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Jr. NBA reignites love of playing basketball – Sport360 News



Alin Constantin Photography.

The joy of playing competitive basketball once again has lit up the Jr. NBA experience for so many participants.

The landmark joint venture between the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) tipped off on March 5. It will pit more than 450 boys and girls aged 11-14 from Abu Dhabi schools against each other until May 21’s Finals.

This follows a lengthy spell where essential COVID-19 regulations disrupted youth leagues across the region. But the action has now moved into a third week at American Community School of Abu Dhabi and Mariam Eissa Al Khameeri, of New Orleans Pelicans/ADNOC Schools, was thrilled to be taking part.

“It’s such a great experience for us, it’s something new and we haven’t played since the pandemic, almost two years ago,” she said after last weekend’s 10-6 defeat to Dallas Mavericks/Al Ain Juniors School.

“It is something new and it doesn’t really matter if we lose or win, it’s just great.”

Winners – across 72 games, including play-offs – will gain the chance to watch October’s ground-breaking live NBA pre-season matches in the UAE capital. Scouts will also select one boy and one girl to experience the basketball education of a lifetime at the NBA’s summer camp in Europe.

One player who has shone already is Ahmad Awariani of Chicago Bulls/Cranleigh School. He gained the Player of the Match-honours when an 18-4 triumph was recorded versus Indiana Pacers/West Yas Academy.

He said: “I have been working so hard for this opportunity. I have been training every day to improve myself and enhance myself more in the Jr. NBA and I actually won the MVP.”

To keep up-to-date with events, head to Instagram and follow the verified @jrnbauae account. There you will find everything you need from match schedules, to results, action pictures and amazing videos showcasing the incredible talents on display.

Use the following hashtags to join the conversation: #JrNBA, #NBAinAbuDhabi and #JrNBALeague.

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Lightning exposing Panthers’ lack of playoff experience with series sweep in sight



It’s the National Hockey League’s regular-season champions versus the Stanley Cup champions, and it’s not even close. Playoff hockey wins every time.

After winning 58 games in the regular season, the Florida Panthers lost their third straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday and are another loss away from being swept by their less-skilled but more-capable rivals in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even after the mystifying Panthers’ power play finally manufactured its first playoff goal in the opening period, it was the Lightning’s penalty killing, as well as Tampa’s experience, guile and intensity, that was a key factor in a 5-1 victory in Game 3.

Game 4 is Monday evening in Tampa with puck drop at 7:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet.

Through three games and an aggregate score of 11-3, the Lightning have exposed the Panthers’ playoff inexperience and inability to match Tampa’s battle level.

“They’re Stanley Cup champions and the best team in hockey probably over the last five years, so they know what they’re doing and they are willing themselves,” Panthers coach Andrew Brunette said of the Lightning. “They have more will and more desire than we do. It shows probably, if you watch the game, shift after shift right now. We have to find a way. We need to dial it in deeper and harder and want it more.”

Later in his media conference, Brunette added: “They’ve just got a little more will. When there’s a loose puck, they’re kind of outbattling us. They want it a little bit more. They’re small margins, but they’re still margins. And small margins over a course of 60-minute game makes a little bit of a bigger margin. We have to find a way to be above the margins, not behind.”

But it’s already too late.

Teams that have trailed 3-0 in a seven-game series are 4-197 in NHL history. The Panthers have about a one-on-50 chance of surviving the Lightning, who are handling their opponent while dressing just 11 forwards because Brayden Point, possibly Tampa’s best player, has been injured since his team eliminated another playoff lightweight in the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

The NHL’s highest-scoring team in 26 years, the Panthers have managed just a single goal in each of this series’ first three games. The Lightning have blocked 59 shots, outscored Florida 4-1 on special teams and Tampa star Nikita Kucherov, after a four-point game on Sunday, has more points in this series (seven) than Panthers Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Claude Giroux, Sam Bennett and Aaron Ekblad combined.

The Lightning can earn some vital recovery time for Point and rest for themselves by winning Game 4 and earning a third straight trip to the Eastern Conference Final. They’re trying to become the first team since the early-1980s New York Islanders to win three straight Stanley Cups.

“We realize the challenge ahead,” Tampa captain Steven Stamkos said. “These guys are back against the wall. We’ve had this opportunity before and it’s the hardest (win) to get. So we understand that challenge, but we’ll be ready. We have an opportunity to do it in front of our home fans, feed off that. We know they’re going to give us their best effort, so we’ve got to match that and then some and just keep executing. I have confidence in this group that if we play the right way, good things are going to continue to happen.”


