Embiid scores 45 as 76ers top Pacers; Lakers out of NBA postseason contention after Suns rout

Embiid scores 45 as 76ers top Pacers; Lakers out of NBA postseason contention after Suns rout
Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid shoots against Indiana Pacers' Jalen Smith during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP)
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Updated 06 April 2022

Embiid scores 45 as 76ers top Pacers; Lakers out of NBA postseason contention after Suns rout

Embiid scores 45 as 76ers top Pacers; Lakers out of NBA postseason contention after Suns rout
  • Embiid banked in a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer and shot 18 for 30 overall while moving into the NBA scoring lead with 30.4 points per game

INDIANAPOLIS: Joel Embiid had 45 points and 13 rebounds, and the Philadelphia 76ers made a franchise-record 17 3-pointers in the first half of a 131-122 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night that moved them into a tie with Boston atop the Atlantic Division.

Embiid banked in a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer and shot 18 for 30 overall while moving into the NBA scoring lead with 30.4 points per game. He had 27 points and seven rebounds in the first half, helping Philadelphia take control with a 49-point second quarter that led to an 82-59 halftime lead.

Buddy Hield scored 25 points and Tyrese Haliburton had 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Indiana, which has lost a season-worst eight in a row.

SUNS 121 LAKERS 110

PHOENIX: Devin Booker scored 32 points and Phoenix won its franchise-record 63rd game of the season, beating a Lakers team minus LeBron James to eliminate Los Angeles from the playoff race.

It was a tight game during the first half but Phoenix used a 29-9 run in the third quarter to create separation. The rest of the night was essentially a celebration for the Suns, who danced and dunked their way past the forlorn Lakers.

Playing without James for a second consecutive game because of a sprained ankle, Los Angeles lost their seventh straight. Russell Westbrook scored 28 points while Anthony Davis added 21 points and 13 rebounds.

Deandre Ayton had 22 points for Phoenix (63-16), which avoided its first three-game losing streak this season.

NETS 118 ROCKETS 105

NEW YORK: Kyrie Irving scored 42 points and Brooklyn beat Houston to improve its position in the race for play-in seeding.

Irving had 17 points in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant added 18 points, Bruce Brown had 15 and Cam Thomas 13 for the Nets. Andre Drummond finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

With Cleveland, Atlanta and Charlotte all losing, the Nets climbed into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, just 1 1/2 games behind the Cavaliers. The No. 7 seed host a game to open the tournament.

Kevin Porter Jr scored a season-high 36 points and Jalen Green added 30 for the Rockets.

RAPTORS 11 HAWKS 108

TORONTO: Pascal Siakam had 31 points and 13 rebounds, Scottie Barnes added 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Toronto clinched a playoff berth by beating Atlanta.

Chris Boucher scored 18 points, Gary Trent Jr. had 14, Fred VanVleet 12 and Precious Achiuwa 11. Toronto have won 12 of 16. The victory, coupled with Cleveland’s loss at Orlando, ensured the Raptors (46-33) will finish no lower than sixth in the Eastern Conference.

Sixth place is the last guaranteed postseason spot, with teams finishing in the Nos. 7-10 spots headed for the play-in tournament.

Trae Young had 26 points and 15 assists for the Hawks, who lost for the first time in six games and locked themselves into a play-in berth. Atlanta (41-38) and Brooklyn are 1 1/2 games behind seventh-place Cleveland.

JAZZ 121 GRIZZLIES 115, OT

SALT LAKE CITY: Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 21 rebounds, and Utah clinched a playoff berth by beating Memphis in overtime.

Jordan Clarkson also finished with 22 points for the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell added 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Hassan Whiteside had 14 points and 10 boards off the bench.

Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 28 for the Grizzlies. Tyus Jones added 24 points and Desmond Bane had 23 points, seven rebounds and four steals.

Memphis played without their top two scorers. Ja Morant (right knee soreness) and Dillon Brooks (right hip soreness) were both inactive.

