Doncic leads strong close by Mavericks for 108-105 win over Wolves in Game 1 of West finals

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball against Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at Target Center on May 22, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA /AFP)
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Updated 23 May 2024

Doncic leads strong close by Mavericks for 108-105 win over Wolves in Game 1 of West finals

  • Doncic was relatively quiet until he scored seven straight points over 63 seconds early in the fourth quarter
  • Minnesota host Game 2 on Friday night

MINNEAPOLIS: Luka Doncic had 15 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Dallas Mavericks to a 108-105 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday night.

Kyrie Irving scored 24 of his 30 in the first half for the Mavericks, who trailed 102-98 after a 3-pointer by Anthony Edwards with 3:37 left before an 8-0 run the Wolves didn’t stop until a tip-in with 10.5 seconds to go.

Jaden McDaniels had his third straight 20-plus-point game with 24 points for the Wolves, but Edwards — who earned his first All-NBA selection prior to the game, on the second team — was stifled for 19 points in a team effort from the Mavericks. Karl-Anthony Towns needed a late burst to get to 16 points and finished 6 for 20 from the floor.

The star power in this series is strong, and for the first night at least the Mavericks got what they needed from their leading duo while the Wolves largely struggled to run the offense around theirs.

Dallas had a 62-38 advantage in points in the paint to offset a 6-for-25 shooting performance from deep.

Towns came to life with a long jumper, a lob to Rudy Gobert for a slam and a 3-pointer on a 2-minute burst to give the Wolves the lead back with 4:39 to go on the way to a 10-0 run that Doncic ended with a 3-pointer. P.J. Washington, who had 13 points and seven rebounds, hit from deep to put the Mavericks back in front with 1:56 to go.

Towns thought he tied the game with a putback dunk on the next possession, but that was waved off for basket interference.

Edwards, who went scoreless in the third quarter, added 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Neither team led by more than nine. Minnesota host Game 2 on Friday night.

Doncic was relatively quiet until he scored seven straight points over 63 seconds early in the fourth quarter, and the Mavericks stretched that to a 13-0 run for a 97-89 lead that Edwards finally ended with a 3-pointer after another helter-skelter possession.

The Wolves had two days off after dethroning defending champion Denver with a Game 7 comeback from a 20-point deficit to win the second-round series, and the transition was sharp from the Nuggets and NBA MVP Nikola Jokic’s deliberate and powerful style to the pick-and-roll-heavy Mavericks.

Irving’s stunning burst on the break and on the drive presented a unique challenge the Wolves and their league-leading defense didn’t face in the last round, when they held the Nuggets to an average of 85 points over their four wins. The Mavericks frequently sprung loose off screens for wide-open dunks.

McDaniels, who played his usual relentless defense on the perimeter, was the catalyst on the other end of the court too with five 3-pointers in the first half, but Towns had trouble getting shots to fall and Edwards found his driving lanes constantly clogged. The Mavericks have cranked up their defense since adding Daniel Gafford and Washington at the trade deadline, as top-seeded Oklahoma City can attest after losing in six games in the last round.

The Wolves have had the superior depth in each round so far, and Kyle Anderson gave them a vital 11 points in the first half. Naz Reid had 15 points, including a fast-break layup followed by a steal from Doncic to set up a 3-pointer by Edwards at the end of the first quarter that put the Wolves up 33-27 and had the crowd roaring.

The Wolves and these long-frustrated fans have reached unfamiliar territory with this team that has given the franchise just its second Western Conference finals appearance ever. The Mavericks were here just two years ago, but before Irving arrived. He’s the only player of significance in this series with a championship ring, having helped Cleveland win it all in 2016.

Diriyah Club ownership transferred to PIF-owned firm, boosting Saudi sports sector

Updated 24 sec ago

Diriyah Club ownership transferred to PIF-owned firm, boosting Saudi sports sector

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s sports sector is set for a major boost as ownership of Diriyah Sports Club transfers from the Ministry of Sport to Diriyah Co., a firm owned by the Public Investment Fund. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, serving as chairman of the PIF company’s board of directors, has also approved the formation of Diriyah Sports Club’s board, chaired by Prince Khalid bin Saud. Board members include Jerry Inzerillo, Mohammed Al-Khreiji, Ayman Al-Fallaj, and Hamad Al-Bati, according to a statement. 