The Lightning were up 2-1 when Tampa’s Victor Hedman was penalized for interference at 6:37 of the second period. The Panther power play, which in the first period ended an unfathomable 0-for-25 playoff meltdown, had a chance to tie the game.

Instead, Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made four saves, his teammates blocked four other shots and, seconds after Hedman’s penalty expired, Tampa defenceman Ryan McDonagh made the play of the game by getting the shaft of his stick in front of Huberdeau’s shot when most of the net was open.

And less than two minutes later, Stamkos made it 3-1 on a one-timer off the rush at 10:23.

“Our group’s great about understanding situations within the game,” McDonagh said after a plus-four game in which he led the Lightning with 23:21 of ice time. “Big moment there, a big opportunity for them. We kill it off and. . . shortly after that we put the puck in the net. So huge swing there. I think our group on the PK as a whole wants to thrive on being difference-makers for us.”


Vasilevskiy, McDonagh and the penalty-killers got the glory, but no one should underestimate the world-class skill involved in Stamkos’ dagger to the Panther’s heart.

Hedman made a perfect stretch, bank pass to Kucherov, who took the puck effortlessly, then quickly relayed it across the Florida zone for a streaking Stamkos to one-time from his off-wing. All three elements were sublimely executed.

Stamkos said he was inspired by the penalty kill that preceded it.

“As a guy that, you know, doesn’t get out on the PK and watches those guys, I mean, it really is inspiring,” he said. “You watch those guys, they’re battling, they’re blocking shots, doing whatever it takes. Those aren’t easy minutes in a game. You see guys coming back to the bench just gassed, gasping for air, and then they’ve got to go right back out there.

“This group, it’s just. . . whatever guys are on the ice, we have full trust in that. Some of that comes with experience at this time of the year, some of that comes with going out and getting the right (guys) at the deadline and knowing the big roles that they’re going to play, and it’s just trusting in each other that you’re going to get the job done. And when you have trust in your teammates, that creates a lot of confidence and it just progresses and it snowballs and you usually get good results.”


The Lightning were lucky not to lose another forward when Brandon Hagel dangerously cross-checked Panther Eetu Luostarinen into the end boards at high speed late in the first period. Referees Dan O’Rourke and Frederick L’Ecuyer initially called a major penalty on Hagel but downgraded it to a minor upon a video review. It sure looked like a major penalty and potential game misconduct.

Despite hitting his head on the boards, Luostarinen finished the game.


Where is Aaron Ekblad? Florida’s frozen scorers are getting much of the blame for this series, but Ekblad, who was supposed to be in the Norris Trophy discussion this season, has been almost invisible beyond his share of culpability for Florida’s power-play problems.


Brunette: “We’re losing a little bit of our — which has been our strength of our team — a little bit of our resilience. Frustration has taken over passion, and we need to erase that.”

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“I did well but this is a team sport” – Manchester United superstar makes honest admission on his team’s underwhelming 2021-22 campaign



Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has expressed his thoughts on the Red Devils’ underwhelming 2021-22 season.

The Old Trafford outfit brought an end to their 2021-22 campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday. Ralf Rangnick’s side failed to find a breakthrough, while Wilfried Zaha scored the winner for the hosts.

The loss, however, did not prove to be costly for Manchester United as Brighton & Hove Albion beat West Ham United 3-1 at home. The Hammers’ defeat at the Amex Stadium saw the Red Devils remain sixth in the points table.

Manchester United have thus secured UEFA Europa League football for next season. Nevertheless, it has been an underwhelming season for the English giants, who failed to impress in any of the competitions they took part in.

Reflecting on the campaign, De Gea explained that he worked hard to help the Red Devils. However, the Spain international is aware that football is a team sport and his individual performances do not matter. He told MUTV:

“I’ve been working hard, to be honest, in the summer, to get here and show my level and help the team. I think I did well but this is a team sport, so it doesn’t matter what I did.”

De Gea: “The best thing that happened today is the season has finished.” [@ShamoonHafez]

De Gea will be hopeful that Erik ten Hag’s arrival will mark the beginning of a new era for the Old Trafford outfit. The Dutch tactician will replace Rangnick ahead of the 2022-23 season.