BUCKS 127 BULLS 106

CHICAGO: Brook Lopez scored a season-high 28 points and Milwaukee overcame a rather quiet performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo to clinch their fourth straight Central Division championship with a victory over Chicago.

The defending NBA champion Bucks haven’t been on a run like this since Don Nelson’s teams won seven consecutive division titles in the 1980s.

They took control early and completed a four-game season sweep of Chicago even though DeMar DeRozan scored 40 for the Bulls.

Antetokounmpo, trying to overtake LeBron James and Joel Embiid in a tight race for his first scoring title, finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. But the two-time MVP started slow and spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench after picking up his fifth foul.

Lopez had his best performance after missing most of the season because of a back injury. Khris Middleton scored 19.

PELICANS 123 KINGS 109

SACRAMENTO, Calif.: CJ McCollum and Jaxson Hayes each scored 23 points and New Orleans secured a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament by beating Sacramento.

Brandon Ingram added 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Pelicans (35-44), who never trailed. New Orleans have won four of five.

Damian Jones had 22 points the Kings, eliminated from playoff contention Sunday for an NBA-record 16th consecutive season.

HEAT 144 HORNETS 115

MIAMI: Tyler Herro scored 35 points off the bench and Miami moved closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a victory over Charlotte.

Miami won their fifth straight and posted the second-highest point total in franchise history, while the Hornets allowed 144 for the second consecutive game after a 144-112 loss Saturday at Philadelphia.

Jimmy Butler added 27 points, Bam Adebayo had 22 and Duncan Robinson broke out of a recent scoring slump with 21 points for the Heat, who need to win one of their two remaining games to secure the top spot in the East. Robinson shot 7 of 11 on 3-pointers after averaging 5.7 points in his previous six games, including two scoreless outings.

Miami finished 23 of 42 from 3-point range. Herro was 8 of 14 from behind the arc and tied Dwyane Wade’s single-game record for points by a Heat reserve.

Miles Bridges scored 29 points and LaMelo Ball finished with 18 points and 14 assists for Charlotte, which dropped to 10th in the East but has clinched a berth in the play-in tournament.

SPURS 116 NUGGETS 97

DENVER: Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson each scored 20 points to help San Antonio move closer to securing a spot in the play-in tournament by defeating Denver.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic had 41 points and 17 rebounds for the Nuggets, who had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win after Minnesota lost to Washington.

The Spurs had six players score in double figures as they won a regular-season game in Denver for the first time since Jan. 5, 2017. But it wasn’t easy even after San Antonio built a lead that stretched to 21 late in the second quarter.

The Nuggets cut it to four early in the fourth, only to see the Spurs go on a 14-2 surge to regain momentum.

MAGIC 120 CAVALIERS 115

ORLANDO, Fla.: Mo Bamba had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Ignas Brazdeikis scored 20 off the bench and Orlando beat Cleveland to stop a six-game losing streak.

Moritz Wagner scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Magic.

Darius Garland had 27 points and 10 assists, and Lauri Markkanen added 25 points for the injury-riddled Cavaliers, who have dropped eight of 10 and are locked into the play-in tournament. Cleveland is trying to hold onto seventh place in the Eastern Conference with two regular-season games remaining.

Markelle Fultz finished with 16 points and six assists for Orlando in his first start of the season after returning from a knee injury.

WIZARDS 132 TIMBERWOLVES 114

MINNEAPOLIS: Kristaps Porzingis scored 25 points, including 12 in the third quarter as Washington took control against Minnesota.

Rui Hachimura tied a season high with 21 points and Daniel Gafford had 24 points and 12 rebounds off the bench for Washington. The Wizards were coming off a 144-102 loss at Boston to open their three-game road trip but have won five of seven.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, while D’Angelo Russell finished with 17 points and 11 assists. The Timberwolves are seventh in the Western Conference, almost out of time to climb above the cut and avoid the play-in tournament with two regular-season games remaining.

THUNDER 98 TRAIL BLAZERS 94

OKLAHOMA CITY: Jaylen Hoard had career highs of 24 points and 21 rebounds to help Oklahoma City top Portland.

