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  1. Pacquiao vs. Mayweather – Outside the Ring

    The whole country is sure to be glued to the screens this coming May for what many boxing experts are calling the biggest fight in history. “Pambansang Kamao” Manny Pacquiao will go toe-to-toe vs Floyd Mayweather in a fight that many fans have been clamouring for years.

    We all know who Pacquaio is, he’s the Pinoy boxer born in Bukidnon who boarded a ship to Manila to work on his dream to become a boxer. And boy did he reach his dream! I remember him saying in an interview that he’s dream fight would be against the tactical slugger Marco Antonio Barrera. His boxing career suddenly skyrocketed, putting him against other powerful boxers like England’s Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and of course Erik Morales. Back in 2008 the fight against Oscar De La Hoya was his biggest payday to date. It generated close to USD 70 million from pay-per-view and that number is sure to be surpassed when he gets into the ring against Mayweather on May 2.

    While we can’t be sure if Manny got his boxing skills from his Mommy Dionisia or from his father, we do know that Mayweather’s father has boxing in his genes. His father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., was a boxer and is now serving as Jr.’s trainer for his fight against Pacquiao. Floyd also has another uncle who held a World Boxing Council title as a super-lightweight champion.
    Controversies
    Both Pacquiao and Mayweather have faced controversies in and outside the ring. Mayweather was sentenced to 90 days in jail after he pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge. He was also arrested several times for battery and violence.

    Pacquiao also had his own battles with the law. In 2013, he was slapped with a PHP 2.2-billion tax case. In his defense, he said that the BIR is insisting that he earned more than he did without any evidence to back it up.

    Around the time that he was having problems with the BIR, the Manila Times brought up the issue that Pacquiao might be going bankrupt. The paper cited sources close to the boxer’s camp. The source said that Pacquiao's investments were unprofitable and that the boxer is now in debt and even had trouble paying his employees.

    Pacman’s camp denied the boxer’s supposed bankruptcy. Franklin Gacal, Pacquiao's lawyer, said that his client remains in control of his financial investments here and abroad. But perhaps that’s the source of the Pinoy boxer’s problems. He stands to benefit immensely if he gets personal finance help from a professional wealth manager to help him make the right financial decisions.

    Pacquiao is indeed a busy man, aside from being busy training for his fights, he’s also representing his constituents as a Congressman of Sarangani and also keeps himself busy as the coach of a pro basketball team.

    Since the issue surfaced in 2013, Pacquiao's debts to the tax bureau have reportedly ballooned to PHP 3.2 billion due to penalties and surcharges. In August of 2014, the Supreme Court stepped in and stopped the tax court from collecting a PHP 3.2 billion cash bond.

    But perhaps we owe the upcoming mega-fight to Pacquiao's tax problems, or at least that’s the way Mayweather sees it. USAToday quoted Mayweather during his trip to South Africa before the deal for the long-awaited fight was closed.

    “I offered Manny Pacquiao the fight before," Mayweather said. "We didn't see eye to eye on terms. Years later we come back and I try and make the fight happen again. I offer him USD 40 million. He said he wanted 50-50. So we didn't make the fight happen.

    "All of a sudden, he loses to Timothy Bradley, he loses to Marquez … he has tax problems now. So, two losses and tax problems later, now he all of a sudden want to say: 'You know what? I'd do anything to make the fight happen,' when he's really saying: 'Floyd, can you help me solve my tax problems, get me out of debt?'"


    Show Me the Money
    It’s not hard to see why the taxman (woman in the case of BIR chief Kim Henares) will be going after Pacquiao. Pacquiao earns a lot from his fights and endorsements that it will naturally attract the bureau’s attention. How much is the Pac worth you ask? In 2012, Forbes ranked Pacquiao as the second highest-paid athlete with a total earning of USD 62 million. He earned USD 56 million of this from his salary and earnings with USD 6 million from his endorsements.

    And guess who the world’s highest-paid athlete was? It’s none other than Floyd Mayweather. Forbes puts his winnings at USD 85 million and a bit surprisingly, Mayweather didn’t earn a dime from any endorsement deal. Mayweather had two huge paydays with his fights against Victor Ortiz (USD 40 million) and Miguel Cotto (USD 45 million) that same year. .

