Game 7: Heat, Celtics set to finally decide East champion

Game 7: Heat, Celtics set to finally decide East champion
Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat reacts against the Boston Celtics during the second quarter in Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 29 May 2022

Game 7: Heat, Celtics set to finally decide East champion

Game 7: Heat, Celtics set to finally decide East champion
  • Miami have the home-court advantage for the finale, though home court has meant nothing in this series

MIAMI: Erik Spoelstra didn’t even have to finish the sentence. The Miami Heat coach was speaking in the locker room after a season-extending win in Boston, players and staff standing around him in a semicircle.

“There’s no two better words,” Spoelstra said.

“Game 7,” about a half-dozen people responded, in unison.

Game 7, for a berth in the NBA Finals. Either the Heat or the Boston Celtics will become Eastern Conference champions on Sunday night, when they’ll finally finish their series and see which club will face the Golden State Warriors in the title round.

It’ll be the second Game 7 between the teams; the other was in 2012, when the Heat topped the Celtics 101-88 to win that year’s East title.

“Look, we’re here,” Spoelstra said after Miami fended off elimination with a 111-103 win in Boston on Friday night, behind a 47-point, nine-rebound, eight-assist, four-steal effort from Jimmy Butler. “This is the way it should be with these two teams. It should have gone seven games.”

Miami have the home-court advantage for the finale, though home court has meant nothing in this series. The Heat went 2-1 in Boston, the Celtics have gone 2-1 in Miami so far with the two wins coming by a combined 38 points and Boston’s 6-2 road record is the best of any teams in this season’s playoffs.

And that has the Celtics brimming with confidence, even though road teams are 34-110 all-time — a winning percentage of .236 — in Game 7s.

“Scale of 1 to 10? Ten. I mean, it shouldn’t be any less than that, right?” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said when asked how certain he is that Boston can win the series on Miami’s floor. “You know, it’s the last game. That’s what it’s all about.”

Injuries have been one of the major storylines of the series, and that remains the case Sunday.

Butler has been dealing with knee issues and twisted an ankle late in Game 6 though still came through with arguably the best game of his career. Kyle Lowry and Max Strus — who had big bounce-backs Friday after posting a combined zero points in Game 5 — still have hamstring concerns. For Boston, Marcus Smart’s ankle has been balky, Robert Williams III’s knee is an ongoing question and Jaylen Brown banged a knee on a drive in Game 5 though finished the game with no obvious ill effects.

“This time of year, there’s nobody 100 percent healthy, both sides,” Miami’s P.J. Tucker said. “I’m sure they got a bunch of guys, too, just trying to figure it out and give what they can. Try to win. That’s it. You can’t get these days back. It’s living in the moment, trying to just do what you can.”

The Heat might get one key piece back: Tyler Herro, who has been sidelined for the last three games with a strained groin, is going to try some on-court work Sunday in hopes of playing in Game 7.

“For us, it’s just another opportunity,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said Saturday. “You put yourself in this position, going up 3-2, to have two games to win one. And so, as much as you’d love to finish it on your home court, we’ve been up and down in the series and due to that it’s where it is right now. ... It’s just another opportunity and we obviously see the big picture ahead.”

The Celtics last went to the NBA Finals in 2010. This is their fifth trip to the East finals since, and Friday’s loss made them 0-5 in potential East clinchers over that span.

“We’ve just got to come out and play, come out and respond,” Brown said. “Backs are on the wall, Game 7, loser go home. We’ve got to come out and find a way to win.”

From Miami’s perspective, the seeds began being planted for this just moments after Game 5. The Celtics had just won in Miami to take a 3-2 series lead, and Spoelstra stepped into a defeated locker room to lay out the objective. He repeated it, over and over.

“Bring this thing back on the 29th,” Spoelstra kept saying.

The 29th is Sunday.

They brought it back. Game 7 awaits.

“There’s nothing like a Game 7,” Spoelstra said. “And I’m just really excited that we all get to experience that together.”

Heat fined

The NBA fined Miami $25,000 on Saturday for violating league rules regarding team bench decorum. The league said “on multiple occasions, several players stood for an extended period in Miami’s team bench area, stood away from the team bench, and were on, encroaching upon or entering the playing court during live game action” during Game 6 in Boston.

