Saudi Arabia giants Al-Ittihad make two international signings

Aleksandar Pesic and Matthew Jurman have signed for Al-Ittihad. (AFP)
Updated 02 August 2018
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Saudi Arabia giants Al-Ittihad make two international signings

LONDON: Al-Ittihad have moved to build on their King's Cup success by strengthening their defence and attack with two key international signings.
Aleksandar Pesic, a Serbian international striker, and Australia World Cup defender Matthew Jurman have joined the Jeddah outfit who will be looking to rebuild under new coach Ramon Diaz.
The former Al-Hilal coach replaced Chilean Jose Luis Sierra in May and he has identified Pesic, 26, and Jurman, 28, as two key players in his revolution. Al-Ittihad have won the Saudi Pro League nine times but not since 2009 and they could only finish ninth last season.
Al-Ittihad will be pinning their hopes on Pesic and Jarman leading their rise up the table. Pesic signs from Red Star Belgrade on a three-year deal and comes with a good pedigree having played for Toulouse and Atalanta. He has one international cap, which he won in 2016 in a friendly against Ukraine, and should team up in attack with Ahmed Akaïchi, the Tunisian international, who led the way with ten goals last season.
Jurman went to the World Cup in Russia with the Socceroos and sat on the bench for the games against France, Denmark and Peru. He joins from Suwon Samsung Bluewings on a two-year contract.
Jurman said he left the South Korean club with a heavy heart.
"From the day I became a @suwonsamsungfc player, I loved every minute of it," he wrote on Instagram. "Being my first move overseas for my career it had its ups and downs, but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment and loved learning the Korean culture and way of living! I always gave my best when I played for Suwon to always try to help the team win. I’ll miss the city, the fans, my teammates and all the coaching staff and office staff. I’ll never forget the friends and experiences I made there! From now, I’ll be a Suwon fan & will be following the team from afar and one day we will meet again! Now, I’m looking forward to my next step in my career @ittihadclub.sa."


Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

Updated 20 May 2019
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Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

  • Milwaukee’s MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggles to just 12 points
  • He then fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period

LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard scored eight of his 36 points in the second overtime period Sunday to lead the Toronto Raptors to a gritty 118-112 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
The Raptors, who dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Milwaukee, clawed their way back to 2-1 in front of home fans and will try to level the set when they host game four on Tuesday.
Pascal Siakam scored 25 points and Spanish center Marc Gasol added 16 for the Raptors, who got off to a quick start and led much of the night but had to battle to put the Bucks away.
“We just played a lot tougher,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were up guarding, we were physical. We were ready to play tonight.”
Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled to just 12 points on five-of-16 shooting.
Antetokounmpo’s 23 rebounds helped the Bucks stay in touch, but he didn’t reach double figures in points until the middle of the fourth quarter and he produced eight of the Bucks’ 20 turnovers.
Antetokounmpo fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period.
Moments later the Bucks managed to edge ahead 105-103 — taking the lead for the first time since Antetokounmpo scored the game’s opening basket — but Leonard and the Raptors roared back.
Leonard’s steal and dunk put Toronto ahead 112-109 and his driving bank shot gave Toronto a 114-110 lead with 32.4 seconds remaining.
Leonard played a key role in limiting Antetokounmpo and Nurse said his defensive play was “probably the biggest key of the game.”
“Not only did he just play good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip-aways and break aways,” Nurse said.
“Offense was hard to come by there for both teams for a while and any time you can get a steal and a break out it’s a huge momentum play.”
Toronto had a chance to win it in regulation, but they let a 96-91 lead slip away in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton’s putback basket from his own miss with 2.2 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
The Raptors led 103-99 with 1:29 remaining in the first extra session.
But Malcolm Brogdon floated in a shot and George Hill drained two free throws to tie it before Leonard’s jump shot fell short.
The Raptors overcame a slow night from Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points before fouling out with 6:12 left in the fourth.
Although Leonard scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and both overtimes, some grimaces from the Raptors star sparked concerns he might be injured.
“I’m feeling all right,” he said. “This is playoff basketball. Everybody’s hurting, you just have to keep fighting.”
Hill led the Bucks with 24 points and fellow reserve Brogdon added 20. Center Brook Lopez led the Bucks starters with 16 points.
“I feel like we gave ourselves several chances,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We weren’t able to get over the hump.
“When you have opportunities you’ve got to make them and we didn’t quite make enough of our good ones. I think we’ll be better in game four, Giannis, everybody.”