Blackwater player produces negative antigen test; PBA awaits RT-PCR results - ESPN Philippines
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) announced Sunday that the Blackwater Elite player initially suspected of being COVID-19 positive, produced a negative antigen test.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect information gathered from the PBA's press conference on Sunday evening. The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) announced Sunday that the Blackwater Elite player initially suspected of being COVID-19 positive, produced a negative antigen test. "[The Blackwater player] was extracted. Just earlier, he was tested through antigen, with a negative result. We will wait for the result tomorrow of his RT-PCR," Deputy Commissioner Eric Castro said in a press conference. Meanwhile, the referee that initially tested positive also turned out negative in subsequent tests, but will serve out the remainder of a 10-day quarantine. The referees that he had come in contact with also tested negative, and officiated the Ginebra-Magnolia game. Once the referee returns to the bubble, he will undergo another round of RT-PCR tests as part of league protocol. The same rules will be applied to the Blackwater player if he tests negative. "I want to assure you that the protocols that have been given to the referee will be the same ones that will be done to the player. It will actually be the same and we will wait for the results of this," Dr. George Canlas earlier said. Testing czar Sec. Vince Dizon admits that any kind testing is not wholly 100% accurate, which may have been the case for the referee. "We want to emphasize that we put in place several layers of protocols consistent and benchmarked with the successful bubbles abroad, specifically the NBA...And in those protocols testing is just one component. There are other layers of protocol that we have to put in place simply because everybody knows that there is no 100% test for COVID-19," explained Dizon. The Elite's matchup against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters that was supposed to tip off at 4 p.m. Sunday will be moved to a later date, while the "Manila Clasico" matchup between Brgy. Ginebra and Magnolia pushed through as scheduled. Postponed matchups will be slowly integrated in the upcoming days as tripleheaders, said Castro, and the updated schedule will be released soon. The PBA assures the public that strict health protocols are still being followed inside the Clark bubble. "I think that the bottomline that the protocols that we set, that the PBA set, in coordination with the IATF, and with consultation with the NBA and FIBA are working so far, and we're pretty confident that we're keeping everyone pretty safe in the bubble," said Canlas.
Phoenix erases 17-point deficit to stun Magnolia - ESPN Philippines
The Fuel Masters dug themselves out of a big second-half hole to beat Magnolia and snap a two-game losing skid.
Phoenix Super LPG orchestrated a massive comeback from 17 points down to stun Magnolia 91-84 and snap a two-game losing skid in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup Friday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena and Cultural Center. After an ice-cold performance in the first three quarters that saw them make just 3-of-30 shots, the Fuel Masters suddenly caught fire from downtown in the final 12 minutes to carve out a gutsy win that helped them improve their record to 3-2 in the standings.
|Rain or Shine||3||1|
|As of Oct. 23|
How the PBA is handling its first positive COVID-19 test - ESPN
Here's what we know about what the PBA is doing after isolating a referee who had a positive COVID-19 test.
The PBA moves to make changes while considering conflicting COVID-19 test results for one of its referees. The league is proceeding with additional steps to guarantee the safety of everyone involved in trying to finish the 2020 season. Here's everything we know so far about the case. Has the referee been isolated? Yes. In an earlier statement, the league said they isolated the referee at the Athlete's Village in Capas, Tarlac and he was tested again Wednesday afternoon. What are the test results? Deputy commissioner Eric Castro told ESPN5.com's Carlo Pamintuan that the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) informed the league Tuesday that "one of our game officials tested positive. ... So we immediately did the necessary protocols such as contact tracing." Castro confirmed the referee officiated the Blackwater-Alaska game Tuesday night. The referee, however, produced a negative antigen test in Tarlac Wednesday afternoon. The league is still awaiting swab results, which will take up to five days. "Our medical experts, like PBA medical consultant Dr. Raul Canlas and those from the DOH and CDC, are telling us that it might be a false positive," commissioner Willie Marcial said in Filipino Wednesday evening. "More than 300 delegates who entered the bubble tested negative and he was the only one who tested positive." Did the referee test positive in prior tests? No. Tuesday's result was his fourth test. The league said he had two tests before entering Clark and another two inside the bubble, and all came out negative. "We don't know how he tested positive because he was the only one who did among 28 other tests taken at the same time. Even the doctors are wondering how that happened. " Did the referee come in contact with other people? Yes. The league said there are eight first and second layer contacts currently under strict isolation and that they will be retested on Oct. 24. Included are the referees whom he worked with on Tuesday. How did the referee test positive? Did he breach any protocols? The PBA said no protocols have been violated. But the league's medical team, CDC officials and the Department of Health are evaluating risks. Will he be quarantined? Yes. The referee will remain on a strict-14 day quarantine at the Athletes' Village. Will games continue? Yes. The CDC has cleared the PBA to proceed with its Philippine Cup schedule and will implement stricter measures. Are there any other measures that were taken? Other activities in Quest Hotel, including swimming, the use of gym, and jogging are temporarily suspended until Thursday, the league said. Movement of officials, players, media and everyone else inside the bubble are also restricted in the meantime. Will those present in the Blackwater-Alaska game be retested? Yes. Marcial, as well as Blackwater assistant coach Pat Aquino, confirmed that all players, coaches and personnel from the Aces and Elite will undergo testing Thursday morning at 9.
Vasiliy Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez Jr. live results and analysis - ESPN
Check here for undercard results before Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez Jr. meet in the main event.
