UK PM Johnson expresses support for Tokyo Olympics

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference in Tokyo. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Friday expressed support for the Tokyo Olympics at a meeting with Japan’s Yoshihide Suga. (AP)
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Updated 11 June 2021

UK PM Johnson expresses support for Tokyo Olympics

  • British Prime Minister welcomed Japanese efforts to ensure Tokyo Olympic Games can take place safely
  • The Japanese government and Olympic organisers have said the Games will go ahead

CARBIS BAY: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday expressed support for the Tokyo Olympics at a meeting with Japan’s Yoshihide Suga.
Johnson also welcomed efforts to ensure the Games can take place safely, his Downing Street office said.
“The prime minister expressed his support for the Tokyo Olympics, and welcomed Japanese efforts to ensure the Games can take place safely,” a Downing Street spokesperson said after the meeting in the British seaside resort of Carbis Bay.
The Japanese government and Olympic organizers have said the Games will go ahead — barring “Armageddon,” as one International Olympic Committee (IOC) member put it.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which were postponed once due to the global spread of the coronavirus, is scheduled to start on July 23.
Tokyo 2020 would be “grateful” if Group of Seven countries could support the Summer Games going ahead as planned, Tokyo 2020 organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said on Friday.


Bucks edge Nets in OT in Game 7, withstand Durant’s 48

Updated 20 June 2021

Bucks edge Nets in OT in Game 7, withstand Durant’s 48

  • The Bucks will next fight in a 7-game playoff the winner of the Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks

NEW YORK: A Game 7 thriller, the NBA’s first do-or-die game to go to overtime in 15 years, came down to a matter of inches.
If Brooklyn star Kevin Durant was just slightly farther away — or if his foot was slightly smaller — he ends the highest-scoring Game 7 ever by an NBA player with a 3-pointer to win the series.
“We got lucky his toe was on the line and they called it a 2,” Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton said. “But once he hits that shot, we’ve got to forget about it. There’s still ballgame left. That wasn’t the game.”
And given a second chance, the Bucks cashed it in for a ticket to the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bucks withstood Durant’s NBA-record 48 points in a Game 7, beating the Nets 115-111 on Saturday night.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 40 points and 13 rebounds, and Middleton made the tiebreaking shot with 40 seconds left in OT.
“At the end of the day, I try not to get too high, not to get too low. But I almost got emotional a little bit out there because the team really tried their best,” Antetokounmpo said. “We kept our composure. We were down 2-0. A lot of people didn’t believe we could make it.”
The Bucks held on when Durant missed two late jumpers, the last an airball with 0.3 seconds remaining.
“We got good looks there in overtime. We just didn’t knock them down,” Durant said. “Respect to the Milwaukee Bucks in how they prepare, how they challenged us all series and made adjustments all series. We’ve got nothing but respect for that ballclub.”
Middleton added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, who reached the East finals for the second time in three years. They will play either Philadelphia or Atlanta in a series that starts Wednesday night.

Khris Middleton shoots the game winning basket during Game 7 of the Bucks-Nets playoff series on Saturday in New York City. (Elsa/Getty Images/AFP)

Durant played all 53 minutes and forced OT with a turnaround jumper that was just inches from being a 3-pointer that would have won it with a second left.
“But my big ass foot stepped on the line,” he said. “I just saw how close I was to ending their season with that shot.”
Durant added nine rebounds and six assists, but didn’t have enough help with injured Kyrie Irving watching from the baseline and James Harden unable to locate his shot after missing most of the first four games with right hamstring tightness.
Harden had 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but was 5 for 17 from the field.
“I was just going out there and trying to give everything I can and it’s just frustrating,” Harden said.
In a series where the teams often didn’t produce the quality of play that was anticipated between the league’s two highest-scoring teams, Game 7 was a thriller, the first to need extra time since Dallas beat San Antonio in the 2006 Western Conference semifinals.
The Bucks had a 109-107 lead before Middleton missed a 3, but the Bucks got the rebound. They then turned it over on a shot clock violation to give the Nets a final chance with 6 seconds left. They threw it in across the court to Durant, who hit a spinning, turnaround jumper from just inside the 3-point line — maybe even on top of it — to tie it at 109.
Bruce Brown scored on a follow shot to open overtime but neither team scored again until Antetokounmpo’s basket with 1:12 to play. Brook Lopez blocked Durant’s shot on the other end before Middleton broke the final tie of the series.
Durant tried to prolong it again, dribbling up the floor and running down the clock before launching a long look that came up well short.
Lopez had 19 points for the Bucks, who were knocked out in this round last year after finishing with the NBA’s best record. Jrue Holiday shook off a poor shooting night to finish with 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Blake Griffin had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who thought they had a title contender after acquiring Harden but had their three superstars on the floor together for just 43 seconds in this series. They lost for the first time at home in the postseason.
The Nets had struggled with slow starts but put together a good one in Game 7, getting 10 points from Durant to lead 28-25 after the opening quarter.
Middleton and Holiday were both 2 for 11 in the first half, combining to miss all six 3-pointers in a rehash of their shooting struggles from when the series began in Brooklyn.
The Nets capitalized on the Bucks’ misfires — Antetokounmpo shot an airball on a free throw and Lopez and Holiday hit the side of the backboard on long jumpers during one ugly stretch — to open a 51-41 lead on Harden’s three-point play with 1:59 left in the half.
Down six at halftime, the Bucks came out of the break with a 7-0 burst to grab a 54-53 edge. The Nets regrouped and were ahead 79-74 with under 2 minutes remaining, but the Bucks closed strong to take an 82-81 lead to the fourth.

