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Gracias, Manu

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Tim Duncan is the greatest Spur, followed by David Robinson and George Gervin.

But most beloved? One could make a strong case that honor belongs to one Emanuel David Ginobili, whose flamboyance, intensity, humility and Latin American roots earned him a level of affection in San Antonio that no other player could match.

That appreciation was on full display Thursday at the AT&T Center, where the Spurs’ 116-110 victory over the Cavaliers was merely an appetizer for the main event: The retirement of Ginobili’s No. 20.

“He was unlike any other basketball player we had ever seen,” former teammate Sean Elliott said during the ceremony. “He was a magician who stole your breath away.”

In the case of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, that often meant literally.

“I never cursed before I met him,” Popovich joked before the game, remembering the ill-advised passes and out-of-control drives to nowhere that inspired fits of rage.

But there were many more moments of brilliance, providing creativity and unpredictability to a defensive-minded Spurs team that, despite its excellence, sorely needed both.

“Without Manu,” Popovich said, “there were no championships (in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014).”

Said Duncan, “It was all genius. You saw things before anyone else did. You did things nobody else would.”

Ginobili’s cult status in San Antonio is matched by outright deification in his native Argentina, which he led to Olympic gold in 2004 during a national career that covered nearly two decades.

Add it all up, and you have one of the most unique careers in basketball, which ended with Ginobili matching Bill Bradley as the only players in hoops history to win European, Olympic and NBA championships.

Not bad for a kid who grew up on the other side of the world, loving the NBA but never imagining he would be good enough to get that far, let alone be great.

“It was not even a second thought,” Ginobili said. “Not one Argentinian in history had made it to the NBA. So why was it going to be me? There was no way me or anyone that was near me could ever envision a career like this.

“The game gave me so much, I am in debt forever.”

So are we. Gracias, Manu.

 

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Manny Pacquiao wants to prove ‘not all 40 year olds are finished’ by beating Keith Thurman

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Manny Pacquiao has said he’ll be doing it for all the 40 year olds when he goes to war with Keith Thurman in Las Vegas on July 20.

The Filipino boxing icon is an eight-time division world champion but will be the underdog for the first time since his 2015 fight against Floyd Mayweather when he challenges for Thurman’s WBA super welterweight belt.

Trading verbal jabs with the 30-year-old Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) in an appearance on Fox’s Inside PBC Boxing, which aired on Monday night, Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) said being the underdog gives him more motivation, however.

“Every time that I get negative [things said] against me it gives me more to focus on and work hard for,” he said. “The mindset of fans or boxing analysts, when you get to the age of 40 you become lazy or like that and your career is over.

“This is the time I want to prove not all 40-year-olds are over, their careers finished. Exercise is my favorite, besides boxing, I always exercise, I play basketball four hours a day. I keep in shape all the time.”

Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach and his strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune have said “Pacman” is  getting “p***** off” at Thurman’s trash talk in the build-up to their fight.

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Manny Pacquiao defeats Adrien Broner via unanimous decision

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Well that went as expected. In his first fight on U.S. soil since 2016, and his first fight as a 40-year-old, Manny Pacquiao cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Adrien Broner at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to retain his secondary WBA welterweight title. Using aggression and quickness, Pacquiao outclassed the reticent Broner, who sat back in an attempt to counter, but threw hardly any punches, and landed even fewer.

In the ring after the bout, Pacquiao said he was willing to fight Floyd Mayweather, who was sitting ringside for the fight, and chatted with Pacquiao in his locker room before the bout. “Tell him to come back to the ring, and we will fight,” Pacquiao said. “I’m willing to fight again to Floyd Mayweather if he’s willing to come back in boxing.” Mayweather, however, declined to respond.

In the early rounds, Pacquiao came out firing, charging at Broner again and again with jabs and flurries to the body. Pacquiao snapped out over 70 jabs in the first three rounds, cruising to easy wins as he avoided Broner’s rare attempts at counters. The man from Cincinnati they call “The Problem” bounced back in the fourth round, landing his best shots of the fight on the counter, but he just couldn’t land consistently.

Pacquiao surged in the middle rounds, landing a big left to the body in the fifth round, then taking over in the seventh. He rocked Broner on multiple occasions, and had him in trouble against the ropes, but wasn’t able to get him out of there. Then in the ninth, Pacquiao found success again with his left hand, crushing Broner with a stiff shot right to his face.

From there, he cruised through the final few rounds, as Broner got on his bike. Perhaps he was just too hurt from the constant punishment Pacquiao was dealing out, or maybe he truly believed he won the bout. He certainly said as much in the ring afterwards.

“I beat him,” Broner proclaimed to loud jeers from the crowd. “Everybody out there know I beat him. I controlled the fight. He was missing. I hit him more times. I beat him.” Broner did not, in fact, hit Pacquiao more times; the Filipino champion outlanded him 112-50.

Outclassed in the fight, Broner ate one more sharp jab to end his frustrating night. This time, though, it came from Jim Gray. “I’m 3-3-1 in my last seven, but I’d be 7-0 against you,” Broner snapped.

“Well,” Gray responded. “That wouldn’t mean much.”

Pacquiao vs. Broner card, results

Manny Pacquiao (c) def. Adrien Broner via unanimous decision (117-111, 116-112, 116-112)
Marcus Browne (c) def. Badou Jack via unanimous decision (117-110, 116-111, 119-108)
Nordine Oubaali (c) def. Rau’shee Warren via unanimous decision (115-113, 116-112, 117-111)
Hugo Ruiz def. Alberto Guevara via unanimous decision (100-89, 99-90, 99-90)

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Countdown to SEA Games 2019 starts

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CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines — Traffic stood still for hours in the cities of Angeles and Mabalacat as the countdown for the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) 2019 was launched here on Friday night with the unveiling of the SEA Games logo and clock at the Bayanihan Park.

“The activation of this countdown clock represents our optimism for a future that is full of promises. It symbolizes the common aspirations of our Southeast Asian family for a stronger regional community that is bound by friendship, camaraderie, cooperation, and teamwork,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in his speech.

The next 365 days will be challenging for the Philippines, the Malacañang official said, as the nation prepares to host the biggest sports event in the region.

“We are confident that the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee with the help of the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee will hurdle all obstacles along the way,” Medialdea said.

Medialdea said the Philippines’ hosting of the event comes at a time when the government has embarked on an ambitious infrastructure development program. Read more…

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