Cavs near Raptors sweep, Spurs topple Rockets

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James drives to the basket past Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17), Raptors forward PJ Tucker (2) and Raptors guard Cory Joseph (6) during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series in Toronto on Friday. (AP)
Updated 06 May 2017
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Cavs near Raptors sweep, Spurs topple Rockets

LOS ANGELES: LeBron James scored 35 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Toronto Raptors 115-94 Friday to take a 3-0 stranglehold lead in their second-round NBA playoff series.
James also tallied eight rebounds and seven assists as Cleveland will seek to clinch the series with a win in Game 4 on Sunday in Toronto.
"When we're getting stops, we're a dangerous team," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "It was an all-round good game for us rebounding, offensively and defensively, so we just have to keep that up."
Elsewhere, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points as the San Antonio Spurs used a barrage of late three pointers to overcome James Harden's 43-point performance to beat the Houston Rockets 103-92 in their playoff series.
The Raptors played without star point guard Kyle Lowry who sprained his ankle in Wednesday's loss in Cleveland.
Toronto led by three points at halftime but the Cavaliers kept pressing in the third and seized command in the fourth.
James was instrumental in the comeback, scoring 13 points in the final quarter.
Lowry took part in the warm-up and was listed as active for the game, but Cory Joseph started in his place. Lowry sat on the bench for the whole game.
Kevin Love delivered 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, and Kyrie Irving also scored 16 while Kyle Korver had 14 points. Tristan Thompson added nine points and 12 rebounds.
DeMar DeRozan rebounded from a poor performance in game two to lead Toronto with 37 points.
"I liked our fight, I loved the way our guys competed," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "There was no back down."
Casey was unusually optimistic considering his team was looking at this game as an important opportunity to play their way back into the series.
Their playoff exit appears to be nearing as they have no answer for James, who scored 39 points in Game 2 on Wednesday to move past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar into second place on the all-time playoff scoring list.
"We couldn't get anything to fall for us and they turned it on offensively and ran away with it," said DeRozan.
Jonas Valanciunas scored 19 points and eight rebounds, with Norman Powell chipping in with 13 points and Serge Ibaka adding 12 for Toronto.
In Houston, Aldridge was especially dangerous from in the paint in Game 3 as the Spurs took a 2-1 lead in the second-round Western Conference series.
He shot 12-of-20 from the field, a much better performance than the four points he scored in Houston's one-sided win in Game 1.
"This was his best game, obviously," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Aldridge. "He felt good tonight. He was loose as far as his physical nature, his legs and everything. He wasn't too stiff. And it showed. He moved up and down the court well, he was able to push off on the block, he felt good shooting the ball.
"In addition to busting his butt on (defense) and trying to hit the boards for us, he was a big help tonight."
Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday in Houston.
Kawhi Leonard added 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Trevor Ariza tallied 17 points for Houston but had just two after halftime.
The Rockets' three-man bench of Eric Gordon, Nene and Lou Williams combined for 10 points on three-of-19 shooting.
"They did a good job of just staying home on our shooters and forcing me to finish and make plays," said Harden, who was 14 of 28 from the floor.
Houston shot just 36 percent from the field and couldn't keep pace with San Antonio, who were playing without injured point guard Tony Parker.
Parker will miss the remainder of the 2017 postseason after suffering a ruptured left quadriceps tendon in the fourth quarter of Game 2.


Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 18 June 2019
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Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

  • Tazkarti will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament

CAIRO: Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) host country Egypt has launched an online ticketing platform called Tazkarti, which will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament, which begins June 22.

Its aim is to combat ticket touts and black market sales for the continent’s biggest football tournament, and to ensure that ticket prices remain fixed at the price decided by the AFCON organizing committee. It is also a measure of the steps Egypt is taking to ensure that the tournament passes peacefully. 

Football stadiums have been almost entirely empty since 2011 because of security issues after long-time President Hosni Mubarak stepped down following national protests in which football fans played a major role, resulting in violent, often lethal, clashes with police and between rival fans.

In 2012, Port Said stadium witnessed a riot that left 72 Al-Ahly supporters dead after a pitch invasion by Masri supporters at the end of a Premier League game. In 2015, 19 Zamalek fans were killed and 20 injured when police attempted to disperse large crowds making their way into a Cairo stadium to attend a Premier League game. 

Those were just two of several incidents that meant authorities imposed a ban on people attending football matches or severely restricted the number of people that could do so.

Every AFCON ticket purchased via Tazkarti will be scanned at the stadium to ensure it matches the holder’s “Fan ID.” If it does not, the holder will not be allowed into the ground.

Tickets for matches featuring the Egyptian national team range from 200 to 2,500 Egyptian pounds ($12-$150), while other matches range from 100 to 500 Egyptian pounds ($6 to $30).

While those prices might sound affordable to outsiders, in a country where a doctor earns around $90 to $179 per month, many have found themselves priced out of the tournament already.

“I am a married dentist with three kids. If I want to attend a match with my family, I would have to pay 1,000 pounds ($60), (not including) transportation and snacks,” Dr. M. Sheta, who lives in Damietta, told Arab News.

“To book a cinema ticket nowadays ranges between 70 and 100 pounds and a good meal costs 100 pounds minimum. If I can afford that, then I can afford AFCON tickets,” said a housewife in Mansoura, who asked to remain anonymous.

Plenty of young Egyptians took to social media to express their displeasure with the ticket prices.

“This is a clear message that middle-class Egyptians are not welcome,” said Ahmed Zahran.

“I would rather pay a total of 10 pounds at any coffee shop and watch the matches there,” said Ahmed El-Tlabanty.

Some fans believe that the prices have been set high to discourage Ultras (the most passionate football fans) from attending.

An administrator of the “Ultras Ahlawy” Facebook group, while stressing that he hoped supporters “have fun watching AFCON,” asked Arab News: “Why would I pay 200 pounds to watch a match? I do not (make hundreds of pounds).”

Aside from issues with the high prices, people have also been widely critical of the technical performance of the new ticketing platform, which has been under pressure from high demand for Fan IDs.

“You guys are so disrespectful and unprofessional. I’ve been trying to reach out for more than two weeks and no one is answering — not on messenger nor the hotline. You made the whole championship experience the worst,” wrote Fatma El-Dardiry. “I called your customer service at least five times, placed three complaints and texted you on Facebook more than once. Now, the tickets of cat 1 and 2 for the opening match have already sold out.”