Australia, India share 1st-day honors at new test venue
Australia's Peter Handscomb bats during the second cricket test against
India in Perth, Australia, Friday, Dec. 14. (AP Photo/Trevor Collens)
Perth, Australia (AP) —
Australia and India shared the honors on Friday on the first day of the
second cricket test at Perth Stadium, the newest venue in test cricket.
The green-top pitch made it a
back-and-forth contest between bat and ball after the home side lost
their way following a 112-run opening stand between Marcus Harris (70)
and Aaron Finch (50).
Skipper Tim Paine, 16 not out, and
Pat Cummins, 11 not out, lifted Australia to 277-6 at stumps in 90 overs
after coming together at 251-6.
Four wickets fell in the afternoon,
and only a 84-run stand between Shaun Marsh (45) and Travis Head (58)
saved Australia from another batting collapse after they had won the
toss and decided to bat.
India, forced to play four fast
bowlers after offpsinner Ravichandran Ashwin was not able to play due to
a pre-match injury, overcame 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) heat to check
Australia’s progress with regular wickets.
Swing bowler Ishant Sharma took
2-35 before leaving the field with a suspected side strain after just
two overs with the second new ball.
In the absence of Ashwin, Hanuma
Vihari, in the side as a batsman having replaced an injured Rohit
Sharma, took 2-53 with his off-spin.
Head, who scored 72 runs in
Australia's first innings in their 31-run first-test loss in Adelaide
earlier this week, once again batted with a new-found confidence before
throwing his wicket away. Head slashed at a Sharma delivery and Mohammed
Shami at third man took an easy catch.
The Australian slide started when
Finch was trapped lbw by pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah following his second
half century in four test appearances.
Usman Khawaja (5) top-edged a cut
to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant off swing bowler Umesh Yadav.
Harris' innings ended when he edged
Vihari and Ajinkya Rahane took the catch as it bounced off Pant's
shoulder. Harris hit 10 fours in his 141-ball innings, playing only his
second test since his debut in the series opener in Adelaide.
Vihari had Marsh caught in the slip
by Rahane to break the Australian resistance, as Marsh and Head steered
the side to a big total.
Earlier, skipper Virat Kohli took a
brilliant catch to remove the dangerous Peter Handscomb for seven.
Kohli, who had just moved to second slip, flung to his right and grabbed
the ball as it flew past him.
"It was a screamer of a catch,"
said Vihari. "It was a crucial catch. We bowled with a lot of
discipline, and we're happy with the way we managed to restrict them."
Finch said the new pitch was
challenging as Australia negotiated variable bounce throughout the day.
"It will be an absolute grind for
both sides as the game progresses," Finch said. "They controlled the
game really well with good bowling and field placing."
The No. 1-ranked India have never
won a test series in Australia.
After 48 years and 44 tests, test
cricket shifted from the WACA ground to the nearby Perth Stadium, making
it Australia's 10th test cricket venue.
Canelo cannot afford slip in Garden bout against Fielding
this Oct. 17, 2018, file photo, boxers Canelo Alvarez, left, and Rocky
Fielding pose for photos at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP
New York (AP) — In an odd
way, there is more pressure on Canelo Alvarez when he fights Saturday
night against unheralded Rocky Fielding than there was in his two
matchups with Gennady Golovkin.
A loss to the WBA super
middleweight champion not only could taint his decision over Golovkin
this year, it could significantly muddle the future for the Mexican
Alvarez moves up from 160 pounds to
168 in search of a third division title, which would place him in
special company among his countrymen — only eight others have held three
division crowns. That's the quest at Madison Square Garden against
Fielding, a heavy underdog despite owning the belt.
"For me it is very big to enter
that select group of Mexicans who have become three-division world
champions," Alvarez said. "It is what is motivating me. It is very
important to enter into that list of very big fighters from Mexico ...
to enter history, that is what I want, to make history. Making history,
the door is almost open. So I am very motivated to win this fight."
As for moving up in weight but down
in class — no one is comparing England's Fielding (27-1, 15 knockouts)
to Golovkin — Alvarez insists there are no worries. He's not going to be
looking ahead to his 2019 schedule just yet.
