying to make the most of what we have."

On Kyrie being a factor in improving his game: "Kyrie is a great competitor. He's a guy that has proved that he can play at a really high level, and I think that he's made our team better. He has, in his own way, challenged me to be better, especially to be more aggressive on the offensive end, and just striving to be a better player. So it's been a lot of fun being able to play alongside him."

On Guerschon Yabusele not yet breaking through the main rotation: "I still believe it, he can play. Sometimes in the NBA, some guys are able to figure things out quicker than others. Sometimes it takes a full year for you to totally understand a new system, what's your role, what's expected. But Guerschon, he still impresses me. He has gotten some opportunities in the past couple weeks. It's a long season. I feel like he'll continue to get some more opportunities. But I think that people have to understand that he will be at that level -- he'll be able to play. He'll be able to do a lot of special things. But sometimes it just takes time, and he'll get his opportunity."

On having fun being part of a successful team: "I think the focus always has to be on the night tonight, but I do sit back and look at the big picture. We've had a lot of adversity as a group, a lot of guys that have never played in the NBA that have come in and had an impact. I look at all that and I do appreciate the progress and how well we've played. But then also at the same time, I always bring myself back down, and it's important for us to focus on the game to game and the process and just continue to get better. And I think that's the key for our group."