Butler, Heat drag Celtics to Game 7 in Miami

Butler, Heat drag Celtics to Game 7 in Miami
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler passes the ball against Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) during the first half in Game 6 of the 2022 Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden. (USA TODAY Sports)
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Updated 28 May 2022

Butler, Heat drag Celtics to Game 7 in Miami

Butler, Heat drag Celtics to Game 7 in Miami
  • Butler’s 47 points were the seventh-most in NBA history for a player facing elimination

BOSTON: Jimmy Butler had 47 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and the Miami Heat forced the Eastern Conference finals to a decisive seventh game by beating the Boston Celtics 111-103 on Friday night.

Ten years after LeBron James had 45 points in Boston to help the Heat avoid Game 6 elimination en route to the first of their back-to-back NBA titles, Butler scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to top him and send the series back to Miami.

With a victory at home Sunday, the Heat would advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in three years.

“This is the way it should be, with these two teams. It should have gone seven games,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I’m just really thrilled that our group gets an opportunity to compete in a Game 7 in front of our home crowd.”

In the most back-and-forth game of the series, Boston took a 97-94 lead on Derrick White’s 3-pointer with under five minutes to play — the first time all series the lead has changed hands in the fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry answered with a 3 and then added two free throws as Miami scored 11 of the next 13 points.

Lowry finished with 18 points and 10 assists before fouling out with 2:18 left. Butler made 16 of 29 shots, hitting 4 of 8 from 3-point range and all 11 free throws.

“Matching his intensity from the start wasn’t there,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “Understanding that he was going to put it on his shoulders, and we didn’t match it.”

Jayson Tatum had 30 points and nine rebounds and Derrick White came off the bench to score 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for Boston. The Celtics are trying to reach the finals for the first time since 2010.

Boston’s Jaylen Brown scored 20 points, missing a pair of free throws with the game tied at 99 after Lowry fouled out. Brown fouled out himself on a charge offensive that was assessed after a challenge on a missed dunk with 13 seconds left and the Celtics down by four.

Butler’s 47 points were the seventh-most in NBA history for a player facing elimination.

Elgin Baylor had 61 against Boston in Game 5 of the 1962 finals. Wilt Chamberlain topped 50 three times, Sleepy Floyd had 50 against the Lakers in 1987 and Jamal Murray scored 50 against Utah in 2020.

It was also the third-most to stave off elimination against the Celtics. In addition to Baylor, Chamberlain had 50 in Game 5 of the East finals in 1960.

James’ 45 against Boston in Game 6 of the 2012 conference finals set the stage for a Game 7 win in Miami.

The Heat are hoping Butler’s performance can do the same.

“I get it, people can easily draw the comparisons between the two,” Spoelstra said. “That’s a different era. That’s a different team. I want our guys to embrace this moment.”

Miami guard Tyler Herro missed his third straight game with a strained groin, costing the team its No. 2 scorer. Kyle Lowry (hamstring), Max Strus (hamstring) and P.J. Tucker (knee) had been listed as questionable but were in the starting lineup.

Boston’s Marcus Smart (sprained right ankle) and Robert Williams III (sore knee) tested their injuries pregame and were also in the lineup.


Heat: Butler had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists in the first. He scored or assisted on 24 of Miami’s 29 points in the quarter.

Celtics: Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who was inducted into the ballclub’s Hall of Fame on Thursday night, was courtside. Ortiz threw out a ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park earlier in the evening. Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez was also at the game, wearing his World Series ring.