Isaiah Roby had 18 points and a career-high six steals, Georgios Kalaitzakis scored 17 points and Olivier Sarr had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder. Oklahoma City improved to 4-0 against the Trail Blazers this season.

Keon Johnson scored 18 points and Greg Brown III and Ben McLemore each had 17 for Portland, which lost its eighth straight.

The Trail Blazers led 82-67 heading into the fourth quarter, but Oklahoma City held Portland to 12 points on 5-for-19 shooting in the final 12 minutes.


Potential NBA top draft pick Wembanyama dazzles in two-game Las Vegas exhibition 

Potential NBA top draft pick Wembanyama dazzles in two-game Las Vegas exhibition 
Updated 19 sec ago

Potential NBA top draft pick Wembanyama dazzles in two-game Las Vegas exhibition 

Potential NBA top draft pick Wembanyama dazzles in two-game Las Vegas exhibition 
  • The reviews are in from this two-game Vegas residency for Wembanyama, who stands 7-foot-3 in bare feet, and they were of the raving variety

HENDERSON, Nevada: Victor Wembanyama blocked a shot Thursday afternoon, ran to the other end of the court, went airborne from just inside the foul line, corralled an alley-oop pass with one hand and slammed home a dunk.

The entire sequence lasted eight seconds.

It may have been the signature moment — and there were a lot of candidates — from Wembanyama’s two-game trip to the US, which ended Thursday with the French phenom’s Metropolitans 92 team rallying from 16 points down to top the G League Ignite 112-106. He led the way, of course, with 36 points and 11 rebounds.

“As a first impression of the American game, that was really great,” Wembanyama said.

So was he.

His final numbers from two exhibitions: 73 points on 22-for-44 shooting, nine 3-pointers, 15 rebounds and nine blocked shots. He flies back to France on Saturday, and the next time he plays in the US there likely will be an NBA logo on his jersey, presumably after he becomes the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

“It’s very, very special for France,” Metropolitans 92 coach Vincent Collet said. “Not only for France. He has huge potential. He’s a huge talent.”

The reviews are in from this two-game Vegas residency for Wembanyama, who stands 7-foot-3 in bare feet, and they were of the raving variety. The best of the bunch may have come from Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, who suggested that calling Wembanyama a unicorn might not fully indicate how unique he is.

Instead, James went with an out-of-this-world comparison.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, but he’s more like an alien,” James said. “No one has ever seen anyone as tall as he is but as fluid and as graceful as he is out on the floor ... He’s, for sure, a generational talent.”

Added Golden State guard Stephen Curry: “He’s like the (NBA) 2K create-a-player, every point guard that wants to be 7-foot. Cheat-code type vibes, man. He’s a solid talent. It’s great to watch.”

Sure enough, when Wembanyama’s around, a viral moment can happen at any time. It might be a dunk. It might be a block. It might be a fadeaway 3-pointer from the corner while his momentum has him drifting toward the baseline. It might be a 28-foot 3-pointer from the wing. It might be him kicking a ball into a monitor and narrowly missing fellow French center Rudy Gobert.

Yes, all those things happened.

The scene: Gobert and fellow Minnesota Timberwolves standout D’Angelo Russell, in town to play the Lakers in a preseason game later Thursday, decided to postpone their afternoon nap — a staple of the NBA gameday routine — and make the 20-minute ride from Las Vegas to watch the game, arriving at halftime.

Gobert made a quick appearance on the game’s televised broadcast. Wembanyama, standing nearby, stuck one of his massive feet into the path of a pass by Ignite center Eric Mika. The ball ricocheted into the monitor near Gobert’s seat, knocking it over.

Gobert laughed. Wembanyama raised his hand to apologize.

“Hey, he played soccer too,” Gobert said.

Gobert raves about Wembanyama, who almost certainly will be the first top-five draft pick from France. And he doesn’t think there’s any real comparison: Gobert said Wembanyama’s defensive instincts remind him of himself, while his ballhandling and shooting remind him of Kevin Durant.

