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Lakers rip Sixers without Bryant

Los Angeles – The young Los Angeles Lakers are eventually going to have to learn how to play well as a team minus Kobe Bryant once he retires at the end of this season. They had an opportunity Friday night to gauge themselves as a group and as individuals without him on the floor. And it was veteran Lou Williams, who led the way. Williams scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter against his former club and Jordan Clarkson added 19, leading Los Angeles to a 93-84 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers, who were coming off a 112-104 victory at Boston on Wednesday night, have won consecutive games for the first time since a three-game stretch last February against Boston, Utah and Milwaukee. “We're starting to play off each …

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Saludar loses title bid

Behind on all three scorecards, Japanese champion Kosei Tanaka picked himself up from a fifth-round knockdown to knock out Filipino challenger Vic Saludar in the sixth stanza and retain his World Boxing Organization minimumweight crown late Thursday in Nagoya. A vicious left to the ribcage sent Saludar down and writhing in pain, leaving referee Mike Ortega of the US with no other choice but to put a halt to the scheduled 12-rounder upon reaching the ten-count at the 2:15 mark. Saludar, 25, floored Tanaka, 20, with a right straight in the fifth frame and appeared ready to take full control. At the time of the stoppage, Saludar was ahead on the scores of the three judges: 50-44 and 49-45 (twice). But Tanaka, who raised his record to 6-0 with three KOs, gamely fought back …

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Well-rested Amit seeks pool success

Two-time world champion Rubilen Amit hopes the month-long respite will rejuvenate her as she goes back to training this week. Amit, who won the Women’s World 10-Ball crown in 2009 and 2013, said her focus for the next few months would be keeping in top shape before participating in a series of elite tournaments in the middle of the year. “Wala pa kasi kaming formal calendar of tournaments na sasalihan for now, so naka-focus muna ako ngayon sa training,” said the 34-year-old Amit. While her schedule has yet to be finalized, Amit is aiming to compete in the Amway 9-Ball Open, China Open and the World 9-Ball Championship. Last year, Amit finished second to Lin Yuan-Chun of China in the Amway 9-Ball Open and made the Round of 32 of the World 9-Ball tilt. The …

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SMB coach wary of Lee’s return

News that Rain or Shine is back at full strength with the return of star point guard Paul Lee may have tilted a little the crown on the head of the defending champion San Miguel Beermen. When their best-of-7 semifinal series in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup starts on Jan. 5, not only will SMB has to deal with veteran starter Gabe Norwood, much improved slasher Jericho Cruz, backup point guard Chris Tiu and hard-driving rookie Maverick Ahanmisi, but also with the guy who used to do it all for the Elasto Painters before hurting his knee early in the conference. And this has given SMB coach Leo Austria added reason to pause. “Noong wala pa nga si Paul Lee e nagpapapanalo na sila, ngayon pa kayang babalik na siya?” Austria said …

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Globalport’s deep bench worries Aces

Alaska mentor Alex Compton said his team will not just contend with Globalport’s dynamic backcourt tandem of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle but also with two other players who are capable of doing damage to his team’s title aspirations.  “I think people miss out on and forget how good Joseph and J-Wash are,” said Compton, referring to veteran Joseph Yeo and Jay Washington, who joined Globalport prior to the start of the season. “I think Globalport has four legitimate stars, and then they’re surrounded by excellent role players who are doing their jobs very well,” added Compton. Aside from Yeo and Washington, the team is likely to get solid support from veterans Billy Mamaril, Doug Kramer, Dorian Pena and Rico Maierhofer, who were all acquired from trades. They join holdovers in third-year forward Keith …

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Pacquiao faces tougher Bradley in rubber match

If Manny Pacquiao struggled to score an emphatic win over Tim Bradley the first two times they fought, the Filipino star may likely find it even more difficult in their rubber match on April 9. Since losing the rematch in 2014, Bradley has made a dramatic transformation from a light hitter to a heavy-handed puncher. Top Rank chief Bob Arum, with one eye on the gate receipts, tries to put Bradley in a different light, a boxer who is very much improved from the guy Pacquiao fought years back. “He’s a lot better now,” said Arum, who is staging the world welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Arum was among those stunned by Bradley’s one-punch knockout of Brandon Rios, the wild-swinging and iron-chinned Mexican-American whom Pacquiao had trouble putting away …

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Top 10 Stories of 2015

(Second of two parts) No. 6 – COLLEGE CHAMPIONS When the NCAA season began, Letran was not even a blimp on the radar. The pundits were talking mostly about San Beda’s six-peat quest. But when the so-called smoke of battle cleared, it was the Knights who were on top of the world, beating San Beda in a deciding third game that many say will go down as one of the most thrilling NCAA finals ever. Powered by small but terrible Mark Cruz and gutsy forward Kevin Racal and shooter Rey Nambatac, the Knights tamed the Red Lions, 85-82, in overtime to clinch their first title in 10 years. Letran’s celebration, however, was short lived. True, it won the title, but the school lost its coach Aldin Ayo, who many credited as the man chiefly responsible …

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Sharapova meets Makarova

Brisbane, Australia – Maria Sharapova will open her Australian campaign with a match against Ekaterina Makarova following Friday's draw for the Brisbane International. Defending champion and third seed Sharapova will play world number 23 Makarova in a rematch from last year's Australian Open semi-final. “This was a grand slam semi-final last year in Australia,” five-time grand slam champion Sharapova told reporters. “For a first match, it's a pretty high-quality match against a pretty tough opponent.” World number four Sharapova, 28, who beat Ana Ivanovic in last year's Brisbane final, leads Makarova 6-0 in their past meetings. World number two and top seed Simona Halep has drawn a bye for her opening round but could face two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

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Curry-less Warriors slip past Rockets

Houston — Soon after Draymond Green posted his NBA-leading fifth triple-double he was asked whether Stephen Curry should worry that he was trying to steal his job as point guard while the NBA MVP is out with a leg injury. “I don’t think Steph Curry got to worry about too much of nothing,” Green said, laughing. Klay Thompson scored 38 points, Green had a career-high 16 assists and added 10 points and 11 rebounds and the Golden State Warriors overcame Curry's absence to beat the Houston Rockets 114-110 on Thursday night. “I just tried to step up and make plays,” Green said. “One thing we talked about was kind of trying to slow the pace of the game down and executing our offense.” Golden State was blown out by Dallas on Wednesday night for …

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