    Mayweather is not shy about flaunting his wealth. His Instagram account is filled with his collection of supercars and diamond encrusted doodads. Oh ...
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  2. NBA SHOE BIZ

    This is all about the shoe biz in the U.S. National Basketball Association.
    If the shoes fit, why not wear them and get paid handsomely for wearing them.
    Some of the players earn more off the court with lucrative endorsement deals than what their NBA teams pay for their services.
    According to a report by Cork Gaines for the Business Insider, Nike shoes are still the most worn by the 440 NBA players in the current 2014-15 season even after the retirement of iconic Nike endorser Michael Jordan as a player after the 2002-03 wars. His Airness is now the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets – which before this season were known as the Bobcats, having purchased an 80-percent stake in the NBA franchise in 2010.
    Of the shoe endorsement deals for 440 players, 283 (or 64.3 percent) wear Nike brand sneakers based on a survey by HoopsHype.com.
    Nike’s share of the NBA feet market is actually 73.2 percent if it also includes the 39 players who wear the Jordan Brand, a division of Nike.
    The most common sneakers worn in the NBA is the Nike Hyperdunk 2013 which is worn by 75 players. That shoe alone is worn by more NBAers than the second-most common brand, Adidas (70 players).
    Other shoe brands worn by NBA athletes include: Under Armour, 13; Peak (China), 10; Reebok, six; Li Ning (China), five; Anta (China), four; And 1, three; Spalding, three; Brandblack, one; Qiaodan, one; 361 Degrees, one; and Ball’n, one.
    Named after the Greek goddess of victory, Nike was established in 1971 in Portland by accounting professor Phil Knight.
    Knight, who taught part-time at Portland State University, one day needed a corporate logo for some shoe designs he had to present to Japanese investors and commissioned graphics design student Carolyn Davidson to prepare some studies.
    Davidson presented Knight with several logos to choose from but interestingly, the “Swoosh” design was last on Knight’s list.
    “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me,” Knight reportedly told Davidson.
    More than four decades later, the Swoosh has become one of the most recognizable corporate logos in the world.
    Among the NBA players that endorse Nike are the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, and Paul George of the Indiana Pacers.
    Spawned by the mother company, Nike,the Jordan brand focuses on the style and vision set by Knight’s most popular model, Michael Jordan.
    Starting with the Air Jordan basketball like, Jordan Brand has also evolved to include other sports and activities and their respective superstars/models.
    Among the current NBA players that wear the Jordan Brand include Carmelo Anthony of the new York Knicks, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers.
    The Adidas company’s birth can be traced to the German village of Herzogenaurach. It was established in 1925 by Adolf “Adi” Dassler and his family.
    Catering initially to the soccer-proud Germans, Adidas first produced soccer and running shoes before evolving decades later into the multi-sport brand it is today.
    Among the endorsers of Adidas in the NBA are Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Tim Duncan of the reigning NBA titlist San Antonio Spurs, and rookie Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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  3. 2015 NIKE HOOP SUMMIT: WORLD SELECT TEAM ANNOUNCED

    From the forever-young Tessa Jazmines:

    The 11-member World Select Team was announced today for the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit, the premier annual basketball game featuring many of the world’s leading basketball players age 19 years old or younger. The 18th annual Nike Hoop Summit will take place at the Moda Center, in Portland, Ore., on Saturday, April 11.

    NIKE HOOP SUMMIT ALUMS ACCOUNT FOR NEARLY ONE-QUARTER OF THE NBA

    The annual game pits the World Select Team against the USA Basketball Junior National Select Team that is composed of elite American high school seniors. An incredible 165 Hoop Summit alumni have been drafted professionally. As of January 2015, 94 Hoop Summit alumni were active in the NBA, nearly one-quarter of the entire league.

