English

Cavs stun Warriors in thriller to clinch title

m_5

LeBron James

LeBron James powered the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 93-89 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday in an electrifying Game Seven to complete an improbable comeback unlike any seen before and capture their first NBA championship.

With the victory over the top-seeded Warriors, who beat Cleveland in last year’s championship, the Cavaliers became the first team to rally from a 3-1 series deficit in the best-of-seven NBA Finals and win the title.

“I’ve had goal for two years since I came back to bring a championship to the city,” said an emotional James, who returned to the Cavaliers in 2014 after a four-year stint with Miami that included a pair of NBA championships.

“I gave it everything that I had. I poured my heart, my blood, my sweat and my tears into this game.”

James led Cleveland in the championship-clinching with a triple-double as he scored 27 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 11 assists en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals.

The win ends decades of heartbreak for the city of Cleveland, which had not won a professional sports championship since the 1964 Cleveland Browns of the National Football League.

For James, the win not only marks his third NBA title, but it will go down as the single greatest achievement of his storied career as it fulfills his promise to deliver a title to his home state of Ohio.

“I understand what everyone in northeastern Ohio have been through the last 50-plus years and I am happy to be a part of history,” said James, who was in tears as he wrapped his arms around the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. “I can’t wait to get back home. I am ready to get to you guys.”

The back-and-forth game lived up to its billing as it was tight throughout and included 20 lead changes while no team was able to pull ahead by more than eight points.

Facing elimination in each of their previous two games, James carried the Cavs back from the brink as they became only the third team to force a Game Seven after falling behind 3-1 in the championship round.

For the Warriors, who had a record 73 wins during the 82-game regular season, Sunday’s defeat marked the first time since November 2013 that they have lost three consecutive games.

The Warriors were in complete control of the series but were ultimately undone by the disappearance of their high-octane offense, a suspension to defensive stalwart Draymond Green, a season-ending injury to rim-protecting centre Andrew Bogut and defensive specialist Andre Iguodala dealing with a balky back.

“I knew what we were capable of, even being down 3-1 versus the greatest regular season team ever,” said James.

“Everybody counted us out and that’s when we strived the most and that’s definitely when I strived the most when everybody counted me out.”

After a record smashing regular season the Warriors could not cap off the campaign with a second successive title, unable to deliver the knockout punch after going up 3-1 in the best-of-season series.

“Just an incredible run that obviously didn’t end the way we wanted it to,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “It’s been an incredible two-year run. We’re disappointed that it didn’t go our way at the end, but that’s life.”

Reuters

June 20, 2016 By : Category : English featured 0 Comment

Irving, LeBron power Cavaliers over Warriors to extend NBA Finals

 

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket between Shaun Livingston #34 and Marreese Speights #5 of the Golden State Warriors in the second half in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket between Shaun Livingston #34 and Marreese Speights #5 of the Golden State Warriors in the second half in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving unleashed two of the greatest do-or-die performances in NBA Finals history Monday, sustaining the Cleveland Cavaliers’ title dreams and denying Golden State a home championship celebration.

James and Irving each scored 41 points to power the Cavaliers over the defending NBA champions 112-97, pulling Cleveland within 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

Irving scored a career playoff high, making 17-of-24 shots from the floor, including 5-of-7 3-pointers, and ran off seven decisive points in a row late in the fourth quarter.

“It’s probably one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen live, to put on the show that he did,” said James, who also called Irving’s effort “spectacular.”

But it came while the Warriors were playing without suspended forward Draymond Green, out for accumulated playoff flagrant fouls, and when a left knee injury sidelined Australian centre Andrew Bogut early in the third quarter.

“It’s too simple to say that,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We didn’t play well enough to win. We weren’t very good defensively. We had to play better and we didn’t.”

Golden State has another chance to claim the crown in game six Thursday at Cleveland while a seventh game, if needed, would be Sunday back in California.

No team has ever recovered from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals, and only the 1951 New York Knicks and 1966 Los Angeles Lakers even forced a seventh game.

“It’s frustrating. But you just suck it up and move on,” Golden State’s Klay Thompson said. “We’re still in a great position. It stings real bad, but we’ll come back stronger.”