Unified lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko faces fellow titleholder Teofimo Lopez Jr. in the main event of a Top Rank card Saturday night at the MGM Grand Convention Center in Las Vegas (ESPN and ESPN+, 7:30 p.m. ET). Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), the WBO and WBA titleholder and WBC "franchise" champion, puts his belts on the line against IBF titlist Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs), in a widely anticipated matchup between the two best fighters in the division. Lomachenko, 32, won the WBA belt in a seventh-round TKO victory over Jorge Linares in May 2018. Seven months later he added the WBO belt in a unanimous decision over Jose Pedraza. Lomachenko won the WBC belt in a decision win over Luke Campbell in 2019, but two months after that he was stripped of the belt by the WBC and instead named the organization "franchise" champ. WBC interim titleholder Devin Haney was promoted to full titleholder. The WBC initially said that the "franchise" belt wouldn't be something to fight for, but recently reversed course. Top Rank Boxing is on ESPN and ESPN+. Subscribe to ESPN+ to get exclusive boxing events, weigh-ins and more. 7:30 p.m. ET Sat., Oct 17, on ESPN and ESPN+:Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez Jr., 12 rounds, for Lomachenko's WBO and WBA lightweight titles, WBC "franchise" belt, and Lopez's IBF lightweight title The fight is one of the best matchups that could be made in boxing, but will not have fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Lomachenko says he won't be affected by it. "I think it's just a ring and judges and TV. That's it. And, of course, four belts," Lomachenko said during a news conference Wednesday. "For me, I think it will be a chess match." Lopez echoed Lomachenko's feelings about the lack of fans -- one of the few things they agree on. "A true champion can adapt to everything," Lopez said. "It goes for both of us. He fought in arenas sold out. I fought in arenas sold out. My job and my thing are having all of these belts wrapped around me." Lopez, 23, scored an impressive second-round TKO of Richard Commey last December to win his belt and set up the unification fight against Lomachenko. "Hard work pays off. Eighteen years in, and it's just the beginning," Lopez said. "You haven't seen anything yet." In the co-main event, Arnold Barboza Jr. takes on Alex Saucedo (30-1, 19 KOs) in a 10-round, junior welterweight battle. Barboza (24-0, 10 KOs) has won three of his past five fights by stoppage. He scored a one-sided unanimous decision win against Tony Luis in August at the Top Rank bubble. Saucedo (30-1, 19 KOs) has won two fights in a row since suffering the only loss of his career challenging Maurice Hooker for the WBO world title in 2018. KO machine Edgar Berlanga (14-0, 14 KOs) meets Lanell Bellows (20-5-3, 13 KOs) in an eight-round super middleweight bout. Berlanga hasn't seen Round 2 yet as he has won all of his pro fights by first-round stoppage. Bellows has never been stopped in his professional career. Also on the card, Josue Vargas (17-1, 9 KOs) and Kendo Castaneda (17-2, 8 KOs) face off in a 10-round junior welterweight fight, and Jose Enrique Durantes Vivas (19-1, 10 KOs) meets John Vincent Moralde (23-3, 13 KOs) in a featherweight bout scheduled for eight rounds. Steve Kim recaps the fights as they happen in Las Vegas. Fight in progress: Jose Enrique Durantes Vivas vs. John Vincent Moralde, 8 rounds, featherweights Results: Randall dominates Rivera Quinton Randall, left, scored a one-sided decision over Jan Carlos Rivera in their welterweight battle. Mikey Williams/Top Rank Quinton Randall defeated Jan Carlos Rivera by unanimous decision in a matchup of undefeated welterweights. After six rounds, Randall came out on top on all three scorecards, by scores of 59-55, 58-56 and 58-56. Rivera (4-1, 4 KOs), an aggressive southpaw, didn't hesitate to come forward to attack Randall (6-1, 2 KOs). While Rivera was able to pin Randall against the ropes multiple times, most of his punches fell short, allowing Randall to box effectively and counterpunch throughout the bout. Tucker stays unbeaten with unanimous decision win Welterweight Jahi Tucker, right, defeated Charles Garner by unanimous decision Mikey Williams/Top Rank In the opening bout of the night, welterweight Jahi Tucker notched his second professional victory by pitching a four-round shutout of Charles Garner. All three judges saw the fight 40-36 for Tucker. While the scorecards were clearly in favor of Tucker (2-0, 1 KOs), it wasn't a scintillating performance. Tucker was the more active fighter and he consistently outworked Garner throughout the fight, but Garner (1-1) had his moments. What this fight really showed was that Tucker, 17, still has a ways to go in terms of his professional development. Still to come:
- Title fight: Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez, 12 rounds, for Lomachenko's WBO and WBA lightweight titles and Lopez's IBF lightweight title
- Arnold Barboza Jr. vs. Alex Saucedo, 10 rounds, junior welterweights
- Edgar Berlanga vs. Lanell Bellows, 8 rounds, super middleweights
- Josue Vargas vs. Kendo Castaneda, 10 rounds, junior welterweights
Guiao on NLEX loss: We have to be more mature - ESPN Philippines
The Road Warriors were right in the game until JR Quiñahan go ejected in the third period.
