Nuggets eliminate Trail Blazers in Game 6 of NBA playoff

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots against Nikola Jokicof the Denver Nuggets during Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 03, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP)
Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots against Nikola Jokicof the Denver Nuggets during Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 03, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP)
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Updated 04 June 2021

Nuggets eliminate Trail Blazers in Game 6 of NBA playoff

Nuggets eliminate Trail Blazers in Game 6 of NBA playoff
  • Denver advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the third straight season
  • They await the winner of the series between Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers

PORTLAND, Oregon: Nikola Jokic had 36 points and the Denver Nuggets eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in six games with a 126-115 victory Thursday night.
Michael Porter Jr. added 26 points, including 22 in the opening quarter, for the third-seeded Nuggets. They await the outcome of the first-round series between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.
Denver advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the third straight season.
Damian Lillard finished with 28 points and 13 assists for the sixth-seeded Blazers. They led by 14 points in the third quarter but couldn’t stave off elimination.
Monte Morris hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close Denver to 101-98 heading into the last period. Jokic hit a 3-pointer to put Denver ahead 108-106 and Denver stretched it to 117-108 on Austin Rivers’ 3 with 3:52 left.
Portland tired to catch up, getting to 121-115 on CJ McCollum’s layup, but Aaron Gordon hit a 3-pointer that all but sealed it for Denver with less than a minute to go.
The Nuggets took a 3-2 lead in the series with a 147-140 double overtime victory in Denver on Tuesday night. It spoiled Lillard’s epic playoff performance: He had 55 points, including 12 3-pointers, and 10 assists. It was the most 3-pointers ever in a playoff game.
The Blazers needed big man Jusuf Nurkic to stay out of foul trouble. Tasked with defending Jokic, he fouled out in three of the first five games.
Nurkic didn’t have a foul in the first half, but then had four quick fouls in the third quarter and had to head to the bench.
Porter had six 3-pointers in the first quarter alone, tying an NBA playoff record for most 3s a quarter.
Lillard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Blazers a 68-61 lead at the half. He raised his arms to encourage the crowd as he headed off the floor.

TEAMMATE AWARD
Damian Lillard was honored before the game as the NBA’s Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award. The league’s players vote to recognize “selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team.” Carmelo Anthony and CJ McCollum presented Lillard with the award.

TIP INS
Nuggets: Jamal Murray was in Portland for the game. He had stayed back in Denver for the previous two away playoff games because of his torn ACL. ... Nuggets coach Michael Malone said his team had a Game 7 mindset going into the game, noting that Portland had 602 points through the first five games, compared to Denver’s 599.
Trail Blazers: Errick McCollum was at the game to watch his brother play in person for the first time in four years. Errick McCollum plays pro basketball for BC Khimki in Russia. ... Lillard went into the game needing two 3-pointers for most ever in a playoff series, besting Donovan Mitchell’s record 33 3s last year. He got a pair in the opening quarter.


Court details Ryan Giggs’ alleged pattern of domestic abuse

Court details Ryan Giggs’ alleged pattern of domestic abuse
Updated 23 July 2021

Court details Ryan Giggs’ alleged pattern of domestic abuse

Court details Ryan Giggs’ alleged pattern of domestic abuse
  • Giggs appeared in Manchester Crown Court and pleaded innocent to charges of controlling and coercive behavior toward his ex-girlfriend
  • He allegedly kicked his former girlfriend in the back and threw her naked out of their room

MANCHESTER: Former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs allegedly kicked a former girlfriend and threw her naked out of their hotel room as part of a pattern of abusive behavior, it was claimed in court on Friday.
The 47-year-old Giggs appeared in Manchester Crown Court and pleaded not guilty to a charge of controlling and coercive behavior toward his former girlfriend from August 2017 to November 2020.
Giggs also pleaded not guilty to two assault charges related to an incident at his Manchester-area home on Nov. 1 last year, when he allegedly caused actual bodily harm to his former girlfriend and allegedly physically assaulted the woman’s sister.
Details of Giggs’ alleged controlling and coercive behavior were read out by the court clerk.
At the Stafford Hotel in London, Giggs allegedly kicked his former girlfriend in the back, threw her naked out of their room and threw her bag at her after she accused him of flirting with other women.
Giggs allegedly threatened to send emails to the woman’s friends and employers about their sexual relationship.
After she tried to end their relationship, Giggs allegedly would turn up unannounced and uninvited at her home, workplace and gym. He also allegedly sent unwanted messages and made unwanted calls to her and her friends.
Giggs had previously denied all allegations and said he would “look forward to clearing my name.”
His bail conditions were extended and he must not contact the two women or go to any address where they are.
A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Oct. 8 and a trial date is set for Jan. 24.
Giggs is on leave as coach of Wales, for which he made 64 appearances as a player.
He played a record 963 times for Manchester United before retiring in 2014. He’s also a co-owner of fourth-division Salford.


