Category Archives: Sports

Warriors-Cavs: It’s 3-1…Again

Warriors-Cavs

The Cavs avoided the dreaded broom and prevented the Warriors from celebrating a historic sweet 16-0 Playoffs sweep.

The Warriors’ flirtation with a perfect Playoffs record ended. However, despite losing Game 4, the faithful citizens of Dub Nation are not worried believing that the 2017 NBA Larry O’Brien trophy is still heading to the San Francisco Bay area. They may be right for it would take a super human effort to win 4 straight games against their “juggernaut” of a team.

It may seem a tall order to recover from a 0-3 hole to make a series a little more competitive but it has been done in the past. NBA records show that there were 9 teams that forced a Game 6 after losing the first three games and 3 forced a game 7.


It would take a super human effort for the Cavs to win 4 straight games against the “juggernaut” Warriors. They had that kind of effort in Game 4 clinching them a win. But still the “Hydra” from San Francisco Bay is up 3-1. Do the Cav’s “Hercules” (Lebron) still have what it takes to slay the many-headed monster? The Cavs indeed face a herculean task of clawing back from a 1-3 hole. They did it last year. Would they be able to do it again this year? They cut one of the Hydra’s head (Curry) last year. But cut one head and two heads would emerge from the fresh wound. It happened. Curry’s back playing healthy and with him sprang the Hydra’s additional head, Durant!

All roads lead to the Oracle, not of Delphi, but the arena in San Franciso on Monday night! Let’s see who the basketball gods favor this time.


The New York Knicks snared 3 consecutive wins after losing the first 3 games of the 1951 NBA Finals to push the Rochester Royals to a deciding Game 7. The Knicks lost the deciding game though, something that the Warriors could hope would happen should the Cavs, again, succeed in bringing the series to a winner-take-it-all finale.

The Warriors and their legion of hopefuls are counting on the fact the no NBA team has brought home the championship trophy after going down 0-3. But the Cavs and their throng of believers are certainly not looking at the picture anymore as rising from a 0-3 grave but climbing a 1-3 mountain. And there was a team who succeeded in scaling that mountain to become NBA champions…the Cavs themselves.

Déjà vu? Not exactly.

Just like last year, after four games, the Warriors are up 3-1. Then, horrendously, they  dropped the next 3.

Will history repeat itself?

Nobody knows.

However, the circumstances (which favor the Warriors) are much different this year. Now the Warriors have a Kevin Durant and a healthier Stephen Curry. These are the reasons that made basketball experts believe that it’s almost impossible for the Cavs to recover from either a 0-3 or a 1-3 deficit.

But, again, nobody knows what would happen. With Lebron finally getting ample support from Irving and Love, the Cavs are harder to beat. It’s worth noticing that when Smith finally got out of his scoring slump, they almost won in Game 3. Smith again came out to play in Game 4 scoring 5 threes and Tristan Thompson, finally, played the way he was expected to contributing 10 boards and 5 points. Finally, the Cavs won. Not only that Lebron’s teammates started contributing, but the Cavs are also finally shooting better from downtown.

Analysts of the game are unanimous in saying that the Warriors need to need to win Game 5 to end the series. If not, the possibility of a playing a game 7 is strong. Then, it can be anybody’s ballgame.

A Championship Too Hard To Forget

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How do I love the game of basketball? Let me the count the ways.

I love it to the point that I can’t recall a day when I didn’t open NBA.com, PBA (Philippine Basketball Association), and other websites related to basketball in order to watch games, keep track of the standings of my favorite teams and the performance of my favorite players. I also follow college basketball both in the US and in my country.

What about this… I’m managing a team in Yahoo Fantasy Basketball.

I also enjoy playing  hoops and coaching/training a basketball team. I don’t have very fond memories as a basketball player though. I have always been a benchwarmer who would be called to play only when somebody needs to rest for a minute or two or when my team needs to send to the foul line a poor free throw shooter from the opposing team.

However, my being a basketball coach-trainer is a different story…a colorful one.