"I never like to get overconfident,
whether I am the favorite or not," said Alvarez, who is 50-1-2, the only
defeat to Floyd Mayweather five years ago, when Alvarez wasn't quite
ready for such a master boxer. "To me it is not important who is
favored. For boxing, one punch can change everything; anything can
happen in the ring. I get my confidence in training for what I can do in
What he can do in the ring is punch
with power, defend with elan, attack quickly or stealthily. It's not
likely that Fielding, making his first title defense, has seen anything
like Canelo in the ring.
Fielding upset Tyron Zeuge in
Germany on July 14 with a fifth-round knockout. This is his shot at the
big time at age 31 — sure sounds like a Rocky story.
So while the only time he's seen a
sports event at the Garden was a Knicks game three years ago — Alvarez
also is making his MSG debut — Fielding isn't letting on if he has any
"You know, I went to Germany and no
one gave me a chance there," he said with a smile. "It's the same here.
No one gives me a chance here, but I've prepared well, I believe in
myself. I've come here as a champion."
Alvarez, 28, comes in as a much
more heralded champion. Some consider him the best in the business these
days, and he's got some impressive victories on his resume. In addition
to a win and draw over Golovkin, Alvarez has beaten Miguel Cotto, Amir
Khan, Erislandy Lara, Shane Mosley and Austin Trout. More than a few
observers question whether Fielding could handle any of them, let alone
But Alvarez is going from
middleweight to super middleweight, which can be dicey.
"That's the risk, to be moving up
in weight, to fight somebody who is used to fighting stronger fighters,
who is used to taking stronger punches," Alvarez said. "I know the
challenge, but I like the challenge, and I am happy for it."
Inevitably, Alvarez gets asked
about a third bout with Golovkin, considering how close their previous
two fights were, and the money and attention that would be there. He
doesn't exactly shrug when questioned about it, but it's clear Triple G
is not foremost on his mind.
"It is no secret we want to win
this fight and then come back to our division, 160 pounds," he said.
"But we can make combinations between 160 and 168. We will see what the
future has ... but I can guarantee we will go back to 160 pounds.
"We had two good fights ... maybe
in 2019 we can have a third fight. We'll see. Right now, I am 100
percent focused on Saturday. What I do know is I will fight in May and
September next year. What I will do is give great fights to the public."
NOTES: The main undercard fight of
Canada's David Lemieux against Tureano Johnson has been canceled after
Lemieux was hospitalized with dehydration issues while trying to make
A former middleweight champion,
Lemieux always has struggled to make the 160-pound limit. But he was in
line for a possible fight with Alvarez if he fought impressively on
Saturday. In his last fight, he knocked out Gary O'Sullivan in the first
round on the Alvarez-Golovkin card in September.
Svindal claims record-extending 7th victory in Val Gardena
Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal competes during an alpine ski, men's World
Cup super-G, in Val Gardena, Italy, Friday, Dec. 14. (AP Photo/Marco
Selva Di Val Gardena, Italy (AP)
— Aksel Lund Svindal hasn't felt this good in nearly three years,
even though he still has metal support pieces inside his surgically
repaired left thumb.
The Norwegian veteran extended his
record to seven career victories in Val Gardena on Friday by narrowly
edging Italian rival Christof Innerhofer to win a World Cup super-G.
"This is best that I've been since
that crash in Kitzbuehel," Svindal said, referring to when his right
knee suffered permanent damage in a spectacular fall in the Austrian
resort in January 2016.
"Last year I was a little bit
stressed because I was not doing very good. I did good in the races
(Svindal won gold in the downhill at the Pyeongchang Olympics) but I
didn't feel so good," he said. "This year it's just way better than it
was last year. To get a full summer where you can do full training
without any surgery, the body miraculously heals itself a little bit
Not that there haven't been more
setbacks. Like when Svindal injured his thumb during a recent training
crash, forcing him to tape the ski pole to his glove. It means he can't
push of out of the starting gate as much as he would like.
"It's much better," Svindal said.
"It's completely stiff because there's metal in it but it's not so
swollen anymore. So today the start was fine. There will be surgery
sometime in January to take out the metal."
In sub-freezing conditions, Svindal
finished 0.05 seconds ahead of Innerhofer and 0.27 in front of Norwegian
teammate Kjetil Jansrud.
The 35-year-old Svindal has now won
five super-Gs and two downhills on the Saslong course and he can add to
his record by defending his downhill title on Saturday.
