Paula Radcliffe backs IAAF as Semenya ruling nears

first_imgWorld marathon record-holder Paula Radcliffe said she “supported” the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in their controversial attempt to restrict female athletes’ testosterone levels.“It’s a very, very difficult and complex situation and I don’t feel there is an outcome that is perfectly fair to everybody,” the now-retired British runner told AFP in Paris on Friday.The IAAF is seeking to force so-called “hyperandrogenic” athletes or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) to seek treatment to lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount if they wish to continue competing as women.ALSO READ: IAAF aiming to violate women’s bodies: SA on Semenya hearing“These guys haven’t chosen,” Radcliffe said.“It’s just the way they are born, and the way they have grown up. At the same time the results are clear to see and we have the data evidence that it’s not a fair situation.“Maybe in the future there will be more than two categories.”The Court of Arbitration for Sport is wrestling with an appeal against the rule by Caster Semenya, the South African Olympic 800-metre champion.“Female sport has its definition and its category for a reason. Because women could not compete with men,” the 45-year-old Radcliffe said, adding she believed the IAAF “are trying to protect female sport and create fair competition. But I do see it’s a very, very difficult decision for CAS to be able to take.”“I think other sports are watching to see what happens because it also affects them,” Radcliffe said.ALSO READ: Semenya hits back at IAAF president for controversial commentsSouth Africa’s Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa has accused the IAAF of pursuing “the violation of women’s bodies.”Radcliffe was sympathetic but argued the alternative was also unfair.“It’s not possible to be fair to everybody,” she said.“I don’t think the IAAF are saying you must modify your body. You must bring your testosterone down if you want to compte in female category. Otherwise you’re free to compete at non-elite level or in the male category.”For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

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Mercedes nail ‘risky’ double pit stop to reign in China

first_imgLewis Hamilton won the landmark race ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with the rival Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel a distant third.Mercedes have now taken first and second place at all three grands prix this season, even though Ferrari were thought to have the quicker car.With the race on Sunday entering its second half and Hamilton out in front, Mercedes called both cars in to switch to medium tyres.World champion Hamilton, who now leads the standings from Bottas, praised his team’s decision to “double-stack”.“I didn’t actually know he (Bottas) was behind me in the pit stop. Fantastic job by the team,” said the Briton.Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said it was a calculated gamble.“Stacking the cars for a double pit stop was a risky moment because you have everything to lose when you’re leading the race,” said Wolff.“But we thought we would lose positions if we had stopped one of them earlier. “Our plan worked out perfectly. It was a well-choreographed pitstop and the team did a brilliant job.”last_img read more

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Stormers bag an important victory but…

first_imgThe depleted Stormers ground out a 31-18 win over the Sunwolves in Saturday’s Super Rugby match at Newlands.With an injury list the length of Long Street, the Stormers were forced to field second stringers in several positions.They were still too powerful for the Japanese visitors and the Stormers’ only regret would have been the loss of a bonus point which went a begging late in the match.Turnovers by both teams on early raids put paid to threatening situations in the opening eight minutes by which time the Sunwolves had twice taken the ball to within metres from the Stormers’ tryline.The Stormers meanwhile hadn’t yet managed to find their way into the Sunwolves’ 22m area.Sunwolves opened the scoring with a 10th-minute penalty by their New Zealand-born flyhalf Hayden Parker.The Stormers turned down a 13th minute shot at goal in favour of a kick to touch and then won their throw-in at the 5m line-out. From the resultant maul, hooker Bongi Mbonambi peeled around the back to dive over and score.Flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis converted.A 12-minute passage of play followed with the Stormers camping in the opposition’s half but helped along by poor decision-making the Sunwolves defence was not breached during this phase.The Stormers managed a further score on the half-hour mark when the opposition defence wore thin out wide and rightwing Craig Barry sprinted in for a converted try.Parker rounded off the first-half scoring with a second penalty five minutes ahead of halftime (14-6).Round about the same time scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies left the field injured and the Stormers sent Jano Vermaak on in his place.The Stormers created several promising situations at the start of the second half but they were denied until the 53rd minute when rank poor defence in central misfield allowed No 8 Jaco Coetzee to barge his way past three defenders for a converted try.The Sunwolves staged a telling counter-attack on the hour mark when they secured a turn-over virtually on their own tryline but they surrendered possession when they kicked for touch.This break out seemed to insense a fresh on urgency in their ranks and they ran for their first converted try in the 62nd minute when fullback Semisi Masirewa tip-toed past the opposition’s last line of defence (21-13).Josh Stander, who had replaced flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, increased the Stormers lead with a penalty which pushed the scoreline along to 24-13.The Stormers’ fourth try came in the 72nd minute when Coetzee bagged his second of the match after a strong maul from the back of a 5m line-out.Stander converted.The small crowd were hardly back in their seats when the Sunwolves snatched a second try through Masirewa and with it, the Stormers’ hopes of a bonus point vanished into the chilly Newlands air.Point scorers: Stormers – Tries: Bongi Mbonami, Craig Barry, Jaco Coetzee (2). Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (3), Josh Stander. Penalty: StanderSunwolves – Tries: Semisi Masirewa (2) Conversion: Hayden Parker. Penalties: Parker (2)For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