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA
Updated 29 June 2022

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA

Last World Cup tickets to go on sale next week: FIFA
  • About 1.8 million tickets sold so far
  • Tickets to go on sale online from July 5 until August 16

DOHA: The remaining tickets for this year’s World Cup in Qatar will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from next week, FIFA said on Wednesday.
About 1.8 million tickets were sold in the first two batches of sales, FIFA said, without saying how many are now available.
Qatar will host the first World Cup in the Middle East from November 21 to December 18 at eight stadiums in and around the capital, Doha.
The latest tickets will go on sale online from July 5 at 12pm Doha time (0900 GMT) until 12pm on August 16, FIFA said in a press release.
“Huge worldwide interest is anticipated in the new sales period,” the world body said.
Officials said three million tickets are available in total, including those allocated to sponsors.
Last week, the World Cup’s chief organizer Hassan Al-Thawadi said 1.2 million tickets had been sold so far.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said there were five million ticket requests just for the final at the 80,000-seat Lusail stadium.
Doha, with a population of about 2.4 million and limited accommodation, is bracing itself for a huge influx of visitors for the 32-team tournament.
Last month, Qatar announced scores of daily shuttle flights from neighboring Gulf countries, allowing fans to stay elsewhere and fly in to watch games.

World’s media hail Al-Hilal’s 18th Saudi Pro League title triumph

World’s media hail Al-Hilal’s 18th Saudi Pro League title triumph
Al-Hilal's Argentine coach Ramon Diaz (third from left) celebrates winning the Saudi Pro League title. (Arriyadiyah)
Updated 29 June 2022

World’s media hail Al-Hilal’s 18th Saudi Pro League title triumph

World’s media hail Al-Hilal’s 18th Saudi Pro League title triumph
  • Outlets in Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria and other international networks celebrate third consecutive trophy for the reigning Asian champions

The world’s media has hailed Al-Hilal’s record-extending 18th Saudi Pro League title after Ramon Diaz’s team defeated Al-Faisaly 2-1 at King Fahd International Stadium on Monday night.

The victory secured a third consecutive domestic title for the reigning Asian champions, finishing two points clear of long-time league leaders Al-Ittihad.

Argentina’s El Grafico highlighted the achievement of compatriot Diaz and several other South American players in Al-Hilal’s ranks, including Matheus Pereira (Brazil), Gustavo Cuellar (Colombia) and Andre Carrillo (Peru). Also, ESPN’s Spanish-language Twitter account posted a photo of the champions with the caption “It’s Ramon’s team.”

Nigerian outlet Sports Brief meanwhile celebrated the role of forward Odion Ighalo who’s double confirmed the title on Monday, and who also bagged the SPL’s Golden Boot for top scorer with 24 goals this season.

Brazilian network TNT congratulated former Flamengo forward Michael Delgado for his contribution to the championship win, while online website Soccernet ran with the headline “Ex-Manchester United star Ighalo leads Al-Hilal to league triumph.”

Morocco crowned 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions in Dammam

Morocco crowned 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions in Dammam
Morocco are the 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions. (SAFF)
Updated 29 June 2022

Morocco crowned 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions in Dammam

Morocco crowned 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions in Dammam
  • A 3-0 win over Iraq sees team retain the title they won in Cairo last year

DUBAI: Morocco are the 2022 Arab Futsal Cup champions after defeating Iraq 3-0 in the final at the Green Hall in Dammam on Tuesday evening.

The 10-team tournament, organized by the Union of Arab Football Associations and hosted by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, kicked off on June 20, and is the sixth edition of the competition.

The triumph sees Morocco retain the trophy they won last year in Cairo, and means they are now two-time champions, a record shared with Egypt and Libya.

Badr bin Abdulrahman Al-Qadi, Saudi deputy minister of sports, presented the victorious North African team with their medal, and Anis Al-Ayan, with the man of the match award.

The award for the best player of the tournament went to Morocco’s Sufian Al-Masrar, and top goalscorer award to Kuwait’s Abdulrahman Al-Taweel.

Iraq’s Zaher Hadi was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper, with the Egyptian team receiving the event’s fair play award.

