Liverpool’s Brazilian summer signing Roberto Firmino is confident he will quickly settle at Anfield. Press Association Firmino, who was not taken on the club’s pre-season tour of Australia and the Far East because of his involvement in the Copa America earlier this summer, said: “Without a doubt, German football, where I’ve played for nearly five years, is very similar – maybe just a little less tough than English football. I’m confident I’ll be just fine here.” Firmino will link up with another member of the Brazil squad at Liverpool in Philippe Coutinho, and he says he spoke to his compatriot for advice before making the move. “He was very helpful although it was ultimately my decision,” Firmino told the club’s website, www.liverpoolfc.com. “I wanted to know more about how it works here and he had some very good things to tell me. “He’s a great character and I hope we can nurture our friendship at Liverpool.” Firmino is excited by the challenge ahead at Liverpool and believes he is joining a high-quality squad. He said: “It’s a unique opportunity. I could say Liverpool is the first big club I will play for. It’s a massive chance for me to show what I can do. “Although it’s a young team, there’s a lot of experience and quality in it. Each and every one of the players must do their best to have the chance to play and win games as a consequence.” The 23-year-old forward is one of seven new faces at the club after signing from Hoffenheim in a £29million deal last month. Firmino has now started training at the club’s Melwood base and believes he will soon adapt to the demands of the English game.
Published on February 4, 2018 at 3:05 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Myisha Hines-Allen dribbled around four Syracuse defenders and looked for the shooter she knew would be there. Asia Durr ran to the top of the key, caught the pass and swished a 3-pointer.Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman called a timeout immediately. The Louisville bench celebrated its then-14 point lead and the Carrier Dome crowd, which briefly thought an upset was possible after the first-half, sat in silence.SU (17-7, 5-6 Atlantic Coast) had kept the game close for the first 20 minutes, but the following 10 was all No. 4 Louisville (24-1, 10-1) needed to leave the Carrier Dome with an 84-77 victory. The Cardinals outscored the Orange by 10 in the third quarter, tripling its half time lead and sinking SU’s upset bid. UofL’s third-quarter success materialized in five more rebounds (12 to 7), a 23-percent higher shooting percentage and more production from its top scorers. “At some point,” Hillsman said, “you got to to make plays, and you got to do the things you got to do to win games. There were points in the third quarter that we didn’t do what we need to do to win the game and dug ourselves a hole. In the fourth we got a few steals and make a couple runs. When you got a hole that deep, you have to make some big runs and our runs weren’t big enough.”Syracuse was only down five at half to a team that usually beats its opponents by 22. This past Thursday, the Cardinals held a four-point lead against Virginia before outscoring the Cavaliers by 32 in the second-half to cruise in Charlottesville, Virginia.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU was the victim of a similar second-half slump on Sunday afternoon. Before two late, meaningless Syracuse buckets, the Orange had been outscored by seven points in the second half. The loss marked the first time in six years, and first time since joining the ACC, that SU lost back-to-back home games.Hillsman’s team dug itself a third quarter hole with an 0-for-5 shooting start in the period. Digna Strautmane missed an open jumper, Amaya Finklea-Guity was blocked twice and missed a third shot before Strautmane clanked another try.In a blink-and-you miss-it 9-0 run, Syracuse was floored. The run stopped when Tiana Mangakahia hit an and-1 layup with 7:07 left in the third, but by then it was too late.“At the end of the day,” Hillsman said, “you have a great opportunity on your home floor to beat a very good team you have to win that game. We had some opportunities, we had some spurts where we didn’t play that well.”Louisville knocked down 8-of-16 from beyond the 3-point arc on Sunday in the Carrier Dome.Codie Yan | Staff PhotographerEarly in the game, Syracuse hung with the third-best scoring offense in the ACC. Multiple times in the first quarter, Tiana Mangakahia grabbed the ball on the defensive end, via a rebound or in-bounds and took it down the floor herself and laid it in. She finished the first half with six points, six assists and four rebounds. Before the game, UofL head coach Jeff Walz told local media that the only way to stop Mangakahia was to hope she had the flu.On Jan. 30, Mangakahia said a key to toppling UofL was limiting its transition game and not committing turnovers that would lead to easy baskets. But 11 of Louisville’s 20 fast break points came in the decisive third quarter. “They make plays,” Hillsman said, “they don’t let you off the hook. If there’s a play to be made, they make it. … I thought we played tough. We played tough and with some energy and some urgency. They did a good job of attacking us in the third (quarter) in transition.”The version of Mangakahia that hasn’t played competitive basketball in nearly two years popped up throughout the game. On one play, she spun left, tried to squeeze a pass in-between two defenders that instead resulted in an easy Cardinals layup. The next possession, she charged into her defender and committed another turnover. Mangakahia had almost as many giveaways (10) than Louisville (13).The transition lanes opened up as SU’s legs tired and the Cardinals’ lead ballooned. Just after Mangakahia ended SU’s scoring drought, three passes — Jazmine Jones to Durr to Hines-Allen — resulted in an easy layup. The ball touched the ground once.