Aside from teaching and writing, another thing that I do passionately is coaching a basketball team. I have coached basketball teams for school and inter-school competitions. I was also once a manager and coach of a basketball team in the barrio (a geographical unit smaller than a town ) where I am residing in the Philippines.

Some of the teams I coached reached championship rounds. There were times we ended up as runner-ups but of course there were times also that we emerged as champions.

What I consider as the most memorable of all the basketball championships in my collection is the one my team won during a sportsfest (in the college where I worked) 16 years ago. That time I coached students taking the course Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM).

It was a championship so hard to forget because it was too good to be true.

It was indeed an epic struggle!

I actually wrote an article about that championship run. It was published in the publication of that school. I decided to reprint the said article which I entitled “No Championship Could Be Sweeter.”

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Neither to brag about nor to magnify the championship in men’s basketball which the BLUE team collared during the Sportsfest 2000 inspired me to write about it. No need to brag for bragging is a moronic attitude. No need to magnify it either for winning the basketball men crown in the fashion the HRM team did it was in itself huge that need not be magnified. Writing about it is simply my way of giving tribute to the players who immortalized themselves in the memory of those who watched (as well as those who heard) how they bravely persevered in winning three (3) games in a span of 6 hours en route to winning the title.

(August 23, 2000)

The BLUE team was undoubtedly laden with talent making them one of the pre-tournament favorites. The team had 2 good point guards, a shooting guard/forward capable of shooting the lights out from beyond the arch, a lanky dependable center, and a formidable go-to guy who can play point-forward. Predictions had it that they will vie for the championship.

But predictions can go either way…right or wrong.

The BLUE team’s lofty billing (and their morale) were sent crashing back to earth when the BLACK team (Com Sci – Oct), the defending champion seeking to “three-peat” and composed mainly of the members of the school’s basketball varsity, dealt them an ego-bruising trashing.

All the hype about the BLUE team were gone. Just that and they were no longer regarded as title contenders. Suddenly, the BLACK team had no more competition to being the darling of the tournament and the sole favorite to win the crown.

While the BLACKS developed a cloak of invisibility, the BLUES, with their defeat right on their first gamet, began to doubt their capabilities.

(August 24, 2000)

Such a doubt in themselves became very apparent when in their second game on the second day of the tournament, despite the fact that they had a relatively light assignment (against the GRAY team), they held only a 2-point lead at the half.

Before that game, I talked to the players, pointed out the mistakes which led to their eventual defeat to the BLACKS on their first game and asked them to avoid committing the same. We were literally on a cliff’s edge for the tournament format provides that 2 losses would boot a team out of the competition.

Somehow they responded. They made a conscious effort to avoid their loopholes in game 1 but the problem during the first half of game 2 was their lack of enthusiasm. They played a lackluster brand of basketball which was giving their opponents confidence. So, during the huddle when the second half was about to start, I started cursing and swearing and even called my key players names. I told them that they would become a shameful bunch of idiots should they lose the game.

Cursing and swearing and calling my players names come dead last in my repertoire of motivational methods. I was forced to use them for it was my intention to offend them, make them angry, and push them to prove to all and sundry that they are not imbecilic basketeers.

It worked!

For the first few minutes of the second half my players played like men possessed in both ends of the floor. While they scored an avalanche of points their counterparts struggled and had to bleed for theirs. At the end, the BLUES emerged victorious with plenty to spare.

(August 25, 2000)

The third game was very meaningful and integral. Not because we won over a formidable opponent (the GREEN team); not because I finally discovered the team’s best offensive and defensive combinations; and not because the players got their confidence back burying in oblivion the ghosts of game 1. It was meaningful and integral for what one of my players did (not in the playing court but before the start of the game). When I granted him permission to talk he reminded me about one missing ingredient to make the team stronger…PRAYERS. He asked if we could pray before the game. He put me in an awkward position because I’ve never done that. Yes I believe in God and I pray but I do it privately. I don’t know if it was his way of telling me that instead of cursing and swearing to motivate the players why not try praying to God instead. Praying before playing wouldn’t do the team any harm. So, from then on, we would always have a short prayer in one corner of the tournament venue before entering the playing court.

