Bucks sweep Pistons to advance, Jazz stave off elimination

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks scored 41 points. NBAE / Getty Images / AFP
Updated 24 April 2019
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Bucks sweep Pistons to advance, Jazz stave off elimination

  • Milwaukee reach second round of postseason for the first time since the 2000-01 season

LOS ANGELES : The Milwaukee Bucks wiped away 18 years of frustration on Monday by beating the Detroit Pistons 127-104 to complete a four-game sweep of their first round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 41 points as the Bucks reached the second round of the postseason for the first time since the 2000-01 season when they made it all the way to the NBA semifinals.

Top-seeded Milwaukee cruised through the first three games and after a slow start in Game 4, they took control late and won by a comfortable 23 points.

“I think it’s important that we take a second tonight. Enjoy it,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It’s a good night for Milwaukee. It’s a good night for the Bucks.”

Breaking their streak of eight straight playoff exits so quickly means Milwaukee has more time to prepare for their next opponent — the Boston Celtics, who are coming off a sweep of Indiana.

The Bucks matched their regular season dominance over the Pistons, winning all four games. They had met in the postseason four times with the Pistons winning them all.

Antetokounmpo had a quiet night in Game 3 with just 14 points but he had all his weapons at his disposal in the close-out game.

“I remember our first playoff series (in 2015),” Antetokounmpo said. “Chicago, the last game, game six, they beat us by 50 or something insane. But where we were and where we are right now, it’s been an unbelievable journey.”

Milwaukee finished the third quarter with a 17-3 run, taking a 10-point lead into the fourth after the Pistons had led much of the way.

The Blake Griffin-led Pistons set an NBA record with their 14th consecutive playoff loss, a losing skid that began in 2008.

Milwaukee was also the second team in playoff history to sweep their first round series by at least 15 points in each game, joining the 1980 Celtics.

Last year, the Bucks lost to the Celtics in a seven-game series. This year’s second round series will have some new faces.

Milwaukee has Brook Lopez as a starter and added veterans George Hill and Nikola Mirotic.

Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving were out with injuries for the Celtics last year.

Elsewhere, Donovan Mitchell scored 19 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter as the Utah Jazz staved off elimination in Game 4 with a 107-91 victory over the Houston Rockets.

“It’s not over,” Mitchell said. “We have another one, and another one, and another one.”

Jae Crowder added 23 points, Ricky Rubio tallied 18 points and 11 assists and Derrick Favors finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for Utah, who trail three games to one.

Utah outscored Houston 31-12 in the fourth quarter to set up Game 5 on Wednesday.

Mitchell said they now realize what they have been doing wrong and what it is going to take to win the series.

“We all been struggling with our shots all series,” said Mitchell. “We didn’t play hard at the beginning. The last two games we played harder.

“There is no way we were going to go out like that. We figured out what we have to do. The best thing for us is to continue to play team basketball.”

James Harden scored 30 points to lead Houston. Chris Paul added 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Eric Gordon tallied 16 points.

The Rockets shot a dismal 17 of 46 from three-point range.


Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star eyes path to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Updated 20 August 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star eyes path to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

  • Dalma Malhas ‘honored’ to be part of national team
  • Equestrian star began riding aged four

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star Dalma Malhas is counting down to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by competing in a series of crucial qualifying events.

Malhas, who has been riding since the age of four, told Arab News that she was honored to be part of the Saudi national team after “years of work and dedication.”

Next month she and her fellow showjumpers head to Morocco to take part in a series of qualifying events.

The 10th edition of the Morocco Royal Tour takes place in three cities — Tetouan, Rabat, and Eljadida —  on three consecutive weekends. The top two teams, based on their results, will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Malhas wants to be at the prestigious sporting event in Japan. 

“The work that has been done in the past few years will manifest itself now and I’m enjoying what I’ve been working on ... I believe in destiny and hard work,” she told Arab News. “Anything could happen, but I’m hopeful and trying to focus on peak performance because it is important that, when it comes to the horse and myself, we want to be there, energetic and motivated.”

She was the first female athlete from the Kingdom to compete at an Olympic-level event, riding at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 in Singapore and winning a bronze medal. She participated in the 14-18 age group, becoming only the third Saudi athlete to snag an Olympic medal.

She said it was easy to buy a horse that was already trained and compete with it. But the challenge for her was to get an inexperienced horse and train him from scratch.

“I dedicated time, effort and energy. I had a vision of how he could be and transformed him into a skilled and talented horse, and step-by-step I followed that. You build a strong partnership when you go through that process. It’s an affinity you can’t really buy. This is a very big part of horsemanship and one of my biggest achievements since the Youth Olympic Games. It’s priceless, having a combination and partnership like this.”

Malhas was born in 1992. Her mother, Arwa Mutabagani, is a prominent equestrian and has been a board member at the Saudi Equestrian Federation since 2008. She was also the first woman to be appointed to the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.

Malhas has had a thoroughly international upbringing. At 12 she moved with her mother from Saudi Arabia to Rome to train with her under Italy’s former showjumping national coach, Duccio Bartalucci, spending a decade under his tutelage.

After studying and training in Italy she joined a two-year professional program at the Fursan Equestrian Center in Chantilly, France. She has been training with Olympic champion Roger Yves Bost since 2016. 

She started 2019 by participating in several tournaments, crisscrossing Europe and gradually moving up the leaderboard. 

She has won several awards to date, including Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, and can be regarded as a pioneer and role model.

Malhas said there were great opportunities for Saudi women in the fields of sports and equestrianism. She talked about the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan and how it empowered women. She also saw an opportunity to become more involved. 

“I want to give back too. I’ve been mostly focused on showjumping and training, so hopefully I’ll start giving back and contribute to society and motivate my peers in the country. I don’t mind though I’ve been enjoying the ride and after years of work I’m finally being rewarded in the best way possible.”