Yao retirement deals blow to league’s China efforts

Yao retirement deals blow to league’s China efforts

TORONTO – Yao Ming provided the National Basketball Association (NBA) with slam dunk marketing ventures in China and his retirement on Wednesday will severely reduce interest for the game in Asia, according to experts.

Chinese interest in the U.S.-based league soared when the Houston Rockets made the towering Shanghai-born center the top pick in the 2002 draft, but without an heir apparent to his throne the NBA could see an exodus of loyal fans in China.

“This was lightning in a bottle and the NBA and the sport of basketball are better off for it,” Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based sports consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd, told Reuters.

“But they are going to have major challenges moving the needle in China in a meaningful manner without Yao.”

China is the NBA’s largest market outside of the United States and keeping the interest of 30 million viewers who tuned in weekly during the season will be a daunting task as many fans have already been tuning out with Yao on the sidelines.

Yao missed the entire 2009-10 NBA season after suffering a fractured bone in his left foot and the seven-foot, six-inch (2.3-meter) center has not played since injuring his ankle during his fifth game of the 2010-11 season.

He finally decided to retire after an eight-season career where he was an eight-times All Star and averaged 19.0 points and 9.2 rebounds in 486 career NBA games.

Contador shuffles deck at Tour de France

Contador shuffles deck at Tour de France GAP, France — Three-time champion Alberto Contador mixed up the Tour de France overall standings with a powerful move on the Col de Manse. While the same seven contenders topped the standings after the 17th stage Tuesday, Contador moved up a spot to sixth. Thor Hushovd won the […]

Angels fall 5 games back after loss to Rangers

Angels fall 5 games back after loss to Rangers

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Los Angeles Angels found out firsthand what the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners discovered last week — the Texas Rangers are a difficult team to score against.

Alexi Ogando extended an extraordinary run by Texas pitchers with eight innings of four-hit ball and the streaking Rangers beat the sputtering Angels 7-0 Tuesday night for their 12 straight victory.

“We’ve just got to get back to swinging the bats,” Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said. “Our pitching’s been pretty good all year, and for the longest time we were in this game tonight. We had a couple chances early, but the guy made his pitches. He’s been good all year, and tonight he didn’t leave much out over the plate.”

The defending AL champions, making their first visit to Anaheim since ending the Angels’ run of three straight AL West titles, increased their lead in the division to a season-best five games over Los Angeles. The Angels were a game out of first place at the All-Star break before dropping four of five.

Texas‘ winning streak is the second-longest in club history behind a 14-game run in 1991, and it has put the Rangers (56-41) a season-high 15 games over .500. They have outscored opponents 77-24 during this stretch, and the pitching staff has yielded two earned runs over the last six games — including four shutouts.

Serena Williams continues comeback at WTT event

Serena Williams continues comeback at WTT event

ALBANY, N.Y. — Serena Williams leaned against a wall in the bowels of SEFCU Arena, sweat pouring off her muscular shoulders and a satisfied look on her face after a very long day.

“It’s good to be back. I love playing. I really enjoyed myself out there,” Williams said Tuesday night after beating Martina Hingis 5-3 in World Team Tennis. “It was a really long day, but at last I arrived.”

Williams, who sat out nearly a year with an assortment of health problems before returning to play the Eastbourne International prior to Wimbledon, continued her comeback by also playing mixed doubles and women’s doubles. Her team, the Washington Kastles, edged the New York Sportimes 21-20.

A six-hour travel delay didn’t curb Williams’ enthusiasm. After arriving just in time for the start of play and getting virtually no practice or warm-up, she and partner Leander Paes fought hard before losing mixed doubles in a tiebreaker against Hingis and Travis Parrott.

“They had mixed first. I kind of wanted to play,” Williams said.

Teammate Rennae Stubbs had been ready to play mixed doubles in Williams’ place, but Williams insisted, to the delight of the crowd of 2,215, who gave her a nice ovation.

After struggling at the outset, Williams ripped a hard cross-court winner, then elicited a bow from Paes after two pretty volleys at the net as the crowd roared its approval.

But after Williams nailed a hard serve that skipped past Hingis and helped force a tiebreaker, Hingis hit a winner past Williams to give the Sportimes a 5-1 victory and the set.