The moves align with strategic goals to develop and enhance Diriyah as a premier cultural, tourist, entertainment, and sports destination. The initiative also aims to empower the private sector to play a more significant role in the sports field, in line with Saudi Vision 2030 goals. 

Moreover, this initiative is part of the Sports Clubs Investment and Privatization Project, announced by the Crown Prince in June 2023. The project, rolled out in collaboration with the National Privatization Center, aims to accelerate the development of Saudi Arabia’s sports industry by encouraging business sector involvement with clubs. 

Founded in 1976, Diriyah Club is gearing up to compete in the Saudi Second Division League for the upcoming 2024/2025 sports season, having been assigned to Group 2 by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation. 

Thomas Mueller ends Germany career following Euro 2024

Updated 57 min 28 sec ago

Thomas Mueller ends Germany career following Euro 2024

  • Mueller, who turns 35 in September, was a key member of the German team that won the 2014 World Cup

BERLIN: Germany striker Thomas Mueller said Monday he was retiring from international football after a disappointing Euro 2024 in which the host nation were eliminated in the quarter-finals.
“After 131 national team games and 45 goals, I am saying goodbye,” Mueller said in a video statement announcing his decision.
Mueller, who turns 35 in September, was a key member of the German team that won the 2014 World Cup.
The charismatic forward also scored the opening goal in Germany’s unforgettable 7-1 win over the hosts Brazil in the semi final.
“When I played my first international match for the German national team over 14 years ago, I could never have dreamed of all this,” Mueller said in the video.
“It always made me very proud to play for my country. We celebrated together and sometimes shed a tear together,” he said.
A tearful Mueller had hinted at retirement following Germany’s exit from Euro 2024.
The tournament hosts lost 2-1 in the quarter-final to Spain, who went on to lift the trophy on Sunday against England.
After the Spain game, Mueller said he would hold talks with national team coach Julian Nagelsmann and decide whether it was the “sensible option” to step aside in favor of younger players.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is the only member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning side still involved in the national team set up.
Germany and Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos announced before Euro 2024 that he would retire from football after the tournament.
Unlike Kroos, Mueller will continue to play for his club Bayern Munich, where he is under contract until 2025.
Only Lothar Matthaeus and Miroslav Klose have played more games for Germany than Mueller, who is also Germany’s sixth highest goalscorer of all time.

Sharjah Self-Defense dominates second round of Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Jiu-Jitsu Championship

Updated 15 July 2024

Sharjah Self-Defense dominates second round of Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Jiu-Jitsu Championship

  • Tournament featured No-Gi competitions at Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai on Sunday

DUBAI: Sharjah Self-Defense Sports Club claimed the top spot in the second round of the Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Jiu-Jitsu Championship, which featured No-Gi competitions at Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai on Sunday.

Organized by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, the championship saw athletes from the UAE’s premier clubs and academies take to the mats in various categories, including Youth, Adults, and Masters.

At the end of Sunday’s competitions, Sharjah Self-Defense Sports Club emerged victorious, while M.O.D UAE took second place, and Al-Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club secured third.

The championship follows a comprehensive ranking system that recognizes clubs and athletes based on performance and results across the five-round series. In the first round of Gi competitions held last month at Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi, Al-Ain Club topped the medal table, with Sharjah Self-Defense Sports Club in second place and Baniyas Club in third.

Sheikh Suhail bin Butti Suhail Al-Maktoum, executive director of the sports development sector at the General Authority of Sports, expressed his pride in the organization and level of competition at the championship. He also extended his gratitude and appreciation to the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, or UAEJJF, for their efforts in making the championship a success and recognized its efforts in solidifying the UAE’s global leadership in jiu-jitsu.

“The championship reflects the significant progress of jiu-jitsu in the UAE, as these championships contribute to elevating the sport’s status at both local and international levels,” he said. “This pioneering event exemplifies our commitment at the General Authority of Sports to support and host initiatives that raise awareness and encourage younger generations to engage in sports, develop their skills, and compete at the highest levels.”