TIP-INS
Bucks: Antetokounmpo had his fifth straight game with 30 points and 10 rebounds, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s franchise playoff record that he set in 1974.
Nets: Durant had his third 40-point game of these playoffs. The Nets have only had three other 40-point postseason games in their NBA history. ... Brown had 14 points after playing just 4 1/2 minutes in Game 6.

No. 7 IN GAME 7s
Durant fell to 3-2 in Game 7s. though his average rose to 36.2 points. His average of 33.3 coming into the game was third among all players who had appeared in more than one Game 7, behind LeBron James (34.9 PPG in 8 games) and Michael Jordan (33.7 PPG in 3 games), according to Elias.


Germany brush aside holders Portugal to resurrect Euro 2020 hopes

Updated 19 June 2021

Germany brush aside holders Portugal to resurrect Euro 2020 hopes

  • Ronaldo scores first but Germans romp back to put away 4 goals

MUNICH: Germany got their Euro 2020 campaign back on track — and blew Group F wide open — with a 4-2 romp against Portugal in Munich on Saturday.
France’s 1-1 draw with Hungary earlier in Budapest and Germany’s win mean there is all to play for in Wednesday’s final group games when the Germans host Hungary and the French meet holders Portugal.
“Overall, it was a great performance: great attitude and great morale,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew.
“We rightly won by that amount and created many chances.”
After Cristiano Ronaldo claimed his 107th international goal, leaving him two short of Ali Daei’s all-time record, to give Portugal an early lead, the Germans roared back with four unanswered goals.
German pressure forced own goals by Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro to put the hosts 2-1 up at half-time.
A Kai Havertz goal underlined Germany’s dominance before left-back Robin Gosens capped his man-of-the-match display by heading in Germany’s fourth to add to his two assists.
Portugal hit back when Diogo Jota tapped in Ronaldo’s hooked volley to make it 4-2 with 23 minutes left.
Germany continued their domination of Portugal, who they have now beaten five consecutive times at World Cup or European Championship finals since Euro 2000.
“Germany were the better team and I take responsibility for this (defeat), but whether we progress now is up to us and how we respond,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos.
Germany created a huge amount of chances compared to Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat by France, while Portugal lacked the composure of their 3-0 win over Hungary the same day.
The match began at a frantic pace amid sweltering conditions in the Bavarian capital.
The Germans had a goal disallowed after five minutes when VAR spotted Serge Gnabry was offside as Gosens hit a spectacular volley.
However, sloppy Germany defending saw Portugal take the lead.
With only Gosens and Havertz defending at a German corner, Bernardo Silva started a counter-attack, then picked out Jota in the area with a world-class pass.
The Liverpool forward squared to Ronaldo, who sprinted into the box to slot the ball past Germany captain Manuel Neuer with less than 15 minutes gone.
It was Ronaldo’s first goal against Germany to extend his record tally to 12 goals at five European Championship finals.
However, two own goals inside four minutes turned the game.
Germany drew level when another Gosens volley was flicked toward the net by Havertz, with Dias getting the final touch as the ball flew past Rui Patricio on 35 minutes.
The second goal soon followed when Guerreiro turned Kimmich’s cross into his own net while trying to stop the ball reaching the on-rushing German forward.
Gosens caused Portugal problems all afternoon on the left flank.
His low cross was tapped in by Havertz six minutes after the break.
The Atalanta player then capped a superb display by powering in a close-range header from Kimmich’s cross on the hour mark.
German fans sang their approval, with “Oh, wie ist das schoen” (oh, is that beautiful) echoing around the Allianz Arena.
Gosens was substituted soon after with his name being chanted.
Portugal pulled a goal back when Guerreiro’s free-kick was hooked back by Ronaldo and turned in by Jota.
Germany nearly claimed a late fifth goal when Havertz’s replacement Leon Goretzka fired over after another surging attack by the hosts.
This is the first time Portugal have conceded four goals since losing 4-0 to Germany at the 2014 World Cup.