The NLEX Road Warriors were not too pleased with their season-opening performance against Barangay Ginebra on Sunday evening. NLEX dropped their first assignment, 102-92, after a poor second-half showing that dictated the outcome of the contest. With the score knotted at 55 at the 8:51 mark of the third, they surrendered a 20-4 blitz over the next four minutes to trail, 75-59. To make matters worse, JR Quiñahan, who had been scoring a game-high 26, was ejected with 1:37 left in the third period. "We were actually still in the game when JR got ejected. He was playing really well. Actually, he was playing the best game for us at that point so he was a big less but again, we have to be more mature. We have to accept things like that could happen. And it could have been avoided," lamented NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao on Monday morning. NLEX coach Yeng Guiao wasn't happy with his team's second-half performance against Ginebra. PBA Media Group Guiao also rued the team's lack of coordination, especially on the defensive end. Floor general Kiefer Ravena, who was playing his first All-Filipino game since 2018, only managed to put up six points. "Our first game was disappointing. Coach always talks about accountability. For me that's the biggest takeaway from this game. We started off the game flat, personally, I felt that I let the team down, especially being one of the leaders of the team," explained Ravena. Stifling Ravena, said Ginebra mentor Tim Cone after the win, was a major key in claiming victory. "I thought we did such a tremendous job guarding Kiefer in the first half. And even though we played him so well, it was a tied ball game. So I thought maybe we'd be in some trouble in the second half," recalled Cone. After their sub-par performance, Guiao met with his team on Monday morning to blow off some steam. He believes the meeting could help in restoring order for the rest of the eliminations. "But overall, I still feel good about this tournament. I think we just need to gather ourselves and come back together because I told our team, 'it's hard to put yourself into a hole in this situation. It's very hard to get out, especially with a compressed schedule, especially with a very little adjustment period in between games.'" Guiao remarked. "We feel that it's part of the adjustment period. We feel that we are better every practice day. Our next game is on Wednesday [against Magnolia]. We will get back stronger on Wednesday and keep ourselves in this tournament," he added.
Rafael Nadal routs Novak Djokovic to win French Open for record-tying 20th men's Grand Slam title - ESPN
Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to win a record-extending 13th French Open and match Roger Federer with his 20th career Grand Slam title.
PARIS -- Rafael Nadal tied Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slam titles by producing a nearly perfect performance against Novak Djokovic in the French Open final on Sunday. Nadal equaled long-time rival Federer for the most major singles tennis championships won by a man and added to his own record at Roland Garros with No. 13 on the red clay, courtesy of a surprisingly dominant 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory over the No. 1-ranked Djokovic. "What you are doing in this court is unbelievable. Not just this court -- throughout your entire career, you've been a great champion,'' Djokovic told Nadal during the trophy presentation. "Today you showed why you are King of the Clay.'' Editor's Picks When Nadal ended it with an ace, he dropped to his knees, smiled widely and pumped his arms. It's the fourth time he has won his favorite tournament without ceding a set. "The love story that I have with this city, and with this court, is unforgettable,'' Nadal said. He deflected a question during the on-court postmatch interview about catching Federer, saying his focus remained squarely on the French Open. "[To] win here means everything to me, no? It's not the moment, honestly ... [to] think today about the 20th,'' Nadal said. "Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent, here, the most important moments -- or most of the most important moments -- in my tennis career, no doubt about that.'' Major Company Rafael Nadal became the fifth player, man or woman, to win 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
|'20 French Open||Rafael Nadal||W|
|'06 Wimbledon||Roger Federer||W|
|'04 US Open||Roger Federer||W|
|'04 French Open||Guillermo Coria||L|
|'89 Wimbledon||Boris Becker||W|
|'77 French Open||Guillermo Vilas||W|
|Rafael Nadal||French Open||13|
|Richard Sears||US Championships||7|
|Bill Larned||US Championships||7|
|Bill Tilden||US Championships||7|
NBA Finals - Predicting who wins Lakers-Heat, and why - ESPN Philippines
The stakes are high, and the matchups are fascinating. Here's what to watch for in the NBA Finals.
After much springtime bloviating, there will be no asterisk on this NBA championship. If anything, it will be more badge of honor -- a mark of perseverance through isolation, mental strain, and the internal discord of performing a job in the entertainment industry while issues of social and racial justice roiled outside the Orlando bubble. We remember some champions more than others. This champion will stand out forever. The bubble did not produce a fluke finalist. The Los Angeles Lakers ranked among the league's three favorites all season. The Miami Heat did not, but they have been a different team in Orlando -- new starting lineup, remade identity, more powerful two-way force. They faced a slightly tougher slate of playoff opponents than the Lakers, and outscored them by 4.5 points per 100 possessions -- two points fatter than their regular-season margin.ABC and the ESPN App are your exclusive home for the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers! Wed., Sept. 30: Game 1, 9 p.m. ETFri., Oct. 2: Game 2, 9 p.m. ETSun., Oct. 4: Game 3, 7:30 p.m. ETTue., Oct. 6: Game 4, 9 p.m. ET Perhaps the bubble took a larger toll on the LA Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks. We will learn more as players, coaches, and staff decompress and reflect. Three key Clippers left and