Svindal recalled how when he first
raced in Val Gardena in 2002 his legs were "really, really tired in the
"So it's nice to see the
progression through the years that even though I'm an old guy I'm
physically better than I was 16 years ago," he said.
It was Svindal's first win of the
season and the 36th of his World Cup career, tying him with retired
Austrian racer Benny Raich for seventh place on the all-time list.
"When I started on the World Cup,
Raich was one of the favorites," Svindal said. "It's cool."
The victory moved Svindal to the
top of both the overall World Cup standings and the super-G standings.
In the overall, Svindal leads
seven-time defending champion Marcel Hirscher by 17 points. Hirscher, a
technical specialist who did not enter the race, will be expected to
reclaim the lead during a stretch of five giant slalom and slalom events
over a seven-day span beginning on Sunday in Alta Badia.
In the super-G standings, Svindal
moved 19 points ahead of Jansrud.
Competing in his home region,
Innerhofer's run prompted large cheers but Svindal came down seven
racers later and quieted the crowd.
"It was amazing to cross the finish
line and see all the people cheering for me," Innerhofer said. "Without
seeing the time I knew i did well. ... I'm happy with my second place."
Svindal trailed Innerhofer by
almost a full tenth of a second at the final checkpoint but the big
Norwegian found more speed on the steep, finishing turns. With a
velocity of 115.3 kph (72 mph), Svindal was significantly faster than
Innerhofer at the last speed reading.
Johan Clarey of France posted an
impressive fourth-place finish with the No. 50 bib and Aleksander Aamodt
Kilde placed fifth to make it three Norwegians in the top five and four
in the top 10 with Adrian Smiseth Sejersted eighth.
Olympic super-G champion Matthias
Mayer of Austria finished seventh.
American skier Steven Nyman, who
was 26th, will be among the favorites in Saturday's downhill on the
Saslong, a race that he has won three times — along with Svindal.
Titmus sets world record in short-course 400 freestyle
Gold medalist and new world record holder Australia's Ariarne
Titmus, right, hugs USA's Leah Smith after the women's 400m freestyle at
14th FINA World Swimming Championships in Hangzhou, China Friday, Dec.
14. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
(AP) — Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus broke a second world record
in three days, winning gold in the women's 400-meter freestyle at the
world short-course swimming championships.
The 18-year-old Titmus finished in
a time of 3 minutes, 53.92 seconds on Friday.
The previous world record-holder,
China's Wang Jianjiahe, took silver with a time of 3:54.56. Another
Chinese swimmer, Li Bingjie, finished third in 3:57.99.
Wang set the previous mark of
3:53.97 at a World Cup meet in Budapest in October.
Titmus broke the 200-meter
freestyle short course world record on Wednesday.
Rivers leads Chargers to last-second comeback win over KC
Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) attempts a touchdown
against Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Eric Berry during the first
half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Dec. 13. (AP
Kansas City, Mo. (AP) —
Arrowhead Stadium was already emptying by the time Chargers quarterback
Philip Rivers jogged to the locker room, triumphantly waving his hand as
a satisfying cascade of boos washed over him.
He had finally beaten the Kansas
It sounded perfect.
Rivers led Los Angeles on a
feverish fourth-quarter comeback Thursday night, capped by a debatable
pass-interference call, a tense video review of the last touchdown and
the gutsy decision to try a 2-point conversion. And for the first time
in years against Kansas City, everything turned out perfectly for Rivers
and the Chargers in a 29-28 victory that clinched their playoff spot.
"This was big. Here or at home,
whatever," Rivers said, "we needed to beat these guys."
The Chargers (11-3) trailed 28-14
when Justin Jackson's touchdown run with 3:49 to go gave them a chance.
They quickly got the ball back from Patrick Mahomes and the NFL's
highest-scoring offense, and Rivers led a tense final drive that
included a fourth-down dart to Travis Benjamin to keep it alive.
That crucial penalty on Kendall
Fuller in the back of the end zone gave the Chargers the ball at the 1,
and Rivers found Mike Williams along the sideline on the next play. And
when his TD catch with 4 seconds left was confirmed, coach Anthony Lynn
sent his offense back onto the field.
Williams hauled in the conversion
to end five years' worth of frustration.
"We didn't come here to tie. We
came here to win. So to me it was a no-brainer," said Lynn, whose team
became the first since Minnesota in Week 15 of the 2002 season to win
with a 2-point conversion in the final 10 seconds of regulation.