Griezmann rescues draw for France against Hungary

Updated 19 June 2021

Griezmann rescues draw for France against Hungary

  • World champions miss the chance to clinch a place in Euro 2020 last 16

BUDAPEST: Antoine Griezmann salvaged a 1-1 draw for France against Hungary in Budapest as the world champions missed the chance to clinch a place in the Euro 2020 last 16 on Saturday.

Hungary threatened to blow Group F wide open when Attila Fiola gave the hosts a shock lead in first-half stoppage time after catching out the France defense.

But Griezmann, the Golden Boot winner at Euro 2016, equalized on 66 minutes as an unconvincing France avoided a first competitive defeat since June 2019.

“It’s a point, it’s not what we were hoping for, but given the context we’ll take it all the same,” France coach Didier Deschamps said

“After a first half in which we should have led, we found ourselves trailing after their only chance.

“Obviously playing in front of their fans and that support, it gave them strength.”

Deschamps’ side top the section with four points. 

Hungary earned their first point and the Germans are bottom after losing to France in their opener.

“This is one of the best days of my life, even the best,” said Fiola.

“We got a great result, I am proud of the team, and the fans who created an amazing atmosphere today, we showed that we could play braver, more attacking football than versus Portugal, it’s been an incredible day.”

France stay in Budapest for their final game against Portugal, while Hungary travel to Munich to take on Germany, still hoping to qualify for the knockout phase for a second straight tournament.

Contending with stifling temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and a crowd approaching 60,000 at the Puskas Arena, the only Euro 2020 venue without capacity restrictions due to COVID-19, France controlled much of the first half.

Having lived up to their billing as tournament favorites in a 1-0 win over Germany, France dominated Hungary early on, creating numerous chances against a side that held out for 84 minutes before losing 3-0 to Portugal.

Peter Gulacsi clawed away Karim Benzema’s low drive, reacting sharply to keep out Griezmann’s follow-up, despite the Barcelona star being flagged for offside.

Lucas Digne, brought into the side for Lucas Hernandez as the only change made by France coach Deschamps, then picked out an unmarked Kylian Mbappe whose glancing header flashed narrowly wide.

Hungary lost captain Adam Szalai to injury midway through the first half, and the hosts were living dangerously as Benzema sliced badly from a superb flick by Mbappe before the Paris Saint-Germain forward dragged
wide himself.

France captain Hugo Lloris had warned of over confidence against a team expected to finish bottom of the group, and Les Bleus were punished for a brief lapse just before half time. Fiola collected Adam Nagy’s crossfield ball and played a one-two with Roland Sallai, outpacing Benjamin Pavard and holding off Raphael Varane to side-foot beyond Lloris at his near post.

Deschamps had waited until the 89th minute before making a substitute in the opener against Germany, but the introduction of Ousmane Dembele for Adrien Rabiot on the hour nearly brought an immediate equalizer as the Barcelona forward rattled the post.

France pulled level when a long kick upfield by Lloris sailed over the head of Nagy, with Mbappe latching onto it ahead of Hungary’s Paris-born Loic Nego.

His ball across goal was deflected into Griezmann’s path by Willi Orban as he attempted to clear, allowing the forward to slam in his seventh European Championship goal.

Gulacsi produced a fine save to turn away a fierce shot from Mbappe as France pressed for a victory that would have sent them through to the knockout phase. Instead, they must wait until Wednesday’s clash with Portugal.


Verstappen edges Hamilton for pole at French Grand Prix

Updated 19 June 2021

Verstappen edges Hamilton for pole at French Grand Prix

  • Verstappen leads Hamilton by just four points in the Formula One world championship ahead of the seventh race of the season

LE CASTELLET: Max Verstappen claimed pole on Saturday for the French Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes alongside the Red Bull driver on the front row to lay the foundations for another gripping installment in this season’s delicately poised title battle.

Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes starts on the second row with Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez.