Son extends contract at Tottenham, calls it ‘easy’ decision

Son extends contract at Tottenham, calls it ‘easy’ decision
Updated 23 July 2021

Son extends contract at Tottenham, calls it ‘easy’ decision

Son extends contract at Tottenham, calls it ‘easy’ decision
  • Son Heung-min signed a four-year contract extension to keep him at the Premier League club through June 2025
  • Son, 29, has compiled 107 goals and 64 assists in 280 appearances in all competitions

LONDON: At least one star forward wants to stay at Tottenham.
Son Heung-min signed a four-year contract extension Friday to keep him at the Premier League club through June 2025.
Harry Kane’s future is another question. He’s under contract with the north London team until 2024 but has indicated he wants a change of scenery.
Not so for South Korea captain Son.
“It was already a big honor to play here for six years,” he said in a team statement. “The club have showed me massive, massive respect and obviously I’m very happy to be here.”
The 29-year-old Son has compiled 107 goals and 64 assists in 280 appearances in all competitions since joining Tottenham from Bayer Leverkusen in August 2015.
“It’s like home, especially with the fans, the players, the staff,” Son said. “There was no decision. It was easy. I’m so happy to be here and will be so glad to see the fans again soon.”
No financial details were given.
Tottenham tweeted: “He’s here to stay.”
“Everyone can see the real positive impact he has on the club, both on and off the field, and we are delighted that he will play a part in what we are trying to achieve in the coming years,” football managing director Fabio Paratici said.
With Son’s future seemingly set, new manager Nuno Espirito Santo can now turn his attention to Kane. Last week, Nuno affirmed that he expects Kane to return.
After Tottenham’s seventh-place finish in the Premier League left it out of the Champions League, Kane indicated he wants out. The England and Tottenham captain was frustrated with the direction of the team and lack of trophies.
Son told club media that he’s ready to shoulder the responsibility of winning trophies.
“I want to win something with Tottenham,” he said. “This is my aim and this is also the fans’ aim. This is a massive club — big opportunity. I want to be part of this, I want to take a big responsibility of this. That’s what I signed for.”
Kane and Son in 2020-21 set the single-season Premier League record for combining on goals. The pair assisted one another on 14 goals, one better than Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton from the 1994-95 season with Blackburn.
Son has scored 27 goals in 93 appearances for South Korea, including a total of three goals at two World Cups.
Tottenham hosts Premier League champion Manchester City for its season opener on Aug. 15. The only European involvement for Tottenham this season will be in the less lucrative and new third-tier Europa Conference League.


Low-key Opening Ceremony ushers in pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics

Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 23 July 2021

Low-key Opening Ceremony ushers in pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics

Saudi Arabia's delegation enters the Olympic Stadium during Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony's parade of athletes, in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (AFP)
  • Just a few hundred officials and dignitaries were in the stands of the 68,000-seat venue
  • Athletes, support staff and media are subject to strict COVID-19 protocols, including regular testing and daily health checks

TOKYO: The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement and a build-up marred by scandal and controversy.
The stripped-back celebration began with a video showing athletes training at home during the pandemic, before fireworks burst into the air above the Olympic Stadium.
Just a few hundred officials and dignitaries were in the stands of the 68,000-seat venue, including French President Emmanuel Macron, US First Lady Jill Biden, and Japan's Emperor Naruhito, who will declare the Games open.
The Olympics have faced opposition in Japan over fears the global gathering of 11,000 athletes could trigger a super-spreader event, and is taking place under strict virus measures.
Overseas fans are banned for the first time in the history of the Games, and domestic spectators can only watch events at a handful of venues.
Athletes, support staff and media are subject to strict COVID-19 protocols, including regular testing and daily health checks.
The restrictions made for an opening ceremony that was far from the usual exuberant celebration.
Every athlete entered the stadium wearing a mask, and the national delegations of athletes marching around the stadium were far smaller than usual, ranging from just a handful of people to a few dozen.
The ceremony wove together references to both Japan's traditional crafts and its globally adored video games, with athletes entering to theme music from famed titles.