The comeback allowed Los Angeles to
forge a first-place tie in the AFC West, though the Chiefs (11-3) hold
the tiebreaker with a better division record. More satisfying was the
simple fact that Rivers and the Chargers had finally snapped their
nine-game losing streak against Kansas City.
They hadn't beaten the Chiefs since
2013, the last year they made the playoffs.
"Oh, it's satisfying," Benjamin
said. "We talked about it. We knew it had been a couple years and we
wanted to go into this game and change that and we did."
Rivers threw for 313 yards and two
touchdowns with two interceptions, and Williams had seven catches for 76
yards and two scores while adding another on the ground. Jackson ran for
58 yards and a touchdown in place of the injured Melvin Gordon and
Mahomes was held to just 243 yards
and two touchdowns for Kansas City, and his inability to pick up a first
down in the closing minutes proved costly. The Chiefs forced the
Chargers to burn two timeouts on their last drive, but Mahomes was
sacked by Isaac Rochell and Kansas City had to punt.
The Chiefs never got the ball back
"They found a way to win and we
didn't," Mahomes said. "You have to find a way in this league."
Hyped by the return of star safety
Eric Berry, it looked for a while as if the Chiefs would simply resume
their vexation of Rivers at Arrowhead. Steven Nelson leaped to snag a
jump ball for a pick on the second play of the game, and Rivers tossed
another just before halftime.
Mahomes and Co. took advantage of
their early momentum.
Kansas City breezed downfield after
Nelson's interception, and the young MVP candidate threw a dart to
Demarcus Robinson — while in the grasp of Chargers safety Adrian
Phillips — for a 7-0 lead.
Then after a punt, Darrel Williams
took a screen pass for his first career touchdown.
The Chargers finally reached the
end zone in the second quarter, when Mike Williams caught a short TD
pass. But it came moments after wide receiver Keenan Allen hurt his hip
while trying to make a leaping grab in the corner of the end zone — he
briefly returned before sitting out the rest of the game.
Mike Williams continued to pick up
the slack the rest of the game.
After the Chiefs pushed their lead
to 21-7 on Damien Williams' touchdown run, the Chargers' big, rangy wide
receiver answered with a 19-yard end-around for a score. And when then
Chiefs went on another methodical scoring drive to take a 28-14 lead
with just over 8 minutes left in the game, Mike Williams helped to lead
the Chargers to an answering touchdown to stay in the game.
He made two more big catches in the
final seconds to put them over the top.
"Everybody needed to come together
and make plays," Mike Williams said, "and that's what we did.
TONY G'S AWARD
The Chiefs added TE Tony Gonzalez
to their Hall of Fame at halftime. The six-time All-Pro played his first
12 seasons with the Chiefs before finishing his career in Atlanta. His
name was unveiled next to that of WR Carlos Carson on the ring of honor
inside Arrowhead Stadium.
Gordon (knee) tried to warmup
before telling Lynn he couldn't play, joining Ekeler (concussion) on
their inactive list. The Chiefs were missing RB Spencer Ware (hamstring)
and WR Sammy Watkins (foot).
Chargers: Allen received treatment
on the sideline after nearly making his spectacular TD catch, and he
returned briefly before slowly walking off. He left for the locker room
and did not return.
Chargers: Return home for a
prime-time game against the Ravens on Dec. 22.
Chiefs: Visit the Seahawks for
another prime-time game Dec. 23.
Wilder and Fury step up in heavyweight title fight
In this Oct. 2, 2018 file photo Tyson Fury, left, and Deontay
Wilder face off during a news conference in New York. (AP Photo/Mary
Los Angeles (AP) - Just how
well Deontay Wilder's heavyweight title defense Saturday night against
Tyson Fury in Los Angeles will do at the box office is a question mark.
For all the power in his right hand, Wilder is still trying to build his
brand and Fury is largely an enigma in the U.S.
What it means for boxing's most
prestigious division, though, is easy to quantify.
The winner gets a glittering
championship belt, of course, that signifies he is the baddest man on
the planet — at least in the parts of the planet that currently
recognize Wilder as the reigning heavyweight champion. And that's still
a big deal because even though the heavyweight division hasn't been good
in recent times, it's brimming with talent right now.
But the real prize will likely come
sometime next year, assuming common sense prevails as it often doesn't
in boxing. That means a fight matching the Wilder-Fury winner with
Anthony Joshua, the British puncher who currently holds the other parts
of the title, in a pay-per-view fight that would do massive numbers.