Faced with a must-win contest, Cleveland’s star duo became the first teammates to crack 40 points in the same finals game, scoring more than any players facing NBA Finals elimination in 20 years.

HOT DUO BOOSTED CONFIDENCE

James added game highs of 16 rebounds and seven assists, while Irving had six assists and Tristan Thompson grabbed 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers

“To repeat a performance like this would definitely be tough, but whatever it takes to win,” Irving said. “I know myself and (LeBron) and our teammates are willing. We’ll be very well prepared for game six.”

James, who became the ninth player with 1,000 career NBA Finals points, and Irving each scored 11 points in the third quarter. Irving netted 12 more in the fourth. James had 25 in the first half.

“They had two great games, two breakout games,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We need those two guys to give us confidence early and they both did that.”

Golden State trimmed an 11-point deficit to 102-96 on a Curry basket with 6:39 to play, but Irving hit the next seven points, James added a 3-pointer and the Warriors went more than five minutes without scoring to seal their fate.

Klay Thompson led Golden State with 37 points, 26 in the first half, while NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry added 25.

“Tip your hat to them,” Curry said. “They had a great night, made some tough shots.”

But the Warriors, who led the NBA in 3-pointers this season, went only 3-for-21 from 3-point range in the second-half.

“In the second half I settled for too many bad shots,” Klay Thompson said. “You don’t want to force up bad shots and there’s three or four shots now that I wish I could get back.”

KING OF THE ROAD

“King” James, in his sixth consecutive NBA Finals and seventh overall, extended a personal streak with at least one road win in an NBA record 26 consecutive playoff series.

“The main thing is that we were able to give ourselves another chance,” James said. “I know my teammates trust me, I trust them, and that was the result.”

The Warriors were without Green after the NBA issued a one-game ban to the forward on Sunday. The league assessed Green a flagrant foul for striking James in the groin with a flailing hand in game four.

“He’s their best defender,” Lue said. “So that definitely hurt their defence.”

Green was the only Warrior to play in every Golden State regular season and playoff victory this season.

Bogut was struck by Cleveland’s J.R. Smith and the Aussie landed awkwardly on his left leg, writhing in pain on the court. He was helped to the locker room with what appeared to be a severe left knee injury. An MRI exam is set for Tuesday.

“Hopefully he’s OK,” Kerr said. “We need him.”

AFP

 

June 14, 2016 By : Category : English featured 0 Comment

Cavaliers rout Warriors to trim deficit in NBA Finals

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (left) posts up against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Cleveland, Ohio on June 8.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (left) posts up against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Cleveland, Ohio on June 8.

Smothering defensive work and an aggressive scoring attack inspired by LeBron James lifted the Cleveland Cavaliers back into the NBA Finals on Wednesday with a 120-90 rout of defending champion Golden State.

James scored 32 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and added six assists while Kyrie Irving netted 30 points, 16 in the first quarter, and had eight assists after producing only 10 points in a 110-77 loss in game two.

“My teammates got me going. They told me to be aggressive and that’s what I was,” James said. “It was just a collective team win.”

But Irving noted how an emotional James told his teammates in a pre-game huddle to “Follow my lead,” and that motivated the Cavaliers, who scored the first nine points, jumped ahead 19-4 and 33-14 and never trailed in the romp.

“Our leader is looking us all eye to eye and telling us, ‘Let’s go to war,’” Irving said. “Just realizing the magnitude of what’s about to happen, going out there and battling, understanding that we’re being led by a great player.”

Despite the humbling defeat, the Warriors remain ahead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with game four Friday at Cleveland and game five back in Oakland on Monday.

PEACHES AND CREAM

“They came out and played like a team with a sense of desperation, like their season was on the line. And we came out and played like everything was peaches and cream,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said. “We got bullied. We can’t get bullied.”

Only three teams in 69 prior NBA Finals have rallied from 2-0 down to win the title, but no team trailing 3-0 has ever won an NBA playoff series.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They just punched us right in the mouth right in the beginning. We were turning the ball over like crazy. Soft. We were extremely soft to start the game. Just a horrible way to start.”

