Curry, James lead fan voting for NBA All-Star game

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (left frame) and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (right). (AP/Kelvin Kuo-USA Today Sports)
Updated 11 January 2018
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Curry, James lead fan voting for NBA All-Star game

LOS ANGELES: Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and Golden State Warriors playmaker Stephen Curry are on course to be chosen as conference captains for next month’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles, voting results showed Thursday.
James and Curry lead the latest fan voting which accounts for 50 percent of the ballot to determine the 10 starters for the All-Star Game on February 18 at the Staples Center.
Current NBA players and a panel of basketball media make up the rest of the ballot, each accounting for 25 percent of the voting, which concludes on Monday.
In the second wave of fan returns, James polled 1,622,838 votes to edge ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (1,480,954) in the Eastern Conference and overall.
James and Antetokounmpo are followed in the East frontcourt by the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (784,287) and the New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis (640,928). The Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving is third in the conference and overall with 1,370,643 votes.
In the Western Conference, Curry has amassed 1,369,658 votes, taking him clear of teammate Kevin Durant with 1,326,059. The Houston Rockets’ James Harden has 978,540 votes and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook 791,332.
Under a revamped All-Star Game format, the two captains this year will choose their rosters from the pool of players voted in as starters and reserves.
The players polling the most outright votes in each conference will be selected as captains.


Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

Updated 23 January 2019
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Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

  • Can the mighty minnows continue impressive run in the UAE?
  • Or will the big guns start to fire in quarterfinals?

LONDON: Asia’s biggest sporting spectacle has reached its quarterfinal stage — and it’s time for teams to find their A-game. While there are few surprises in the last-eight lineup, the form of some of the big-name sides has been less than impressive. Here we deliver our verdict on the second round.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT — Saudi Arabia’s attack

The Green Falcons started the tournament at top speed. They came in as one of the cup favorites and in their opening two matches illustrated why. A 4-0 thrashing of North Korea was backed up with a relatively simple 2-0 victory over Lebanon. Understandably, that raised hopes that Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men could go all the way in the UAE. Alas, it was not to be as a 2-0 defeat to Qatar in their last group clash left them with a tricky tie against Japan. For all their efforts Saudi Arabia were unable to find the back of the net, the lack of firepower upfront costing Pizzi’s team yet again.



BIGGEST SHOCK — South Korean sloppiness

Boosted by the arrival of Tottenham star Son Heung-Min, South Korea were rightly declared the pre-tournament favorites. They had firepower up front, intelligence and creativity in midfield, and experience at the back. In the four matches in the UAE so far, however, they have looked anything but potential champions. They labored to beat Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and China in the group stage before almost being shocked by part-timers Bahrain in the second round. South Korea now face Qatar in the last eight and, as Son said after their extra-time win over Bahrain, they need to significantly improve if they are to avoid a shock exit before the semis.



UNDER PRESSURE — Alberto Zaccheroni and the UAE



The Whites owe their place in the last eight to luck more than skill. In some ways that is not a surprise — the hosts came into the tournament without their talisman, the injured Omar Abdulrahman, and on the back of a patchy run of form. But, still, the performances on home soil have been underwhelming to say the least. That was summed up with their extra-time win over Kyrgyzstan, who were playing in their first Asian Cup. It was a far-from-convincing performance and Central Asians were unlucky not to beat Zaccheroni’s side. The UAE will have to deliver their best performance for some time if they are to progress further. Their opponents, Australia, have also performed poorly, which may offer them some encouragement.



BEST HIGHLIGHT — The mighty minnows

The big guns have not had it all their own way. That may annoy their fans, but it does show that Asian football is improving. Only a few years ago the idea that Kyrgyzstan, Bahrain and Jordan would look the equals of Australia and Co. would have seemed fanciful. But in the past two weeks the standard shown by the so-called lesser lights has been impressive — and great to watch. Last summer five Asian teams appeared at the World Cup for the first time and it was hoped that showing would act as a springboard for further progress across the continent. On the evidence of the action in the UAE that wish could be coming true.

 

PREDICTIONS