returned. But every team dealt with more or less the same on-the-ground realities in Orlando. Two of Miami's regular-season starters -- Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn -- contracted COVID-19 during the hiatus. The Heat are 12-3 in the playoffs, same as the Lakers. They are running roughshod over weakening teams in fourth quarters. They represent the best defense the Lakers have faced in the postseason. The Lakers and LeBron James owe no apologies for arriving on the precipice without facing the Bucks or Clippers, no matter how many implacable critics stand ready to proclaim LeBron's potential fourth championship tarnished. The terms of the LeBron-Michael Jordan debate shift if the Lakers win. That would also give Los Angeles 17 titles -- tying the Boston Celtics for most ever. Haggle over whether five Minneapolis-era titles should "count" if you want, but record books would list the Lakers with 17. (And if we discount those five, how do we account for nine of Boston's 17 coming from 1957 to 1966 -- when the NBA featured fewer than 10 teams?) The Heat, meanwhile, meet LeBron at the summit six years after he spurned them -- a decision that enraged Pat Riley and left Miami to pick up the pieces after planning for LeBron's return.Editor's Picks The rage faded fast. There is mutual respect now, and the joy of shared past triumphs. But tension remains -- perhaps something akin to the extra competitive juice you feel facing a distant sibling who has outdone you over the past half-decade. Riley and the Heat want championships, regardless of the opposition. They won't say it out loud, but they would surely take special satisfaction toppling James. The bigger-picture stakes are fun, and meaningful, but they won't decide the series. Let's look at the X's and O's that will. Who does Bam Adebayo guard? When the Lakers shift Anthony Davis to center, the answer is easy: Adebayo guards Davis, and the Heat can switch most LeBron-Davis pick-and-rolls -- even if doing so leaves Jimmy Butler or Jae Crowder jostling with Davis. But despite all the clamor -- including from here -- for the Lakers to "go small," there is really no statistical evidence the Lakers need to against anyone but the micro-ball Houston Rockets. The Lakers are plus-55 in 194 combined postseason minutes with the LeBron/Davis/Dwight Howard and LeBron/Davis/JaVale McGee groupings, per NBA.com. They are plus-21 in 123 minutes when LeBron and Davis play without any of Howard, McGee, or Markieff Morris. The LeBron/Morris/Davis trio -- a tweener look -- is a monstrous plus-38 in 68 minutes. The Lakers will start big, and play a good chunk of the series that way. They are huge with LeBron, Davis, and a 7-foot center on the floor. It is one thing to watch it on TV, quite another to encounter all those limbs in person. Frank Vogel and the players have weaponized that size in smart ways. They can switch pick-and-rolls and double-team opposing stars -- tactics they will sometimes use against Butler and Goran Dragic -- knowing two fast and very large humans still lurk around the paint, ready to barricade the rim and leap at shooters. Howard has earned the starting spot, with one caveat: He fouls a lot, and the Heat ranked No. 1 in free throw rate. Spot the Heat five extra free points per game, and you embolden an underdog. I get the appeal in slotting Adebayo onto Davis: Put your star defender on L.A.'s star big man. Don't overthink it. You can switch the LeBron-Davis pick-and-roll without fatal mismatches. If the Lakers redirect their offense away from Adebayo, that means going away from Davis too -- a win for Miami. We will see a lot of Adebayo on Davis -- in crunch time, and when the Lakers go small. But I can see Erik Spoelstra starting the other way: Adebayo on Howard (or McGee), Crowder on Davis. The Lakers in their bigger alignments use the LeBron-Howard/McGee pick-and-roll more than the LeBron-Davis version; Davis often spaces the floor. Having Adebayo on Howard might put him in more of L.A.'s two-man action. It would also keep Adebayo closer to the rim, where Miami really needs him. The Heat do a good job keeping opponents out of the restricted area, but enemies who encroach shoot well: 66% in the regular season and 64% in the playoffs, per Cleaning The Glass. The Lakers are the league's fiercest rim-attacking team. Almost 40% of their attempts came at the rim in the regular season, second most, and they converted a league-best 69% there. Almost half LeBron's postseason shots have come at the basket. He has rammed in 76% of them. He is shooting 64% on 2s overall, the best postseason mark of his storied career. The Heat should want Adebayo either near the basket, or guarding LeBron on switches late in possessions. Starting him on Howard might be the best way to accomplish that. It also decreases the chances of Adebayo suffering early foul trouble, something the Heat cannot afford. They are a team-high plus-89 with Adebayo on the floor in the playoffs, and minus-14 when he sits. Leaving Crowder on Howard would risk a bundle of L.A. offensive rebounds and the accompanying hacks. The downside is obvious: Davis roasting Crowder. But Crowder is a sturdy post defender. He has a low base and battles hard. He's sly about fronting. He has given taller, skinnier scorers more trouble than they expected. None are as accomplished as Davis, perhaps the best overall player of this postseason. If Davis gets rolling against Crowder -- and even before he does -- the Heat can send help, including from their biggest and most explosive defender in Adebayo. The Heat are fast, and connected on defense. They fly around, and rarely make mistakes. Swarming Davis and James in the paint invites more L.A. 3s. Miami will accept that tradeoff. Only the Bucks and Toronto Raptors allowed more 3-point attempts than Miami during the regular season. That has changed some in the playoffs -- probably due to Miami going smaller -- but the Heat still defend from the rim out. Elite shooting teams can wobble that structure. The Lakers are not such a team. They attempt relatively few 3s and have hit them at about a league-average rate. How do the Lakers deal with Miami's zone? Boston