    2015 NIKE HOOP SUMMIT WORLD SELECT TEAM ROSTER

     Nedim Buza (6’8”, OKK Spars Sarajevo and Bosnia & Herzegovina)
     Cheick Diallo (6’9”, Our Savior New American HS, NY, and Mali)
     Skal Labissiere (6’11”, RYD Prep, TN and Haiti)
     Thon Maker (7’0”, Orangeville Prep, Ontario and Australia)
     Jamal Murray (6’5”, Orangeville Prep, Ontario and Canada)
     Federico Mussini (6’3”, Reggio Emilia and Italy)
     George de Paula (6’3”, Pinheiros and Brazil)
     Stefan Peno (6’5”, FC Barcelona and Serbia)
     Zhou Qi (7’2”, Xinjiang Flying Tigers and China)
     Ben Simmons (6’9”, Montverde Academy, Florida and Australia)
     Tai Wynyard (6’10”, Rangitoto College, Auckland and New Zealand)

    The World Team is chasing its third victory in the last four games in the series, after beating the USA 84-75 in 2012 and 112-98 in 2013. Last year, the hosts tallied an 84-73 victory.

    ATHLETE BACKGROUND

    Guard Jamal Murray (6’5”, Orangeville Prep, Ontario and Canada) returns for his second Nike Hoop Summit appearance, having scored 10 points and added 5 rebounds and 5 assists in the 2014 game.

    The World Team has named three other guards on their 2015 roster -Federico Mussini (6’3”, Reggio Emilia and Italy), George de Paula (6’3”, Pinheiros and Brazil) and Stefan Peno (6’5”, FC Barcelona and Serbia).

    The team also features forwards Nedim Buza (6’8”, KK Spars Sarajevo and Bosnia & Herzegovina), Ben Simmons (6’9”, Montverde Academy, Florida and Australia), Cheick Diallo (6’9”, Our Savior New American HS, NY, and Mali) and Thon Maker (7’0”, Orangeville Prep, Ontario and Australia).

    The global squad is completed with center Tai Wynyard (6’10”, Rangitoto College, Auckland and New Zealand) along with forward/centers Skal Labissiere (6’11”, RYD Prep, TN and Haiti), and Zhou Qi (7’2”, Xinjiang Flying Tigers and China).

    Murray will look to make the same sort of impact in the 2015 game as he did last year. The guard, currently at Orangeville Prep in Ontario, followed his strong Hoop Summit performance with an even better showing in last summer’s U17 World Championships in Dubai, where he averaged 16.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists for Canada.

    Mussini plays for Reggio Emilia in Serie A, the highest level of professional basketball in his native Italy, where he is averaging 4.3 points in 17.2 minutes per game. He has been even more impressive in the prestigious Eurocup tournament, averaging 8.2 points over his 10 games. For Italy, Mussini enjoyed a stand-out U18 European Championships in Turkey last year, leading the tournament in scoring with 22.6 points per game and being named to the All-Tournament first team.

    From Brazil, de Paula graduated from the junior to the senior team at the E.C. Pinheiros/Sky Sao Paulo club in Brazil’s NBB. He has also represented his national team at U17 and U18 levels, playing in last summer’s U18 FIBA Americas Championships in Colorado Springs.

    Peno, a member of the Serbia U17 team that won bronze at last summer’s World Championships in Dubai, plays for the prestigious European powerhouse FC Barcelona in Spain’s ACB league. Most of his time this season has been spent with FC Barcelona II, the feeder club of FC Barcelona, but he made his debut for the full senior team in a victory over CAI Zaragoza in December.

    Buza, a forward, played for the full senior Bosnia and Herzegovina national team in 2014, making three appearances against Great Britain and Iceland as his country won their group and qualified for Eurobasket 2015. Buza, who plays his club basketball for OKK Spars Sarajevo, also found time last summer to lead his country to the gold medal in the European Championships U20 Division B tournament.

    A forward from Australia, Simmons is currently at Montverde Academy High School in Florida and has committed to play for LSU in the NCAA from 2015-16. He was part of the Australian team that ...
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  4. Size, Speed II

    (Continued from previous)

    In the NBA it is a totally different paradigm. It is now speed more than size that matters.