Playing without forward Kevin Love, sidelined by a concussion suffered in game two, the Cavaliers shifted James to power forward and used pressure defence to ignite scoring.

“We were very physical defensively and we were aggressive offensively, attacking the basket, getting out in transition, running the floor,” said Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue. “That’s how we have to play.”

Never before in NBA Finals history had a team won by 30 or more only to lose the next game by 30 or more, but that’s what the Warriors did.

“If you let your guard down and the other team is angry, then you can see this kind of turnaround,” Kerr said.

“This was about one team being emotionally fired up and angry about being down 0-2 and another team being comfortable. It was just the level on intensity they brought. Their aggressiveness was important.”

James was so aggressive that he swatted away a Steph Curry shot after a whistle.

“When you have the greatest shooter in the world trying to get an easy one or trying to get in rhythm, it’s our job to try to keep him out, after the whistle or not,” James said. “That was just my mindset. I didn’t want him to see the ball go in.”

J.R. Smith added 20 points while Tristan Thompson contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who improved to 8-0 at home in the playoffs and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Warriors.

NBA Most Valuable Player and scoring champion Curry managed only two points in the first half and finished with 19 while Harrison Barnes added 18 points and Klay Thompson contributed 10. Curry and Thompson shot a combined 10-for-26.

BIG PUNCH

“They played aggressive defence and they came out with a big punch,” Curry said. “For me to do what I need to do to help my team, I have to play 100 times better than that, especially in the first quarter.

“I’ve just got to be aggressive and play better and be more assertive. There’s a sense of urgency knowing how big game four is and I need to be ready.”

Golden State, which won a record 73 games this season, lost the third game of a playoff series for the fifth consecutive time, falling to 3-5 on the road in this year’s playoffs.

The Cavaliers led 51-43 entering the second half despite shooting only 6-of-27 from the floor in the second quarter as the Warriors went only 2-of-14 from 3-point range.

The Cavaliers began the third quarter with a 19-5 run, James scoring eight points to power Cleveland to a 70-48 advantage, and the Cavs pulled away for good.

 

June 9, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight 0 Comment

Cavaliers look to get tough against wary Warriors in NBA Finals

Cavaliers look to get tough against wary Warriors in NBA Finals

While the Golden State Warriors fight to avoid complacency after two lopsided wins to start the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers hope playing at home will help them find toughness they have so far lacked.

The defending champion Warriors would reach the brink of a repeat crown with a victory Wednesday in the best-of-seven series.

(READ: Warriors halfway to title repeat after routing Cavs)

“We’re feeling confident but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” Warriors star guard Stephen Curry said. “It’s a trap to think we’ve figured things out and that we have the perfect formula to beat Cleveland and they have no chance in the series.”

Only three teams have overcome 2-0 deficits to win the finals — the 1969 Boston Celtics, 1977 Portland Trail Blazers and 2006 Miami Heat — and no team trailing 3-0 has ever rallied to win an NBA playoff series.

“The guys are not discouraged. More (angry) than anything,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We’ve got to be tougher. That’s the main thing. Got to play more physical and live with the results.”

The Warriors beat Cleveland 110-77 in game two, the fewest points allowed by the Warriors in a playoff game since 1975. They have beaten the Cavaliers seven consecutive times — three in last year’s finals, two this season and twice more in the finals.

“I don’t think there’s a hurdle for them at all,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said. “We don’t go in thinking, ‘We’ve beat these guys seven times. We’ve got them.’ That’s not our mindset at all. Once that becomes you’re mindset you will lose. Our mindset is we took care of home court. Now let’s get one on the road.

“At this point, everything you get is really hard and it’s about to get even harder. They will probably play with a little more energy. They will be playing with a sense of desperation.”

Golden State won the first two games by a combined 48 points, the most lopsided start in 70 NBA Finals.

“We understand the situation we’re in. We know we’ve got to play a lot better in order to get this series turned around,” Cavaliers star LeBron James said.

“We’re still here. We have a chance to turn this series around. We have to figure out how we can be better. We’ve got to bear down.”