solved Miami's zone by the end of the conference finals. The Heat have allowed 1.1 points per possession when playing zone -- around the league's overall postseason scoring average, per Second Spectrum. The zone has worked for stretches, but it has been demystified. Playoff Basketball Battle Answer questions on the NBA playoffs and compete for $30,000 of guaranteed prizes! Make Your Picks The Lakers studied Boston's counters, and have answers Boston did not. James and Davis can hurt the zone from the middle as passers and scorers. Give them a quarter-step advantage there, and they are on the rim. Davis, McGee, and Howard are lob threats in dead zones along the baseline. Zones are vulnerable to offensive rebounding; the Lakers have gobbled offensive boards all season. The Lakers have the second-worst turnover rate in the playoffs, and Miami's zone has wrenched away lots of steals. The Lakers need to be careful. After posting a (slightly) below-average mark in the regular season, the Lakers in the playoffs have scored more than one point per possession in their half-court offense -- second among postseason teams, and tops among those who advanced beyond the first round, per Cleaning The Glass. They have gotten enough 3-point shooting, including some from unlikely sources; Rajon Rondo and Morris are 30-of-68 combined from deep in the playoffs. What happens if they regress? Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have hit 39% combined; expecting more might be unreasonable. Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso have struggled all season. The Heat are disciplined in transition defense -- a must against the Lakers' fast-breaking, touchdown-passing machine. They are going to make L.A. grind this out. A few cold-shooting games from the Lakers, and the Heat could be in business. How do the Lakers defend Bam? LeBron figures to guard Butler a lot. The Lakers can probably switch the Butler-Adebayo two-man game, even when their centers start off defending Adebayo. (The Lakers have prided themselves on not switching, but top postseason offenses demand flexibility.) LeBron can hold up against Adebayo; L.A.'s centers can back off Butler and dare him to shoot long 2s or drive into them. They just have to stay down on Butler's pump fake -- easier said than done. LeBron will dart under some screens for Butler and flash back into Butler's shooting window. The Lakers can also defend traditionally: Have Howard drop back to corral Butler, and bank on the three defenders behind the play -- including Davis -- rotating and smothering Miami's shooters. The Lakers have to be on high alert for Butler to reject screens, and slice the other direction. Few ball handlers do that more, per Second Spectrum. Green will guard Butler some, though that forces LeBron to chase Dragic or Duncan Robinson when the starting lineups face off. (LeBron defended Robinson a bit in the regular season, and he can bulldoze Robinson after stops if Miami doesn't extricate itself out of that matchup.) When Davis plays center, he will guard Adebayo -- allowing the Lakers to switch more if they like. Davis could in theory start games on Adebayo, leaving Howard to chase Crowder, but I'm not sure that contortion is worth it. It was the Dragic-Adebayo pick-and-roll that tore apart Boston. That is tougher to switch; Adebayo can hurt the Lakers' guards with post-ups and offensive boards. (Among Adebayo's glowing playoff stats, don't sleep on him draining 82% from the line after shooting 69% in the regular season. That is a big deal considering how often he finds himself in scrums.)The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat will face off in the 2020 NBA Finals. Check out all our latest coverage here. The shots that will swing the NBA FinalsFinals are more than LeBron vs. MiamiThe embodiments of Miami Heat cultureAnthony Davis' high-stakes playoffsShelburne: Appreciate LeBron in 2020 If the Lakers do switch a guard onto Adebayo, they could have LeBron or Davis rescue that guy with a second switch on the fly. LeBron is really good at that. Having so many players moving around opens windows -- dangerous against a team with shooting -- but the Lakers are big, fast, and adept at slamming those windows shut. The Lakers could stick LeBron on Dragic late in close games to switch more smoothly, but that means someone else has to guard Butler. Green can hang. Maybe Kuzma can. Butler has bullied Caldwell-Pope. The Lakers have tried Caruso on Butler; Caruso backs down from no one. The Lakers could keep it simple against the Dragic-Adebayo action: Hang back, help from the outside if required, and coax Dragic into contested floaters. The Heat station Robinson on the weak side to discourage normal help rotations; teams are paranoid about giving Robinson any airspace. Miami synchronizes some Robinson off-ball action on one side with a pick-and-roll on the other to further distract help defenders. But the Lakers are a high-IQ team. If they have to help from unconventional places, they'll figure that out. LeBron and Davis are big and fast enough to lunge off Robinson and recover: Davis has the quicks and anticipation to stick with Adebayo's hard slips to the rim. The Lakers are better equipped than Boston to switch the Dragic-Butler pick-and-roll; they will live with Caldwell-Pope switching onto Butler in that circumstance. They can trap late in the shot clock, as they did against James Harden, using time as an extra defender. That other part of Miami's offense You still have to contend with Robinson and Tyler Herro slingshotting off Adebayo picks -- and into catch-and-shoot 3s. Most centers are wary leaping out to contest 30 feet from the rim. When they do, Robinson and Herro slip passes to Adebayo -- who then orchestrates a vicious 4-on-3. The Lakers' centers have been smart about lurching and swiping at Robinson to buy their teammates' time -- and then moonwalking back to Adebayo. If Davis is playing center, he can switch in a pinch. Robinson and Herro will get theirs, anyway. It is exhausting guarding them. LeBron will go guard hunting Dragic, Robinson, and Herro need to steel themselves for LeBron dragging them into one pick-and-roll after