    Across six divisions in the two conferences, all but one of the division leaders are playing more up-tempo than the slow, pound-the-post style.

    Atlanta and Golden State, the two best teams in the current NBA season, are getting it done with good old fashioned run and gun basketball.

    Step Curry and Klay Thompson anchor the most high-octane offense in the league for Coach Steven Kerr. Thompson even had a 52-point (or was it 53...?) outburst against Sacramento. Thompson scored a league record 37 points in the third quarter alone, going a perfect 13-13 from the field in that period. His Warriors shredded the Kings in this game.

    Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver have been the run and gun duo for the Hawks, the first team to win 50 games this season. Korver put on a show during his first All Star game as an East All Star, scoring 21 points in 16 minutes, although it was Golden State's Splash Bros who topped the All Star three-point shootout. Atlanta's doing ok for a team that does not even have a star big man, using Paul Millsap and Al Horford as their frontline. Both men are probably 6-foot-9 in their sneakers, but they are very active and crash the boards and collapse into the lane on defense with speed and alacrity.

    Speaking of high-octane, of late it has been Russell Westbrook that has been getting a lot of press for his play. In his latest effort, Westbrook scored 30 points, pulled in 11 rebounds, and dished 17 assists in a 108-104 win against the Toronto Raptors, the Atlantic Division leaders. That capped a three-game tear for the Oklahoma superstar that saw him get 49 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists in a win against Philadelphia, and 40 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists in a loss to the Bulls. He's had five triple doubles in their last six games, earning him NBA player of the week honors over the last week. By the way, he's done this with Kevin Durant in sick bay. The Thunder were once in a deep hole at the start of the season. They are now at 35 wins and counting.

    John Wall of the Wizards are a far second to the Hawks in their division, but it is amazing that Wall's speed and invention of dribbling techniques on the fly in actual games is enough to make the Wizards second place with 36 wins thus far.

    Damian Lillard and Lamarcus Aldridge are also using speed and athleticism to keep the Portland Trailblazers the top team in the Northwest Division with 41 wins thus far. Both of them bring so much motor to their respective positions they're making Portland a veritable highway.

    Forget Lebron James and Kyrie Irving over at Cleveland. Everyone knows James is the king of the NBA mutants, an actual physical freak who runs like a Ferrari but is built like a Hummer, while Irving has learned to play at "less than 100 miles an hour".

    Memphis is the only division leader still playing more deliberate basketball. But then again they have strong, bulky frontline players in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. These guys can actually afford to play slow ball, and lead the Southwest with 45 wins.

    Teams that play slow when they shouldn't are languishing in the cellar. Who would have thought the Lakers and the Knicks, featuring superstar players that everybody over the last decade has said are the two most difficult to defend in the NBA, would be at the bottoms of their respective divisions? Certainly not Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony.

    Of course the presence of all these chain lightning guards is only half the story. There is also a dearth of superstar big men in the league. Now please don't go pointing to Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. Or even to Marc and Pau Gasol. As good as those guys are as big men, they are certainly far removed from say Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, even David Robinson. Has anyone ever seen Cousins or Davis pivoting, hop-skipping, pivoting like Olajuwon? Or duplicate Jabbar's skyhook and fluid up-under? Or run the floor like the Admiral? Forget about the sheer brute force and agility of O'Neal.

    Granted Davis's Pelicans aren't that bad at 35 wins, but in the elite Southwest Division 35 wins means you're at the bottom of the division. Sacramento has always been awful, except for the Chris Webber-Vlade Divac-Peja Stojacovic years, so it is hard to fault the woeful 21 wins of the Kings on Cousins. Both men also came off a gold medal stint with USA Basketball in the last FIBA World Championships.

    In today's NBA elite speed and athleticism are the critical assets, not so much sheer height and bulk. I would not be surprised if the NBA Finals features Golden State versus Cleveland.

    I'll take Golden State in five games, six if at least one game ...
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  5. Size, Speed

    It is a truism in the game of basketball that height is might. After all, the taller the player, the taller the team, the easier (supposedly) to put that ball through a hoop 10 feet above the floor. That is why getting that good big man has always been the holy grail of basketball. Having that big man in the middle just makes the game a lot easier for the team.

