2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Wrap (UEFA): Serbia, Iceland Secure Spots; Wales Suffer Heartbreak

first_imgGroup I:Ukraine 0-2 CroatiaIceland 2-0 KosovoFinland 2-2 TurkeyStandings:Iceland 22 points (Qualified)Croatia 20 points (Playoff)Ukraine 17 pointsTurkey 15 pointsFinland 9 pointsKosovo 1 point Group G:Albania 0-1 ItalyMacedonia 4-0 LiechtensteinIsrael 0-1 SpainStandings:Spain 28 points (Qualified)Italy 23 points (Playoff)Albania 13 pointsIsrael 12 pointsMacedonia 11 pointsLiechtenstein 0 point Serbia and minnows Iceland have become the latest teams to qualify for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.Striker Aleksandar Prijovic of Greek club PAOK scored with 16 minutes remaining to give Serbia a priceless 1-0 win at home to Georgia. The result was enough for the team to book a place as Group D winners.In the battle for the playoffs in the group, a Bale-less Wales suffered heartbreak following a 1-0 home loss to rivals Republic of Ireland courtesy James McClean’s 57th minute strike. The result was enough for Republic of Ireland to seal a playoff spot.Iceland have also qualified as Group I winners after they defeated Kosovo 2-0 at home with goals from Everton star Gylfi Sigurdsson and his Burnley counterparts Johan Berg Gudmundsson. They will become the smallest nation to feature at a FIFA World Cup in Russia next year.In a winner takes all battle, Croatia defeated Ukraine 2-0 away from home to secure a playoff spot. TSG Hoffenheim forward Andrej Kramaric was the matchwinner for the Croats as he netted a brace to help his country into the playoff picture.ResultsGroup D:Serbia 1-0 GeorgiaMoldova 0-1 AustriaWales 0-1 Republic of IrelandStandings:Serbia 21 points (Qualified)Republic of Ireland 19 points (Playoff)Wales 17 pointsAustria 15 pointsGeorgia 5 pointsMoldova 2 pointscenter_img Related2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Wrap (Europe): Former Winners Spain Book Russia SpotOctober 7, 2017In “FIFA”Denmark, Ireland World Cup Playoff Clash In The Balance After StalemateNovember 12, 2017In “FIFA”2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Review (UEFA): Poland Become Sixth European Nation In RussiaOctober 9, 2017In “FIFA”last_img read more

Miller: NBA’s offseason intrigue more riveting than regular season

first_imgKevin Durant made the cover of Sports Illustrated this month simply because he switched teams, pro basketball’s transition game again yielding in significance to its transaction game.I have to be honest, until he signed with the Lakers, Timofey Mozgov seemed about as relevant in the NBA as a Zamboni. Then, in an instant, he couldn’t have been more popular on social media had his name been Timofey Kardashian.Where players once were celebrated for breaking their opponents’ ankles, they now are recognized more for breaking their fans’ hearts.LeBron James “The Decision” is still more jarring than LeBron James “The Block,” the former also leading directly to two championships compared to only one for the latter.What these players might do in the first week of July is now undeniably titillating, particularly when compared to what they might do in the first quarter of a game in January. The TV ratings for this season’s NBA Finals were down from a year ago until Game 7 produced the highest number since Michael Jordan was making history happen for the Bulls.Yet, no one, at least based on the sheer volume being produced by various media outlets, can consume enough speculation about who’s coming, who’s going and who’s staying put.Just take Blake Griffin, who, given the rumors, is doing all three of those things and probably at the same time.Last week, the story was about the Clippers trading Griffin to Boston, perhaps at any moment. This week, the story was about Oklahoma City signing Griffin next summer to pair with Russell Westbrook.The second report ran in direct contrast to the report that had Cleveland pursuing both Griffin and Westbrook, assuming the report that had Chicago preparing to trade Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic for Griffin doesn’t happen first.At this rate, by the end of July, about the only team not linked to Griffin will be the Clippers, and they’re the ones who actually have him and, in all likelihood, will still have him when the 2016-17 season opens.Doc Rivers, who not only coaches the Clippers but also makes pretty much every important decision about the franchise not relating to Chuck the Condor, has made a point in the past of emphasizing his desire to keep Griffin.It is a well-reasoned stance, seeing how Griffin is really good at basketball and the Clippers are interested in remaining really good at basketball, too.According to those who know these things, the Clippers are focused on adding stars – that is the trend in the NBA, you know – not subtracting them.But, I will admit, we can’t be 100-percent certain about any of this stuff anymore, the only evidence needed being all those stories about how Durant was going to remain with the Thunder.There has been speculation about Griffin and the Clippers parting ways going back to the NBA trade deadline in February, when his potential landing spots were rumored to be Atlanta, Boston, New York and Denver.Eventually, someone is bound to be right about Griffin leaving, even baseball’s worst hitters – by which I mean everyone who has attempted to play left field for the Angels since 2014 — manage a batting average above .000.Until then, we must rely on the insight of “sources,” some of whom have insight that isn’t terribly insightful at all.I know The Oklahoman employs plenty of quality journalists. So I’m not sure why the newspaper felt the need to, in a story about Westbrook, report the following: “One source described him as ticked off about the Kevin Durant departure.”Really? No way. I’m pretty certain everyone else assumed this fact without consulting their sources. I mean, being abandoned in Oklahoma is bound to tick off anyone who, legally speaking, can’t be classified as livestock.But I don’t blame The Oklahoman for chasing every story angle when it comes to the Thunder. This is summer, after all, a time when the NBA is free to fascinate us without also burdening us with actual games.It is the greatest example yet of the proliferation of fantasy sports, reality having no place in a world where a player the quality of Blake Griffin, who once jumped over a car to dunk, can be passed around like an old trade-in.Yeah, so many of these rumors seem like long shots, but long shots sometimes do go in. Who knows? Soon enough, the longest of them could even be worth four points. No one knows basketball success quite like Phil Jackson, who can’t even wear all his NBA title rings simultaneously unless he pierces his ears with two of them and sticks the 13th through his nose.So it was notable recently when Jackson suggested the league could increase its appeal by adding a 4-point shot.Like the idea or not, you have to appreciate Jackson trying to come up with a way of making things more interesting.Frankly, these days, the NBA offseason is way more entertaining than the NBA in season; the games are helplessly definitive while the off-court possibilities are limitless – in both number and intrigue.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Stephen Curry after 10 years: An NBA trailblazer by the numbers