Meanwhile, Mohamed Salem Al-Dhaheri, vice chairman of the UAEJJF, praised the success of the second round of the championship, highlighting that this achievement was a direct result of support from the UAE’s leadership. Al-Dhaheri said that the leadership’s support has been the cornerstone of the significant strides the country had made in the realm of sports, particularly jiu-jitsu, enabling the athletes to excel on various platforms.

“The athletes performed exceptionally in today’s No-Gi competitions across various categories, improving the overall quality of the championship,” he said. “This highlights the importance of the championship for clubs and academies, as a large number of athletes participated, aiming to increase their chances of winning the title at the end of the season. The championship’s ranking system encourages clubs to invest in talent, participating with the maximum number of athletes throughout all rounds of the championship. Additionally, including the under-12 category in No-Gi competitions for the first time adds value to the event, showing our commitment to nurturing young athletes and giving them important competitive experiences.”

Fawzia Mohammed Faridoon, acting director of the sports events department at the Dubai Sports Council, said that she was delighted “to be part of the Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Jiu-Jitsu Championship, setting new creative standards of excellence and innovation in local Jiu-Jitsu championships.”

Naser Albreiki, who clinched the gold medal in the Masters/94 kg category for M.O.D UAE, said: “I’m proud of this achievement today after tough matches with other champions. The competitions required special skills, strength and technique, with less emphasis on ground fighting. I’m thankful to my coaches and teammates, whose support was essential for my success. It’s an honor to be part of a championship that helps keep the UAE at the forefront of global jiu-jitsu.”

E.ON Next Veloce Racing claim back-to-back Extreme E wins in Scotland

Updated 15 July 2024

E.ON Next Veloce Racing claim back-to-back Extreme E wins in Scotland

  • Team drivers Molly Taylor and Kevin Hansen lead the championship standings with 87 points, 9 clear of nearest rivals ASXE

SCOTLAND: E.ON Next Veloce Racing made it a double success in round four of the Extreme E season four by winning the Hydro X Prix on Sunday in Scotland.

Kevin Hansen and Molly Taylor led home the ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team, with Andretti Altawkilat completing the top three in Dumfries and Galloway.

Rosberg X Racing were fourth after their progress was hindered by a puncture, while the NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team took the Redemption Race honors ahead of Legacy Motor Club in Association with Jimmie Johnson.

E.ON Next Veloce Racing lead the Extreme E championship standings with 87 points, nine clear of nearest rivals ASXE.

“Today was a real scrap,” said Taylor. “I think in Extreme E, particularly now with how close the competition is, the fight to get to the Grand Final is insane and it can go any which way.

“Once you get to that final the slate is wiped clean, and with the support of our fans in GridPlay we were able to put ourselves in a good position on the start line.

“It’s one thing to be fast on track, which we know we have been all weekend, but we had to execute it under pressure so it feels great to have managed that.

“It’s great to be heading to Sardinia at the top of the championship but we can’t rest on our laurels now. We have learnt a lot this weekend and we need to keep pushing for the remainder of the season.”

Colleague Hansen added: “Another win on home soil, what more could you wish for. It’s so tricky with double-headers because you can’t let yourself go at any point.

“Getting excited takes away from your focus and we had to be able to perform today too. For sure it was not a straight road to get here, but that just makes this win all the more satisfying when we were able to execute such a great race in the final.”

Grand final

Opening the round four final, E.ON Next Veloce’s Hansen stormed into an early lead ahead of ASXE’s Laia Sanz. RXR and Andretti Altawkilat followed behind, with Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Catie Munnings closing contesting third spot.

Hansen built a lead of 10 seconds by the time the teams approached the Switch Zone, whilst RXR suffered a puncture allowing Munnings in the Andretti Altawkilat ODYSSEY 21 to pass during the second lap. The Brit did, however, pick up a time penalty for dropped flags.

After the driver change, E.ON Next Veloce’s Taylor set off with an advantage of 8.8 seconds as ASXE’s Fraser McConnell looked to close the gap as they headed out for lap three.