    In the PBA, the supposed "joke" that is the Kia Carnival of boxing champion/congressman/entertainer Manny Pacquiao have quadrupled their wins from their inaugural conference last year, at 4-5 as of the All Star break. They did this by simply having the biggest import in the ongoing Commissioner's Cup, 7-foot-3, 350-pound Peter John Ramos of Puerto Rico. Ramos leads the league in scoring and rebounding, including a few 20-rebound games and a dominating outing with 36 points and 33 rebounds. Don't look for any other explanation for Kia's success thus far - Ramos is it.

    Of course it is not just sheer size. To be fair, Ramos knows how to play the game. But if he was "only" say 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds and playing the way he does I'm pretty sure he would not be this dominant, and Kia might still be a 1-win-per-conference team. He knows how to maximize his height and bulk by just hanging around the basket and on either box. He's one of those "soft hands" types who can catch even difficult passes. He knows how to turn just so to be in scoring position. And he knows how to pass to cutters and backdoor guys sneaking around along the baseline.

    Barako Bull, another customarily also-ran team, has the second biggest import in the conference in 7-foot-1 Solomon Alabi. Alabi ranks second to Ramos in scoring and rebounding, and leads the league in blocks. His Barako Bull team is at an even 4-4. He's not quite as huge and not quite as skilled as Ramos, but his numbers are equally solid.

    Both of these giants have rendered the erstwhile premiere big man of the PBA rather smallish, San Miguel Beer's 6-foot-10 Junemar Fajardo, the reigning MVP. Fajardo has found himself really looking small compared to the two mastodon imports. Suddenly it isn't that easy for him to just pluck offensive rebounds off the tops of the heads of local opposing power forwards and centers and putting the ball back into the hoop. His Beermen are at the bottom of the standings at 2-6, quite a fall from just having won the All Filipino Conference a couple months back.

    As other writers have observed, this cannot be explained away merely as a long championship hangover. Fajardo has had to labor with an underwhelming import to start the Commissioner's Cup, and now a small import in 6-foot-5 Arizona Reid. Reid is supposed to be San Miguel's import for the Governors Cup, where the height limit for reinforcements is only 6-foot-5. It doesn't help that Coach Leo Austria likes to play deliberate and go to Fajardo in the low post, a fact he harped on when they barely won the All Filipino against the all-motor Alaska Aces. "We play deliberate ball. Alaska likes to play up-tempo," he once explained in the middle of their championship series.

    That worked well enough when Fajardo had the size advantage. That simply is not the case now. Even against imports his size, Fajardo has struggled. Michael Dunigan is a typical 6-foot-9 import with hops and strength, and he's got 7-foot Greg Slaughter beside him. Against Slaughter and 6-foot-9 Japheth Aguilar in the All Filipino, Fajardo was still the dominant one, using his bulk, strength, and agility. Against Dunigan, it is not that easy, because Dunigan can match his strength and agility, basically making Slaughter an extra import. Truth be told though, Barangay Ginebra is just in the middle of the pack at 4-3, but we'll discuss that next time.

    Speaking of the Aces, Alaska is also precariously in danger of being eliminated at 2-5. Alaska also had similar problems to San Miguel Beer, in that their import at the beginning of the conference was all of 6-foot-6. That guy has since been replaced by Damion James, who in actuality is only slightly bigger at maybe 6-foot-8 in his sneakers. Granted James is also a much better player, but he is still a smallish import in a big import conference. Alabi just had his way with James in Alaska's loss to Barako about a week before the All Star break. Alabi in fact scored the winning basket by simply grabbing the ball clear off James's head and putting it back for that win.

    Choice of import of course is oversimplifying things for the Aces. They had to deal with various injuries to four of their five best players. Center Sonny Thoss, forwards Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel, and guard JV Casio all missed games due to injuries. There was one game that all four were unable to play and were in civvies sitting behind the bench. Still, one cannot help but wonder if a bigger, better import could not have been enough to at least ...
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