Brown leads Celtics over Pelicans 125-114, Bucks sink Hawks

Brown leads Celtics over Pelicans 125-114, Bucks sink Hawks
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown drives to the basket past New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Boston. (AP)
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Updated 12 January 2023

Brown leads Celtics over Pelicans 125-114, Bucks sink Hawks

Brown leads Celtics over Pelicans 125-114, Bucks sink Hawks
  • Ja Morant returned from a two-game injury absence to score 38 points as the Memphis Grizzlies beat San Antonio Spurs

LOS ANGELES: Jaylen Brown scored 41 points as the Boston Celtics underscored their status as the NBA’s form team with a 125-114 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

The Eastern Conference leaders warmed up for Thursday’s crunch clash against Brooklyn with a composed performance to overpower the Pelicans, the third-ranked team in the Western Conference this season.

Brown, averaging just under 27 points per game this season, once again delivered for the Celtics, shooting 15-of-21 from the field with 12 rebounds.

“It’s a long season, it’s a lot of basketball, day-in, day-out — you’ve just got to come in ready to do your job,” Brown said after his season-high points tally.

“I was able to come out and get something going.”

Boston’s balanced offense proved too much for New Orleans, with Jayson Tatum also chipping in with 31 points and Malcolm Brogdon adding 20 from the bench.

Al Horford added 14 points for Boston, who were missing starters Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III.

C.J. McCollum excelled for New Orleans with 38 points while Naji Marshall added 18 for a Pelicans team missing the injured Zion Williamson (hamstring) and Brandon Ingram (toe).

Boston lead the Eastern Conference with a 30-12 record heading into Thursday’s game against the second-placed Nets.

The third-placed Milwaukee Bucks meanwhile kept up the pursuit of the Eastern Conference leaders with a 114-105 win over the Hawks in Atlanta, with Jrue Holiday leading the scoring with 27 points.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was restricted to a season-low seven points but still influenced proceedings with 18 rebounds and 10 assists

Holiday was one of five Milwaukee players in double figures, with Brook Lopez adding 20 points and Bobby Portis and Jevon Carter each scoring 13. Pat Connaughton finished with 10 points.

Milwaukee looked to be in total control early in the second half, jumping into a 24-point third-quarter lead and seemingly poised for a routine win.

However, Atlanta chipped away at the Bucks total and eventually grabbed their first lead of the game late in the fourth quarter when Bogdan Bogdanovic’s pullup jump shot made it 103-101.

Lopez restored the Bucks’ advantage with a three-pointer to make it 104-103 and Milwaukee reasserted their control to close out the win.

“We’re resilient, we don’t like to lose,” Holiday said after the Bucks win.

“Close games like that are teaching moments, where we’re able to close out games and use all that in the future.”

Elsewhere Wednesday, Ja Morant returned from a two-game injury absence to score 38 points as the Memphis Grizzlies claimed a 135-129 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Memphis’s eighth straight victory saw them improve to 28-13, leaving them level with the Denver Nuggets at the top of the Western Conference.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, kept pace with the Grizzlies after destroying the under-powered Phoenix Suns 126-97.

Denver’s two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic just missed out on his 12th triple double of the season, finishing with 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists at the Ball Arena.

Denver were out of sight by half-time, pouring in 70 points in the first half to lead by 16 at the break.

The Nuggets kept up the scoring frenzy in the third quarter, stretching the lead to 32 points at one stage in the third quarter as they cruised to victory.

In other games on Wednesday, the Detroit Pistons moved off the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 135-118 blowout over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Saddiq Bey led the scoring for Detroit with 31 points as the Pistons snapped a three-game losing streak to climb above the Charlotte Hornets at the foot of the table.


French Open’s No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev loses to 172nd-ranked qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild

French Open’s No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev loses to 172nd-ranked qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild
Updated 31 May 2023

French Open’s No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev loses to 172nd-ranked qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild

French Open’s No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev loses to 172nd-ranked qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild
  • Seybolt Wild needed to win three matches in qualifying rounds last week just to make it into the men’s bracket
  • It’s the first time the second-seeded man lost in the first round of the French Open since 2000

PARIS: If anyone thought a couple of recent runs to Week 2 at the French Open and a clay-court title a little more than a week ago made Daniil Medvedev a little fonder of the red stuff, forget it.