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Rugby players could die live on TV, warns Warburton

first_imgWarburton retired aged 29 last year, beaten down by a long list of injuries, including a broken jaw, a plate inserted into his eye socket, a hamstring torn off the bone and damaged knee ligaments.However, he fears even worse could happen unless rules are changed.“If something isn’t done soon, then a professional player will die during a game, in front of the TV cameras, and only then will people throw up their hands and demand that steps must be taken,” Warburton told The Times.Capped 74 times by his country and captain of two Lions tours, Warburton admitted to “not enjoying 80 percent of his career” such was the physical and mental toll it put on him.“I used to be literally crawling up and down the stairs on my hands and knees like a toddler after an international game,” he added.Much has been done in recent years to assess players and enforce time out periods for players suffering from concussion.But with elite players getting bigger and stronger all the time, Warburton wants to see a maximum limit placed on how many games a player can feature in a year and on full-contact training.“A lot is being done, especially around concussion, but you will never make the tackle safe,” he said.“You can’t have two blokes, 14 stone to 20 stone running full tilt, and make it safe. Chest and below makes sense but with the force of a sprinting knee driving into the side of your head, it’s not necessarily the lower the better.“I don’t want to scaremonger. The same threat isn’t there at recreational level. But you can’t make it safe. You might make it a bit safer.”For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

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Kobe Bryant and daughter buried in private ceremony

first_imgKobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were buried last week near their family home in Newport Beach, California, in a private ceremony, according to death certificates.A death certificate for the basketball legend, who was killed in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles on January 26 along with his daughter and seven others, states that he was buried last Friday at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar, US media reported.A memorial service for Bryant and Gianna is planned February 24 at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles which can hold 20,000 people.The Center, also the home of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and venue for concerts and events such as the recent Grammy Awards, has hosted memorials for recording artists Michael Jackson and Nipsey Hussle.Byrant’s wife Vanessa on Monday took to Instagram to express her grief saying “my brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone.”“It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me,” she added.“It feels wrong. Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn’t being able to have that opportunity?! I’m so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters.”Bryant had an iconic 20-year career playing with the Los Angeles Lakers.For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

