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TORONTO (AP):DeMar DeRozan matched his season high with 38 points and added 10 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors beat the Miami Heat 112-104 in overtime on Saturday night.Jonas Valanciunas added 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Kyle Lowry chipped in with 16 points for the Raptors, who secured the season series against the Heat for the second straight season, as well as a potential play-off tiebreaker should they finish with the same record.Joe Johnson had 28 points while Luol Deng added 20 for the Heat, which had Dwyane Wade on the sidelines with an injured thigh.Deng tied it at 97 on a three-pointer from the corner with 3.1 seconds remaining in regulation and DeRozan’s jumper before the buzzer went in and out.In overtime, the teams traded scores until five straight trips to the free throw line, four for DeRozan and one for Bismack Biyombo, allowed the Raptors to score seven unanswered points to take a 109-101 lead with 42 seconds to play.Johnson’s three-pointer closed the gap to six points, but a pair of free throws from Cory Joseph allowed Toronto to close out the game.Stephen Curry scored 15 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and the Golden State Warriors rallied from a nine-point deficit over the final 12 minutes to beat the Phoenix Suns 123-116.Curry, who spent most of the third quarter on the bench in foul trouble, made three of his seven three-pointers in the fourth, including two as part of an 18-8 run to close out the game.The NBA’s reigning MVP capped his night with a behind-the-back pass to Shaun Livingston for a layup that helped extend the Warriors’ record home winning streak to 48 games.Golden State (59-6) also stayed one game ahead of the pace of the 1995-96 Bulls, who set an NBA record with 72 wins.Kawhi Leonard scored 26 points and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 93-85 for their 41st straight home victory, the third-longest streak in NBA history.Only Golden State with their current 48 and the Chicago teams that won 44 straight in 1995-96 had longer streaks.LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points and Tim Duncan had 11 for San Antonio. Kevin Durant had 28 points for the Thunder.Jusuf Nurkic scored all of his season-high 17 points in the second half and the Denver Nuggets rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Washington Wizards 116-100.Gary Harris, D.J. Augustin and Darrell Arthur also scored 17 points and Will Barton finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for Denver. The Nuggets outscored Washington 41-17 in the final 12 minutes to win their fourth straight.John Wall had 19 points and 11 assists and Otto Porter scored 21 points for the Wizards.Elsewhere, the Milwaukee Bucks topped the New Orleans Pelicans 103-92, the Atlanta Hawks downed the Memphis Grizzlies 95-83, the Detroit Pistons used a big second half to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 125-111, and the Charlotte Hornets had a 125-109 win over the Houston Rockets.
DR Herb Elliott, a Jamaican former member of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Anti-doping Panel, has come out in staunch defence of the beleaguered organisation following the latest series of allegations of mishandling of doping matters. The IAAF announced yesterday that it had started disciplinary proceedings against 28 athletes who had returned adverse findings stemming from reanalysis of samples taken during the 2005 Helsinki and 2007 Osaka World Championships. The announcement came just over a week after British newspaper, The Sunday Times, and German broadcaster, ARD/WDR, published a report saying it had gained access to 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes with the results showing “the extraordinary extent of cheating by athletes at the world’s most prestigious events”. However, Elliott, who sat on the IAAF’s doping panel for 16 years, including during the period in question, suggested that many of the findings would be from African athletes and that the retests would prove nothing. “They will find nothing,” said Elliott. “They will find unusual blood types, but this doesn’t indicate that anybody was doping. They have been after the Kenyans for a while. They will try to go after the Ethiopians, too.” Elliott said that like many Caribbean people of African descent, many Africans carried sickle-cell trait, which could account for some of the unusual findings. “There are some technical details that came up, and we went to a lot of people who are haematologists. Many Africans, like Jamaicans, have sickle-cell trait. The blood pool in Africa is not as straight as the European one. You will find that there are problems. It doesn’t mean that they are doping it means you have haemoglobin that looks funny. You can say it looks funny, but to say they are doping, you have to prove that it’s doping.” Elliott added that the panel did not conduct tests themselves, but they agreed with the findings of the lab. “We agreed with it because of what we knew,” said