A first-round loss as the No. 2 seed at Roland Garros — against Thiago Seybolt Wild, a qualifier ranked 172nd who never had won a Grand Slam match anywhere until Tuesday — sure reminded Medvedev of his distaste for the slow surface used in Paris.

“I had a mouthful of clay since probably the third game of the match, and I don’t like it. I don’t know if people like to eat clay, to have clay in their bags, in their shoes, the socks — white socks, you can throw them (into the) garbage after clay season,” said Medvedev, who won the 2021 US Open and reached three other major finals on hard courts. “Maybe some people like it. I don’t.”

Seybolt Wild needed to win three matches in qualifying rounds last week just to make it into the men’s bracket — something he’d failed to do on eight previous attempts at Slams — but looked very much like he belonged on Court Philippe Chatrier. He hit big forehands and kept his nerve down the stretch to oust Medvedev 7-6 (5), 6-7 (8), 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

It’s the first time the second-seeded man lost in the first round of the French Open since 2000, when Pete Sampras — no fan of clay himself — was eliminated by Mark Philippoussis.

“It definitely was the happiest day of my life,” said Seybolt Wild, a 23-year-old from Brazil. “I knew it was going to be a tough match, but I knew how to play. I have watched him play 1,000 times already. I just had to believe in myself.”

So what was his game plan going in?

“Walking on the court, I really just wanted to get the angles, try to get to the net as much as possible, try to use my forehand against his,” Seybolt Wild explained. “It worked pretty well.”

Did it ever.

Employing a high-risk, high-reward style, Seybolt Wild compiled a 69-45 edge in total winners, including 47-15 on the forehand side.

He hadn’t even played a tour-level main-draw match at all in 2023, instead competing on the lower-level ATP Challenger Tour. At his most recent event, in Turin, Italy, Seybolt Wild made it to the quarterfinals and left with a paycheck for $5,950.

“His life is going to be better if he plays like this every match,” Medvedev said. “He’s going to get more money, more sponsors, win big titles. But he has to play like this. Not once on the Philippe Chatrier, but a lot of times in different tournaments all over the world throughout the year.”

At his news conference, Seyboth Wild drew the sort of attention and questions that arrive when a relatively unknown player pulls off a stunning win.

One reporter pulled out some puns related to Seyboth Wild’s last name, including references to whether this was his “wildest victory” and exceeded his “wildest dreams” — to which the response was: “I honestly don’t know how many times I have heard that joke, but it never gets old.”

Later, a query arrived about a far more serious matter: The Rio de Janeiro state prosecutors’ office charged Seyboth Wild in June 2022 with domestic violence against his ex-partner. He has denied any wrongdoing; a ruling is expected sometime this year.

“I don’t think it’s a subject we should talk about ... right here,” Seyboth Wild said. “I don’t think it’s a question you should be (asking).”

Medvedev’s exit was the most significant result as the first round closed. The top women’s seeds in action all advanced, including defending champion Iga Swiatek, 2022 runner-up Coco Gauff, reigning Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina and two-time major finalist Ons Jabeur. So did No. 4 Casper Ruud (the runner-up to Rafael Nadal a year ago), No. 6 Holger Rune, No. 9 Taylor Fritz and No. 16 Tommy Paul among the men.

Good as he’s always been on hard courts, Medvedev never was known for his prowess on clay: He began his French Open career with a 0-4 record. But he’s been showing signs of improvement, reaching the quarterfinals in Paris in 2021 and the fourth round last year, and claiming the trophy on the surface in Rome this month.

He just could never quite get the upper hand during a 4-hour, 15-minute contest.

Medvedev, who was treated by a trainer for a nosebleed in the third set, didn’t help himself by double-faulting a career-high 15 times, something he blamed in part on the wind that topped 15 mph.