The best fighting the best, like
the heavyweights of another era used to do all the time. And no better
way to start it off then with an intriguing showdown at Staples Center
between two undefeated fighters who both have their eye on a bigger
"The most important thing is that
we all fight each other and give the boxing fans of our era something to
talk about," Fury said. "It would be a crying shame to not fight each
other and all get in the mix. Who's the best, we'll all find out when we
all fight each other."
Wilder will be defending the WBC
version of the title he holds against Fury in a fight no one was really
talking about until it was made. That includes Wilder, who has
campaigned hard for a unification fight with Joshua, even offering him a
$50 million purse at one point to try to get it done.
But Joshua has his own timetable,
and with the fan base of an entire country behind him in England, he has
the luxury of picking and choosing just who he fights and when.
So, when he ignored Wilder, the
American went looking elsewhere — and found a willing dance partner in
Fury, who stakes a claim of his own to the heavyweight title after
beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.
"I feel whoever wins this can call
themselves the best heavyweight champion in the world," Wilder said.
"Let's face it, we don't have to keep going over this over and over
again about Anthony Joshua. They had their opportunity, they had their
Indeed, there should be no reason
to talk much about Joshua this week. Wilder and Fury deserve to be
center stage, if for nothing else than because both are willing to fight
Wilder is a legitimate heavyweight
champion, a 6-foot-7 former Olympic medalist who hasn't lost in 40
fights and possesses freaky power in his right hand. He won't win any
points for a boxing style that can be charitably described as awkward,
but he has knocked out all but one of his opponents — including Luis
Ortiz, the powerful former Cuban he flattened his last time out in
Fury, meanwhile, is even bigger at
6-foot-9, boxes like a middleweight, and has won all 27 of his fights.
But he stepped away from the ring after beating Klitschko for the title
and ballooned to nearly 400 pounds while binging on beer and cocaine. He
said he was in a deep depression that has now lifted, but will be
fighting for only the second time in his comeback.
Oddsmakers make Wilder the 9-5
favorite, but there are legitimate questions about both men that still
have to be answered. By the time they're finished with 12 rounds or less
the heavyweight picture should be in clearer focus and the winner should
have a clear path to Joshua.
This is boxing, of course, so
anything can happen. But it would be hard for Joshua to keep claiming
he's the best if he doesn't fight the best.
In the meantime, boxing fans will
have to be content seeing just two who might just be the best.
IOC President Bach lavishes praise on suspended Sheikh Ahmad
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach delivers a
speech during the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC)
general assembly in Tokyo Thursday, Nov. 29. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Tokyo (AP) — Sheikh Ahmad al
Fahad al Sabah, who has stepped away temporarily from the presidency of
an Olympic umbrella group to fight a criminal court case in Switzerland,
was praised by IOC President Thomas Bach on Thursday.
"We have said, first of all, that
we respect the decision he took under his own will and we recognize that
this decision, his decision, was taken in the interests of all of us,"
Bach told 1,400 delegates of the Association of National Olympic
The Kuwaiti sheikh last week also
suspended himself from his 26-year membership in the International
Olympic Committee in order to fight the corruption case.
He has said he's innocent and says
the case is "politically motivated."
ANOC senior vice president Robin
Mitchell will serve as the acting president. Mitchell said he had no
idea how long that would be for.
Sheikh Ahmad is accused by Geneva
public prosecutors of forgery in an alleged faked arbitration case
involving four others.
"We hope we can see him back here
very soon after his case is solved," Bach told delegates, who applauded
Many credit Sheikh Ahmad with
swinging votes to get Bach elected in 2013.
Bach also lectured the delegates
about the need for good governance: "Maybe you don't want to hear it
anymore. But I will not get tired of repeating it with regard to good
governance: What affects one of us affects all of us."
The IOC has been hit with
embarrassing corruption cases. Sheikh Ahmad is the third IOC member
recently to be suspended — or self-suspended. A fourth, honorary member
Carlos Nuzman who headed the 2016 Olympics, is also suspended.
