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Exclusive: NBA Draft: Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren tipped for top pick

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Jabari Smith

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Jabari Smith

FILE–Jabari Smith #10 of the Auburn Tiger. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP 

US college star Jabari Smith Jr. is strongly tipped to be chosen with the top pick by the Orlando Magic when the 2022 NBA Draft takes place on Thursday.

The 19-year-old Smith, who excelled for Auburn University’s Tigers this year during his only season as a college player, has emerged as the bookmaker’s favorite to be chosen first in Thursday’s annual scramble for the top collegiate talent.

The 6ft 10in power forward impressed for the Tigers in a college season that saw him average 16.9 points per game along with 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

Smith, whose father Jabari played four seasons in the NBA, is also a distant cousin of Kwame Brown, the No.1 pick in the 2001 draft.

Brown’s NBA career ought to be a cautionary tale for Smith and other hopefuls in the draft, where top picks often fail to live up to lofty expectations.

Brown, who ended his professional career with a scoring average of just 6.6 points per game, is routinely described as one of the “biggest busts” in NBA draft history.

Conversely, players chosen way down the pecking order on draft day often emerge as dominant MVP-caliber talent.

Denver’s Nikola Jokic, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the past two seasons, was chosen with the 41st pick in the draft in 2014, while Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, the back-to-back MVP in 2019 and 2020, was chosen 15th overall.

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There are strong grounds, however, for believing that Smith may have little difficulty living up to his expected top billing.

The teenager has a rare combination of size and shooting touch, with deadly accuracy from three-point range and an athleticism likely to make him a defensive asset for any team that ends up recruiting him.

Chet Holmgren #34 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs

FILE–Chet Holmgren #34 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP

Smith’s biggest rival for the No.1 pick is expected to be Gonzaga University’s Chet Holmgren, who stands an imposing 7ft tall.

The 20-year-old Bulldogs standout also offers a combination of elite ball-handling and footwork as well as being an expert shot-blocker. Holmgren averaged 14.1 points per game with 9.9 rebounds for Gonzaga.

If Orlando fail to pick Holmgren with the first choice, he is almost certain to go to the Oklahoma City Thunder with the second pick.

James Jones, an assistant coach with the US Team at last year’s Under-19 World Cup that Holmgren played in, describes him as a “Kevin Durant kind of player.”

“He has great instincts. He’s the kind of guy that can do multiple different things,” Jones told AFP.

“He’s not one kind of player, he can do a lot of different stuff, very versatile.

“As a kid, leader, hard worker, great person, very friendly, very outgoing, and very dedicated into becoming the best basketball player he can.”

“He’s a Kevin Durant kind of player in terms of his skill level, to be able to do some of those things. He’s obviously not Kevin Durant. But he has that skill, a similar skill set.”

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Other talent in the top echelon of the draft on Thursday includes Duke University’s Paolo Banchero, tipped to be taken by the Houston Rockets with the third pick.

Jaden Ivey, who averaged 17.3 points per game for Purdue, could also feature high in the draft, with the Sacramento Kings lurking as a possible destination for the 20-year-old.

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Exclusive: Galtier to end PSG´s rotation of Donnarumma and Navas – TalkOfNews.com

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Flamengo part company with former Poland boss Sousa

#Galtier #PSGs #rotation #Donnarumma #Navas

New Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier has pledged to end predecessor Mauricio Pochettino’s practice of rotating between goalkeepers Gianluigi Donnarumma and Keylor Navas. 

Galtier was announced as PSG’s new head coach on Tuesday, with the former Lille and Nice boss signing a two-year deal with the club.

The man who beat PSG to the Ligue 1 title when in charge of Lille during the 2020-21 season takes over a squad containing two world-class goalkeepers in Italy’s Euro 2020 hero Donnarumma and three-time Champions League winner Navas.

Pochettino used both goalkeepers often during his one full season in charge of the Parisian giants, with Navas making 26 appearances in all competitions and Donnarumma featuring 24 times.