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One-on-one with Dirk Nowitzki: Mavericks legend reflects on final NBA season, talks post-basketball life

first_imgMORE: How Nowitzki went from unknown to unparalleledAfter everything I’ve read, I’m quite surprised to see you in decent shape.Dirk Nowitzki: Being seven feet tall, it’s a bit easier to hide. But the weight went up rather quickly. I didn’t really do anything for three months and didn’t put a lot of thought into my discipline in terms of eating. That’s fun, not thinking about workouts or basketball and just letting loose. It was a nice summer with my family, and to this point, I didn’t have too many moments where I missed basketball. But I’m pretty sure they’ll come eventually.Training camp has started. After more than 20 years, you don’t take part. Is the body surprised by the lack of action at this point?Nowitzki: I couldn’t hold up at this point. When you’re over 30, you need to keep a certain level of fitness during the summer, otherwise you’re behind by too much and it takes too long to get back. That’s why I always worked out during vacation, which I didn’t do this year. Also, my foot wasn’t great this summer. It had to stop. I kept playing through pain, had to take pills, get injections. It just wasn’t as fun as it had been in earlier years.All of us watched your retirement and your emotions. How did the weeks after that go by for you?Nowitzki: There were some more celebrations. There were some great speeches by old friends and family, but as soon as everyone left, it got a little quieter. I tried to stay active though. I drove the kids to school, went to some events, did some work for my foundation. Then we went to the beach for two weeks. But it never got to the point where I spent a week in bed watching Netflix. I wanted to stay active and not think too much.The last couple of weeks, even months were extreme; we never got the impression that you would be a person who wants a farewell tour, like Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade got. You still got one. Was there ever a point where you got a little uncomfortable with it?Nowitzki: No. The farewell tour was awesome, especially as I didn’t announce anything beforehand. I enjoyed getting standing ovations in other arenas, that was incredible. New York, Boston or the All-Star Game in Charlotte, those are things I’ll never forget, especially because everything happened quite naturally. What the Mavs did in the end, getting my five idols to send me into retirement, was insane as well.But you had known that this would be it for a while, right?Nowitzki: Yeah, after the 2017-18 season I had another surgery on my foot, hoping that it would fix some things. I hoped to be able to move better again, to have more fun, but that didn’t work at all. Right at the beginning, I got tendinitis in my foot, which pushed everything back. Being behind like that, it was hard to reach a high level again. My foot kept nagging, and in my head, I quickly got the sense that this would probably be it.Initially I wanted to make the final decision on whether to continue well after the season, though. I decided to change that two days before I made my announcement ahead of the final home game. At that point, I’d made a decision with my family, and I think it went perfectly. That whole last week couldn’t have been better.You mentioned the idols which were present in Dallas: Charles Barkley, Detlef Schrempf, Scottie Pippen, Shawn Kemp and Larry Bird. You’ve been an idol for a lot of kids for years as well. How do you perceive this role?Nowitzki: It’s obviously an honor when people respect and value the things you’ve achieved. It is always a great feeling when kids are excited to see you. I obviously hope to inspire them as well. When I visited some camps as a youth and players of the national team showed up, my eyes lit up, and I was excited as well. Twenty years later, I’m standing in their shoes. That’s great, and I hope to pass some things on to the next generation.You always spoke of yourself as being pessimistic, yet you started early to work for your goals with a great determination. When did the dream of making the NBA became tangible for you?Nowitzki: When I started taking basketball seriously with 14, 15 years, I obviously had the hope to make it. At that point, I started watching everything that was available, even at night. I was such a big NBA fan that for a while I knew every player from every team in the whole league, entire rosters. But I didn’t have a clue where it would lead me.I played on a select team in Bavaria, and some coaches there said I had the chance to become a good Bundesliga player, perhaps even EuroLeague. But nobody knew what would happen, that I would play in the NBA for 21 years. There were some tough times I had to overcome. You need a certain belief in yourself, that’s for sure.Which is true for your time in school as well. You almost dropped out, right?Nowitzki: Yes, some of the years were tough. When you’re a teenager, everything in life is cooler than school, especially sports. In one year I played basketball, tennis and handball. Right after school I went to tennis, and in the evening there was handball practice. At that point there just wasn’t a lot of focus on school. My parents told me to drop one sport, and that’s why I