TURNOVERS DEADLY FOR CAVS

The Cavaliers have to avoid giving the ball away. In two games, they have committed a combined 35 turnovers leading to 51 Golden State points. James has 11 total turnovers.

“Can’t turn the ball over against a great team and expect to win,” James said. “I had a lot of uncharacteristic unforced turnovers. It resulted in them getting some easy baskets.

“We can’t have as many mental lapses. These guys put you in so many mental positions where you have to figure it out and they make you pay for it when you don’t.”

Cleveland’s defenders have had success at times, but lapses in long stretches have led to Warrior runs the Cavs have never been able to match.

“We have to play with some fight and energy,” Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson said. “We have to do whatever it takes to win.”

It’s also a character builder for Golden State, a chance to put a struggling rival on the brink of elimination.

“How we show up in Cleveland will be a big test for us,” Curry said. “They have a great home atmosphere and the way the first two games have gone, you would expect Cleveland to come out with a lot of energy.”

Added Warriors centre Andrew Bogut of Australia: “We still have a lot of work to do in this series. We don’t want to coast into game three on the road.”

CONFIDENT, NOT COMFY

Golden State’s Steve Kerr could become only the second coach in NBA history to win titles in his first two campaigns, matching the feat of John Kundla of the then-Minneapolis Lakers in 1949 and 1950.

But Kerr, who won three NBA crowns with the Chicago Bulls and two with San Antonio as a player, knows James can carry the Cavaliers on his back and has vowed to bring a title to long-suffering Cleveland fans who have lacked a major sports champion since 1964.

“There’s a long way to go so we’re not celebrating,” Kerr said. “We’re confident we can beat anybody, but we’re definitely not comfortable playing against LeBron. He’s one of the greatest players in the history of the game.”

 

June 8, 2016 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight 0 Comment

All set for NBA Finals rematch

The Finals rematch so many wanted to see is finally here, but only after the champion Golden State Warriors scratched and clawed their way out of a 3-1 hole against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.

Kevin Love

Kevin Love

The Cleveland Cavaliers needed only 14 games to punch their ticket back to The Finals, sweeping their first two series in the Eastern Conference playoffs and then finishing off an overmatched Toronto Raptors team in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron James, playing in his sixth straight NBA Finals, will do so with a fully heathy crew this time around, as both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love come in healthy and in a groove this time around.

The mighty Warriors, the record 73-9 regular season shadowing their every move, battled injuries to two-time KIA MVP Stephen Curry early on in the postseason. He missed 15 days as Klay Thompson and Draymond Green had to step up in his absence to make sure the Warriors continued their historic run. And even when it looked to be in doubt against the Thunder, the Warriors’ confidence didn’t waver.

They became just the 10th team in NBA history to recover from a 3-1 deficit to win a series, once again silencing the critics who called their championship run a year ago “lucky.” And they did it with The Splash Brothers coming alive when needed, securing that rematch everyone started dreaming about as the confetti flowed at the end of Game 6 of the 2015 Finals.

The Warriors will win if …

At their very best, the Warriors are the best team in basketball when they are moving the ball religiously and knocking down shots from beyond the 3-point line like no one else can. It’s a simple formula that Warriors coach Steve Kerr refuses to deviate from, which is exactly how they recovered from the injury adversity to Steph Curry and battled their way through the conference finals against a game Thunder team.

If the Cavaliers are crazy enough to engage the Warriors in a 3-point shooting contest in this series, the Warriors’ supreme confidence in what they do and their discipline – the ability to stick with it even when it seems it’s not working – will rule the day. Curry and Klay Thompson comprise the best shooting backcourt in league history, and inviting them to a duel is a foolish proposition. The Warriors made a NBA record (for 7 games) 90 shots from beyond the arc in the conference finals. Don’t test them.

Any concerns about fatigue from the magical ride the Warriors have been on since last season should be calmed by the fact that Kerr will go as deep into his roster as needed to preserve his stars. The bench crew has played a huge role in this postseason run for the Warriors, and that depth could prove to be the difference in this series.