By turns, Medvedev credited Seybolt Wild for playing well, saying the guy could end up ranked in the top 30 by year’s end, but also seemed a bit miffed.

“I honestly hope he’s going to play like this later on,” Medvedev said, “because if not, I’m going to be disappointed. I’m going to be like, ‘Why today? Why not in two days?’”

He was asked how he would characterize his relationship with clay, now that this portion of the tour calendar is done.

“Every time it finishes, I’m happy,” Medvedev replied. “So I’m happy. I’m happy again.”


Hudson quits as US men’s soccer team interim coach, is replaced by Callaghan

Hudson quits as US men’s soccer team interim coach, is replaced by Callaghan
Updated 31 May 2023

Hudson quits as US men’s soccer team interim coach, is replaced by Callaghan

Hudson quits as US men’s soccer team interim coach, is replaced by Callaghan
  • Hudson was appointed interim coach on Jan. 4, four days after Berhalter’s contract expired
  • Callaghan figures to have the full player pool available for the CONCACAF Nations League final four

NEW YORK: Anthony Hudson quit as interim head coach of the US men’s soccer team on Tuesday, just two weeks before he was to lead the Americans in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals.

He was replaced by B.J. Callaghan, another holdover from former coach Gregg Berhalter’s staff.

Hudson’s departure was announced just six days after the US Soccer Federation said he was remaining as coach of the Americans through the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer. The USSF said Hudson was taking a job with a club but did not identify the team or the role.

The USSF said the decision to elevate Callaghan, a 41-year-old from Ventnor, New Jersey, was made by Matt Crocker, who is leaving relegated Southampton to become USSF sporting director on Aug. 2. Crocker is leading the search for a permanent coach to guide the team through the 2026 World Cup, which the Americans will co-host.

Neither Callaghan nor Crocker was made available to media by the USSF to discuss the change.

Hudson was appointed interim coach on Jan. 4, four days after Berhalter’s contract expired. Hudson led the Americans to two wins, one loss and two draws. His five games were the fewest for a US coach since John Kowalski led the team against Canada and Mexico in March 1991 between the terms of Bob Gansler and Bora Milutinovic.

Callaghan figures to have the full player pool available for the CONCACAF Nations League final four. The defending champion Americans play Mexico on June 15 and Canada or Panama three days later.

Most Europe-based players are expected to skip the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which starts June 24 and runs through July 16.

Callaghan played at Ursinus and spent six seasons at Villanova, becoming associate head coach. He worked in the youth academy of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, then became an assistant coach in 2014.

He was hired by the USSF as strategy analyst and assistant coach in January 2019, a month after Berhalter became head coach. He had been an assistant to Hudson this year.

Notes: The USSF also announced exhibitions on Oct. 14 against Germany at East Hartford, Connecticut, and on Oct. 17 against Ghana at Geodis Park in Nashville, Tennessee. The games are on FIFA fixture dates, meaning Europe-based players will be available.


Sevilla, Roma’s Mourinho put perfect European records on line in Europa League final

Sevilla, Roma’s Mourinho put perfect European records on line in Europa League final
Updated 31 May 2023

Sevilla, Roma’s Mourinho put perfect European records on line in Europa League final

Sevilla, Roma’s Mourinho put perfect European records on line in Europa League final
  • Sevilla have played six and won six finals of the Europa League since their first in 2006
  • The Roma coach can make more history by becoming the first coach to win the Europa League with three different clubs

BUDAPEST, Hungary: A remarkable perfect record in European soccer must fall when Sevilla face Jose Mourinho’s Roma in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

Sevilla have played six and won six finals of the Europa League since their first in 2006, when the second-tier competition was still called the UEFA Cup.

“For them to play the final is a normal thing, for us it is an extraordinary event,” Mourinho said on Tuesday, though adding: “History does not play.”

Still, history also has something to say about Mourinho. The former Porto, Inter Milan and Manchester United coach has a 5-0 career mark in finals of the three major European club competitions, dating to 2003 and Porto’s UEFA Cup triumph.