Verstappen leads Hamilton by just four points in the Formula One world championship ahead of the seventh race of the season at the Circuit Paul Ricard on Sunday.

Hamilton won from pole the last two races staged at Le Castellet in 2018 and 2019, but Verstappen had approached qualifying as the man to beat after dominating the final two practice sessions.

Verstappen, claiming his first pole since the season-opener in Bahrain, is anxious to translate pole into a win after a shredded tire robbed him of almost certain victory in Baku last time out.

“So far it’s been a really positive weekend, on a track that is normally difficult for us. To get pole position was really nice.

“Great day for us but we have to finish it off tomorrow and get 25 points — which we lost in Baku. Great promise from our side.”

After struggling to keep tabs with his Red Bull rival in practice Hamilton was relieved to narrow the gap between them to 0.258s.

“We’ll keep pushing, keep fighting and giving it everything. Their long-run pace is a tenth or two quicker than us, but the car’s in a much different place now,” said the seven-time world champion.

“We’re going to fight for a chance into turn one and there could be some interesting strategy tomorrow, and I think there could be some rain, so a chance to see a rain master,” he added.

Carlos Sainz for Ferrari posted the fifth quickest time in qualifying to seal a third row spot with Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri joining him.

Then came Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris with Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) completing the top 10.

With qualifying watched by a 15,000-strong crowd allowed in after the easing of coronavirus restrictions, Q1 was only four minutes old when it was red-flagged after Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda lost control of his Alpha Tauri coming out of turn one, his car pirouetting gracefully into the safety barrier.

This was the fourth time out of seven Tsunoda has failed to progress to Q2.

With 22 seconds left of Q1 Mick Schumacher’s Haas crashed into a barrier, cruel luck for the German after making it into Q2 for the very first time in his fledgling F1 career but unable to take part with his car requiring repairs.

Verstappen topped Q1 with Hamilton, Perez and Bottas closest.

The Mercedes duo rose to the top of the times in Q2, with Bottas edging Hamilton who was much punchier than he had been in practice. Perez and Verstappen were next, setting up an intriguing Q3 skirmish for the Provencal pole.

After the first throw of the Q3 dice it was Verstappen on provisional pole with Hamilton alongside him, and that is how it ended after the final flurry of flying laps.

Hamilton and Mercedes were thankful to return to a traditional circuit after disastrous performances on the streets of Monaco and Baku.

But on the evidence of this qualifying the two teams’ cars are pretty equally matched.

One man relishing the compelling contest is Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff who said: “I think it’s fantastic what has been thrown at us (this season). No year is easy but this year? It’s awesome.”


Karachi knocks out Lahore, qualifies for PSL playoffs in Abu Dhabi

Updated 20 June 2021

Karachi knocks out Lahore, qualifies for PSL playoffs in Abu Dhabi

  • Karachi beat Quetta Gladiators by 14 runs in its do-or-die last league game in Abu Dhabi on Saturday
  • Karachi finished on 10 points alongside Lahore, but its better net run-rate knocked out Qalandars from the playoffs

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates: Defending champion Karachi Kings squeaked into the Pakistan Super League playoffs after beating Quetta Gladiators by 14 runs in its do-or-die last league game on Saturday.

Karachi finished on 10 points alongside Lahore Qalandars, but its better net run-rate knocked out the 2020 finalist from the playoffs.

Quetta finished on the bottom of the table with only two wins from 10 games.

Danish Aziz’s whirlwind knock of 45 runs off 13 balls lifted Karachi to 176-7. The left-hander smacked 33 runs in Jack Wildermuth’s penultimate over of the innings from four consecutive sixes and two boundaries.

Quetta, which made five changes in its last league game, ended up at 162-7. Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed was unbeaten on 51 off 33 balls.

Quetta debutant left-arm spinner Arish Ali Khan grabbed 4-28 as Karachi slipped to 121-5 in the 17th over. But Aziz’s masterful knock turned the tide in Karachi’s favor.

Wildermuth was brought into the attack in place of fast bowler Naseem Shah, who pulled a calf muscle just before he was about to bowl the penultimate over, and limped off the field.

Fast bowler Mohammad Ilyas (3-39) ran through the Quetta top order and Arshad Iqbal chipped in with 2-39.

Fast bowler Mohammad Amir twice came close to his first wicket in five PSL games, but first Wildermuth successfully overturned an lbw decision through television referral and Amir dropped a sitter off his own bowling off the next delivery to end up with 0-21.

PSL leader Islamabad United was playing Multan Sultans in the late game.