Another win for delirious Philly: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers top Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards' Marcin Gortat (13) drives the ball to the basket as Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid (21) defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP)
Updated 07 February 2018
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Another win for delirious Philly: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers top Washington Wizards

PHILADELPHIA: Joel Embiid had 27 points and 12 rebounds, and the 76ers helped the city of Philadelphia continue to celebrate by leading from start to finish in a 115-102 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.
Dario Saric added 20 points and J.J. Redick had 18 for the 76ers, who snapped Washington’s five-game winning streak while playing in front of a raucous crowd still in a tizzy over the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots.
Bradley Beal scored 30 points for the Wizards, who lost their first game since fellow All-Star John Wall had arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome left knee.
It looked like half the crowd was clad in Eagles green, and fans broke out into several loud chants of “E-A-G-L-E-S!” as the party continued 48 hours after Philadelphia won its first Lombardi Trophy.
Fans gave a standing ovation to Eagles offensive linemen Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski and Jason Peters when they rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell before tipoff.
The 76ers seemed to feed off the emotion.
Philadelphia took control early, scoring 22 of the first 29 points, and led by as many as 22 in the opening half before settling for a 65-55 halftime lead.
The 76ers pushed the advantage to 19 points on Embiid’s 3-pointer that made it 78-59 with just under nine minutes left in the third. Washington again pulled within 10 points, 94-84, at the end of the period.
But Embiid’s outside shooting gave Philadelphia breathing room again when his 3-pointer from the top of the key made it 100-84 with 10:16 left.
The Wizards managed to get within single digits in the final five minutes, but they never seriously threatened.


Saudi Arabia hopeful ahead of opening Asian Games opening clash against Iran

Updated 14 August 2018
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Saudi Arabia hopeful ahead of opening Asian Games opening clash against Iran

  • Young Falcons hopeful of a semifinal spot.
  • Under-23 players keen on making a name for themselves in Indonesia.

JAKARTA: There is a widely held belief that to succeed in sport, you must start early.
Officials from the Saudi Arabia National Olympic Committee will be hoping it rings true this month as the Kingdom’s Under-23 football team prepares to prematurely kick-off its Asian Games campaign this afternoon in Jakarta, three days before the continent’s largest multi-sport competition officially begins.
Similar to the Olympics, the football tournament starts before the opening ceremony and finishes on the competition’s final day, Sept. 2. The fledgling Young Falcons face Iran today at the 28,000-capacity Wibawa Mukti Stadium in the Indonesian capital.
The Saudi NOC have brought a delegation of 169 athletes, including eight females, and will compete across 22 disciplines, including athletics, shooting, taekwondo and volleyball. The three-week Asian Games operate both as a continental precursor and, at times, a qualifying tournament for 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The Young Falcons made their football debut at the Asian Games in South Korea four years ago, reaching the quarterfinals in Incheon, before losing to Iraq. Their regional neighbors were inspired by legendary striker Younes Mahmoud, who had been included as one of Iraq’s three over-age players and scored twice in a 3-0 win.
Yet the impact of Mahmoud in Korea has not influenced the team’s selection. With the Saudi Pro League starting next week, coach Saad Al-Shehri has opted to forego athletes older than 23, instead selecting a squad consisting primarily of Al-Ahli development players and a smattering of Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad and Al-Ettifaq-based youths.
“We haven’t brought any overage players because we are playing here as preparation for the U23 Asian Cup, which will offer qualification for Tokyo 2020,” said Faisal Almarashdi, a spokesman for the team.
“We have brought to Indonesia only players who are 21 or under as they will all be eligible for Tokyo. Many have already played at the Under-20 World Cup under coach Saad, so there was never any discussion to use the three allocated over-age slots.”
Abdullah Otayf is the model example of how Asian Games experience can help a young career. Four years ago, the deep-lying midfielder was part of the squad that traveled to Korea. This summer he was an integral part of the Green Falcons side that played at the World Cup in Russia. 
With national team coach Juan Antonio Pizzi following the competition from afar, there will be chances to catch the eye for the likes of striker Haroune Camara and midfielders Abdullah Yahya Magrshi and Ali Hassan Al-Asmari ahead of January’s Asian Cup. Both midfielders have already made their full debuts for Ahli and featured in the Jeddah club’s Champions League campaign last season, while Al-Qadisiyah’s Camara was included in Pizzi’s provisional World Cup squad before being cut from the final 23.
“These Asian Games are very important for the young players involved,” Almarashdi added.
“They are the future of the senior team so if they play well here and at the U23 Asian Cup then, we hope, they will go to Tokyo 2020. From then on the pathway to the senior team is already very clear.”  
Much like the seniors, the U23 side is both short and slight, with only two of the 10 midfielders and forwards standing above 5 foot 8 (172m). Today’s opponents Iran are not only taller and more physical, they also have, in Croatian coach Zlatko Kranjčar, a manager who knows West Asian football after short spells in Qatar and the UAE. In their most recent preparation match, Iran lost 3-2 to China. 
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, beat the UAE last week in Malaysia following a pair of friendlies against local sides. Today’s match will kick-off at 4 p.m. local time, midday in Saudi Arabia.