another. Switch, and it's a crisis; LeBron is feasting at the basket unless Miami sends a double-team. Miami will mix coverages to try to keep LeBron off-balance. The Heat might trap high on the floor and force the Lakers to pass their way into a good shot. They might switch and then trap LeBron late in the shot clock -- if he allows any time for that. They'll play zone to protect their weakest defenders. They might even scoot under screens and see if LeBron takes the bait. (LeBron is shooting 24% on long 2s in the playoffs, but the Heat are in trouble if his run of jumpers to eliminate Denver signaled a resurgence.) The Lakers can spring off-ball actions designed to generate mismatches for James and Davis: Does Miami tweak its rotation? The Heat can't get much smaller than the Butler-Crowder-Adebayo trio against the biggest L.A. lineups. Could we see the return of the double-big look? The Adebayo-Kelly Olynyk duo treaded water during the regular season, but Olynyk doesn't really play like a big in ways that matter in this matchup -- rebounding and interior defense. Meyers Leonard relishes full-contact boxouts. Does Spoelstra dust off the Leonard-Adebayo combo that started pre-bubble? Miami has also tried Derrick Jones Jr. against LeBron, Davis, and even the Lakers' centers. I bet he gets a shot in this series. The Heat could even use him as backup center when Adebayo rests. That role went mostly to Olynyk before Spoelstra dispensed with non-Bam bigs against Boston, and it will be interesting to see if Olynyk carves out a role here. LeBron will attack Olynyk every chance he gets; if Miami uses Olynyk, it might have to be when LeBron rests. (Interestingly, Adebayo and LeBron typically rest around the same times.) The Jones-Olynyk frontcourt was effective in the first round against the Indiana Pacers. Andre Iguodala has a ton of experience guarding LeBron. The Heat closed Games 4 and 6 against Boston with the Butler-Iguodala-Adebayo frontcourt. That is fine against Davis-at-center lineups; can it hold up against bigger ones? Is Solomon Hill really an answer? Any increase in minutes for Jones or Iguodala alongside Butler/Adebayo means playing three non-threats from deep -- something Spoelstra has mostly avoided. But those lineups have worked in small doses in the playoffs. Miami is plus-90 in 62 postseason minutes with Iguodala, Butler, and Adebayo on the floor. That trio went minus-42 in 45 regular-season minutes. Prediction A Heat championship should not blow fans away. How can anyone doubt them now? But the Lakers have the two best players, and both of their core lineup types -- big and "small" -- have some pressure points against Miami. Depending on your conception of the 2014 Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, LeBron's teams have not lost a series in which they have been favorites since the 2011 Finals. Lakers in 6. NBA Finals schedule: Game 1, 9 p.m. ET, ABC and the ESPN App
Rainbow7 shock LGD Gaming in worlds play-ins - ESPN
Latin American team Rainbow7 stunned China's LGD Gaming at the 2020 League of Legends World Championship in Shanghai on Saturday.
Latin American team Rainbow7 defeated China's LGD Gaming at the 2020 League of Legends World Championship in Shanghai on Saturday, stunning professional analysts and fans around the world. It is the second loss to a non-major region team for LGD during the play-in stage of the event. On Friday, LGD lost to PSG Talon, one of the Pacific Championship Series teams that, due to visa issues with their jungler, mid laner and AD carry, have used three substitutes in their play-in matches on Friday and Saturday. The best in the world meet to compete for the World Championship! Answer questions and play against your friends. Make Your Picks The Chinese team -- who many considered a favorite to win their play-in group prior to the event -- now sits at 0-2 and could be eliminated Sunday when they face V3 Esports and Unicorns of Love. More: Ten years of Worlds: A League of Legends World Championship oral history | League of Legends World Championship team power rankings | Looking back at ROX Tigers vs. SKT, League of Legends' most memorable rivalry The current frontrunner in Group B of the play-in stage is Talon, who play Unicorns of Love on Saturday. If they beat Unicorns of Love, they'll be in prime position to advance out in first place on Sunday with a win over V3 Esports and earn a spot in the group stage of the event, where the top 12 teams in the world await.
TNT to be known as Tropang Giga in PBA bubble - ESPN Philippines
The word "giga" is derived from the Greek word gigas, meaning "giant".
Ahead of its 2020 PBA Philippine Cup campaign, TNT has decided to rename its franchise as part of its bid to go big in the truncated season. The team formerly known as the KaTropa will now be known as the TNT Tropang Giga, starting with their stay in the bubble in Pampanga. Team manager Gabby Cui explained to ESPN5.com the logic behind the team's change of identity. "Giga is derived from the Greek word gígas, which means 'giant,'" Cui said in a message. "We don't just go big, we always go Giga!" In addition to the flagship franchise's bid to be larger than life, it is a reflection of the promotion of the mobile network's affordable GIGA promos. TNT is looking to reclaim the Philippine Cup in the absence of five-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo from the San Miguel Beermen. They have reloaded their ammunition in the offseason, having traded for big man Poy Erram and guard Simon Enciso. Tropang Giga was also able to re-sign Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. to a short-term deal, and obtain Chris Javier's rights from the free agent pool. However, they are still reeling from the sudden retirement of 2008 PBA MVP Kelly Williams, who announced the end of his career several weeks back. The flagship franchise is the third team to change its moniker in the elongated offseason, following Terra Firma Dyip (from Columbian) and Blackwater Bossing (from Elite).
Lowe: The genius of Jamal and Jokic, and what the Lakers are doing about it - ESPN
Nikola Jokic is the new Dirk and other thoughts on Lakers-Nuggets going to a huge Game 4.