Elliott. “The IAAF has been one of the most vigilant people in regards to doping and for dope-testing it has led the fight more than any other organisation,” he added. He also noted that Italians, a people of southern Europe, also had a blood condition which caused some of their blood tests to also show up unusual findings. The condition – thalassemia – is defined by the United States National Library of Medicine as “a blood disorder passed down through families (inherited) in which the body makes an abnormal form of haemoglobin.” It added that haemoglobin carries oxygen in the blood, while the “disorder results in large numbers of red blood cells being destroyed, which leads to anaemia”. “These things were released five years ago,” Elliott argued. “I don’t know why now they go and resurrect them.” On Monday, a group of athletes, led by German Olympic discus champ, Robert Harting, criticised the IAAF and accused it of betraying and damaging the sport. “Dear IAAF, we cannot trust you any more, you damaged our sport, we have to act now,” Harting said in a video. “The IAAF was surprised and extremely saddened by statements made by representatives of the London Marathon,” the IAAF said in response. “This statement manages to be both outrageous and insulting at the same time.” Incidentally, Harting withdrew from this month’s World Championships in Beijing yesterday, citing a knee ligament injury from which he had failed to fully recover. blood condition
DUBAI, UAE (CMC): Cricket’s world governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), launched its official women’s team rankings yesterday, with West Indies installed at number five in the table. The rankings will be based on a multi-format system, incorporating results from all three forms of the game. According to the ICC, Tests, one-day internationals (ODI) and Twenty20 (T20) will be treated equally, with rankings points available from every international game. Rankings will be based on results of the last three to four years, with the first two years being counted at only 50 per cent. Results between October 2012 and September last year have been also counted at 50 per cent, while results since October last year will be counted at 100 per cent. As expected, Australia top the rankings with 134 points, with England lying second on 124 points. New Zealand are third on 109, India fourth with 105, while the Windies are close behind on 99 points. The top eight are rounded out by sixth-placed South Africa (92), seventh-placed Pakistan (81), and Sri Lanka on 74 points. “The launch of ICC women’s team rankings is part of the ICC’s long-term commitment to investing, incentivising, promoting and publicising women’s cricket, which has already started to drive substantial increase in public interest and participation as well as a marked improvement in the standard of the international game,” the ICC said in a statement. West Indies will have a chance to improve their ranking when they face Pakistan in four ODIs and three T20s in St Lucia and Grenada later this month, and when they head to a South Africa for a similar series starting in late February. The regional side will face the Proteas in three ODIs from February 25-29 and in three T20s from March 4-9.
KINGSTON:Head coach of Excelsior High School’s track and field programme, David Riley, says the Digicel Grand Prix Athletics Championships helps schools with smaller athletics programmes to shine.Pointing to his own team which finished third among the girls teams and in the top five among the boys’ teams in the 2016 Grand Prix series, Riley said higher-quality athletes were able to earn valuable points from fewer events, compared to the annual Boys and Girls’ Championships, in which larger teams win by harnessing more points.Excelsior athletes who performed well at Saturday’s Grand Prix final at G.C. Foster College were Shanice Love, who won the girls’ Under-20 discus with a record throw of 50.39 metres; Andre Garvey, who was third in the boys’ Under-20 discus; Joel Morgan, who won the boys’ Under-16 long jump; Jonathan Smith, who was third in the Under-20 long jump; and Kaliah Jones, who was second in the girls’ Under-17 high jump.”It’s a great opportunity for the schools to go out there and not use 10,000 people to win a championship. It works for teams like ours that have quality athletes, but can’t score 200 and 300 points to win Champs, but because we have six good athletes [we] can go there and compete against the six athletes that are good for the other schools.”It’s a great opportunity for schools that are small and have good-quality athletes and not have to pad their performance. It great for small teams and great for teams with quality,” he said.Edwin Allen girls and St Jago boys were named Grand Prix champion schools.Riley added that the more sponsors that track and field is able to attract, the better.”The Grand Prix is a positive thing for the sport. The sport is part of an entertainment package that we have not really been exploring a lot, and anything that makes it big is going to help the sport,” he said.