The Cavaliers will win if …

This is not the same Cleveland team that showed up to The Finals last year with a green Kyrie Irving, who was lost after Game 1 to a knee injury, and without Kevin Love, whose shoulder injury in the first round cost him the remainder of the postseason. This is a much better team, one that didn’t need LeBron James to drag them to The Finals with everything he could muster. With Tyronn Lue browbeating this crew to get in better shape, run more, trust each other implicitly and trust the system, these Cavaliers have a clear understanding of who and what they are.

They are versatile enough to beat you from deep, as they did in their first two playoff series this time around against Detroit and Atlanta. If they need to use their size and length, as they did against Toronto, they can go there, too.

The key, of course, is LeBron and his ability to dissect the defense and keep everyone else involved in the action while also exploiting whatever mismatch he’ll enjoy on the offensive end. And make no mistake, whoever matches up with him is on the wrong side of that mismatch. He’s playing in his sixth straight Finals. No one has a better understanding of what’s needed in this series than he does.

June 1, 2016 By : Category : English featured Tags:,
0 Comment

Desperate Warriors beat Thunder to stay alive

Stephen Curry scored 31 points as the defending champion Golden State Warriors kept their record-setting season alive with a 120-111 win over Oklahoma City in game five of their Western Conference playoff.

Desperate Warriors beat Thunder to stay alive

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after a play against the Oklahoma City Thunder during Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena.

Curry, who has been plagued by injuries throughout the postseason, saved his best game of the series for Thursday night as he also had seven rebounds and six assists.

“We did what we are supposed to the do — win at home,” said Curry.

After a record-setting 73 regular season wins, desperation set in for Golden State on Thursday as they trimmed the Thunder’s lead to 3-2 in the series.

The Warriors have a daunting task ahead of them when the teams square off for game six Saturday in Oklahoma City as just nine NBA teams have rallied from being down 3-1 to win a playoff series.

Game seven, if necessary, would be Monday in Oakland.

“We know they are not going to quit. It is going to be the toughest game of our lives in game six. We got to be ready,” Curry said.

Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes drained three-pointers on consecutive possessions during an eight-point flurry that opened a 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter

Curry went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line, as the Warriors overcame a 40-point performance by Thunder star Kevin Durant to keep their hopes of a title repeat alive.

Prior to Thursday’s game, media reports listed Curry as being 70 percent healthy, saying his injuries were one of the main reasons the Warriors were on the brink of elimination.

91 PER CENT

“I though he looked like 91 percent,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr joked after the game.

Klay Thompson supported Curry with 27 points for the Warriors, who are now 4-1 after losses in the playoffs.

“He came out and played a really good game. He is going to compete every night,” said Kerr of Curry.

The Warriors won despite making just nine of their 24 three-point attempts.

Andrew Bogut tallied 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Draymond Green had an 11-point, 13-rebound double-double performance for the Warriors.

The Warriors led just 81-77 before backup guard Shaun Livingston opened the fourth period with a short jump shot.

Iguodala and Barnes then nailed their three-pointers, opening an 89-77 advantage, Golden State’s largest lead of the game to that point.

Curry’s biggest basket of the night came with the Warriors holding a 103-98 lead with 4:34 to play. He made a driving left-handed floater while being fouled. He converted the three-point play, pushing the lead to eight.

The Golden State’s solid defense took over from there, holding the Thunder without a field goal until a Durant dunk with 56 seconds remaining.

Russell Westbrook finished with 31 points to go with seven rebounds and a team-high eight assists for the Thunder.

Serge Ibaka had 13 points and Steven Adams a team-high 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who were able to eliminate Dallas and San Antonio in earlier series.

May 27, 2016 By : Category : English featured Tags:
0 Comment

Patriots edge IPRC-South to win Hoops league title

Patriots Basketball Club were on Saturday crowned national basketball league champions for the first time after edging their rivals and close challengers Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC-South) 52-45 Saturday in Huye.

Patriots players celebrate their first league title.

Patriots players celebrate their first league title.

The decisive game attracted attracted hundreds of fans for both sides with IPRC South going into the game as favorites with Henry Mwinuka’s side that helped them lead the first two quarters 9-7 and 17-8 respectively.

However, following the break after the first two quarters, Patriots managed to come back into the game and won the third quarter 16-8 and the last one 21-11 hence winning the game on a tally of 52-45 points.