stopped playing handball.It got a little better after that, but it kept being a struggle for me. I thought about dropping out after 10th grade, maybe going to the U.S. for one year of high school. But then Holger Geschwindner [Nowitzki’s mentor] came aboard and said, “No chance, you’ll finish school here.” And I fought through.Did your parents have certain school conditions to allow you to go to practice?Nowitzki: No, never. They just thought it important that I didn’t get behind in school. After seeing my grades during 11th grade, they got quite scared and pushed me a bit more. I had to get private tutoring as well. Once I was traveling with the junior national team, I had to bring a tutor with me. We were there to work on our conditioning and between practices I had to get tutoring in a separate room.Were you the quiet type in school or more of a class clown?Nowitzki: I always had my fun with friends. From time to time, I got in trouble for talking too much or disturbing the lessons, but that’s part of it. I was quite popular because I was always the one guy who had bubble gum. That was forbidden and got me in trouble a couple of times as well. But if you erase all of that, I think I was a good pupil.Without Geschwindner you would’ve dropped out? What do you think about that from today’s perspective?Nowitzki: I’m not sure if I’d really fought through otherwise. Looking at it now, I have to be thankful that Holger came around and pushed me to do it. He always bought me books, for Christmas, birthdays, to help my development off the court. It was important to develop something aside from basketball. You can always get a knee injury and ruin your dream if you’re unlucky. So it was mandatory for him that I finish school.Did you always have this almost singular focus on sports?Nowitzki: I never wanted anything else — sports was my life. Both my parents were athletes. I basically grew up in the gym running after loose balls as soon as I was able to walk.Did that inspire the will to always improve as well?Nowitzki: I don’t think so. The main reason is we lived in a large house where I was always the youngest. My sister is four years older, two cousins older than me lived there as well. So I was often too small to play with them. They said, “Sit on the side. You’re not ready yet.” That inspired my competitiveness. I had to establish myself.Outside of your old school there is a graffiti with this statement: “All dreams are insane until you start to make them reality.” What does this sentence mean to you?Nowitzki: When I started with basketball, I became a huge fan instantly. I got up at night, watched every All-Star Game and the Finals, when MJ [Michael Jordan] was playing. The dream to one day be part of that was incredibly far away. It seemed insane to even make it to the NBA. I couldn’t have imagined what would come of it. And now I think that it’s important for kids to have a dream and to actually work on achieving that dream.Obviously not everyone is going to make it to the NBA; that’s why you need to develop something else as well. But having a dream is positive. Whatever comes of it… I had some luck of course. I met the right people at the right time. If Holger hadn’t come into my life, maybe I’d focused on tennis or handball, maybe I wouldn’t have worked as hard on basketball. Nobody knows. I’m glad it went the way it did.Do you remember key moments in the NBA where you met idols and were proud of how far you’d come?Nowitzki: Yeah, the first game was in Seattle against Detlef Schrempf, who I was a huge fan of. He gave me his number right away, if I needed something. But the biggest “wow” moment was the fourth game, when we played Houston. With Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley, they had two of my biggest idols on their team. Hakeem Olajuwon was there as well.One year earlier, I played for Wurzburg in the second German division — now I was there with the best players in the world. I wasn’t sure I belonged there, if I would make it. The first year was brutal in that regard.You mentioned Schrempf giving you his number. You’ve done that for a lot of young players ever since, notably Dennis Schroder.Nowitzki: I was impressed by how nice Detlef was to me, and I wanted to continue that tradition. I was too self-conscious to actually reach out to him, which is why we barely spoke. But that wasn’t me being too confident to say I didn’t need his help — I just didn’t want to bother him with my petty rookie problems. Looking back at it, I should have reached out more. For the first time in over 20 years, Dirk Nowitzki did not have to prepare for another NBA season this summer. SPOX and DAZN host Alex Schluter talked to the 41-year-old about his new life at the “Nike Basketball Festival” in Berlin. But that got me to offer the same for players who came after me. Today, every young German player has my number. I always try to help whenever anything comes up.You knew Schroder before he got into the league, right?Nowitzki: Yeah, in that year we had a pretty high pick, and he visited Dallas ahead of the draft, when I was still in the city as well. I hadn’t watched him play at that point, so I was there for his workout and talked to him afterwards. We exchanged numbers and have been in touch ever since, talking NBA, the national team and other stuff.last_img read more