The Denver Nuggets can rally from the depths in an NBA playoff series because Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic methodically problem-solve opposing defenses. Your preferred coverage of the Murray-Jokic pick-and-roll might set them on their heels for the first half of Game 1, but they soon adjust. They poke and prod, downloading information, searching for holes. By Game 2, they begin exploiting those holes. By Game 3, they might have forced a change in your coverage. They see that change. It signals they are inflicting pain. It emboldens them, even if it means they have to problem-solve anew. They grow more powerful, separately and together, over time. The Los Angeles Lakers in Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference finals switched a lot of Murray-Jokic actions, leaving two mismatches: a big guy on Murray, and a small guy on Jokic. It marked a departure for a team that has prided itself on not switching -- on keeping bigs near the basket. The Lakers were probably switching more than coaches wanted, but the frequency indicated switching was part of their plan. NBA schedule: Game 4, West finals | Game 5 East finals (ESPN) That is a tribute to Murray and Jokic. There is no silver bullet coverage for any pick-and-roll partnership in which both members can score from anywhere. The closest would be switching with two big wings, but Jokic punishes even slight mismatches with his bruising back-to-the-basket game. Even so, we saw LeBron James briefly take Murray in crunch time of Game 3. Perhaps Frank Vogel will go back to James on Murray and Anthony Davis on Jokic if Game 4 is close late, and unleash them as the rare switching combo that might trouble Denver's stars. ESPN is your exclusive home for the Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics! Fri., Sept. 25: Game 5, 8:30 p.m. ETSun., Sept. 27: Game 6, 7:30 p.m. ET* *If necessary So few big men can score on the block like Jokic anymore. In the East, the Miami Heat switch with Bam Adebayo knowing most centers -- Daniel Theis, Myles Turner -- present zero threat posting up. The dearth of big men with back-to-the-basket craft has made the point guard-wing pick-and-roll -- think Kyrie Irving/James in Cleveland -- the crutch for playoff offenses. The Murray-Jokic dance is refreshingly old school. Jokic has been most often compared to Marc Gasol, but aggressive postseason Jokic might be the true heir to another international big man star: Dirk Nowitzki. Crunch time offense has become the domain of wings and point guards. Nowitzki was the rare modern big man with the shooting chops and one-on-one skills to serve as the hub of an elite crunch time offense. Jokic is that now. Drop back, he rains 3s. Chase him off the arc, he pumps and drives for some wild floater. Switch, and he isolates against little guys at the nail -- peeking at the opposite shot clock, an old Nowitzki trick. (Nowitzki, in his way, almost rejected the comparison. "Damn," he texted. "That's a compliment. I wish I had his skill set. His passing is so good it's a joke. I unfortunately always wanted to score and not pass." Yeah, I think the Dallas Mavericks and their fans are cool with the balance you struck, big fella.) The Lakers' switching worked well enough for a game and change. When the Lakers have a center on the floor -- JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard -- both Davis and James lurk on the back line to put out mismatch-related fires: Murray beats Howard, but Davis meets him at the rim knowing James looms. The Lakers were betting on their size and speed -- that they could double Denver's stars, and scramble to prevent easy buckets. When the Lakers play Davis at center, the same switch leaves James as the lone back-line predator; Davis is tasked with chasing Murray. Davis still managed to disrupt some Jokic mismatch bully ball: The Lakers load up to help Alex Caruso deal with Jokic. Torrey Craig flashes open amid the chaos, but Murray cuts under the rim -- bringing Davis into Craig's path. By Game 2, Murray was taking Davis to one of two places as Jokic overwhelmed L.A.'s guards. Place No. 1: the other side of the floor, making it harder for Davis to help. Place No. 2: in 3-point range one pass away from Jokic. Davis trapping Jokic there risks an open Murray trey. If the Lakers dispatch a third defender at Murray, he'd better arrive on time. Even then, Murray can engage drive-and-kick mode. Murray has also been effective driving those switches right away instead of pulling back and giving the Lakers' defense time to gird itself: In Game 3, the Lakers' came out determined not to switch as often. It threw the Nuggets off at first: They adapted. Jokic made hay slipping screens and rolling behind the Lakers' defense. Few guards are cleverer than Murray dragging resistant defenses into switches. He freezes big men with nasty hesitation dribbles, and then accelerates at them -- forcing the switch. He might zoom away from Jokic's pick and string his dribble out, yanking Jokic's defender so far toward the sideline as to leave the defense no choice but to switch. Murray instills indecision and, eventually, panic: (Murray also got some good looks running off screens away from the ball. Denver might want to do more of that.) The Lakers did not slink into surrender after switching in Game 3. When Murray danced with the ball, L.A. charged him with sudden double-teams -- forcing Murray to give it up, and wagering again on their scramble defense working in concert with the dwindling shot clock: The Nuggets have scored about 1.17 points per possession in this series when Murray or Jokic shoots out of their pick-and-roll, or passes to a teammate who fires -- a mark that would rank 25th for the season among almost 400 pick-and-roll duos with at least 100 reps, per Second Spectrum. Zoom out to include full possessions, and the number balloons to 1.23 points. By the fourth quarter, the Lakers resorted to the last option for desperate defenses: zone. The Nuggets fell apart. Rajon Rondo committed high crimes and misdemeanors. You'd suspect Denver will be ready for it in Game 4. The only answer is to continue mixing it up, and that includes the sort of switching and helping the Lakers preferred in Games 1 and 2. They are good at that. They surely have another level of urgency; Denver needed Game 3 more than the Lakers did. Game 4 is crucial for