It has been a point of emphasis for the league of late. Dallas was fined a total of $175,000 for three similar infractions.

Power of 3

No opposing team has ever won three games at Miami in the same playoff series, a trend that Boston will aim to break on Sunday.

This deep into the playoffs — conference finals or NBA Finals — such a feat has occurred only 10 times in the last 40 seasons, most recently when Toronto won three times at Golden State in the 2019 NBA Finals.

Game 7 history

Miami have two players who have scored at least 30 points in a Game 7. Lowry had 35 for Toronto in a 2016 romp over the Heat, and Victor Oladipo had 30 for Indiana in a 2018 loss to Cleveland. Tatum has averaged 24.0 points in four previous Game 7s, the best of anyone on this Boston roster.

The Celtics are 25-9 in Game 7s, Miami 6-4.

Trends

There have been two Game 7s so far in these playoffs, both in the second round: Boston beat Milwaukee by 28 and Dallas won at Phoenix by 33.

Road teams have won three of the last four Game 7s.

Century mark

Both teams will be playing their 100th games of the season. Miami enters 64-35, Boston 62-37.


Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’

Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’
Updated 22 sec ago

Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’

Qatar says World Cup fans seeking rooms have ‘a lot of options’
DOHA: Qatar said on Tuesday that World Cup fans have “a lot of options” with more than 100,000 rooms currently available and tens of thousands more expected by the tournament’s kickoff.
Some football supporters have expressed concern that they have been unable to find accommodation in line with their budget for the World Cup, which runs from November 21 to December 18.
Prices range from 300 Qatari rials (just over $80) to several thousand dollars per night.
Qatar has so far taken more than 25,000 bookings, said Omar Al-Jaber, the official in charge of accommodation for the tournament’s organizing committee, specifying that he was taking about “bookings, not rooms or nights.”
“If you go through our website, you will find a lot of options,” he told reporters on a tour of an available apartment in Doha.
“And if you don’t find it today, you need to check tomorrow or after tomorrow... because... we add more inventory to this portal.
“More than 100,000 rooms (are) available as of today,” he said. “If we go to November, maybe we’ll reach more than 130,000 rooms or 140,000 rooms.”
Supporters normally find accommodation themselves for such tournaments.
But Qatar — set to host the most geographically concentrated World Cup in history and with limited hotel capacity — is seeking to channel supporters through an official platform that is reserved for ticket holders and managed by the tournament’s organizers.
Eighty-five percent of accommodation — whether permanent or temporary — is now complete and the remainder will be finished by a “deadline” of end-August, according to Jaber.
The country will be closed to visitors without match tickets during the course of the tournament, Jaber said.
As of Tuesday, the US, Mexico, United Kingdom, Argentina and India accounted for some of the biggest sources of reservations.

New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy

New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy
Updated 16 min 37 sec ago

New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy

New European soccer clubs’ group gives voice to less wealthy
  • The Union of European Clubs is being created after an intense 18 months of debate and decisions on reforming UEFA competitions
  • The UEC shapes as an alternative to the European Club Association that has key influence with UEFA

GENEVA: A new group for European clubs feeling isolated in soccer politics dominated by wealthy rivals was announced Wednesday.
The Union of European Clubs is being created after an intense 18 months of debate and decisions on reforming UEFA competitions like the Champions League plus the failed Super League project that rocked the industry.
“It will be a game-changer,” law academic Katarina Pijetlovic said, revealing the new association at the Play The Game sports integrity conference in Odense, Denmark.
Set up to represent community-driven and middle- to lower-ranked clubs, the UEC shapes as an alternative to the European Club Association that has key influence with UEFA.
The goals of so-called middle-class clubs were aired by Eintracht Frankfurt leaders during the German club’s push to win the Europa League in May as UEFA finalized post-2024 revamps of club competition formats and entry paths. An unfinished debate is how to share out billions of euros (dollars) in broadcast and sponsor money among clubs across Europe.
“It is the organization that aims to gather all the clubs that for one or another reasons feel their interests are not adequately represented at European level by ECA, or that they are not represented at all,” Pijetlovic said.
The ECA has about 250 full and associate members who qualified for recent UEFA competitions but has typically been controlled by a select few storied clubs.
A group of 12 of the ECA’s then-leaders last year plotted the Super League as a direct rival to UEFA and the Champions League.
Though the breakaway collapsed within days — amid a fierce backlash from fans, governments and soccer pundits — the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has a July 11-12 hearing that will challenge UEFA’s authority. That case is being driven by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.
“Just because clubs are richer it shouldn’t give them more say in governance,” Pijetlovic said Wednesday.
Officials involved in the new union have spoken to about 100 potential member clubs in all levels of European soccer leagues, said Pijetlovic, a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University in England.
Its aims include helping clubs and leagues be more professionally run and improve sporting and financial competitiveness, she said.


NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power

NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power
Updated 29 June 2022

NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power

NEOM’S ENOWA boosting Extreme E with green hydrogen power
  • Partnership comes after megacity named title partner of McLaren Formula E, Extreme E racing teams
  • Saudi Arabia has hosted the Extreme E season-opening Desert X Prix for the last two years

Extreme E has announced a multi-year relationship with ENOWA, NEOM’s energy, water and hydrogen subsidiary, to introduce green hydrogen power to the sustainable all-electric racing series.

Saudi Arabia has hosted the Extreme E season-opening Desert X Prix for the last two years.

The announcement comes just days after NEOM, a sustainable region in northwest Saudi Arabia being built from the ground up, was revealed as the title partner of the McLaren Formula E and Extreme E racing teams under the banner of “NEOM McLaren Electric Racing.”

Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Extreme E, said: “We are delighted to have ENOWA on board as our official Green Hydrogen Power Partner. We have collaborated with NEOM for some time, particularly in delivering a hugely successful first Desert X Prix of Season Two; this partnership with ENOWA marks a further step in our mission for a more sustainable future.

“The work undertaken by ENOWA is extremely ambitious and an exciting prospect. NEOM, much like ourselves, pushes the boundaries of environmental sustainability and we are delighted to be partnering with ENOWA to go even further in our objective to raise awareness of the climate crisis.

“ENOWA plans to lead the development of world-class sustainable energy water and hydrogen systems which I am sure will become a reference point in the future, and our series will also benefit from this greater focus on technology and innovation.”

Extreme E has become a leader in introducing sustainability in motorsports and green hydrogen is widely seen as the most promising energy carrier for the future in the fight against climate change. The technology supports the transportation of renewable energy over long distances and could spur the decarbonization of major industries and infrastructure.

By partnering, Extreme E and ENOWA aim to implement innovative green hydrogen-based technologies to not only power the championship toward a 100 percent “leave no trace” ambition, but also to showcase the opportunities offered by the technology.

ENOWA will play an active part on the scientific advisory board of Extreme E and together the partners will look to develop educational programs covering climate positive solutions aimed at younger generations.

Commenting on the relationship, Peter Terium, ENOWA CEO, said: “Business decisions in NEOM have sustainability at their core, which is why we are delighted to partner with Extreme E. Our partnership is aimed toward both creating visibility to the most urgent problems the planet is facing, but at the same time demonstrating solutions that deliver meaningful impact.

“Together we can accelerate innovations in clean technologies powered by green hydrogen, contributing to hydrogen mobility markets and the future of global decarbonization.”

NEOM is the first to produce green hydrogen at scale, paving the way for the growth of the hydrogen economy globally. Due to the abundance of solar, wind and water resources in NEOM, ENOWA and partners will provide large quantities of green hydrogen that many industries can use. ENOWA benefits from NEOM’s greenfield site — which has no legacy infrastructure — to advance energy, water, and hydrogen innovation while providing sustainable fuels like green hydrogen to international users. It shares an ethos with Extreme E in its demands for a greater sustainability focus.

At the Season Two opener of Extreme E in NEOM in February 2022, the series revealed its plans to launch an off-road hydrogen championship in 2024. Named Extreme H, the championship will sit alongside Extreme E, its existing electric racing series, and will be a world first for motorsport — further reiterating the commitment to showcasing the possibilities of new, sustainable technologies in the race to fight climate change.

Development for the Extreme H vehicle is already underway, with the aim being the launch of a prototype in early 2023.


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.”