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NFL Week 7 upset picks: Underdogs with good odds to beat the spread

first_imgWhat then is the best side to be on when two clubs are not really playing consistent football? Take the points.That is always the best advice in a seemingly even contest and that is further substantiated with Dallas 1-8 ATS at home off an upset loss as a favorite and 5-14 ATS as a home favorite of three points or less. This has all the makings of a back and forth battle that comes down to the last possession and if the Eagles cover and win, you know where you read it at.NFL picks: Eagles +3 (-110) It was a beautiful week for the sportsbooks and bookies, as underdogs were 10-4 ATS with seven outright upsets against the NFL odds. That destroyed the betting masses on a whole, especially those on Dallas and the Rams, leading to garbage cans full of losing parlay and teaser cards.MORE: Get the latest NFL odds & betting advice at Sportsbook Review For Week 7 in the NFL, we have a different setup, with three point spreads at nine points or higher to begin the week and all but one at 3.5 or lower. (Green Bay is -6) This leads to thinking there could be another week of upsets in the autumn air as the first hints of winter are approaching.For Week 7 NFL picks, here are three tempting road underdogs that will have an excellent chance to cover the number and maybe win outright.Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis ColtsSunday, Oct. 20, 1 p.m. ET (CBS) at Lucas Oil StadiumIt is commonly accepted that a home team off a bye week facing an opponent who is playing two straight road contests have an inherent advantage. This makes sense, having a fresher club going against a foe who has to travel twice in a row. Then why is Indianapolis only a one-point divisional home favorite over Houston when both teams have two losses?With the Colts a standard three-point home favorite, oddsmakers are telling us who the better team in their opinion.MORE WEEK 7 PICKS: Straight up | Against the spreadIndianapolis is at their best when they have the No. 4 ground attack churning, which sets up quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the play-action passing game. However, the Colts are going up against the No.8 rushing defense in Houston and if subtract the 148 yards the Texans conceded to New Orleans in the opener, they are at 76 yards per contest allowed since, which would move them up into the Top 3.Houston is No. 6 in total offense and is balanced under the controls of QB Deshaun Watson, making then extremely difficult to defend. With the Texans 24-8 SU versus defenses allowing a completion percentage of 64% or higher, the visitor takes this one.NFL pick: Texans +1 (-110)Oakland Raiders vs. Green Bay PackersSunday, Oct. 20, 1 p.m. ET (CBS) at Lambeau FieldEarly in the week, Green Bay was sent out as a 7.5-point home favorite over visiting Oakland. That number quickly fell to six in part because the Packers are on a short week after their Monday night triumph over Detroit and the Raiders were off after a trip to London where upset Chicago. There is also more to this story, let’s explain.The Packers are a surprising 5-1 and this will be their fifth home game already, which has helped them. The Pack is winning and sports a 4-2 ATS record, yet is hardly domineering, listed fifth in the NFC on point differential and ninth in the league.MORE: Complete Week 7 NFL betting guideWith Oakland, we are starting to see the Jon Gruden is not just another coach, with Derek Carr making far fewer mistakes, the play-calling exceptional and the Raiders defense up to 16th in yards allowed.After playing three games versus Philadelphia, Dallas and Detroit, the Packers focus could suffer a bit with three straight vs. the AFC West.For those that didn’t know, it was this matchup in 1993 in the same location, where the Lambeau Leap was created by LeRoy Butler on as scoop and score on late December against the then L.A. Raiders. Not sure Oakland can win the game, but like that, they are 15-4 ATS after leading their last two outings by 10+ points at the half.NFL picks: Raiders +6 (-110)Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas CowboysSunday, Oct. 20, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) at AT&T StadiumHow bad does the NFC East appear? Washington just won their first game of the season and they are only two games out of first place in the division.Philadelphia and Dallas are .500 and for the loser, they will have a losing record at nearly the mid-point of the season.After a 3-0 SU and ATS start, the Cowboys have tumbled into the abyss on three-game bender and no longer are considered a Top 10 club. The Eagles were thought to be back closer to their Super Bowl level of less than two years ago, but after 38-20 drubbing at Minnesota, more questions than answers surround Philly.last_img read more

