No. 1 SFA Remains Perfect, Locks Up Title Berth With Win Over Islanders

first_imgCONWAY, Ark. – No. 1 -seeded Stephen F. Austin continued its run through the postseason with a 3-1 victory over No. 4 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Saturday afternoon inside the Farris Center in Conway, Ark. The Ladyjacks were pushed to victory by Corin Evans’ match-high 19 kills and .419 hitting percentage in addition to 20 digs from Madelynn Miller.Set OneSFA took the opening game 25-23 after tucking away 14 kills on 41 swings and a .268 hitting mark. Danae Daron opened the offense up for the Ladyjacks, who recorded six kills in their opening seven points of the afternoon to knot the score at 7-7. Evans then tucked away a pair of strikes that placed the SFA squad ahead by a two-point margin. The Islanders then took the lead 9-8 on a service ace from Faith Panhans. The two teams remained close up until the set was deadlocked at 23 points. Xariah Williams and Bailey Mulder proceeded to close out the opening game for the Ladyjacks, notching a kill and a block, respectively, to put their team up 1-0 over the Islanders.Set TwoSFA jumped ahead on the opening play and never relinquished the lead throughout the second set of the semifinal match. Williams provided the punch this time, logging four kills on five attempts with no errors to her name. In total, the Ladyjacks’ notched 19 kills en route to a .474 team hitting percentage for the set. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Madison Green woke up and tacked on seven terminations to her stat line but the SFA offense proved too powerful and ultimately took the second game 25-18.Set ThreeThe Islanders’ seemed to be clicking throughout the third set as Green (13) and Chloe Simon (11) entered double-digit kill figures for the match. A&M-Corpus Christi’s offense was a force at the net as it edged out the Ladyjacks 16-13 in the kills category. Simon sealed the set for the Islanders with another termination on an assist from Green, to put SFA away 25-21.Set FourWith a bid to the championship match at stake, Stephen F. Austin hit the gas early in the final set, jumping out to a 3-1 lead and never looking back. Evans paved the way with six more kills to bring the Ladyjacks to a .355 attack percentage for the contest. Mulder’s defensive play at the net secured a 25-19 win for SFA, wrapping up a four-block set or the Ladyjacks and punching a ticket to the championship match.Stephen F. Austin will now face No. 2 Sam Houston State for the Southland Conference Tournament Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Opening serve is slated for 3:05 p.m. CT inside the Farris Center in Conway, Ark. The match will be an exclusive presentation of ESPN+, available via ESPNPlus.com and the ESPN app.last_img read more

NBA making a ‘long-term play’ in Africa

first_img‘Mia’: Rom-com with a cause a career-boosting showcase for Coleen Garcia LATEST STORIES FILE – In this Aug. 4, 2018 file photo, Team Africa’s Joel Embiid throws balls to fans during the NBA Africa Game between Team Africa and Team World, at the Sun Arena in Pretoria, South Africa. The NBA has big plans for Africa where an office was established eight years ago in South Africa and there’s an annual exhibition game featuring NBA stars. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, file)SALY, Senegal — Timothy Ighoefe is an intimidating defender at 6-foot-11 and 245 pounds. Still, the Nigerian knows he must improve if his decision to play basketball instead of football is going to pay off and take him to the NBA.The 18-year-old Ighoefe has committed to play for Patrick Ewing at Georgetown University next season, only three years after switching to basketball in his hometown of Lagos.ADVERTISEMENT The teenage boys begin their days with a light workout at 5:30 a.m. Then it’s breakfast, school, lunch, school, gym. They’re coached by former NBA and NCAA players and have traveled to Australia, Europe and the United States for tournaments.Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA vice president and managing director for Africa, said the NBA is building from the grassroots, like the Jr. NBA programs expanding across the continent.“We are only scratching the surface,” said Fall, a Senegal native who founded the nearby SEED Academy, which works closely with the NBA’s African operation. “We are empowering young people through basketball and in the process elite talent is going come out and get into the NBA, and also feed other leagues across the world, and our future league on the continent.”This season began with 13 African-born players on NBA rosters.Tatum said details of the pan-African league will be announced within months. It will involve co-operation from FIBA and existing professional leagues, he said.“We’re trying to find a way to do it quickly, to be able to work with some of those leagues, to work with our partner FIBA, to get something up and running sooner rather than later,” Tatum said.Africa lacks good infrastructure, but Tatum cited the new Dakar Arena, as well as Rwanda’s plan for a new facility, as incentive for the NBA to bring games here. He called the Dakar Arena a “world-class facility” but wouldn’t confirm the Senegalese sports minister’s announcement moments earlier that it would host the NBA exhibition game next year.South Africa hosted the first three NBA Africa exhibitions but West African countries like Senegal and Nigeria appear more eager to embrace basketball.Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Africa. The likes of Liverpool and Barcelona boast fan clubs all over the continent, and the European start times make it easier to watch live.Ighoefe catches highlights of his favorite player, Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, on the mornings after games. He watches on YouTube and follows the Cameroonian star on Instagram. Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil African kids can play soccer with just a ball and any bit of space, even a street. But finding a basketball court, even just a cement half-court and a rim, is hard.Ibrahima Ndiaye, director of Flying Star academy in Dakar, which has produced several NCAA Division 1 players, said the NBA can dramatically increase youth participation by building courts — a lot of them.“That’s what is needed here in Africa to develop basketball in all neighborhoods,” Ndiaye said in a phone interview. “We need more and more usable infrastructure. It’s the only way to increase the number of kids who practice.”China is a huge success for the NBA, so it’s often compared to the league’s initiatives in Africa.“We’ve been in China for 30 years,” Tatum said, adding some perspective. “We opened up our office here on the continent, in South Africa, only eight years ago.”Tatum said that figure of 13 African players on NBA starting rosters could double within a decade.“For us,” he said, “it’s a long-term investment and long-term play.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Ginebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup title Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. 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Saly, a former Portuguese trading post, is now a getaway spot for Dakar’s upper class and is home to many French people.The two parquet courts were imported from the United States. Simply being indoors and with air conditioning probably makes it the best basketball facility in Senegal. A fabric, tent-like covering is stitched together over steel trusses, and repurposed shipping containers facing the courts are used for weight training.The academy is one of seven around the world, with three of them in China. It features fulltime schooling and training. It can accommodate 24 boys selected from English- and French-speaking African countries. The NBA holds camps for elite African girls, but there’s no center for them yet.“All you have to do here is just focus on basketball and school,” Ighoefe said. “You don’t have to be worried about anything else. In Lagos, it’s different. There are a lot of distractions.”ADVERTISEMENT “I need to work on my speed, running down the floor baseline to baseline,” Ighoefe said this week at the unveiling of a new training facility at the NBA’s African academy in Senegal. “My left hand, I need to improve, to finish with my left hand.”In other words, there’s potential but it’s a work in progress — just like Africa itself for the NBA.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSJapeth Aguilar wins 1st PBA Finals MVP award for GinebraSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back Chriss“It’s a continent with over a billion people, with a fast-growing economy, fast-growing young urban population. That’s a good recipe for the NBA long term,” said NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, also in Senegal for the training facility opening.The NBA has big plans for Africa. An office was established eight years ago in South Africa. 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