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Gregg Popovich sends well wishes to Craig Sager (April 21, 2014)
Associated Press [ Source: ESPN ]

NBA

SAN ANTONIO -- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he looks forward to sideline reporter Craig Sager's return and "I promise I'll be nice."

TNT's Sager is missing the NBA playoffs as he undergoes treatment for leukemia. So his son, Craig Sager Jr., filled in for Sunday's broadcast of San Antonio's playoff opener against Dallas, asking Popovich a few questions after the third quarter.

Popovich is famous for his terse answers to in-game questions from Sager and other sideline reporters. Sager even joked about it in a statement Friday confirming his diagnosis: "Too bad, I had some probing questions for Pop."

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Gabe Freeman of Brgy. Ginebra. PBA/Nuki Sabio

Gabe Freeman started off like a house on fire in his debut for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday, scoring 17 of his 29 points in the first quarter against Rain or Shine.

But Freeman and the rest of the Gin Kings could not sustain the effort, as the Elasto Painters pulled off a 105-101 escape in overtime.

The defeat relegated Ginebra to the No. 8 seed in the quarterfinals, where they need to win twice against an unbeaten top seed Talk ‘N Text squad.

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Tim Duncan scores 27 points, lifts Spurs past Mavericks in Game 1 (April 21, 2014)
Associated Press [ Source: ESPN ]

San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker (9), of France, celebrates after hitting a three-point basket against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of Game 1 of the opening-round NBA basketball playoff series on Sunday, April 20, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 90-85. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

SAN ANTONIO -- The Spurs rode the wide shoulders of Tim Duncan to victory.

The Mavericks were not going to let San Antonio beat them with 3-pointers, and they did not want Tony Parker using the lane as his personal playground. So the veteran Duncan overcame a brief injury scare to score 27 points. The Spurs held Dallas to one field goal in the final seven minutes to rally for a 90-85 win Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

The Mavericks also went scoreless for 5½ minutes during that stretch, their lone field goal coming with less than a second remaining.

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2013 third overall pick Raymond Almazan of Rain or Shine (R) eludes the defense of 2013 first overall pick Greg Slaughter of Ginebra. Nuki Sabio

The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters got a break when Greg Slaughter missed two go-ahead free throws at the tailend of the fourth quarter. They took full advantage of it by defeating the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings 105-101 in overtime, Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The win by the Elasto Painters gave them a 5-4 record, and a best-of-three series against the Meralco Bolts. Ginebra on the other hand was doomed to eighth place, up against the undefeated Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters, who are armed with a twice-to-beat advantage.

In the other pairings, San Miguel Beermen, who have the other twice-to-beat edge, play the Air21 Express, while the Alaska Aces and the San Mig Coffee Mixers, who played tonight's curtain-opener, do battle again, with each team needing two wins to advance.

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NBA

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- There were 51 fouls called during the Golden State Warriors' 109-105 win against the Los Angeles Clippers in the opening game of the first-round series on Saturday. But on Sunday, the NBA issued a statement admitting there should have been one more foul called.

With 18.9 seconds left in the game and the Clippers down 107-105, Clippers point guard Chris Paul was dribbling the ball above the arc when he was double-teamed by Steve Blake and Draymond Green. Paul then lost the ball after Green reached in and looked as if he had committed a foul.

The play was reviewed but since no foul was called on the floor, the only reviewable action was who touched the ball last, which was Paul. The Warriors would get the ball, hit two more free throws and go on to win the game.

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James Yap of San Mig Coffee. Sports5/Paul Ryan Tan

With the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers set to embark on their playoff campaign in the PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup, coach Tim Cone chose to rest his top players on Sunday against Alaska.

Import James May, stars James Yap and Marc Pingris, and rookie spitfire Justin Melton all sat out the Mixers’ 85-66 blowout loss.

“Alam naman natin si Coach Tim matagal na sa liga so alam na niya kung anong mga dapat gawin,” said Yap, who is still recuperating from his back injury. According to the two-time Most Valuable Player, his ailment has healed well enough for him to return to practice.

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Road Warriors target win No. 6 vs Oilers (April 21, 2014)
Jasmine W. Payo [ Source: Inquirer ]

D-League

MANILA, Philippines — Undermanned but still unbeaten, NLEX tries to sustain its impressive run against winless Derulo Accelero in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup Monday at JCSGO Gym in Cubao.

But the Road Warriors are not taking the Oilers lightly in the 2 p.m. match, noting that their rivals had gone down fighting in all their previous losses.

“They (the Oilers) are struggling but their desire to win makes them dangerous. So we can’t be complacent,” said NLEX deputy coach Mon Celis, who is seeking a sixth straight victory with head coach Boyet Fernandez and five players still unavailable.

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Cyrus Baguio drives at the San Mig Coffee defense. Nuki Sabio

The Alaska Aces defeated the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers 85-66, Sunday afternoon at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in the final elimination round game of the Aces’ championship-defending bid.

Already assured of their slots in the best of three quarterfinals, the game between the Aces and the Mixers turned out to be a lackluster affair as the latter opted to rest their players who are suffering injured, rather than go hard against the rampaging Aces.

After winning their first three assignments of the conference, the Mixers fizzled out as they lost their last three for a 4-5 win-loss record. The opposite was true for the Aces as they struggled early on, but found their groove later on winning five straight and placing third with a 6-3 tally.

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UE parades new coach Derek Pumaren in Filoil Cup (April 21, 2014)
Rick Olivares [ Source: Philippine Star ]

Local Basketball

MANILA, Philippines -- When the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup tips off this coming Wednesday, April 23 at the San Juan Arena, the University of the East Red Warriors open the college season in an unfamiliar role – that of defending champions.

The Red Warriors know that a pre-season title doesn’t automatically mean the UAAP wars are a done deal. In the seven previous stagings, only two summer champions has gone on to win their respective collegiate league title – La Salle in 2007 and Ateneo in 2011 in the UAAP.

Furthermore, they will be parading a new head coach in Derek Pumaren, their fourth head coach in the last four seasons and will be without former mainstays Adrian Santos, Ralf Olivares, JM Noble, and Jai Flores who have all used up their playing eligibility.

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Kevin Durant scores 33 as Thunder handle Grizzlies in Game 1 (April 20, 2014)
Associated Press [ Source: ESPN ]

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) blocks a shot from Memphis Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee (5) during the third quarter of Game 1 of the opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oklahoma City on Saturday, April 19, 2014. Oklahoma City won 100-86. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 100-86 on Saturday night in the opening game of their first-round series.

Russell Westbrook had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder, who nearly squandered a 25-point lead but recovered from a dismal third quarter to make 10 of 16 shots in the fourth.

Zach Randolph led Memphis with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but he made just 7 of 21 shots and got into foul trouble in the second half. Mike Conley had 16 points and 11 assists, Marc Gasol scored 16 points and Tony Allen added 13 points for the Grizzlies. The Thunder held Memphis to 36 percent shooting.

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