“What strikes me the most about him is his maturity,” Gobert said. “Obviously, he’s a very unique talent and he has a very unique physique. But his maturity and his confidence ... he’s very unique.”

Thursday’s game had a bit of a scare, and the other top NBA draft headliner in this showcase got the worst of that moment.

Scoot Henderson, the guard whose 28 points led the Ignite to a 122-115 victory on Tuesday night in the exhibition opener, left Thursday’s game after less than five minutes. The reason: He banged knees with Wembanyama.

Henderson switched onto Wembanyama, who was dribbling on the wing. Wembanyama made a move, collided into Henderson and tumbled to the court, looking initially like he got the worst of that exchange. But Henderson, who was called for a foul on the play, wound up limping off for evaluation and the Ignite quickly said he wouldn’t be returning.

“Scoot’s fine,” G League coach Jason Hart said. “It was precautionary.”

There are 31 games left on Metropolitans’ 34-game schedule in the French league, and the plan — as of now — is for Wembanyama to finish his season, which is slated to go through mid-May. The NBA Draft is June 22.

Bouna Ndiaye, one of Wembanyama’s agents, said some NBA teams might not understand why he’s playing. The reason, he says, is because nobody can get Wembanyama out of the gym.

“He wants to live on the court,” Ndiaye said.

What these two games showed, in many ways, was just that the tapes of Wembanyama that have been coming out of Europe over the last few years weren’t lying. He needs to get stronger. There’s much he can still polish. He is, by all accounts, exceptional already.

“Just before we came in last Saturday, we had a meeting with our doctor and we are going to prepare to plan the next two months to increase what he is doing, besides the court, to strengthen the body,” Collet said. “We’re always careful also with how much time he is practicing, not to go too far. ... We plan so that we limit the risk.”

When Thursday was over, when the comeback was complete, Wembanyama briefly lifted his arms skyward in celebration, then shook a lot of hands, partook in a lot of hugs and posed for a lot of pictures.

With that, the draft hype continued on.

“I’m still excited and so happy about it,” Wembanyama said. “I know I’m so lucky to have this chance.”


Rashford brace gives Man Utd come from behind win in Cyprus

Rashford brace gives Man Utd come from behind win in Cyprus
Updated 06 October 2022

Rashford brace gives Man Utd come from behind win in Cyprus

Rashford brace gives Man Utd come from behind win in Cyprus
  • On a balmy night at Nicosia's 23,000 capacity GSP Stadium, United went a goal down in the first half
  • They fought back for a morale-boosting victory after being demolished 6-3 by cross-town rivals Manchester City

Nicosia — CYP
Nicosia, Oct 6, 2022 Agence France Presse: Manchester United came from behind to snatch a crucial 3-2 away win against Cypriot outfit Omonia in the Europa League on Thursday thanks to a second-half brace by Marcus Rashford.
Anthony Martial also scored while Karim Ansarifard and Nikolas Panagiotou netted for the home side as United claimed a narrow win on their first ever trip to play a Cypriot team.
On a balmy night at Nicosia’s 23,000 capacity GSP Stadium, United went a goal down in the first half but fought back for a morale-boosting victory after being demolished 6-3 by cross-town rivals Manchester City at the weekend.
Erik ten Hag named a strong line-up with Cristiano Ronaldo, starting just his fourth match of the season, leading the attack and Brazilian Casemiro anchoring the midfield, but it was the substitutes who saved the day.
“All the subs had a really good impact,” with (Luke) Shaw and Rashford strengthening the left side,” Dutch coach ten Hag told reporters afterwards.
“We played well, the only thing is we didn’t score a goal. After half-time I think we dealt with the setback.
“It was a bad 10 minutes after we conceded the goal (but) if you then are able to come back... that’s positive.”
United got off to a dominant start, largely controlling the opening period against a side managed by former Celtic boss Neil Lennon.
Antony nearly got the breakthrough in the 28th minute, cutting inside and unleashing a long-range shot that was parried away by Omonia goalkeeper Fabiano.
It looked like United were beginning to turn the screw when they were awarded a free-kick outside Omonia’s area in the 34th minute.
Christian Eriksen fired it in but Omonia managed to scramble it away. The ball fell to Tyrell Malacia who was then robbed by Omonia’s Brazilian forward Bruno.
Three Omonia players broke clear before Bruno tapped it across the face of goal for Iranian striker Ansarifard to tuck it away.