both. Other thoughts ahead of Game 4: Meanwhile, the Lakers are searching for rhythm on offense again. Game 2 was low scoring. They got back into Game 3 with pick-six turnovers. They have scored 95.5 points per 100 possessions in the half-court over Games 2 and 3, per Cleaning The Glass -- right around their league-average regular-season mark that raised alarms during the seeding games. The James-Davis pick-and-roll has produced fewer than 0.8 points per possession, per Second Spectrum. The James-McGee dance has been worse. The Lakers might consider starting Howard in Game 4. Denver's help defenders took an extra half-step toward the paint in Game 3, barricading the restricted area. They have faith in their ability to swarm and retreat to dangerous shooters. They are willing to live with some open looks from Caruso, Rondo, Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris, and even Davis. The Lakers' shot 6-of-26 from deep in Game 3. Both those numbers -- makes and attempts -- are bad. Over Games 2 and 3, only 33% of the Lakers' shots came at the basket -- way down from their regular-season share of 40%, which ranked second overall, per Cleaning The Glass. The corresponding jump came almost entirely in midrange jumpers. You can see the Lakers searching out counters to Denver's paint-packing. Caruso is headhunting with flare screens, trying to block Denver's defenders from recovering onto shooters: Both Kuzma and Caruso have found buckets on cuts and split actions. That kind of stuff requires diligence and coordination. Cuts are no good when players cut into each other, or clutter James' path to the basket. The diligence waned late in Game 3 as more Lakers stood still. Corner actions centered around Davis -- in which he sets a pindown for a shooter in the corner, or vice versa -- have been effective all postseason; Davis got two easy hooks out of that early in Game 3. A similar play, oriented more toward the top of the arc, has generated decent looks for Kuzma. The NBA playoffs have advanced to the conference finals at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex. MacMullan: The teams who beat LeBronShelburne: Meet the drama-free LakersLowe: The incredible Heat turnaroundFirst Look: East finals | West finalsExpert picks for the conference finals Beyond those counters, I thought the Lakers waited too long to go all-in on their best Davis-at-center lineups in Game 3. They played just 15 total minutes with James and Davis on the floor -- and all of Howard, McGee, and Morris on the bench, per NBA.com. The fourth quarter comprised 12 of those minutes. Such lineups went plus-10, though that was fueled by those pick-six steals. Those lineups were minus-4 in 15 minutes over Games 1 and 2. Those lineups sacrifice rebounding (a huge problem in Game 3) and some back-line size on defense, but they can extricate the Lakers' offense from the mud. They also re-weaponize the James-Davis pick-and-roll. The Nuggets are switching that action with Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap -- while Jokic guards the Lakers' center. Remove that center and the Nuggets have two choices: Have Jokic guard Davis, or hide him on a perimeter player. When Jokic defends Davis, the Lakers should milk the James-Davis two-man game without mercy. If Denver switches, it's barbecue chicken time for James. When Jokic corrals James, Davis can roll hard through a clear lane: James and Davis have run only 26 pick-and-rolls together in three games, per Second Spectrum. Davis has rolled on just 10 -- and rolled hard on maybe three. The alternative of hiding Jokic on the perimeter creates more of a dilemma. Should the Lakers recenter their offense around Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Caruso, Rondo, et al. -- and away from Davis -- just to attack Jokic? Kuzma and Caruso are shooting 31% from deep combined this season; Kuzma was hesitant to launch with Game 3 in the balance. But if James is handling the ball, that kind of mismatch hunting is fine in the right doses. James will find driving creases. Some open 3s will drop. Some will draw extra rotations, opening more drive-and-kick goodness. The hunt-Jokic gambit gets more dangerous with more shooting on the floor. Danny Green's late absence in Game 3 was curious. The Caruso/Green/Caldwell-Pope/James/Davis fivesome has played 11 minutes the entire postseason, and none in Game 3. (The Lakers are plus-10 in those minutes.) I get that: Rondo and Kuzma have been mostly good, and the Lakers' centers have contributed off and on. Still, the Lakers should find a way to get to that lineup in Game 4. Editor's Picks The Lakers can also leave Jokic to the side and try the James-Davis pick-and-roll. If the Nuggets switch, LeBron should be able to rumble past Millsap. Millsap has defended James pretty well throughout his career -- and at times in this series -- but I'm skeptical he can stick with James one-on-one if the floor is spaced. The Lakers tried all this down the stretch of Game 4. Denver stuck with Davis' slips to the rim. Davis was barely involved otherwise, and looked understandably fatigued -- even walking into one or two possessions way behind the rest of the Lakers -- after playing the entire second half. James was 6-of-8 in the fourth quarter, but settled for step-backs at the end. He has faded late in some playoff games. Still, if Davis can defend Jokic -- and he has been mostly fine -- and hold up on the glass, there is not a huge downside to leaning into these lineups a little more should the offense require a jump start. Keep an eye on Rondo's pick-and-rolls. He tore the Nuggets apart in Games 1 and 2; they could not get underneath screens. They made it a point of emphasis in Game 3, though their execution was scattershot. I wonder if the Nuggets found something playing Grant at center over Mason Plumlee against the Lakers' Davis-at-center lineups late in the third quarter. A fun game-within-the-game: Against some bench-heavy Denver lineups, the Lakers have James guarding Michael Porter Jr. -- knowing full well the Nuggets want no part of that matchup on the other end. After stops, James is sprinting the floor, hoping to catch the Nuggets before they rejigger the matchups. Game 4 is often the series' pivot point. A Lakers win means a commanding lead (though the Nuggets seem impervious to deficits). If Denver snags it, we shift into best-of-three. Buckle up.