For our second win, we claimed the scalps of the GREENS and faced the tall order of defeating the WHITES for the right to square off against the BLACKS (who enjoyed a twice-to-beat advantage) for the championship.

That night was almost a sleepless one for me. I pondered about the bleak prospects that await my team the following day. We had to beat the WHITES once the BLACKS twice so we could hoist the championship hardware.

Winning three games in a row was a tall order. Honestly, I doubted our chances. Defeating the equally-determined WHITES in the do-or-die game and the seemingly invincible BLACKS twice all in the same day was “mission impossible.” I believed it was probable for us to win the first two games. But when the third game comes, it would take super-human efforts from my players to win.

(August 26, 2000)

I was so disappointed upon seeing that morning that of my 14 players only 7 showed. To make matters worse, one of my two good point guards, was one of those who did not come. I used to play both my point guards together during the 1st 5 minutes of the game and one of them not showing up affected my rotation. But we were at the point of no return.

I told the players to employ a half-court offense in every possession unless there’s a clear fastbreak opportunity. Not that they can’t run but with only 7 players, and with the possibility of playing a total of three games that day, they needed to conserve energy.

Though I predicted a win for us, the WHITES we knew were tough nuts to crack. We watched the previous day how they gave the BLACKS a scare before losing by just two points. But as it turned out, my players were tougher. Despite playing with only 7 men in the rotation, the BLUES won and primed themselves for the daunting task of defeating the BLACK team twice for the crown.

Our team was given by the tournament officials just half an hour to rest before we began with the championship game. We prayed, as usual, before entering the playing court. Then one more of my players came, not the good point guard, but an additional pair of fresh legs just the same that somehow deepened a bit our rotation.

While the BLACKS were busy with their pre-game rituals, I asked my players to just shoot free throws and catch-and-shoot from the 3-point line to conserve their energy.

I reminded the players that they were up against the defending champion with most of the members playing together for the past three years and that they were trying to nail another championship to complete a “three-peat.” I told the BLUES that only them are capable of spoiling the BLACK’s impending victory party. The following were my words for them before the opening tip-off… “You have nothing to lose but everything to gain. We’ve gone this far. Let’s go a bit further.”

Once more I asked them to use the game plan we employed against the WHITES earlier that day.

When the final buzzer for that game sounded, the BLUES raised their hands in triumph.

By winning against their first-game tormentors, the blue team effectively exorcised the ghosts of that defeat shattering at the same time the BLACKS’ cloak of invisibility. That was the first time in three years that that team suffered a defeat. At that time both the BLUES and the BLACKS knew that the latter can be defeated.

The winner-take-all match was scheduled to be played at 1:00 PM giving both teams just one hour to rest. My players had a light meal and I bought for them energy drinks (Lipovitan). Then, we again prayed… harder… for we all knew that it would take a miracle and a miraculous performance from them to win a third straight game (twice) against the BLACKS who had more players and fresher legs.

My players were very tired having played twice in the morning that day. Fatigue was one of the two formidable opponents they needed to contend with that afternoon the second one being the strong and determined team BLACK aching to avenge their defeat and continue their winning tradition.

However, neither fatigue nor the strong determination of their opponents could prevent the BLUE team from realizing their victorious date with destiny.

The BLUES vanquished the BLACKS, crowned themselves the school’s Sportsfest 2000 Basketball-Men champions and handed me my first (and sweetest) championship as a coach.

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Thank you Niño, Hector, Ramon, Irish, Edward, Ruel, Rommel, Rowell, Arnold, Jaysan, Francis, Ivan, Angelo, Audie, and Sir Jyx. But remember…it was GOD who made it possible for us.