Yankees rally from three down to beat Rays


Yankees rally from three down to beat Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Russell Martin’s patience paid off for the Yankees.

The New York catcher drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, giving the Yankees a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.

Rookie left-hander Alex Torres (0-1) yielded the winning run in his major league debut after New York loaded the bases on Curtis Granderson’s single, an intentional walk to Nick Swisher and another walk to Andruw Jones. Martin worked Torres to a full count, fouled off a pitch and then took ball four to push Granderson across the plate.

“Russell had a chance to see what he was doing,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You give the kid a lot of credit. He had some guts. Threw changeups. We got fortunate that we got a run by walks. For his first outing, that’s a tough situation. Russell has shown patience his whole career. It’s his M.O. It’s not an easy thing to do.”

Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner and Eduardo Nunez also drove in runs for the second-place Yankees, who rallied from a 4-1 deficit to remain 1½ games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings.

“It’s a big win, especially when you comeback late like that,” Martin said. “It seemed like they had our number the whole night and we were just able to rally late. Everybody played their part. Getting walks. Getting knocks here and there. So definitely a big team win.”

Ivan Basso hoping to live up to early Tour promise


Ivan Basso hoping to live up to early Tour promise

LORIOL-SUR-DROME, France — Ivan Basso won the white jersey for best young rider in the 2002 Tour de France, setting up what looked like a glittering career for the Italian. It’s been a long nine years.

Far from a favorite this year, the 33-year-old Basso was fifth overall after two weeks, just over a minute behind Andy Schleck and 44 seconds ahead of defending champion Alberto Contador.

Basso and Contador are the only riders among the group vying for the title who’ve won a major tour before — the Italian is a two-time winner of the Giro d’Italia — and he knows that experience could be invaluable.

“In the final week, the legs are important but the head makes the difference,” Basso said.

“It’s been one of the hardest tours, for the weather, for the route, for the new sprint rules,” he added, pointing out that the lack of a dominant team of the sort that existed when Lance Armstrong was racing has meant no one is really controlling the race.

15-year-old Thai leads Girls’ Junior Championship

  15-year-old Thai leads Girls’ Junior Championship OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. — Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand shot a 4-under 68 on Monday to lead Canadian Irene Jung by one stroke after the first round of stroke-play qualifying at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. The 15-year-old Jutanugarn and Jung were the only players to break par at […]

Dwight Howard strongly considering career overseas


Dwight Howard strongly considering career overseas

FAIRBURN, Ga. — Dwight Howard’s frustration with the NBA lockout has caused the Orlando Magic star to strongly consider playing overseas.

In an exclusive interview Sunday with The Associated Press, Howard said he would consider playing in China or Europe if the NBA lockout doesn’t end.

Howard, a five-time All-Star who led Orlando to the NBA finals in 2009, stopped short of saying he’s in contract discussions with teams overseas.

“I’m not at liberty to talk about it,” he said, “but there’s a huge possibility about me going to China or me going overseas to play basketball.”

New Jersey guard Deron Williams said recently after signing with a team in Turkey that Howard could become a worldwide star if he played in China.

Howard, who hosted a celebrity basketball game Sunday at Langston Hughes High School to raise money for his charity, didn’t disagree.

“The big thing for me is not giving too much information away, but at the same time I still need to let people know what’s going on with me,” Howard said. “I don’t want to just sit over here and forget about basketball and waste, you know, opportunities for me to get better.”

Bahrain U23 breaks through Azkals defense, wins 3 – 1


Bahrain U23 breaks through

Azkals defense, wins 3 – 1

ILONGGO booter Emelio “Chieffy” Caligdong (13) scored another goal against the Under-23 Olympic team of Bahrain early morning Tuesday, but the host booters punched through the defense of the men’s national football team with two goals in the first half and a clincher in the last minutes of the tune-up match.

Coach Michael Weiss decided to include Angel Guirado (12) and Phil Younghusband (10) in the starting line-up this time around. James Hall (18) and Jose “OJ” Porteria (15) had their slots in the first friendly in Bahrain.

Hall had the jersey number Nate Burkey used in the two matches versus Sri Lanka while Burkey wore Stephan Schrock’s 17. Porteria’s 15 was Ricardo Becite’s number in Round 1 of the World Cup Qualifiers.

