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Depth and unselfish nature carry Team USA

by admin   |   Posted on Monday, September 15th, 2014

Coach Mike Krzyewski (R) of the U.S. celebrates winning their Basketball World Cup final game against Serbia in Madrid September 14, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/SERGIO PEREZ

(Reuters) – A spate of late withdrawals, a serious injury to Paul George and several marquee names missing appeared to put Team USA under a cloud for the 2014 Basketball World Cup and for future international competition.

Instead, a group of sharp-shooting NBA regulars were unbeaten in Spain and produced a 129-92 victory over Serbia in the final to underline the depth the U.S. have at their disposal.

Stalwarts LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul were missing from the initial training camp, with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin bowing out late in the process before Indiana forward George broke his leg in training and could now miss the NBA season.

Instead, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson and Kenneth Faried, who along with dynamic guards Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving, were blended into a band of brothers by coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff.

Krzyzewski, however, did not see it as an onerous task to customise and then build a team for the competition.

“There’s always a different team,” he said of USA Basketball’s strategic plan to pick from an enlarged roster for international competitions.

“We had a different team in Beijing. We had 12 different players in Istanbul, we had five guys from the Olympics and five from the world championships in London.

“Here we have four guys who have been at least on one of the teams and the rest are new. That’s just what’s going to happen in our program.”

UNSELFISH NATURE

Bereft of iconic scorers, the team had to share the ball with Harden, the top U.S. scorer with an average of 14.2 points, the 18th best in the competition.

Thompson averaged 12.7, Faried 12.4 and Davis 12.3, while the backcourt of Irving and Curry contributed 12.1 and 10.7, respectively, for a well balanced, unselfish team that also shared minutes to stay fresh and aggressive.

The U.S. still averaged more than 104 points in an unbeaten 9-0 run to gold, topping the team scoring by more than 21 points per game.

Krzyzewski said they needed to be team focused given how competitive their opposition was – pointing to Olympic silver medallists Spain, who boasted NBA players Pau and Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Ricky Rubio yet did not make the semi-finals – to illustrate the point.

“We know how good everyone is,” he said after the final.

“I don’t think any gap has been widened. I don’t think there’s a gap.

“Spain is a magnificent team and it just takes one bad day, so what we’re trying to do is make sure we don’t have bad days.”

TUMULTUOUS RUN-UP

The team could have experienced bad days given their tumultuous run-up to the tournament, which had observers questioning the commitment of U.S. players to the World Cup, while even NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that to Americans, the Olympics were far more important.

“There’s no question that the Olympics has been historically a bigger event,” Silver told reporters before an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden before they left for Spain.

After the sickening injury to George, which led to Durant dropping out, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban railed about risks taken by NBA teams in supplying players for events where the proceeds are pocketed by international organizations.

Silver acknowledged the debate would be renewed at the next NBA owners’ meetings.

“I do anticipate that it’ll be a hot topic at the competition meeting and at the Board of Governors meeting, just because it always has been,” said Silver.

Silver said that while stakes were high for the league, so were the benefits to players and to growing the game globally.

Silver stressed it was a personal decision for players, who under the current agreement can choose to play so long as there is not an injury concern by his NBA team.

“They come out better young men as a result of having participated in these events,” asserted Silver.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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North Korea’s Kim Jong Un inspects new submarine, points out weapons systems

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Kim and officials looking around a submarine. Courtesy: Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected a newly built submarine and pointed out its tactical capabilities and weapons systems, North Korea’s official news agency KCNA said on Tuesday (July 23).

The submarine, which was built under Kim’s “special attention”, will be operational in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, KCNA said.

KCNA released still photographs of Kim looking around the submarine, but did not describe the kind of weapons systems the submarine contained or when the inspection took place.