David de Gea was a bright spot for Manchester United in 2021-22

The Red Devils will be hopeful of returning to their best under Erik ten Hag next season. Meanwhile, David de Gea’s performances are one of the few positives they can take from the 2021-22 campaign.

De Gea made 46 appearances across all competitions for Manchester United. The goalkeeper kept 10 clean sheets during the process and played a key role in the club finishing sixth in the table.

De Gea: “The best thing that happened today is the season has finished.” [@ShamoonHafez]

Having impressed in goal for the Red Devils this term, De Gea is expected to remain their first-choice goalkeeper next season. Ten Hag is likely to make major changes to the squad, but the Spaniard’s place in the team will probably remain in tact.

Backup goalkeeper Dean Henderson, though, could be on his way out of Old Trafford this season as he seeks regular action. Newcastle United are said to be on the verge of completing the 25-year-old’s signing.

Edited by Dakir Mohammed Thanveer

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NRL NEWS: Herbie rejects Dolphins to stay a Bronco, Bird in contract standoff, Hynes shoots up Dally M ladder



English centre Herbie Farnworth is set to remain a Bronco in 2023 after becoming the latest in a long line of NRL talent to knock back a lucrative offer from the Dolphins.

The Broncos are likely to announce on Monday that the rising star has extended his tenure at the club for next season after Wayne Bennett’s new team tried to pry him away.

Farnworth, 23, has played 51 matches for Brisbane since his 2019 debut and has crossed for seven tries in 10 appearances this year as the club has rocketed into fifth spot on the ladder with a 7-4 record.

The Dolphins are desperate to land a big name for their foundation season after a string of near-misses, including Harry Grant, Kalyn Ponga, Jahrome Hughes, Brandon Smith and Reed Mahoney. 

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Bird keeps Dragons hanging on the line

Dragons star Jack Bird is still yet to put pen to paper on his new contract despite agreeing to terms on the new deal last month.

He accepted an offer reportedly worth around $1.1 million for the next two years with a “mutual option” between the club and player for the 2025 season.

Despite speculation that the Wests Tigers are still trying to get him to switch to Concord, the Dragons are confident Bird will finally ink the deal in the next couple of days.

An Illawarra junior, Bird won Dally M rookie of the year at Cronulla in 2015 where  was a key part of their premiership win the following season and also represented NSW in five Origins. 

A lucrative switch to Brisbane in 2018 was ruined by two serious knee injuries limiting him to just 17 matches over a three-year span before he returned to St George Illawarra last year. 

His form has been solid without being spectacular as he has switched between centre, the back row and five-eighth. 

(Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Hynes surges up Dally M standings

Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes is just one point off the lead in the race for the Dally M Medal after his star turn in Sunday’s 25-18 win over the Titans on the Gold Coast.

Hynes was awarded three votes from judge Gary Belcher to move into second spot on the leaderboard behind Panthers lock Isaah Yeo. Dragons skipper Ben Hunt polled two votes in their victory over the Warriors to also sit in equal second spot.

Injured Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen and Eels half Mitch Moses are one vote further adrift to round out the top five.

Dally M leaderboard

17: Isaah Yeo
16: Ben Hunt, Nicho Hynes
15: Ryan Papenhuyzen, Mitch Moses
13: Daly Cherry-Evans
11: James Tedesco, Adam Reynolds, Sam Walker

Round 11 votes

Knights v Broncos: 3: Selwyn Cobbo, 2: Payne Haas, 1: Pat Carrigan. Judge: Jimmy Smith.
Tigers v Bulldogs: 3: Jackson Hastings, 2: Luke Garner, 1: Tevita Pangai jnr. Judge: Wendell Sailor.
Eels v Sea Eagles: 3: Reed Mahoney, 2: Ryan Matterson, 1: Lachlan Croker. Judge: Scott Sattler.
Dragons v Warriors: 3: Cody Ramsey, 2: Ben Hunt, 1: Tohu Harris. Judge: Tim Mannah.
Cowboys v Storm: 3: Reece Robson, 2: Tom Gilbert, 1: Chad Townsend. Judge: Greg Alexander.
Roosters v Panthers: 3: Jarome Luai, 2: Api Koroisau, 1: James Fisher-Harris. Judge: Brett Kimmorley.
Titans v Sharks: 3: Nicho Hynes, 2: Blayke Brailey, 1: Jayden Campbell. Judge: Gary Belcher.

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