Racing until the finish line, ASXE’s McConnell was all over the rear bumper of Taylor’s E.ON Next Veloce car in the closing moments, but was unable to make the crucial move for the win.

Redemption race

The race saw Jenson Button’s JBXE fly off the start line with Andreas Bakkerud storming into an early lead, chased by Legacy Motor Club’s debut British driver Patrick O’Donovan.

The second lap saw a battle up the hill between the JBXE driver and Legacy M.C.’s O’Donovan who got ahead on the first lap to take first place with a decisive overtake, with NEOM McLaren XE’s Christina Gutierrez running ahead of SUN Minimeal’s Timo Scheider.

A strong battle developed between Scheider and Guttierez, with the German unfortunately picking up a 10-second penalty as he took down a Waypoint flag.

As they headed into the switch zone, all four teams were separated by just a few seconds. Legacy M.C.’s Gray Leadbetter was first out of the Switch Zone, closely followed by NEOM McLaren XE’s Ekstrom.

The Swede, who celebrated his birthday in Scotland this weekend, quickly took the lead, using his ENOWA Hyperdrive to pass. Issues for JBXE and SUN Minimeal dropped them out of contention.

Round 4 | Hydro X Prix Grand Final Result

1. E.ON NEXT Veloce Racing 9:04.021

2. ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team +0.653

3. Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E (including 20-second time penalty) +52.034

4. Rosberg X Racing +1:30.620

Redemption Race

1. NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team 9:06.275

2. Legacy Motor Club +8.782

3. SUN Minimeal Team (including 10-second time penalty) +29.924

4. JBXE (including 20-second time penalty) +39.644

Championship points standings

1. E.ON Veloce Racing: 87

2. ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team: 78

3. Rosberg X Racing: 67

4. Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E: 62

5. NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team: 46

6. Legacy Motor Club in Association with Jimmie Johnson: 46

7. SUN Minimeal Team: 24

8. JBXE: 21

Selangor Red Giants dedicate triumph to fans worldwide who traveled to Saudi Arabia

Updated 15 July 2024

Selangor Red Giants dedicate triumph to fans worldwide who traveled to Saudi Arabia

  • Malaysia outfit beat Saudi Arabia/Philippines side Team Falcons AP Bren 4-3 in the ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ final at the Esports World Cup on Sunday to earn $1m top prize

RIYADH: Selangor Red Giants dedicated their “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” trophy win at the Esports World Cup on Sunday to the fans who came to Saudi Arabia from across the globe to support them.

The Malaysia side beat Saudi Arabia/Philippines outfit Team Falcons AP Bren 4-3 in a best-of-seven final to win $1 million.

The epic encounter took place in front of a capacity crowd at the SEF Arena at Boulevard Riyadh City, with the crackling atmosphere resembling a vital World Cup football match.

Simon Lim, the chairman of Selangor Red Giants, said: “We would like to thank all the traveling fans. They came from Jordan, from Egypt, from Dubai, from Abu Dhabi, and also from Malaysia as well.

“They came all the way here to support the boys and that isn’t easy. They spent good money to be here, and we are truly, truly grateful. They are our special fans, and this trophy is dedicated to all the fans here.”

Sekys, the Selangor Red Giants’ Jungler, said the final — in which he was declared the most-valuable player — was the “most intense match” of his career.

Arcadia, the head coach of Selangor Red Giants, added: “Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s real — it still feels like a dream. We are so happy. It means everything to us.

“We really worked hard for this win. We are grateful to all the support we had in order to win. It’s so hard for me to put into words how we are feeling right now and how happy we are.”

Team Falcons AP Bren may have ended in second place, but they produced a sterling performance.

Super Marco, the Gold Laner for Team Falcons AP Bren, said: “It was the best experience of my life. I got to meet my idols since I was a kid, and it was the best experience meeting them.

“The organization here is super good. We hope that this continues for a long time. Thank you to everyone, it has been superbly executed.”

Running from July 3 to Aug. 25, with 22 tournaments across 21 titles, the world cup is the pinnacle of professional esports.

The upcoming week three of the Esports World Cup features action from the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters,” “Counter-Strike 2,” and “PUBG Mobile.”