Finding Boxing’s GOAT

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The debate on who is boxing’s GOAT, the GREATEST OF ALL TIME, rages on. The boxing world has no clear verdict on who really is TBE, THE BEST EVER.

Muhammad Ali claimed decades ago when he was on top of his game that he’s the greatest. Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who just recently equaled Rocky Marciano’s immaculate record of 49 and 0, disagreed and declared himself instead as the best ever. But the boxer whose record Mayweather tried to equal is seemingly left out in the discussion of who is the king of the boxing hill.

On top of the belt (medal or trophy), cash prizes and possible product endorsements winners earn the proverbial bragging rights. Some athletes, when they become so successful in their field, would unabashedly exercise that right to brag and put themselves loftily on a pedestal.

Perhaps, when Ali started losing and got tempered by his conversion to Islam, he may have wanted to retract his claim. Conversely, Pretty Boy, as he kept racking up the Ws and marched closer and closer to equaling Marciano’s win-loss record, made his claim of being the best ever more emphatic to the point of  taking jabs  not just at Ali but also at Sugar Ray Robinson who seemed to be getting the nod of most boxing experts in the discussion of who’s boxing’s alpha male.

When asked who he considers as the top-five best boxers, both present and past, the undefeated boxer  ranked himself as no. 1 and Ali just no. 5. Sugar Ray Robinson was not in the list. Neither was Rocky Marciano whose achievement he was then trying to equal. When finally he achieved the milestone after defeating Andrei Berto, he was asked during the post-fight interview if he believes he was the best ever, he, of course, said YES.

But is he? Is Floyd Mayweather, Jr. the best ever? Has his boxing’s resume and earnings pushed him past all the great legends of the squared arena? Has going undefeated and equaling Marciano’s 60-year old record enough for him to be proclaimed as the greatest boxer who ever lived?

Believers and supporters of the American pugilist would understandably say amen but his bashers and naysayers would resoundingly disagree.

There are differing opinions when discussing Pretty Boy’s position, and that of other boxers, in the pantheon of greatness. There are also different ways to tread in determining who among the boxers, both past and present, deserves the title “The Best Ever.”

What may be considered as the most objective method in measuring greatness in boxing is to go the way of numbers…statistical analysis.

In an article he wrote for ESPN, Igor Guryashkin made a comparative analysis of the ComputBox numbers churned by Pretty Boy and some notable boxers, past and present,  in order to find out how the American boxer compares against the greats of both the contemporary and bygone eras. The comparison made focused mainly on how subject boxers often hit their opponents and how often do they get hit in return.

The plus/minus comparisons done through CompuBox revealed that among his notable contemporaries in the welterweight and other divisions,  Floyd Jr. is the best with a plus-30 percent. Andre Ward comes in far second at plus-15 percent. Ranged against those of the greats of the past era, Mayweather’s numbers stand firmly on top of the hill. Joe Louis comes at second with plus-26 percent. But Floyd Jr.’s stranglehold in this statistical area is not complete because Louis and Lennox Lewis both had a slightly better connect percentage than him.

Guryashkin’s analysis was premised on the assumption that “the best boxers connect often and avoid being hit too frequently.” Such assumption made the scope of his analytics limited.

If numbers were to be used to determine who’s the greatest boxer of all time a formula that will include other significant stats in boxing must be created. Such may be comprised of, aside from the plus/minus comparisons, winning and knockout percentages, number of rounds needed to get a win, and how many years would a boxer stay (or had a boxer stayed) active to get those wins? Appropriate weights should be assigned to each category.

Winning crowns in different weight classes cannot be added because it will put the Heavyweights at a disadvantage. Mayweather, when he declared himself as TBE, cited among other reasons, his being a champion in 5 different weight divisions. Well, if this category will be added, Manny Pacquiao might be included in the discussion of who is boxing’s best having won championships in 8 different weight divisions.

Knockout and winning percentages would be given more weight than the hit-and-not-get-hit percentage because the desired end result is to win, if possible in the shortest possible time, not to connect often and avoid being hit too frequently. Winning by knockout will obviously get more points than winning by unanimous decision.