Mourinho actually has more European title wins than Sevilla coach Jose Luis Mendilibar has total games managed in those same competitions. The 62-year-old Mendilibar’s career is peaking since joining then-struggling Sevilla just two months ago.

“I have had more opportunities to play in European competitions, but Mendilibar is of the same generation as me, with the same white hair,” the 60-year-old Mourinho said. “We are on an equal footing.”

Only one record can survive their meeting at Puskas Arena in Budapest, where the Europa League trophy is just the start of the rewards for the winning club.

Neither Roma nor Sevilla can finish in the top four of their domestic leagues that would have ensured qualifying for the Champions League.

Their only path to the Champions League next season — and the potential tens of millions of euros (dollars) in extra prize money from UEFA — is taking the group-stage place protected for the Europa League winner.

The high value of this Europa League to both clubs is in stark contrast to a Mourinho comment from 10 years ago that became infamous.

“If I win the Europa League it will be a big disappointment for me because I don’t want to play in it,” he said on being re-hired by Chelsea. It was seen as throwing shade on his predecessor Rafa Benitez, who weeks earlier as Chelsea interim coach won the 2013 Europa title.

Mourinho and Benitez are among four coaches who have led two different teams to win the 52-year-old competition.

The Roma coach can make more history by becoming the first coach to win the Europa League with three different clubs, joining his Porto and Man United (2017) teams. And this just one year after the latest team in his storied career won the inaugural Europa Conference League to make Mourinho the first coach with titles in each of the three club competitions.

Mendilibar has a more modest background yet has arguably outcoached Mourinho in his brief spell at Sevilla.

Replacing former Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli in March, Mendilibar became Sevilla’s third coach this season with the team just two points clear of the La Liga relegation zone.

Mendilibar’s Sevilla have lost only two of 11 league games, is one point off seventh place going into the final round this weekend, and is unbeaten in the Europa League after eliminating Man United — despite trailing 2-0 after 83 minutes at Old Trafford in the first leg — and Juventus.

Roma came to Budapest having gone seven Serie A league games without a win, and advancing to the final with a 0-0 draw in the second leg at Bayer Leverkusen, managing just one goal attempt compared to 23 for the Germans.

“I don’t think they need many chances to score and to win,” Mendilibar said of Roma. “I don’t think they worry too much about getting to the opposition goal.”

Mourinho fans can point to that being a classic quality of his teams — doing exactly what was needed to win.


Bayern Munich bring back Rummenigge to supervisory board

Bayern Munich bring back Rummenigge to supervisory board
Updated 30 May 2023

Bayern Munich bring back Rummenigge to supervisory board

Bayern Munich bring back Rummenigge to supervisory board
  • “He is one the biggest figures in the history of our club, everyone knows what he has done,” Bayern president Herbert Hainer said
  • Bayern were without a sporting director following the dismissal of Hasan Salihamidžić along with Kahn on Saturday

MUNICH: Former chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is returning to Bayern Munich as a member of the club’s supervisory board.
Bayern said on Tuesday that 67-year-old Rummenigge, a former player and long-time employee of the club before he made way for incoming CEO Oliver Kahn in December 2021, was coming back to ensure its continued success.
“He is one the biggest figures in the history of our club, everyone knows what he has done,” Bayern president Herbert Hainer said. “His experience, his competence and his international network will enormously help Bayern be successful in the future, too.”
Bayern were without a sporting director following the dismissal of Hasan Salihamidžić along with Kahn on Saturday, when they won a record-extending 11th consecutive Bundesliga title.
Bayern presented Jan-Christian Dreesen as Kahn’s replacement on Sunday, when Hainer said he would propose Rummenigge’s return at the club’s shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday.
Rummenigge, a former striker who scored 162 goals in 310 Bundesliga appearances for Bayern, won the European Cup with the club in 1975 and 1976. He also won two Bundesliga and two German Cup titles before leaving for Inter Milan in 1984.
He returned to Bayern in 1991 as vice president and was the club’s chief executive from 2002 until Kahn took over. Bayern won 14 Bundesligas, 10 German Cups and two Champions League trophies in that time and Rummenigge helped the Bavarian powerhouse increase turnover from 176 million euros ($189 million) to 679 million euros ($728 million). The public limited company behind Bayern posted a profit in every financial year during the period, helping to build reserves rarely seen in debt-ridden European soccer.
Bayern’s supervisory board includes Hainer as president, Jan Heinemann from stakeholder Adidas, Markus Duesmann of Audi, Werner Zedelius from Allianz, honorary president Uli Hoeneß, Thorsten Langheim from Deutsche Telekom, Dieter Mayer as vice president, former Bavarian state president Edmund Stoiber, and Rummenigge.