Guirado and Younghusband have been nursing injuries sustained in Round 1 against Sri Lanka. They were not in the first eleven of the previous test match with the host team. At the grandstand, Filipina-Bahraini Zoei Al-Shaikh was tweetcasting again as Dimples_426 to her Twitter followers in the Philippines.

Japan sets new benchmark for Asia


Japan sets new benchmark for Asia

TOKYO – It was case of “anything you can do, I can do better” for Japan’s women footballers as they defied the odds to lift the World Cup just six months after the country’s men had captured a record fourth Asian title.

When Saki Kumagai slotted home the winning penalty in a dramatic shootout victory over the United States in Frankfurt Sunday, Japan completed an astonishing run that overshadowed any achievement by an Asian football team at any level.

“There is no happier president than a World Cup winner,” Japan Football Association (JFA) president Junji Ogura said after the side had rallied twice to force extra time and a penalty shootout, which they won 3-1.

“The players demonstrated the wonders of Japanese women.”

With their women crowned world champions and the “Blue Samurai” currently on top in Asia, envious eyes will be cast at Japan from their continental rivals to far beyond.

South Korea put Asian soccer firmly on the map with their remarkable run to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals as tournament co-hosts with Japan.

However, despite success at Asian club level, South Korea have flattered to deceive since, while the domestic K-League has been tainted by an embarrassing match-fixing scandal.

Robeno earns spot in Milo Marathon finals


Robeno earns spot in Milo Marathon finals

NATIONAL athlete Robeno Javier topped the Olongapo City eliminations of the 35th Milo National Marathon over the weekend.

Javier, a member of the RP national duathlon and triathlon teams, finished the 21-kilometer flat course in one hour, 17 minutes and 16 seconds to earn a spot in the national finals.

The 25-year-old Javier joined leg winners Hernani Sore and Jessa Mangsat (Dagupan), and Reynaldo Pascua and Mercy Taypoc (Laoag)in the December finals. And of course, he also bagged the P10,000 cash prize.

“May pandagdag na ako sa gastos kapag nanganak ang misis ko,” said Javier after the awarding ceremonies. “As for the finals, hindi ako kadalasang tumatakbo ng 42K, kaya dapat talagang paghandaan ang national finals.”

Completing the top three spots were Patrick Ngongob (1:18:09) and Danilo Disierto (1:19:14).

Jesselyn Morales, the lone participant in the women’s side, checked in at the 2:23:40 mark and failed to qualify.

Lack of training tolled heavily on the 29-year-old Olongapo resident as she suffered from cramps and blisters.

“Kala ko nga hindi ako makakatapos. Pero the marshals kept on urging me to finish the race,” she said.

Sports, political celebs join LNA7-USLS alumni cagefest


Sports, political celebs join

LNA7-USLS alumni cagefest

BACOLOD City – The Leodegario Natividad Agustin LNA7-USLS Alumni Association Inter-Barkada Basketball League weekend games recently opened with seven teams joining the tournament at the LNA7 Memorial Sports Center of West Negros University here.

Aimed at fostering camaraderie among alumni, the tournament will be following the passarelle format, with 10 playing minutes for the first three quarters and 12 minutes in the fourth quarter applied in all the games.

The seven teams are BBC, Strollers 2001, 4D Batch 92-93, Batch 94-95, Akasya Grill Batch 2005, Amazing Batch 2009, and Green Horse Batch 2003-2004.

USLS-Integrated School alumnus and PBA player Jeff Chan will reinforce the Strollers’ 01’s lineup, along with former varsity players Ryan Nabor, Gian Carlo Alojado, Karl Tirthdas, Gerard Barenechea, Marcus Escalante and Renren Lacson, among others.

Glitter’s lineup includes Stephen Escalante, Hans Schulze, Chino Melocoton, Luigi Herrera, Nikko Ganir and Andrew Torres, while BBC will be bannered by Philip Abong, Peter Mirasol, Michael Regalado, Lee Alejo, Brad Hojilla, Tony Agustin, Adrian Anglo, Joseph Lirazan, Sammy Belangel, Junjun Tolosa and Anton Corral.