Portland’s Kanter seeks Ramadan advice from NBA great Olajuwon

Enes Kanter of the Portland Trail Blazers takes the ball to the basket against Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap of the Denver Nuggets during Game Five of the Western Conference Semi-Finals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on May 7, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 08 May 2019

Portland’s Kanter seeks Ramadan advice from NBA great Olajuwon

  • Kanter’s observance of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan
  • Nigerian-born Olajuwon powered the Houston Rockets to a pair of NBA titles in 1994-95

LOS ANGELES: Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter said Tuesday he’d sought the advice of NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon on how to maintain his level of play while fasting during Ramadan.
“I texted Hakeem, because I met him, like, two years ago and I know what he did in, I think it was 1995, when he won the MVP in the playoffs,” Kanter told reporters as the Blazers prepared to take on the Denver Nuggets in game five of their Western Conference second-round series.
“But I texted him and was like, ‘Hey, how did you fast through Ramadan and play at a really high level?’” Kanter said. “And he gave me some tips.
“He gave me what he was eating, when he would wake up — Like at 4 in the morning — how much water he was drinking and stuff.”
Kanter’s observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is marked by fasting from sunrise to sunset, also precludes him from taking medication for his injured shoulder during the hours he fasts.
“I took medicine at, like, 4 in the morning and I will take medicine again right before the game, because I can break my fast before the game,” Kanter said. “But I’ll be fine.”
Turkey’s Kanter said he thought the spiritual lift of observing Ramadan countered any physical detriment.
“I think it just gives you so much positive vibes that just go out there to say, ‘You know what, I’m doing this for God, so God (will) help me.’“
Nigerian-born Olajuwon, who powered the Houston Rockets to a pair of NBA titles, told The Undefeated in 2017 that the “spiritual mindset” of fasting gave him the stamina required to play.
“Through Allah’s mercy, I always felt stronger and more energetic during Ramadan.”



Chile open Copa America title defense with win over Japan

Updated 18 June 2019

Chile open Copa America title defense with win over Japan

  • The victory moved Chile to the top of Group C along with Uruguay
  • Japan, playing as a Copa America guest for the second time

SAO PAULO: Chile’s experienced Copa America team proved too good for Japan’s young squad.

The two-time defending champions opened their Copa America campaign with a 4-0 win over the Asian guests on Monday, with Eduardo Vargas scoring a pair of goals to become Chile’s all-time leading scorer in the South American competition.

Erick Pulgar and Alexis Sanchez also scored for the titleholders, which are trying to become the first nation to win three straight Copa titles since Argentina in the late 1940s. Vargas scored twice in the second half to reach 12 goals with Chile in the tournament, two more than Enrique Hormazabal.

The victory moved Chile to the top of Group C along with Uruguay, which opened with a 4-0 win over Ecuador on Sunday.

“Chile has players who are very experienced, who know each other very well,” Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda said. “The challenge today was to avoid a bad debut. We were humble and entered with our feet on the ground. We were playing against a team that was very competitive in all sectors.”

Japan, playing as a Copa America guest for the second time, brought to Brazil a young squad focused on the Olympic tournament at home next year. The Japanese youngsters struggled against the veteran Chilean squad which was in control from the start at the Morumbi Stadium.

Chile won the last two editions of the Copa America, beating Argentina in penalty shootouts in the final both in 2015 and 2016. Argentina is the only team to have won three consecutive South American titles, from 1945-47.

Boosted by most of the 23,253 fans at the Morumbi, Chile created most of the significant chances.

After Pulgar headed in a corner-kick cross by Charles Aranguiz in the 41st minute, Vargas added to the lead with a shot from outside the area in the 54th after a pass by Mauricio Isla.

Sanchez found the net with a header in the 82nd, and Vargas closed the scoring about a minute later with a long lob shot over goalkeeper Keisuke Osako as he charged from his net.

It was a good opening match for Sanchez after a difficult season with Manchester United.

“I was coming off a difficult month-and-a-half,” said the 30-year-old Sanchez, who injured his ankle late in the season. “I struggled in the first 45 minutes, I felt tired, but I improved in the second half.”

Rueda, debuting with Chile in an official tournament, has been gradually revamping the squad since he took over in 2018. Among the veterans back from the team’s recent triumphs were Vargas, Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, who also had a good opener.

Japan last played in the Copa America in 1999, when it was eliminated in the group stage. Among the youngsters in Brazil was Takefusa Kubo, the 18-year-old who has joined Real Madrid’s “B” team for next season. He played from the start and was a threat for Japan in attack. He got an ovation from the crowd at the Morumbi after getting past a defender with a ball through his legs about 10 minutes into the match. He nearly scored after a nifty move past a defender inside the area in the 65th, but his shot hit the outside of the net. Japan had a few good chances to get on the board toward the end of the game but could not capitalize on them.