Table Tennis Jamaica (TTJ) President Godfrey Lothian has made a call for greater support from corporate entities, following the country’s third-place finish in Division Three at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Perfect World Team Champion-ships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, recently, which also saw the Jamaicans jumping from Division Five to their current status in three years.In 2014, in Japan, the Jamaica team of Michael Hyatt, Kane Watson, Simon Tomlinson and Chris Marsh swept all before them to take the Division Five crown.Starting out at Division Four this time around, the Jamaicans won all their four group matches, before moving on to the quarter-finals where they defeated the United Arab Emirates 3-0.In the semi-finals, the Jamaicans lost to Pakistan.TOO HOT FORPANAMAHowever, the Caribbean team was too much for Panama in the bronze-medal match, as they beat the Central Americans 3-0 to claim third spot and a place in Division Three for the next championship.”In three years, we have moved up two divisions. We have moved from fifth to fourth to third [division], and that is unprecedented. So things are happening in table tennis, and we should be rewarded with some strong support,” Lothian commented.”We see that we can have success in the sport. This [sport] is not just for Asian and European countries. Countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular, Jamaica, can have success, but we need corporate Jamaica to see table tennis as a sport they can invest in.”They (corporate community) need to see it as a sport that can draw large support as it can be played any and everywhere. We also have a lot of new activities coming on board that we just want support for,” he continued.Lothian was also full of praise for the country’s representatives – Hyatt, Watson and Mark Phillips – who won the bronze at the championship, and noted that there were many more youngsters on the rise.”I am elated! This is great because success has been achieved, so we are overwhelmed,” beamed Lothian.”They (players) really did Jamaica proud. We have other youngsters coming up, so we have a face now of five, six players, so things are looking good for table tennis,” he added.
Courtesy of track and field athlete mentor and considerably more, Hugh Scott, Foster’s Fairplay was invited to support a fund-raising. The idea was to stir the pot on assistance for the Cameron Blazers Track Club. Those associated with the sport will recognise Scott, a Calabar Old Boy, as someone who works behind the scenes to give nurture and sustenance to a project in which he believes. Without his permission, this journalist will say no more. Suffice to add that, from personal experience, his passion and commitment have mushroomed to give recognition and reward, which have proven to be of inestimable value to young athletes. Cameron Blazers, the relatively new track and field learning institution, is founded and administered by 1983 Helsinki 400m World champion, Bertland Cameron. It was the inaugural staging of the prestigious event. Of those privileged to be listening to the BBC commentary, who can forget mention of “the boy from Spanish Town”, so described one is sure with no intention or desire to demean or disrespect. It was a moment of pride for Jamaica in an era where the ground work was just being laid for the multiple medal scenario that popped out at us, come Beijing 2008 and the (Usain) Bolt and Shelly (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce) factor. The following year came the Los Angeles Olympics. Expectations ran high. Cameron was at the top of the world in the 400m. In the semi-finals, he stormed out to settle a verbal and mental battle with the United States’ number two man, Antonio McKay, who was talking up a storm about his pending encounter with our boy Bert. Popular feeling is that the focus on the blabbermouth, McKay, led to that extra effort on the backstretch, result a pulled hamstring mid race and what should have been an end to his Olympics. Vividly recalled, is the shout coming from a friend and freight forwarder, Delroy, at whose home in Florida the race was being watched: “He is coming back for them!” Bert was fourth and qualified injury and all for the final two days later. The pain and disappointment of not being able to take his lane and repeat the previous year’s gold medal performance still lingers for some. They form the basis of the wish for him to put his imprint on an event where the world has witnessed and welcomed his immense talent as a performer. With all that history and the potent support in his corner, the former national record holder (44.50 at the 1988 Seoul Olympics) will have his challenges. He has had his comeuppance with detractors, which has been part of the politics of the sport. He is blessed to have in his camp a number of athletes who have already signalled their one-lap value on the global scene. TO THE NEXT LEVEL Coming to mind are Jermaine Gonzales, (national record holder from 2010 with 44.40); Javere Bell, national champion in 2013, 45.00); Jaheel Hyde, still a junior with a 400m hurdles personal best of 49.01 and reigning champion at that event and 110m hurdles at the World Junior Championships and Youth Olympics, respectively. There is also Rosemarie Whyte-Robinson, the 2008 national champion with a then career best of 50.05. Osaka World Championship 200m finalist, Marvin Anderson, now turned coach and administrator, will adapt to the crucial role as manager of the club’s talent. After a stint with the Racers Track Club, Bert is now steering his own ship. This must be the engine he needs to drive his own coaching future. Even with the tools he has already assembled, a lot more is required. There is a template of the ultimate in success established by his former employers, led by the inimitable Glen Mills and their counterparts down the road, in Stephen Francis’ MVP. They did not attain their current lofty perch without strong financial backing. Foster’s Fairplay reaches out to Corporate Jamaica and Cameron’s St Jago High School family, especially the super-active overseas-based chapters, to afford the platform that the Blazers need to move their effort to the next level. Jamaica has blazed the trail in this event, starting with the Helsinki Olympics quartet of Arthur Wint, Les Laing, Herb McKenley and George Rhoden in 1952. If anyone is capable of bringing the country back to that level, Bert Cameron surely can. – For Feedback: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronaldo wins UEFA Best Player in Europe award MONACO (AP): Cristiano Ronaldo has won UEFA’s award as the best player in Europe last season after helping Portugal to win the European Championship and having another stellar campaign for Real Madrid. Ronaldo, a favourite for a fourth world player of the year award, beat club teammate Gareth Bale of Wales and Atletico Madrid’s France star Antoine Griezmann. The vote, by journalists from UEFA’s 55-member countries, was announced at the Champions League draw yesterday. Ronaldo also received the award in 2014. Lionel Messi (twice), Andres Iniesta and Franck Ribery previously won the award, which was first presented in 2011. UEFA created the prize after the original European Footballer of the Year honour, known as the Ballon d’Or, merged with FIFA’s world player award. Barcelona sign goalkeeper Cillessen BARCELONA, Spain (AP): Barcelona have signed Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, clearing the way for Claudio Bravo to complete his move to Manchester City. Barcelona announced the transfers of both goalkeepers yesterday, signing Cillessen before finalising the sale of Bravo. The Spanish champions says Cillessen agreed to a five-year contract after securing his transfer from Dutch club Ajax for US$14.6 million plus a possible US$2.25 million in variables. Barcelona say they will receive US$20.3 million for Bravo, plus a possible US$2.25 million in variables, from City. The 33-year-old Bravo helped Barcelona win the Spanish league in his two seasons at the club. Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been Barcelona’s ‘keeper in the Champions League and Copa del Rey. It is expected he will now be their first-choice player in La Liga. Dilshan retiring from ODIs COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP): Sri Lanka allrounder Tillakaratne Dilshan will retire from one-day international cricket on Sunday, after the third match of the current series against Australia. Sri Lanka Cricket announced the decision yesterday. Cricket website espncricinfo.com says the 39-year-old Dilshan will retire from international cricket altogether after the second Twenty20 against Australia in Colombo on September 9. However, Sri Lanka Cricket’s chief executive officer Ashley de Silva said that Dilshan only informed them of retiring from one-day internationals. Dilshan, who has already retired from tests, made his ODI debut in 1999 against Zimbabwe. He went on to play 329 games, scoring 10,248 runs at an average of 39.26, with 22 centuries and 47 fifties. The off-spinner also has 106 ODI wickets. Dilshan has also played in 78 Twenty20 internationals, scoring 1,884 runs. Sri Lanka Cricket chief Thilanga Sumathipala said Sunday’s ODI in Dambulla will be dedicated to Dilshan.