first_img Stephen Curry after 10 years: Davidson coach says Warriors picked the perfect script in 2009 It is now the 10th anniversary of the 31-year-old being selected with the seventh pick of what was a historically significant 2009 NBA Draft.Here, with the help of Opta, we take a look at the numbers behind Curry’s incredible career in the professional ranks: Related News 43.6 – Just two men have been more efficient from beyond the arc since Curry (43.6 percent of 3-pointers made) entered the league. Kyle Korver (44.5 percent) leads the way and Seth Curry, Stephen’s younger brother, is also ahead of the Warriors guard (43.9 percent).2,483 – Curry is third in the all-time list for 3-pointers made with 2,483 in 694 appearances. He trails just Reggie Miller (2,560 from 1,389 games) and Hall of Famer Ray Allen (2,973 from 1,300 games), and Curry has a better percentage than both.6 – On six occasions, Curry has put up more than 50 points in a single game. Only Harden (18) can better that figure over the past 10 years. Few players have had a greater impact on the NBA than Stephen Curry.The Golden State Warriors point guard has spearheaded the 3-point revolution that teams across the league have adopted following Curry’s success.center_img Stephen Curry after 10 years: Analyzing the six players drafted before the Warriors star in 2009 Stephen Curry by the numbers3.6 – Since the 2009-10 season, Curry has made, on average, 3.6 3-pointers per game – more than anyone else – with the other half of the “Splash Brothers,” Klay Thompson (2.9), second. Damian Lillard (2.7), James Harden (2.6) and Buddy Hield (2.5) round out the top five.90.5 – Curry leads all players in free-throw percentage since entering the league having drained 90.5 percent of his attempts. He is the only man with a percentage greater than 90 percent.131 – In May 2016, Curry made history as the first unanimous MVP. He garnered all 131 first-place votes to win the award for a second successive season.#KiaMVP @StephenCurry30 becomes 11th player (3rd guard joining @MagicJohnson & @SteveNash) to win #BackToBack MVP pic.twitter.com/gjBOL5tOuK— NBA (@NBA) May 10, 201673 – Curry’s form that season was a large reason why Golden State went 73-9 in 2015-16, breaking the record for regular-season wins set by the Michael Jordan-inspired Chicago Bulls in 1995-96 (72). 223 – In his 694 games played, Curry has made five or more 3-pointers in 223 of them. That is 97 more than the next best over the past 10 years (Harden with 126).15 – The 31-year-old also has 15 games of 10-plus 3-pointers made. Teammate Thompson has five, while JR Smith (two) is the only other man to have done it more than once in that time.402 – Curry holds the record for most 3-pointers made in a regular season having sunk 402 in 2015-16. Curry has three of the top five spots in this category, having made 354 last year and 324 in 2016-17. Harden, selected four picks ahead of Curry in 2009, is the only other man to have hit over 300 in one campaign (378 in 2018-19).last_img read more