Baseball United names Karachi Monarchs as its second franchise

The Karachi Monarchs are Baseball United's second franchise. (Supplied/Baseball United)
The Karachi Monarchs are Baseball United's second franchise. (Supplied/Baseball United)
Updated 30 May 2023

Baseball United names Karachi Monarchs as its second franchise

The Karachi Monarchs are Baseball United's second franchise. (Supplied/Baseball United)
  • Pakistani team will face Mumbai Cobras in Dubai Showcase in November
  • Two more franchises set to be named in coming weeks

KARACHI: Baseball United, the first professional baseball league serving the Middle East, India and Pakistan, has announced the award of its second franchise to Karachi.

The new franchise, and first professional baseball team in Pakistan’s history, will compete against Baseball United’s recently announced team from India, the Mumbai Cobras.

The new team is called the Karachi Monarchs and will use the Karachi “K” and a bejeweled crown as its primary brand marks. The Monarchs’ name honors Karachi’s leadership role as Pakistan’s industrial, economic and financial capital, while also paying homage to the city’s passionate love for baseball’s bat and ball counterpart: cricket. The Karachi Kings are one of the founding franchises of the Pakistan Super League, the nation’s premier cricket league.

Monarchs is also the moniker of one of the United States’ most successful baseball teams. The Kansas City Monarchs won 12 Negro league titles — most of which came before Major League Baseball’s integration — aided by Hall of Famers like Satchel Paige, Ernie Banks and Jackie Robinson.

“It’s an honor to welcome the great city of Karachi into the Baseball United family,” said Kash Shaikh, the league’s president, CEO and co-owner.

“This city is both historic and forward-looking. It’s the commercial, cultural and cosmopolitan heartbeat of Pakistan. It’s as large as New York City but has a median age that’s 15 years younger. And those young people love their sports.

“Our Baseball United team is so excited about the opportunity to connect with all of them as we work to inspire more and more Pakistanis to fall in love with the game of baseball.”

Karachi is the 12th largest city in the world, with a metropolitan area of nearly 20 million people. Like Mumbai, it sits along the Arabian Sea and is the country’s main seaport.

The Karachi Monarchs and Mumbai Cobras will battle it out alongside two other, soon-to-be-named, franchises at Baseball United’s Dubai Showcase in November.

The Monarchs and Cobras are expected to be the league’s biggest rivals, following in the footsteps of the Pakistani and Indian cricket teams, which regularly draw hundreds of millions of viewers to their international matches.

“In the United States, we have the Yankees versus the Red Sox,” said John Miedreich, executive vice president of baseball operations and co-owner of Baseball United.

“In South Asia, they have India versus Pakistan. We’ve seen the passion and pageantry that surrounds these nations’ cricket matches. Now, we can’t wait to see all that drama unfold on the baseball diamond.”

Baseball United will name the Monarchs’ honorary general manager and manager in the coming days. The two other Showcase franchises will be named over the next two months. Following the announcements of all four teams, Baseball United will conduct its first draft, selecting Showcase players from its official player pool.

The announcement of the Karachi franchise comes on the heels of Baseball United’s partnership with Pakistan Federation Baseball, the country’s governing body for the sport, and the most successful baseball federation in South Asia. The agreement will enable the two organizations to grow the game across Pakistan and within Pakistani communities worldwide.