Donnarumma managed one clean sheet more (nine) than Navas did (eight) despite making two appearances fewer, while the two goalkeepers posted similar save percentage figures (Navas saving 75.76 per cent of shots faced compared to the Italian’s 75.27 per cent).

Speaking at his unveiling, Galtier argued having a nominated first-choice shot stopper would provide greater clarity.

“I always work with a number one and a number two,” he said. 

“It’s easier for me and for them to know their position within the squad. I haven’t met them yet, but I will do it very quickly.”

PSG conceded 36 goals when winning Ligue 1 last season, the joint-fewest in the league alongside Galtier’s former club Nice, who registered one more clean sheet (14) than the champions.  

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Exclusive: Records tumble as Root leads insane run chase – TalkOfNews.com

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#Records #tumble #Root #leads #insane #run #chase

A pair of unbeaten fourth-innings centuries to Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow has led England to a record-breaking run chase in the fifth Test against India.

Root (142 not out) and Bairstow (114 not out) combined for an unbeaten 269-run stand as England chased down a total of 378 with just three wickets down to tie the five-match series at two games apiece.

Root and Bairstow’s unbeaten 269 was the fourth-highest in the fourth innings of a Test match and the second-highest unbeaten fourth-innings stand since Gordon Greenidge and Larry Gomes.

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In chasing down 378, England smashed its old record chase, the famous 359 it ran down against Australia in the 2019 Ashes when Ben Stokes single-handedly rescued a victory from the jaws of defeat at Headingley.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for India, who had looked poised to win the series for the majority of the Test. It was the first time India had failed to defend a total of over 350 in its Test history.

The chase was England’s fourth in excess of 250 in 2022, having run down totals of 279, 299 and 296 against New Zealand in a three-Test series last month.

All four chases have come since England appointed former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum as its Test coach after disastrous tours of Australia and the West Indies, with the team’s aggressive approach mirroring that of their Kiwi coach during his playing days.

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Bairstow was named the Player of the Match for his remarkable twin centuries, with the right-hander having scored 589 runs off 578 balls at an average of 196 in his last five Test innings.

“It’s about having the enjoyment factor, not afraid of failing, putting the pressure back on the opposition,” Bairstow said of the team’s fresh mindset under McCullum.

Kohli’s raucous celebration after big run out

“We’re going to lose games along the way, but the positive brand is fun to play.”

“It’s down to the players, making my job easier,” England’s Test skipper Stokes said.

“When you have clarity like we do in the dressing room it makes totals like that easier. 378 five weeks ago would have been scary, but it’s all good.

“We are trying to rewrite how Test cricket is being played, in England in particular.

“We know that we want to give new life to Test cricket, and the support that we’ve had has been incredible. We are bringing a new set of fans to Test cricket. We want to leave a mark.”

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Exclusive: PBA Player of Week Ato Ular continues solid showing for Blackwater – TalkOfNews.com

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Ato Ular Blackwater PBA

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Ato Ular Blackwater PBA

Blackwater rookie Ato Ular during a game against Terrafirma in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup. PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines–Blackwater’s early success in this PBA season is largely due to the steady play of its rookie Ato Ular.

Ular has been a huge revelation for the Bossing, who have won four out of their five games so far in the 2022 Philippine Cup.

A second-round pick, Ular may just be the biggest steal of the draft averaging 14.4 points on 57 percent shooting from the field and 7.2 rebounds.

He played his best game yet on Thursday, helping Blackwater stun Meralco, 90-89, delivering 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Ular also hit the game-tying basket with under a minute left that paved the way for Baser Amer’s last-second winner.

His performance certainly didn’t go unnoticed as he was named Cignal Play-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week.

“I already prepare hard every game. I always arrive on the court very early, shooting and working out. I always see to it that I’m ready,” Ular said in Filipino.

The 6-foot-4 forward out of Letran is the first rookie to receive Player of the Week honor this season.

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Ular edged TNT’s Mikey Williams, San Miguel Beer’s CJ Perez and other candidates for the weekly citation.

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