READ MORE

Saudi rower Husein Alireza and 100 meter sprinter Yasmine Al-Dabbagh were chosen to carry the Kingdom’s flag at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo on Friday. More here.

Polls have consistently shown Japanese people are opposed to holding the Games during the pandemic, but hundreds of people still gathered outside the stadium and cheered as the fireworks exploded overhead.
Mako Fukuhara arrived six hours before the ceremony to grab a spot.
"Until now it didn't feel like the Olympics, but now we are by the stadium, it feels like the Olympics," she told AFP as people snapped selfies nearby.
Inside, fewer than 1,000 dignitaries and officials were in the stands, and in a sign of how divisive the Games remain, several top sponsors including Toyota and Panasonic did not attend the ceremony.
Small groups of protestors demonstrated against the Games outside the stadium as the ceremony began, but their chants were drowned out as the music started.
Tokyo is battling a surge in virus cases, and is under emergency measures that means bars and restaurants must shut by 8:00 pm and cannot sell alcohol.
Olympic officials have put a brave face on the unusual circumstances, with IOC chief Thomas Bach insisting cancelling the Games was never on the table.
"Over the past 15 months we had to take many decisions on very uncertain grounds," he said this week. "We had doubts every day. There were sleepless nights.
"We can finally see at the end of the dark tunnel. Cancellation was never an option for us. The IOC never abandons the athletes... we did it for the athletes."
There are also hefty financial incentives in play. Insiders estimate the IOC would have been on the hook for around $1.5 billion in lost broadcasting revenues if the Games had been cancelled.
The pandemic has not been the only hiccup in preparations though, with scandals ranging from corruption during the bidding process to plagiarism allegations over the design of the Tokyo 2020 logo.
The controversies kept coming right up to the eve of the Games, with the opening ceremony's director sacked on Thursday for making a joke referencing the Holocaust in a video more than two decades ago.
When the full programme of sport begins on Saturday, a new generation of Olympic stars are looking to shine after a decade dominated by the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.
US swimmer Caeleb Dressel could target seven gold medals, and in track and field, 400 metre hurdlers Karsten Warholm of Norway and the USA's Sydney McLaughlin are among those hoping to emerge as household names.
In gymnastics, Simone Biles will attempt to crown her dazzling career by equalling Larisa Latynina's record of nine Olympic gold medals.
New Olympic sports will also be on display in Tokyo, with surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and karate all making their debut.


Ali Al-Khadrawi launches Tokyo 2020 table tennis campaign against Czech opponent

Ali Al-Khadrawi launches Tokyo 2020 table tennis campaign against Czech opponent
Updated 23 July 2021

Ali Al-Khadrawi launches Tokyo 2020 table tennis campaign against Czech opponent

Ali Al-Khadrawi launches Tokyo 2020 table tennis campaign against Czech opponent
  • 24-year-old Saudi arrived in Japan after 23-day training camp in Germany

TOKYO: Saudi table tennis player Ali Al-Khadrawi will on Saturday launch his bid for Olympic success when he faces Lubomir Jancarik of the Czech Republic.

The first round of the table tennis competition will take place at Tokyo Metropolitan Gym in Shibuya and 24-year-old Al-Khadrawi will be in action on table No. 4 at 9 a.m. Saudi Arabian time.

The Kingdom’s sole representative in table tennis at the Games arrived in Tokyo after a 23-day preparation camp in Germany under the supervision of Egyptian coach Youssef Rabie.

The table tennis singles competitions are played in a knockout system, each match decided over the best of seven sets.

Following in the footsteps of his father and older brother, Al-Khadrawi took up the sport 10 years ago, and within five years he was representing his country internationally.

His first appearance in Saudi colors came at the 2016 World Top 16 Championship in India, and two years later he claimed gold in the team and individual categories at the West Asian Championship U-18 in Jordan. He continued his rise through the ranks with another podium finish that same year, a silver at the West Asian Championship U-21, also held in Jordan.

Al-Khadrawi secured his qualification for the Tokyo Olympics by winning the West Asia Championship 2020 in Amman.