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC : New West Indies head coach Stuart Law has underscored the value of the three-match one-day series against England starting here today, especially with the regional side already setting their sights on the 2019 World Cup.With only the top seven teams in ICC one-day rankings as of September 30 this year earning automaticqualification along with hosts England, West Indies currently lying ninth are in danger of missing out.”The main aim is to qualify for the next World Cup, so these one-day games are extremely important to us, so that’s our main focus really at this stage,” the Australian said ahead of the start of the series at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.”I know we have Pakistan coming for T20s, Tests and one-dayers as well, but the one-day series probably will take paramount importance.”I’m not going to focus on becoming number one in the world at this stage. I’m focusing on building a culture, building a work ethic in the dressing room that will put the little bricks in place so they can be the best they can be.”In their current position in the ODI rankings, West Indies would be forced to enter a 10-team qualifying tournament set for next year March, in order to secure one of the two non-automatic spots at the World Cup.Already, the regional side has seen their lowly ranking cost them dearly, missing out on a spot at this year’s Champions Trophy in England, as only the top-eight sides in the rankings qualified.Law said having experienced that setback, it was imperative the regional side poured all their energies into reaching the marquee ICC limited overs showpiece.”There always is [disappointment over failing to qualify]. It’s a great little tournament, the Champions Trophy the mini World Cup and to not be there probably isn’t where you want to be,” Law told reporters.West Indies’ immediate challenge will be facing a confident England, who are ranked fifth in the world and who have lost just three of their last 16 outings in ODIs.They boast a talented squad with the likes of captain Eoin Morgan Joe Root and all-rounder Ben Stokes, all expected to play key roles, but Law said West Indies would be looking to capitalise on their chances in the series.”They (England) areplaying an exciting brand of cricket. They go out there, they are carefree which can be extremely great to watch, but there are opportunities as well,” he pointed out.”They do offer opportunities the more aggressive you are, you can kind of not hit one clean enough and get caught. It’s going to be a great contest. That’s for sure.””We understand that England are a team that’s way up there and we’re looking to build a solid unit to go forward as well, so we’re looking forward toa good contest.”
Sports Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange says that Jamaicans should feel privileged to have seen sprint legend Usain Bolt compete.Grange was speaking at the launch of the JN Racers Grand Prix, and hailed Bolt for continually achieving excellence on behalf of the country. She described him as someone who is a superstar but also very humble, adding that he should be respected for succeeding every time he competed.”We have said it many times. He’s extraordinary, he’s wonderful, he’s funny, he’s truly amazing,” Grange said. “But I’m not sure that we quite understand yet what a privilege it is for us to live in the time of Usain Bolt. In a way, he has spoilt us – not only Jamaicans, but he has spoilt the entire world! He represents tremendous talent, hard work and he knows how to have fun.”STATUE THIS SUMMERGrange also reminded the audience that Bolt will be honoured at Statue Park at the National Stadium this summer with an eight-foot statue to be made by local sculptor Basil Watson.”We are on schedule to complete this statue by Independence and to have the mounting coincide with Bolt’s final World Championships in London,” Grange said. “It will be spoken about and studied by athletes for generations to come. I’m determined that Jamaica will do its part in memorialising and celebrating this once-in-a-lifetime athlete, and there are more things to come.”The minister said that although this is only the second staging of the meet, she is expecting it to be a “highly anticipated event”.”(This is) particularly because the country’s greatest athletics son – the world’s greatest athlete, Usain Bolt – will compete for us one last time on home soil. Is that so?” Grange said while jokingly suggesting to Bolt that she wants him to reconsider retirement.- R.P.