NBA making a 'long-term play' in Africa
this Aug. 4, 2018 file photo, Team Africa's Joel Embiid throws balls to
fans during the NBA Africa Game between Team Africa and Team World, at
the Sun Arena in Pretoria, South Africa. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Saly, Senegal (AP) — Timothy
Ighoefe is an intimidating defender at 6-foot-11 and 245 pounds. Still,
the Nigerian knows he must improve if his decision to play basketball
instead of soccer is going to pay off and take him to the NBA.
The 18-year-old Ighoefe has
committed to play for Patrick Ewing at Georgetown University next
season, only three years after switching to basketball in his hometown
"I need to work on my speed,
running down the floor baseline to baseline," Ighoefe said this week at
the unveiling of a new training facility at the NBA's African academy in
Senegal. "My left hand, I need to improve, to finish with my left hand."
In other words, there's potential
but it's a work in progress — just like Africa itself for the NBA.
"It's a continent with over a
billion people, with a fast-growing economy, fast-growing young urban
population. That's a good recipe for the NBA long term," said NBA deputy
commissioner Mark Tatum, also in Senegal for the training facility
The NBA has big plans for Africa.
An office was established eight years ago in South Africa. There's an
annual exhibition game featuring NBA stars.
Now, the NBA's top brass says
Africa is ready for more. Tatum said they're creating a pan-African
league that will involve existing professional clubs, and that NBA
pre-season and regular-season games will be held on the continent "in
the next couple of years."
Another step is the new training
center, built on the campus of a soccer academy in a coastal resort town
45 miles south of the Senegalese capital Dakar. Saly, a former
Portuguese trading post, is now a getaway spot for Dakar's upper class
and is home to many French people.
The two parquet courts were
imported from the United States. Simply being indoors and with air
conditioning probably makes it the best basketball facility in Senegal.
A fabric, tent-like covering is stitched together over steel trusses,
and repurposed shipping containers facing the courts are used for weight
The academy is one of seven around
the world, with three of them in China. It features fulltime schooling
and training. It can accommodate 24 boys selected from English- and
French-speaking African countries. The NBA holds camps for elite African
girls, but there's no center for them yet.
"All you have to do here is just
focus on basketball and school," Ighoefe said. "You don't have to be
worried about anything else. In Lagos, it's different. There are a lot
The teenage boys begin their days
with a light workout at 5:30 a.m. Then it's breakfast, school, lunch,
school, gym. They're coached by former NBA and NCAA players and have
traveled to Australia, Europe and the United States for tournaments.
Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA vice
president and managing director for Africa, said the NBA is building
from the grassroots, like the Jr. NBA programs expanding across the
"We are only scratching the
surface," said Fall, a Senegal native who founded the nearby SEED
Academy, which works closely with the NBA's African operation. "We are
empowering young people through basketball and in the process elite
talent is going come out and get into the NBA, and also feed other
leagues across the world, and our future league on the continent."
This season began with 13
African-born players on NBA rosters.
Tatum said details of the
pan-African league will be announced within months. It will involve
co-operation from FIBA and existing professional leagues, he said.
"We're trying to find a way to do
it quickly, to be able to work with some of those leagues, to work with
our partner FIBA, to get something up and running sooner rather than
later," Tatum said.
Africa lacks good infrastructure,
but Tatum cited the new Dakar Arena, as well as Rwanda's plan for a new
facility, as incentive for the NBA to bring games here. He called the
Dakar Arena a "world-class facility" but wouldn't confirm the Senegalese
sports minister's announcement moments earlier that it would host the
NBA exhibition game next year.
South Africa hosted the first three
NBA Africa exhibitions but West African countries like Senegal and
Nigeria appear more eager to embrace basketball.
Soccer is by far the most popular
sport in Africa. The likes of Liverpool and Barcelona boast fan clubs
all over the continent, and the European start times make it easier to
Ighoefe catches highlights of his
favorite player, Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, on the mornings
after games. He watches on YouTube and follows the Cameroonian star on
African kids can play soccer with
just a ball and any bit of space, even a street. But finding a
basketball court, even just a cement half-court and a rim, is hard.
Ibrahima Ndiaye, director of Flying
Star academy in Dakar, which has produced several NCAA Division 1
players, said the NBA can dramatically increase youth participation by
building courts — a lot of them.
"That's what is needed here in
Africa to develop basketball in all neighborhoods," Ndiaye said in a
phone interview. "We need more and more usable infrastructure. It's the
only way to increase the number of kids who practice."
China is a huge success for the
NBA, so it's often compared to the league's initiatives in Africa.