Kim tasked defense and scientific officials accompanying him with achieving more strategic initiatives in submarine use, state media added. (REUTERS)

(Production: Minwoo Park)

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World’s longest electric vehicle trip ends in New Zealand

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Sunday, July 21st, 2019

Dutch adventurer Wiebe Wakker posing beside his vehicle the ‘Blue Bandit’, to celebrate the completion of his three-year drive across more than 30 countries in an electric vehicle. | Courtesy: Reuters

A Dutch sustainability advocate completed the longest ever journey in an electric vehicle in New Zealand on Friday (July 19) after a three-year drive that took him through more than 30 countries.

Wiebe Wakker set off from the Netherlands in March 2016 in his “Blue Bandit” to showcase the potential of sustainable transport, funded by donations from those following his trip on social media.

“So I wanted to do my bit to promote this technology and show that sustainability is a viable way of transport. So I wanted really to do something that really speaks to the imagination which is driving an electric car from Amsterdam to literally the other side of the world to show that it can be done,” he said.

The 101,000 kilometers (62,800 miles) trip took Wakker through Eastern Europe, Iran, India, Southeast Asia, before traveling around much of Australia and across to New Zealand.

Wakker gave regular updates on his blog and social media throughout the journey, detailing visiting Iran’s biggest car manufacturer in Tehran, a breakdown on the Indonesian island of Java and visits to Australia’s outback and world-famous Uluru.

The drive had relied on the support of strangers across the globe who offered the traveler food, a place to stay and the essential means to charge his car along the way. (REUTERS)

(Production: James Redmayne)

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South Koreans boycott Japanese brands and cancel trips as diplomatic row intensifies

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Angry South Korean consumers are taking action after Tokyo imposed curbs on exports to South Korea, promoting a widespread boycott of Japanese products and services, from beer to clothes and travel.

“We decided to cancel (the trip to Japan) because it went against our beliefs. I’m actually feeling relieved,” said Lee Sang-won, a 29-year-old designer, who canceled his Japan trip for a 130,000 won ($110.15) fee.

Screenshots of Japan trip cancellations are trending on social media. Lee and his friends, who have changed their holiday destination to Taiwan, ‘proudly’ presented their canceled ticket to Japan on his social media account.

“I believe it is very significant for South Korean citizens to show them (the Japanese government) their thoughts and actions. These boycotts are not about how much economic damage we can inflict, but about how we can raise their awareness,” said Lee, scheduling his trip to Taiwan with his friend.

Diplomatic tensions have been simmering again since a South Korean court last year ordered Japanese companies to compensate South Koreans who were forced to work during the war. Then on July 4, Japan restricted exports of high-tech materials to South Korea, denying the move was related to the compensation issue. Tokyo cited “inadequate management” of sensitive exports, with Japanese media reporting some items ended up in North Korea. Seoul has denied that.

Meanwhile, some local supermarkets pulled Japanese beers off the shelves, which was their way of taking a stance against Japan as a quickly worsening political and economic dispute between the two East Asian neighbors rekindles lingering animosity since Japan’s World War Two occupation of Korea.

“Of course we should (boycott Japanese products). There are so many good, tasty products, domestic and overseas alike, so why bother (consuming Japanese products) when we have this problem with Japan?” said a 55-year-old South Korean customer at a local market where he can’t find Japanese beers, said he has plenty of other options which can replace Japanese products.

Economists say the tech export curbs could shave 0.4% off South Korea’s gross domestic product this year. The boycott – if it proves to be more than just a brief burst of nationalistic fervor – could marginally add to that, unless consumers spend on something else.

“We are pleased to see this has turned consumers’ favor towards our pens,” said Park Seol, assistant manager at stationery maker Monami, whose online sales have risen five-fold since the curbs.

Japan’s Fast Retailing fashion brand Uniqlo, which sells clothes worth around 140 billion yen – 6.6% of its revenue – in 186 Korean stores, is also feeling the anger as its chief financial officer said last week there was a certain impact on sales. (REUTERS)

(Production: Daewoung Kim & Heejung Jung)

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