United came out stronger in the second half with Rashford coming on for the anonymous Jadon Sancho and Shaw replacing Malacia.
And it paid immediate dividends, with Bruno Fernandes getting a shot on goal before setting up Rashford to level the scores in the 53rd minute.
Ronaldo, who was left on the bench during the weekend rout by City, cut a frustrated figure up front, but United continued to drive forward, creating more chances as the second half progressed.
Ten minutes after levelling, United went ahead when the newly-introduced Martial tapped in with his second touch of the game, seizing on an assist from Rashford.
The home supporters jeered loudly when referee Joao Pinheiro of Portugal waved away an Omonia claim for handball, a decision confirmed by VAR.
Ronaldo’s woes continued, however, with the Portuguese star hitting the post from within the six-yard box with an open goal, one of a hatful of missed chances by the 37-year-old.
Minutes later Rashford latched onto a pass from Ronaldo to double his tally.
Omonia were not finished, though, Panagiotou getting a goal back in the 87th minute.
United created more chances, with Brazilian midfielder Fred forcing a save from Fabiano in the dying minutes.
Lennon praised his players for putting up a fight but said he saw signs that United were on the up.
“This is a team definitely building... I think they’re going in the right direction,” he said.
“Thankfully Cristiano didn’t have his shooting boots on tonight.”
hc-dv/dj/jc
CELTIC PLC
MANCHESTER UNITED


Djokovic beats Van de Zandschulp to reach Astana quarters

Djokovic beats Van de Zandschulp to reach Astana quarters
Updated 06 October 2022

Djokovic beats Van de Zandschulp to reach Astana quarters

Djokovic beats Van de Zandschulp to reach Astana quarters
  • Djokovic eased past Van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday in his first career meeting with the 27-year-old Dutchman
  • Van de Zandschulp earned one break point in each set but couldn't seriously threaten Djokovic

ASTANA, Kazakhstan: Add Botic van de Zandschulp to the long list of players to have been schooled by Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic eased past Van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday in his first career meeting with the 27-year-old Dutchman to reach the quarterfinals of the Astana Open.
Van de Zandschulp earned one break point in each set but couldn’t seriously threaten Djokovic, who is looking for a second straight indoor hardcourt title after winning in Tel Aviv last week.
“(In the) second set I think I started to read his serve better and just started swinging through the court more,” Djokovic said. “Botic is a quality tennis player. When he has time, he can hurt you, so I tried to take away that time from him and I’m very pleased with the way I played, particularly in the second.”
Djokovic will next face Karen Khachanov, who rallied to beat Marin Cilic 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. If the 21-time Grand Slam champion gets past that one, he could come up against fellow former No. 1 Daniil Medvedev. The second-seeded Russian beat Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-3, 6-2 to move one match away from a potential rematch of last year’s US Open final, when Medvedev beat Djokovic to deny his attempt at a calendar-year Grand Slam.
Medvedev will first have to beat Roberto Bautista Agut, who advanced Wednesday.


Barcelona predict record revenues, rising profits

Barcelona predict record revenues, rising profits
Updated 06 October 2022

Barcelona predict record revenues, rising profits

Barcelona predict record revenues, rising profits
  • The Catalans said in the year just ended they made a profit of 98 million euros after taxes
  • Barca said they were "back on the road to profit and looking to initiate a new virtuous circle"