“If you’re not going to stop them,” SU guard Gabrielle Cooper said, “you at least have to score with them. We weren’t scoring with them or stopping them.”Louisville’s one-two punch, Hines-Allen and Durr, provided the scoring that SU couldn’t keep up with in the third frame. After being limited to 14 points combined in the first half, the duo scored 20 (Hines-Allen with 11 and Durr with nine) in the third and created the separation. Syracuse chipped at the deficit in the fourth, but it rarely dipped below double-digits. Following a steal, Cooper hit a 3-pointer from the base of the ‘Carrier’ sign in front of SU’s bench. UofL threw the ball out of bounds on its next possession and the crowd re-energized. Yet, after a Strautmane miss, Durr connected on a corner 3 and snuffed out the run.The trajectories of Syracuse and Louisville have been eerily similar in the decade since Hillsman and Walz were hired. Both programs were bottom-dwellers in the ACC and were transformed into perennial-NCAA tournament contenders. While SU has flirted with national prominence, UofL has established itself as a top-tier program.Syracuse hung with Louisville for most of Sunday’s game, just like it has with conference teams all season. But when the final buzzer sounded on Sunday afternoon, SU lost — just like it did against Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia, North Carolina State and Virginia Tech — and the status quo was reinforced.Hillsman hasn’t spoken much about the impending NCAA tournament, but he did after SU’s second-straight loss. The 11-year head coach said that 10 conference wins should be enough to comfortably make the 64-team tournament. With five wins in 11 contests and five conference games remaining, SU has created a gauntlet for itself.“Normally,” Hillsman said, “when you get 10, you’re in. You get nine, you got a chance. You get eight, you hope for upsets and a lot of help. We understand that these last five games we have, I think, are very urgent.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Magic Johnson has always been a hard act to follow.After the 59-year-old Hall of Famer resigned last month as Lakers team president, the franchise has decided not to appoint a successor.An ESPN report outlines that the Lakers will keep their power structure as it’s been operating since April 9, with General Manager Rob Pelinka as the chief basketball decision-maker. He’ll report directly to team owner Jeanie Buss.While the Lakers haven’t shown a pressing concern to replace Johnson, the report is the most definitive indicator yet that the Lakers aren’t searching for a new team president. The streamlined power structure would both serve to increase Pelinka’s influence in the organization, as he previously reported to Johnson, while also increasing his accountability for the Lakers’ state of affairs. The Lakers are preparing to publicly introduce Vogel on Monday. Since his hiring became official earlier this week, the 45-year-old former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach has been in Chicago with other Lakers officials for the NBA Draft Combine conducting interviews and evaluating prospects.TOP DRAFT TARGETS PLAY COY AT COMBINEIf it feels like there’s not a lot of information available about the Lakers’ potential targets at No. 4 following the NBA Draft Combine, get used to it.It’s a commonly used tactic at the top of the draft to withhold information, in the interest of protecting one’s stock, rather than sharing. With the Lakers slotted for a top-five pick, many of the players who have been rated in their draft range are participating only in portions of the league’s annual meat market in Chicago.Related Articles How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Several top prospects, including Duke’s Zion Williamson, Murray State’s Ja Morant, Duke’s R.J. Barrett, Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter opted out of testing altogether. Others who might be on the Lakers’ radar were more choosy: Duke’s Cam Reddish and Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver did body measurements but opted out of athletic testing and shooting. Most of the projected first-round prospects did not participate in the Combine scrimmages Thursday and Friday.It’s a path that is well-tread by the Lakers, who have had the No. 2 overall pick in three of the previous four drafts, picks that became D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. Top prospects generally schedule private workouts for the teams in position to select them.Reddish, one of the vaunted Duke trio who is expected to be taken in the top 10, said he had met with the Lakers among many other teams. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe team’s urgency is building to return to the postseason after a six-season absence. Among the more impactful decisions Pelinka will be charged with include how to use the Lakers’ No. 4 overall pick in the draft on June 20, as well as how to recruit from a heralded class of free agents hitting the market on July 1.Pelinka, 49, has been general manager since early 2017 when he was brought in by Buss to work alongside Johnson. The larger bulk of his professional experience has been as an agent, when his most high-profile client was Kobe Bryant.Buss and other front office figures have largely been tight-lipped since Johnson departed in dramatic fashion, with an impromptu press conference before the Lakers’ regular-season finale on April 9. While Buss, team advisor Kurt Rambis and other top officials have been heavily involved in the team’s coaching search which eventually yielded Frank Vogel, only Pelinka has so far spoken to reporters on the record, most recently after the Lakers’ secured the No. 4 pick at the NBA Draft Lottery in Chicago.Pelinka insisted on Tuesday night that his role as GM hadn’t changed for draft preparations despite Johnson’s abdication.“My role as the GM right now is the same as it was when we selected Lonzo Ball (in 2017) with the second pick, which is our last high pick,” he said. “My role hasn’t changed since then.” Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error