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Why the Raptors will remain a contender in the East without Kawhi Leonard — and why they won’t

first_imgThe @Raptors receive the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy! #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/oavGnXlcmi— NBA (@NBA) June 14, 2019MORE: Ranking the top 15 NBA players for 2019-20Toronto will not be putting the same team on the court this season, but will the Raptors remain a force in the top-heavy Eastern Conference?Let’s take a look at what happened last season and this offseason before delving into the cases for and against.What happened last season?The odds were stacked against Canada’s lone NBA franchise throughout the playoffs despite Toronto being the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors dropped their first game of the postseason to the Magic, and from that point on, there were plenty of doubters. They would go on to defeat the Magic, winning the next four games.In the second round, the Raptors were pushed to a deciding Game 7 against the 76ers with the game (and series) ending on an unforgettable buzzer-beater from the corner to win it all, courtesy of Kawhi Leonard.The Toronto Raptors just beat the Philadelphia 76ers 92-90 thanks to Kawhi Leonard‘s incredible buzzer beater! #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/VmtMNttyYO— CBC (@CBC) May 13, 2019The next series was a matchup between the top two seeds in the East — the Raptors were underdogs to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. The tables turned when Toronto was down 2-0 in the series but pulled out a victory in double overtime in Game 3. Much like the first round, it was four wins in a row, and the Raptors booked their spot in the NBA Finals.The Leonard-led Raptors then took down the Warriors and captured the title with a 114-110 victory in Game 6.What happened this offseason?The Raptors lost Leonard in free agency. He signed a three-year deal with the Clippers worth $103 million. His presence will be missed dearly in Canada, as he led the team with a whopping 30.5 points per game in the postseason.Leonard wasn’t the only blow the Raptors took in free agency. Danny Green also set sail for Los Angeles, joining the Lakers on a two-year, $30 million contract. Although he didn’t necessarily light up the scoreboard the way Leonard did, Green played in 80 games during the regular season, averaging 27.7 minutes per game, a stable presence throughout the season, especially when Leonard, Kyle Lowry or Fred VanVleet were out of the lineup.MORE: Leonard describes Raptors’ season, fans as “special”On the positive side, Lowry signed a one-year, $31 million extension, keeping him in Canada through the 2020-21 season. Lowry averaged 15.0 points per game and led the team with 6.6 assists per game in the playoffs. At 33 years old, the 13-year veteran proved last season that he is capable of showing up in the big moments.June 13th, 2019 | Game 6 @NBA Finals@Klow7: 26p – 10a – 7r – 3s – 1🏆#WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/X4GpE1B6hf— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 15, 2019Taking a look at the coaching during the offseason, Nick Nurse led Team Canada in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. His squad, missing notable players such as first-round pick RJ Barrett, went 2-3 at the tournament with wins over Senegal in the group stage and Jordan in the classification round. It would be unfair to judge Nurse’s FIBA squad in comparison to the Raptors, but Team Canada’s performance at the World Cup left much to be desired (21st out of 32 teams).As far as the draft goes, the defending champs made one selection, taking Dewan Hernandez with the No. 59 overall pick, the second-to-last player selected. Hernandez is a 22-year-old forward who played in 64 games for the Miami Hurricanes over two seasons but did not play his junior season as the Christian Dawkins scenario surrounded and engulfed a number of collegiate basketball programs and their NCAA eligibility. After Hernandez agreed to a deal in