Gamers8 and Spotify team up for Saudi Arabia’s first live international esports season

Gamers8 and Spotify team up for Saudi Arabia’s first live international esports season
Updated 29 June 2022

Gamers8 and Spotify team up for Saudi Arabia’s first live international esports season

Gamers8 and Spotify team up for Saudi Arabia’s first live international esports season
  • The world’s most popular audio streaming platform will be exclusive partner for the $15m event
  • Highly anticipated anthem by DJ and producer R3HAB, featuring Kingdom’s pop artist Meteb Alshalan, set for release

RIYADH: Gamers8 have unveiled an exclusive partnership with streaming giant Spotify, who will become the official audio streaming partner for the all-new major esports and gaming season taking place live in Riyadh this summer.

Spotify boasts a community of more than 422 million monthly active listeners, including 182 million subscribers, across 183 markets. Under this partnership, gamers and their fans can enjoy specially curated audio inspired by the esports community.

Gamers8, from the creators of Gamers Without Borders, will be held in the Saudi capital from July 14 to Sept. 8, with a total prize pool of $15 million.

Omar Batterjee, head of marketing, communications, and partnerships at the Saudi Esports Federation, said: “Music and audio are an essential part of esports. We are thrilled to partner with Spotify to provide our fans with a one-stop destination where they can enjoy the ultimate curated content and iconic experiences. Together with Spotify, we can collectively combine esports, technology, entertainment, and music to inspire the gaming community, as well as the next generation of gamers and fans.”

Gamers8 will have an official co-curated playlist by Spotify’s music team as well as lists by gaming professionals and celebrities. In addition, Spotify and Gamers8 will create and launch a podcast dedicated to the season in partnership with Rising Giants Network. The eight-episode series will be the go-to place for gaming enthusiasts to hear about the top players through game highlights and one-on-one interviews.

The partnership will also see the release of the highly anticipated Gamers8 anthem produced by DJ and producer R3HAB, featuring Saudi pop artist Meteb Alshalan.

Commenting on the partnership, Nicole Aoun, Spotify’s marketing and partnership lead in Saudi Arabia, said: “While at Spotify, we continue to be laser-focused on growing the creators’ community, we are equally as passionate about creating memorable experiences for the Saudi youth, demonstrating our commitment to the local community.

“The Saudi Esports Federation shares our vision of providing world-class entertainment for the gaming community, and we are thrilled to embark on this journey together, making Saudi gamers and fans connect meaningfully through music and podcasts.”

LIV Golf unveils 12 teams for LIV Golf Invitational Portland

LIV Golf unveils 12 teams for LIV Golf Invitational Portland
Stinger GC, captained by Louis Oosthuizen, third left, will be looking to defend their team title. (File/AFP)
Updated 29 June 2022

LIV Golf unveils 12 teams for LIV Golf Invitational Portland

LIV Golf unveils 12 teams for LIV Golf Invitational Portland
  • All-South African Stinger GC, captained by Louis Oosthuizen, look to defend team title
  • World leading 48-player field also features individuals competing for millions in prize money

JEDDAH: The Saudi-backed LIV Golf company on Wednesday revealed the 12 teams from the 48-player field competing in the LIV Golf Invitational Portland, the tour’s second event of the season taking place from June 30 to July 2 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon.

The LIV Golf Invitational Series features teams of four where players compete as individuals and teams for both points and prize money. Captains and teams are finalized the week of each event, as each tournament may showcase a different field.

In the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational London at Centurion Club, Stinger GC, with captain Louis Oosthuizen and fellow South Africans Charl Schwartzel, Hennie du Plessis and Branden Grace, took first place with a total score of 20-under par. The four players will again compete together to defend the first-ever team title against a field that showcases a variety of new team captains and rosters, as well as major champions and rising stars making their debut.

Every team has a LIV Golf-appointed team captain who selects his squad. All members of the four-player teams, including the captain, compete in the three-day tournament. The player with the lowest 54-hole stroke play total is the individual winner. In the team competition, the best two stroke play scores in the first two rounds will count for each team. For the third and final round, the best three scores will count. The lowest overall team score after 54 holes is the team winner.

Below are the team profiles for the LIV Golf Invitational Portland:

STINGER GC: All four players were born in South Africa. Stinger GC won the inaugural team competition at the LIV Golf Invitational London. Stinger members also took the top three spots on the individual leaderboard (1-Charl Schwartzel, 2-Hennie du Plessis, 3-Branden Grace).