Patriots’ Jean de Dieu Ntagunduka was the best scorer on his side netting 12 times while Olivier Ikishatse scored 13 times for IPRC South.

Patriots finished on top of the table with 34 points followed by four time winner Espoir, third is IPRC South followed by IPRC Kigali each with 32 points.

May 23, 2016 By : Category : English featured Tags:,
0 Comment

Westbrook stars as Thunder stun Warriors

basketball

Russell Westbrook inspired a second-half fightback as the Oklahoma City Thunder came from behind to beat the Golden State Warriors 108-102 in the opening game of the Western Conference finals on Monday.

Westbrook poured on 27 points as the Thunder overturned a 60-47 halftime deficit to snatch victory in a pulsating clash between two of the most potent attacking units in the NBA.

Westbrook also chipped in with 12 assists and six rebounds while team-mate Kevin Durant finished with 26 points as the visitors silenced the Golden State home crowd at the Oracle Arena.

“It’s a game of two halves, man,” Westbrook said after the win. “We’re a great team. We didn’t play our best game but we came out with a win.”

Westbrook played a pivotal role on defence, time and again using his blistering speed to pounce on stray passes by the Warriors.

“He’s probably the quickest guard in the league,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Westbrook.

“I thought when we lost our aggressiveness and our momentum offensively in the second half, a lot of that had to do with his speed and aggressiveness,” the Warriors coach added.

Golden State looked to be sprinting away to a one-sided victory after blasting into a commanding early in the first half, converting a series of rash Oklahoma City turnovers into points.

NBA MVP Stephen Curry — who finished with 26 points — rubbed salt into the wound on the stroke of half-time with a trademark long-range three-pointer to give the Warriors a 13-point lead.

But the Thunder re-emerged after the halftime interval a different side, with Westbrook leading the charge to slash the Warriors’ advantage with a virtuoso third quarter performance.

Westbrook piled up 19 points in the third quarter to help put the Thunder within three points of the Warriors at 88-85 heading into the fourth quarter.

With Oklahoma City’s defence successfully neutralising the threat posed by Curry, it was left to Durant and Westbrook to take control.

Oklahoma City opened up a 101-93 lead in the final few minutes but the reigning NBA finals champion Warriors clawed their way back to within one point at 101-100.

Just when it looked as if Golden State were poised to pull off another Houdini act, the Thunder regrouped and edged clear once more.

The visitors received a fortunate call when Westbrook avoided being called for traveling at 105-102 with 17 seconds remaining, and three more points sealed the win as time ran out for the Warriors.

Kerr bemoaned a loss of composure in the final quarter, when the Warriors made only one of 10 attempted three-pointers — way below their normal levels of shooting accuracy.

“There were a lot of quick shots, way too many quick shots,” Kerr said.

“Five minutes left in the game and we’re down four points or whatever and we were acting like we had 20 seconds left.

“Five minutes is an eternity. We know how we have to play. We have to pass and move and create rhythm for ourselves.

“I just felt we took way too many quick ones which took us out of our rhythm.”

Curry said the Warriors were ready to respond after the opening loss.

“It’s a long series,” Curry said. “It will be a different situation for us to try to bounce back at this point in the series having a deficit. So I think it’s fun to be able to have this opportunity and show what we’re made of.”

Thunder head coach Billy Donovan meanwhile praised his side’s problem-solving abilities after a first-half littered with errors.

“I thought in the second half we did a much better job, took much better care of the basketball which enabled us to get back in transition and play better defence,” Donovan said. “It’s one game and we’ll have to take a look at the film and figure out how we can play better on Wednesday.

“We’re not a perfect team but these guys really battle and fight and compete — when they see something that’s a problem they really try to correct it.”

Game Two in the best of seven series takes place in Oakland on Wednesday.

AFP

May 17, 2016 By : Category : English featured 0 Comment

Rwanda Junior Side heads to US for FIBA U18 preps

Head coach Moise Mutokambali gives instructions to his players in a league match against Espoir last week.

Head coach Moise Mutokambali gives instructions to his players in a league match against Espoir last week.