Five things we learned from opening Saudi Arabia and Egypt results in Tokyo 2020 football competition

Five things we learned from opening Saudi Arabia and Egypt results in Tokyo 2020 football competition
Updated 23 July 2021

Five things we learned from opening Saudi Arabia and Egypt results in Tokyo 2020 football competition

Five things we learned from opening Saudi Arabia and Egypt results in Tokyo 2020 football competition
  • Tenacious Pharaohs defy Spanish giants, while Green Falcons’ hopes undimmed despite unlucky loss

LONDON: The first day of the Olympic football competition brought a mixture of encouragement and disappointment for the two Arab participants at Tokyo 2020. Egypt managed a commendable 0-0 draw with tournament favorites Spain, while Saudi Arabia will feel a little aggrieved at losing 2-1 to Ivory Coast in another hard-fought game.

1. Saudis suffer harsh defeat

The young Green Falcons may have lost a seventh game out of seven in the Olympics, but that does not tell the whole story. Saudi Arabia had the lion’s share — 56 percent —   of possession against the talented Ivory Coast, and worked incredibly hard with and without the ball.

The pressing in the first half was excellent and seemed to surprise the opposition. In such humid conditions, it was no surprise that the same energy levels could not be sustained for the full 90 and while possession was good, the Africans always looked a little sharper going forward.

What was encouraging was the attitude and response to going behind to an own goal. Just five minutes after that setback, Saudi Arabia were level. The all-round attitude and performance will please coach Saad Al-Shehri, with the fact that the game ended in defeat the only reason there is not widespread satisfaction. 

 
2. Al-Dossary shines for Saudi

There were a number of good Saudi performances, but with Abdullah Al-Hamdan looking far from sharp in the striking role, it was up to main man Salem Al-Dossary to lead the way. The Al-Hilal star scored the senior team’s winning goal against Egypt at Russia 2018 to earn a first win at the World Cup for 24 years, and his goal at Yokohama International Stadium was good enough to win any game.

Picking the ball up just outside the area, Al-Dossary had time to look and then curled an unstoppable shot past the outstretched arms of the Ivory Coast goalkeeper Ira Eliezer Tape. He almost scored another fine goal late in the game, but his shot from just inside the box struck the crossbar in heartbreaking fashion. It was that close to being 2-2.

3. Ivory Coast’s attacking quality edged the encounter

Saudi Arabia is the only team among the 16 currently in Japan with a squad entirely based at home. This is no time to get into that debate, but a difference in quality was noticeable in the second half. Amad Diallo went on a run and then passed to Franck Kessie, who turned smartly on the edge of the area and finished beautifully. In effect, it was a goal made by a Manchester United player and finished by an AC Milan man. This goal was the difference between getting a point or none for the Saudis, and it was one of international quality.

It is always going to be difficult for players who play all their competitive games in Saudi Arabia to suddenly come up against rivals who compete in the upper reaches of the English Premier League and Serie A. Warm-ups against African and South American opposition only help so much and when it came to it, the winner came from players with two of the biggest clubs in the world.

4. Egypt’s heroics deserve international recognition

Before the tournament much was written about the Spanish squad and how it included six members who had taken part in the country’s impressive Euro 2020 campaign, including Barcelona prodigy Pedri.

In the previews, Egypt were hardly mentioned and dismissed as mere fodder for the last European team to win gold back in 1992. Yet the Pharaohs, led by Ahmed Hegazi and defensive partner Mahmoud Hamdi, worked hard to deny Spain a goal in a display of fine and committed defending. It was sometimes far from pretty, but it was effective.

Again, in the match commentaries and reports, there was little mention of Egypt, and the effort and discipline that had been put into the match. It was all about Spain and its failure to score. But Egypt — with players who were in action for Al-Ahly in the CAF Champions League final in Morocco last Saturday — deserve huge credit for their efforts.

5. Both Arab teams still in hunt for last eight 

It was unfortunate that Saudi Arabia, who had chances, especially in the final stages, were not able to get the goal their efforts deserved, but there is still hope. The game against Germany on Sunday is huge, but if Al-Shehri can get another solid performance out of his players then there is no reason they cannot get something off the Germans. It will be tough, but if Egypt can foil Spain, Saudi Arabia can do the same to Germany.

For Egypt, the situation is obviously more encouraging. Taking a point off the best team in the group opened things up unexpectedly. Argentina are next, and the South Americans looked open at the back against Australia and unimpressive going forward. Then comes the final game against the Olyroos, who looked organized and dangerous in attack. It really is up for grabs.

Four points can often be enough, and it is well within reach.