which he would be required to sit out his entire junior season as well as 40 percent of his senior season, he opted to turn pro.Pascal Siakam will be the cornerstone of the franchise moving forward after signing a four-year, $130 million extension less than a week before the start of the 2019-20 season. The Raptors are clearly confident in the 25-year-old’s talent and believe his game will grow as he hits his prime.VanVleet, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are set to become unrestricted free agents after this season, but they should still be productive pieces.Outside of returning players, the Raptors got younger; all acquisitions this offseason are 25 years old or younger. The team signed Stanley Johnson (23), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24), Cameron Payne (25), Isaiah Taylor (25), Devin Robinson (24), and added undrafted players Oshae Brissett (21), Sagaba Konate (22), Terrence Davis (22) and Matt Thomas (25).Why the Raptors will still be a contender in the EastThere is a list of reasons why Toronto has a strong chance to stay competitive, and it starts with the key pieces they retained. Lowry, VanVleet, Siakam, Ibaka and Gasol all played major roles in the 2019 playoffs, and that experience should go a long way.The Eastern Conference is weaker than the Western once again. The Raptors should find themselves in the playoff bracket, and once you’re there, you have a legitimate chance. Unfortunately, the Bucks and 76ers are simply more talented on paper. The Raptors will need players to step up, but as previously stated, they have a solid squadron of youngsters with real potential.Another big factor in the Raptors’ favor is the fact that they now know what it takes to make a deep playoff run. However, it is unknown who will step up to fill the massive void left by Leonard.Season 8… 10.18.19Open Gym presented by @Bell pic.twitter.com/svacI3f5sg— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 16, 2019Probably the No. 1 reason Raptors fans are hopeful is their team’s 17-5 record without Leonard in the lineup last season. In fact, Toronto had a higher winning percentage without Leonard than with him last season (.773 compared to .683).While it’s true that numbers don’t lie, context is important, and that leads us to why the Raptors will not reach that same level of success.Why the Raptors won’t be a contender in the EastThe Raptors won the title at the perfect time, but they will not be able to repeat as champions.They lost their superstar. That’s why a repeat is not happening, period. True, the team went 17-5 without Leonard last season, but those games were strategically picked against lower-caliber teams in an effort to rest Leonard for a championship run — and it worked. But in this era of the NBA, a team often needs multiple All-Stars in order to win it all. The Warriors won multiple Finals with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. The 2016 Cavs took down the Warriors with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.Lowry, VanVleet, Green, Siakam and Gasol were solid, but they aren’t as strong as other supporting casts. “Superteams” are the new norm. Durant pairing with Irving in Brooklyn and James recruiting Anthony Davis to the Lakers further proves that you need multiple top-notch competitors to win in this league. Just look at Leonard himself persuading Paul George to ask for a way out of Oklahoma City.According to Sportsbook Review, Toronto is in the middle of the pack with the 12th-best odds to win the NBA Finals this season. Adding insult to injury, the favorite is… the Clippers. With all of Canada behind them, the Raptors brought home their first-ever NBA championship in 2019. It was a magical run that ended with the Raptors holding the Larry O’Brien trophy in the last game played at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.Celebrations don’t last forever, of course. The ball will go up on Oct. 22 to kick off the 2019-20 regular season. The Raptors once again have the same goal as every other team: hoist that trophy.last_img read more