 

Rwanda’s national junior basketball team leaves for United States on Sunday to enhance preparations for the FIBA Men’s Africa U-18 Championships slated for August 25-4 September in Kigali.

The tournament, was initially supposed to be held in July was shifted to August because of the Olympic Games taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil around that time.

The head coach Moise Mutokambali told KT Sports on Friday that the Junior Hoops will play friendly games against Cameroon and Mali, and the Colleges of Arizona, Phoenix and Tucson.

He said, “We have planned for a ten days training camp in USA and will also play against some teams there, it is good that the team will have enough warm-up matches and we will have time to assess our level of playing,”

He further added, “For us we want to play many matches which will raise the fitness levels of our players before taking part in such a competitive tournament.”

The Junior Hoops have been playing in the national basketball league so as to give the youngsters more experience and confidence. They are in eighth position with 21 points in the 10 league team championship.

At least 12 teams will take part in FIBA Men’s Africa U-18 Championships with the top two qualifying for the 2017 FIBA U19 Men’s World Championship that will take place for the first time in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

May 13, 2016 By : Category : English featured Tags:,
0 Comment

Thunder edge San Antonio to set up Warriors showdown

 

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder slides past Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs two points during the second half of Game Six of the Western Conference Semi-finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs.

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder slides past Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs two points during the second half of Game Six of the Western Conference Semi-finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs.

Kevin Durant scored 37 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder completed a 4-2 series victory over the San Antonio Spurs to advance to a Western Conference finals showdown with the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

He left the game to a standing ovation after a superb personal contribution that also included nine rebounds and two assists.

“We’re not done yet,” Durant said. “We have to keep improving. Keep getting better and get ready for the next series.”

The host Thunder punched their ticket to their fourth Western Conference finals in six years with a 113-99 victory in front of a crowd of 18,200 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The finals will be a chance for Oklahoma City to avenge their regular-season record against the Warriors, where they lost all three games.

San Antonio, NBA finals champions as recently as 2014, were always struggling against a powerful Thunder team led by Durant and Russell Westbrook, who finished with 28 points.

“We just came out with great intensity,” said Westbrook, who had two back-to-back strong performances against the Spurs. “We knew how important this game was.”

“They been a great team for years,” he added. “Tonight was a tough game but we came out with the win.”

Oklahoma City showed that when either Durant or Westbrook get in a groove, they are tough to beat and when both get going at the same time, it’s almost impossible to stop them.

“We know what we can do as a team,” Westbrook said. “We are confident in ourselves.”

The Spurs had trailed by as much as 26 points at one stage in the game, but despite narrowing the gap in the fourth quarter, were always struggling to overhaul the deficit.

The Thunder continued their rebounding dominance with a 50-40 advantage. They turned the ball over 12 times, while the Spurs gave the ball away just 10 times. Oklahoma City outshot San Antonio from the floor, 47 percent to 43 percent.

“Game one they just outplayed us,” Durant said of the Spurs, who won the series opener by 32 points. “Game thee, I think we gave the game away, and we didn’t want to do that again. Russell (Westbrook) was huge last game. I think that propelled us into having a good game tonight.

The semi-final exit could conceivably mark the end of the road for at least two of San Antonio’s long-serving veterans, with Tim Duncan, 40 and Manu Ginobili, 38, in the twilight of their NBA careers.

The evergreen Duncan finished with 19 points, while Kawhi Leonard was the top scorer for the Spurs with 22.

 

DUNCAN’S LAST GAME?

Duncan turned 40 last month and hasn’t made it clear whether he plans to return for another season. He has a player option on his contract.

Although Duncan’s minutes were reduced this year, he still came up with some turn back the clock moments and played a big role in helping lead the veteran Spurs squad to their best regular season in franchise history.

Asked in the Spurs’ dressing room what the future holds for him, Duncan said, “I will get to that when I get out of here.”

In order to reach the finals, Westbrook said, they must beat Golden State on their home court — which he believes they can accomplish.

“Very confident we can beat them,” he said. “They are a good team. They are the defending champs. We are going to go there to take care of business and try to move on.”

“It is time to knuckle down.”

 

May 13, 2016 By : Category : English featured Tags:,
0 Comment