"We've been in China for 30 years,"
Tatum said, adding some perspective. "We opened up our office here on
the continent, in South Africa, only eight years ago."
Tatum said that figure of 13
African players on NBA starting rosters could double within a decade.
"For us," he said, "it's a
long-term investment and long-term play."
Norwegian, US skiers share tips for speed
Norway's Kjetil Jansrud skis down the course during a Men's World Cup
downhill skiing training run Wednesday, Nov. 28, in Beaver Creek, Colo. (AP
Beaver Creek, Colo. (AP) — The
Norwegians reveled in teammate Kjetil Jansrud's super-G win last weekend at
So did the Americans. Not to the same
extent, obviously — "they win a lot," downhiller Jared Goldberg cracked —
but Jansrud's speedy performance at least showed the U.S. men's squad
they're on the right track.
The two countries have become partners
in training the last few seasons. The Norwegians bring a wealth of
experience, knowledge and another level of seriousness to the hill. The
Americans add a top-level training facility, more coaches on the course to
relay information and a different level of playfulness.
In the end, the two nations speak
precisely the same language — speed.
"Having them around, it's awesome,"
said U.S. racer Travis Ganong, who finished 1.87 seconds behind the top time
turned in by Otmar Striedinger of Austria during a World Cup downhill
training session Wednesday. "Having the Norwegians on the hill elevates our
level. When we're training with our group, we joke around and have a lot of
fun. We're not always pushing that hard. It's nice to bring in the
Norwegians to help us push hard. Hopefully, it helps them, too, to have this
It definitely does. Especially early in
the season, when the Norwegians gain access to the U.S. ski team's speed
center at Copper Mountain, Colorado — a well-manicured 2-mile track where
they can cruise up to 80 mph. Along with it, U.S. coaches who can relay
"When we wanted to work with someone,
we wanted to work with the Americans," said Norwegian standout Aksel Lund
Svindal, who was third in training at Beaver Creek. "It tells you something
about the way they work — it's fairly similar to the way we work. It just
fits better together than some other teams."
Even on training days, Svindal, Jansrud
and the rest of the small but tight-knit Norwegian group treat everything
like a podium spot might be on the line.
"We have high standards of what we
bring to training as well as with energy," Jansrud said. "We go hard."
No exceptions. And break training
protocol — you will get warned.
"That's probably why the Americans
think we're a little (uptight), they see us calling each other out," said
Svindal, who's recovering from a left thumb injury that forces him to tape
the pole to his glove. "It's important to stick to the training program. If
you don't, you lower the standards."
This is an intensity the Americans are
taking to heart.
"The Norwegians take care of the tiny
details very well. Being surrounded by that, you pick up on that," American
Bryce Bennett said. "Not that their team is way better than ours or we're
way worse, but it's a good team to be paired with."
The American downhiller squad did a
very Norwegian-like thing this summer: A group of them got together for a
bonding session in Malibu, California. They were put through a series of
activities run by former Navy SEALs. One of the tasks was carrying logs over
their heads and up a sand hill, then locking arms as they waded into the
surf to get pummeled by waves. They did this over and over.
"They try to get us to feel
uncomfortable and be able to push past that uncomfortable state," Goldberg
said. "We got our butts kicked. But it was beneficial."
The collaboration with the Norwegians
could help the U.S. unlock more speed. The Americans are searching for their
first World Cup downhill victory since Ganong in January 2017.
Meanwhile, the Norwegians are
notoriously fast on the hill in any race: Svindal and Jansrud have a
combined 126 World Cup podium finishes and nine Olympic medals.
Keep up with them — along with
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde — on training days and it's a safe bet that it could
show up on race day.
That's the aim, anyway.
"I'm fast in training against those
guys, but World Cups are a different beast. It takes time to catch up,"
Goldberg said. "But you can work on your own stuff and say, 'OK, this is how
the best guy in the world would go over this terrain, I probably should
consider that way, too.' It eventually will lock into your skill-set more."
One word of caution: Don't try to be
like the Norwegians.
Learn, yes. Overhaul your style, no.
"Having the Norwegians around, it can
be highly beneficial and can be also confusing to some guys," American
Steven Nyman said. "We're skiing with Aksel. We're skiing with Kjetil. Their
accomplishments are so supreme. They've done so much. To learn from them is
super important. But don't change who you are."