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Weigh-ing in — Australian Ute freshman wants to contribute now

first_imgYou’d think the fact that Stephen Weigh came out of Australia and the same Institute of Sport program that produced former Ute basketball star Andrew Bogut would have made it a slam dunk for him to come to play for Utah.Not quite.The 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward weighed offers from New Mexico, Pepperdine and Saint Mary’s before deciding on Utah nearly a year ago during the early signing period.It came down to Utah and Saint Mary’s before Weigh chose Utah because of “more opportunities, better facilities and great people,” along with the fact that basketball is a much bigger deal here than it is in Moraga, Calif.Weigh said Bogut called and e-mailed him a few times to encourage him but was very honest with him, which he appreciated.Bogut discouraged him from going to New Mexico but didn’t paint a totally rosy picture of Utah.”He told me all the bad points about Utah, but that was good so I could better prepare myself,” Weigh said. “But on the whole, he was positive.”So after about two months in Utah, what does Weigh think about his decision?”It’s been excellent,” he said. “It only took me a week to adjust.”Weigh had the advantage of living away from home for two and a half years during his high school years when he went from northern Australia to the south to train at the Australia Institute of Sport, the country’s junior national team development program.He said he learned things like how to wash his clothes and also organizational skills both on and off the court. So when it came time to leave for the United States in August, he was hardly fazed.He also said “the boys made it real easy,” referring to his Ute teammates. “They’re a great bunch of guys,” he said.Some have called Weigh the second-best basketball player to come out of the Australian Institute of Sport behind Bogut. Weigh twice played on championship teams and last year was the MVP of the under-20 league.Ute coach Ray Giacoletti calls Weigh “versatile, athletic and well-schooled” in basketball.”He can shoot it or put it on the floor,” Giacoletti said. “He has a good feel for the game.”When asked about his strengths, Weigh said, “I’d like to say I’m a good outside shooter … versatile … a tall guy.”Weigh would like to start in his freshman year, and he is the leading candidate to take over the starting small forward spot vacated by Bryant Markson.”I don’t want to take a backwards stance,” he said. “I want to come in and contribute any way I can whether it’s getting steals, playing defense or getting rebounds. Hopefully, I can work my way into the starting lineup.”Weigh is also optimistic about the Utes’ chances this year. “I don’t want to wait,” he said. “A lot of people are telling us we’ll be good in two or three years time. But I want to be really good this year.” Weigh file Name: Stephen WeighClass: FreshmanPosition: G/FHeight: 6-6Weight: 220Hometown: Rockhampton, AustraliaFast fact: Played basketball for the Australia Institute of Sport, which also produced No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Bogut. E-mail: sor@desnews.comlast_img read more

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Jazz enjoy luxury of relaxing, waiting

first_img Related After defeating Golden State on Tuesday night at EnergySolutions Arena, the Utah Jazz can take at least one day off and relax a bit while Phoenix and San Antonio beat each other up in the other Western Conference semifinal.By knocking off the Warriors in five games, the Jazz earned their first trip to the Western Conference finals since 1998, the year they lost to Chicago in the Finals. Now the Jazz may get as much as a week off before they play again.With the Suns and Spurs locked in a 2-2 series that could very well go seven games and end Sunday in Phoenix, the Jazz may not play until Tuesday. If one of the two teams wins two straight, then the conference finals would begin Sunday on the road for the Jazz.”I don’t really care (who we play), we’re just going to take the day off tomorrow and watch the game and see who’s going to come out from the other (matchup),” said Mehmet Okur, who had a quiet double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. “It feels great right now — I think we earned it and we deserve it. Everybody stepped up and did a great job.””We have no preference,” added Derek Fisher, who came up huge for the Jazz with 21 points, including four 3-pointers. “They’re two of the best teams in the NBA. We believe we’re a good team right now.”Dee Brown, who played in his first game since injuring his neck last week when Okur fell on him, scored two points in nine minutes. He is excited to be moving on.”It’s great — all year long a lot of people doubted us, but coach (Jerry Sloan) said we could be a very good team and here we are,” Brown said.Of course no one is saying who they want to play, but you’d have to think that Phoenix would be preferred.Not only are the Suns an easier matchup for the Jazz, during the regular season, the Jazz defeated the Suns three times, including twice in Phoenix. Their only loss came during the final week of the season when the Suns blew them out at EnergySolutions Arena.However, the Jazz split with the Spurs, winning two at home and losing both in San Antonio. And the fact that the Jazz have lost 16 straight to the Spurs in San Antonio makes that a daunting task with no homecourt advantage.But for now the Jazz don’t want to think about that possibility. “We’re going to celebrate right now and worry about the rest of the stuff later,” said Carlos Boozer. The Closers: Jazz keep cool, eliminate Golden State in 5 gamescenter_img E-mail: sor@desnews.comlast_img read more

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