Pretty Boy’s knockout percentage stands at 53%. What about the two boxers who had better connect percentages than him?  Lennox Lewis’ is 20% better than Floyd’s at  73% but Joe Louis had 75%. However, Floyd Jr. won all his fights while Lewis and the Brown Bomber have, 3 and 2 losses, respectively. So, when the record of all these 3 boxers are computed, given all these numbers, who would end up with the best stats?

There are top-notch boxers who like Mayweather is undefeated at this point and has far better knockout percentages than him. Gennady Golovkin has won 33 straight bouts, 30 via the short route for a whooping knockout percentage of  91%. But Deontay Wilder’s record of 34 knockouts out of 35 fights (97%) is more astonishing. However,  Golovkin’s 16 and Wilder’s 14 fights away from equaling Floyd’s 49-0.. But the one silently lurking so close behind that record and has the tools to get to 49 wins also is Roman Gonzales who has won all his 43 fights so far and whose percentage of putting his opponents to sleep is 86%.

The boxer conspicuously missing in Gurhashkin’s discussion is Rocky Marciano, the boxer whose win-loss record Mayweather worked so hard to equal, the boxer who defeated Joe Louis who outpointed Mayweather in the connect percentage department.

What if all the statistics involving Marciano and Mayweather be compared? Who would come out the better boxer?

Yes, they both now have 49 wins and no losses but the disparity when it comes to knockout percentage is huge for the latter has put the lights out on 46 (86% percent) of his opponents 26 of whom did not get past round 3. While Pretty Boy bicycled his way to victories, Rocky bulldozed his.

So in the proposed formula to determine who is the best ever, they are equal when it comes to number of wins. However in the knockout percentage department it’s a no contest in favor of Rocky Marciano. Possibly,  Floyd Jr. may surpass Marciano’s win record (for it is hard to believe that he is really retiring) but would never come close to the latter’s KO record. The other area where Mayweather would pale in comparison is the number of years it took  them to record 49 wins. Marciano spent less than 9 years to achieve the feat while the boxer who claims to be the best ever took a month short of 19 years.

In comparing the two boxers, the main focus should only be on actual statistics and none of the intangibles. Earnings cannot be included because they fought in different eras where the popularity of the sports and the income it generates from advertisements, broadcasting and gate receipts greatly differ.

As to the fact that it seemed very rare that boxing fans and experts mention the name of Rocky Marciano in the discussion of who among the boxers is the GOAT is incomprehensible. Boxing experts dismiss Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 as not impressive because of the quality of his opposition, thus, they say, he could not be ranked among the greatest in the heavyweight division. Can Marciano be faulted for fighting in an era where there was dearth of talent? Or there were good ones then but not willing to test their mettle against him. Or was he too good that those who dared to exchange leathers with him looked puny?

But why is Mayweather getting too much respect and recognition even if he was accused of cherry-picking his opponents and fighting the good ones only when they were past their prime?

In this case, let “quality of opponents” be included in the analytics and let there be value added on whether opponents were in their prime or not when they squared off so finally we could settle the issue of who’s the best among the best boxers.

What else can be added?

Well, some argue that in finding boxing’s GOAT, the boxers’  affairs outside of the ring should be taken into consideration. Boxers and other athletes, are first and foremost, persons… members of humanity who need to conform to established norms of propriety and morality. So in weighing their value as athletes what they do as persons cannot be separated. The way they conduct affairs in their lives should be factored. If this will be done, Floyd will have difficulty claiming the throne of being the greatest for obvious reasons.

But the most definitive and objective way of finding boxing’s top dog is still by statistical analysis. Numbers cannot be disputed. Experts just need to agree on a specific formula, something similar to the NBA’s player’s efficiency rating (PRE).

As to Mayweather’s claim of being TBE (The Best Ever) it will always be refuted. Maybe TRE (The Richest Ever) will no longer be disputed.

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Reference used for boxers’ records: BoxRec.com

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