CRUSHERS GC: New LIV Golf member Bryson DeChambeau takes over as captain. DeChambeau replaces Peter Uihlein, who led the team to a runner-up finish in London. Uihlein, fourth individually in London, remains on the team. Newcomers include South Africans Shaun Norris (formerly of 4 Aces) and Justin Harding (formerly of Hy Flyers).

MAJESTICKS GC: Lee Westwood takes over for Ian Poulter as captain of the all-English team. Poulter remains on the team, as does Laurie Canter and Sam Horsfield. Majesticks GC finished third in London and Horsfield was the top Majesticks player, finishing fifth individually. Combined, the players have made more than 1,600 starts professionally.

TORQUE GC: This team has an entirely new lineup consisting of four players born in Japan. Hideto Tanihara (formerly of Iron Heads GC) takes over for Talor Gooch as captain. Other new players include Ryosuke Kinoshita (formerly of Punch GC), Jinichiro Kozuma (formerly of Smash GC) and Yuki Inamori (making his LIV Golf debut). Combined, they’ve made nearly 1,000 starts professionally.

4 ACES GC: Captain Dustin Johnson is the only carryover from London. His new team now includes three fellow Americans — Patrick Reed, Pat Perez and Talor Gooch. Reed and Perez are making their LIV Golf debuts and Gooch was formerly the Torque GC captain. Reed (2018) and Johnson (2020) have won two of the last five Masters. Combined, the four players have made more than 1,350 worldwide starts in professional events.

CLEEKS GC: Martin Kaymer remains captain and Ian Snyman is also a carryover from London. New team members include Scott Vincent (formerly of Smash GC) and Turk Pettit (formerly of Niblicks GC). Snyman and Vincent were among six players who qualified for the LIV Golf Invitational London through the International Series. The four teammates are from different countries — Germany (Kaymer), South Africa (Snyman), Vincent (Zimbabwe) and Pettit (US).

PUNCH GC: Wade Ormsby (captain), Matt Jones and Blake Windred are carryovers from London. Jediah Morgan (formerly of Fireballs GC) joins the now all-Australian team. Punch loses its top performer from London, Ryosuke Kinoshita (T-13th individually).

NIBLICKS GC: Captain Graeme McDowell is the only carryover from London. His new roster consists of Travis Smyth (formerly of Crushers GC), Hudson Swafford (formerly of Torque GC) and James Piot (formerly of Fireballs GC). McDowell was his team’s top performer in London, finishing T-10 individually.

SMASH GC: New LIV Golf member Brooks Koepka takes over as captain of a team with an entirely new roster of players. His younger brother Chase Koepka (formerly of Hy Flyers GC) joins the team, as does Richard Bland (formerly of Crushers GC) and Adrian Otaegui (formerly of Torque GC). Otaegui finished T-6 individually in London.

HY FLYERS GC: Captain Phil Mickelson gets three new members with Matthew Wolff making his LIV Golf debut. Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger (former of Niblicks GC) and Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat (formerly of Smash GC) join the two Americans. Mickelson and Wolff are former NCAA Division I men’s golf champions.

FIREBALLS GC: Sergio Garcia is the lone carryover. The Spaniard remains captain of a team that includes three players making their LIV Golf debuts and all four players are from Spanish-speaking countries. Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz are from Mexico, and Eugenio Chacarra is from Spain. Chacarra, the number-two ranked amateur making his pro debut in Portland, considers Garcia a mentor. Ancer and Ortiz competed in the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2021, while Garcia competed in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

IRON HEADS GC: Kevin Na (captain) and Sadom Kaewkanjana are carryovers from London. Newcomers include Sihwan Kim (formerly Smash GC captain) and Phachara Khongwatmai (formerly of Crushers GC). Na and Kim were born in Seoul, South Korea, and each moved to California at a young age. Khongwatmai and Kaewkanjana are from Thailand.

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