BARCELONA, Spain: Barcelona on Thursday forecast profits of 274 million euros (270.7 million dollars) this season and record revenues of 1.255 billion euros.
“It’s a conservative budget,” Barca’s financial vice president Eduard Romeu said, as the club released figures for the 2021/22 financial year and forecasts for the current campaign.
Barcelona said the revenue figure included more than 450 million euros from the sale of long-term television and other rights.
The Catalans said in the year just ended they made a profit of 98 million euros after taxes, with operating income of 1.017 billion euros and expenses of 856 million euros.
That followed two loss-making seasons during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Barca said they were “back on the road to profit and looking to initiate a new virtuous circle.”
The budget for next year predicts expenses of 1.065 billion euros, of which 656 million euros would go on the sporting wage bill.
Romeu said salaries had been cut from 617 euros for the 2020/21 season to 518 million euros last season.
New player signings and a lack of departures have led to expectations of an increase this season.
“We were planning for a more significant reduction in the salary bill,” Romeu said, adding that even so, the club would be happy to take Lionel Messi back.
“Messi is an asset for Barca and has the doors open,” Romeu said.
“It is a matter for the sporting management and if the sporting management want it, we will get to work on that objective.”
In the 2020/21 season Barcelona posted losses of 481 million euros and blamed them for not being able to renew their all-time record scorer’s contract, leading him to sign for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
Romeu lamented that he had not been able to persuade other high-priced stars to leave.
“There are a number of contracts that have a very high cost and between this season and next season they disappear,” said Romeu, adding that he wants to achieve a balance by the 2024/25 season.
“Five hundred million euros would be the ideal figure for a competitive first-team squad.”
In the summer, the club sold 25 percent of their La Liga television rights to investment firm Sixth Street for the next 25 years, raising more than 500 million euros, and 49 percent of their Barca Studios production company to two companies for a total of around 200 million. Some of that revenue is included in the 2022/23 forecast.
Barca said “without the effect of this extraordinary sale, the club still received 750 million euros in other operating income.”
They highlighted the “sale of metaverses, NFTs and tokens” by Barca Studios and said the new partnerships “will produce an acceleration of the business.”
The budget will be submitted to the club’s annual general assembly of members on October 9.


Newcastle United chairman pens letter of appreciation for fans on anniversary of takeover

Newcastle United chairman pens letter of appreciation for fans on anniversary of takeover
Updated 06 October 2022

Newcastle United chairman pens letter of appreciation for fans on anniversary of takeover

Newcastle United chairman pens letter of appreciation for fans on anniversary of takeover
  • Newcastle, under manager Eddie Howe, have seen an upturn in results in the Premier League since PIF-backed consortium purchased the club

LONDON: The chairman of Newcastle United has written a letter to thank supporters on the first anniversary of the Saudi Public Investment Fund-backed takeover of the club.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan and the PIF-led consortium took over the club from Mike Ashley last October.

Newcastle, under manager Eddie Howe, have seen an upturn in results in the Premier League and the beginnings of serious investment off the pitch.

The letter read: “To all the fans of Newcastle United Football Club, Thank you for your incredible support.

“I am very conscious of the contributions that you all make – on and off the field. Football clubs are driven by their fans and this club’s fans are more passionate and more committed than any others. I have seen for myself on many occasions how Newcastle fans have lifted our team.

“As we mark the first anniversary of our takeover of the club, it seemed appropriate to take the time to say thank you – on behalf of the Newcastle Board.

“The first game after the takeover will live long in my memory. The feeling of pride at holding the black and white scarf as I entered the stadium. The collective roar of 52,000 of you and the unrivalled, electric atmosphere of St. James’ Park on match-day. I will never forget the warmth of your welcome to my fellow board members and me on that October day.

“A year ago, we set out some principles in an open letter that framed our thinking as custodians of the club. We told you that we wanted to build, over time, a consistently successful team. And we told you that we were focused on long-term success.

“There is still a long way to go, but each season is a building block towards our objective – to challenge for trophies both domestically and in Europe. The club we are building is made up of people who understand our long-term vision, and who understand the patience and persistence that it will take to achieve those goals. Those values are reflected in the players that we bring to the club.

“Bringing the women’s team into direct ownership of the club is a part of that plan. Progress won’t always be smooth – but we will always forge ahead. You can rest assured that we are all working very hard to drive the club forward.

“The support of our fans and the Newcastle community is an incredible motivation for us. It will never be taken for granted.”