We’ve to dismiss Kallis quickly in order to win, says Laxman

first_imgThe hero of India’s second innings VVS Laxman feels that it will be important to get Jacques Kallis out quickly on Wednesday in order to level the series.2nd Test: India fancy their chance at Durban”Kallis’ wicket will be important for us. If we can get his wicket early tomorrow morning, we can create real pressure on other batsmen. Wicket is doing a bit, so our bowlers can put them in trouble. That is why I think 300 runs are quite enough,” Laxman, whose superb 96 has given India hopes of victory told the reporters at the day end media conference.”If the match goes down to the wire, then I am sure that Indian team will be able to hold nerves and do the needful to win this match,” the Hyderabadi stylist said.Laxman admitted that he was a touch disappointed of finishing four runs shy off what would have been his 17th Test century.”I feel happy that I have contributed to the team’s cause but a little but disappointed for not getting hundred. I have not scored hundred here in South Africa. But having stretched our lead past 300-run mark was good feeling,” he said.The veteran of 119 Test matches feels that it’s been difficult batting on the Kingsmead strip.”Kingsmead wicket is not easy to bat on. You can never say that I am feeling settled on this wicket. Wicket is doing something all the time and you just cannot afford to relax even for few balls. That is why I think that so many batsmen have got out after getting set.”advertisementLaxman also praised Zaheer Khan and young Cheteshwar Pujara who gave him good support in his bid to put up a challenging target for the hosts.”In the second innings, it was just a matter of getting one good partnership and luckily Zaheer played well and supported me. I think Pujara also batted well. He is playing for the first time here in South Africa. He applied himself well and showed a lot of character,” Laxman said about the Saurashtra lad.For someone who has now perfected the art of batting along with tail, Laxman feels that lot of credit should go to coach Gary Kirsten for changing mindset of the tailenders.”Today Zaheer played aggressive innings. Our tailenders work hard in the nets. They take lot of pride in their batting. Gary has told them that 25-odd runs scored by any bowler can make huge difference to the team total.””Normally I believe in rotating the strike and keep the scoreboard ticking. If any batsman is not comfortable with any particular bowler, then only I will try to keep the strike,” he concluded.With inputs from PTIlast_img read more

Aus Open: Schiavone wins 4th round match in 4 hours & 44 mins

first_imgOne of the players was so exhausted she forgot who was serving. The other kept checking the ticking clock on center court and thinking to herself, “Brava, Francesca!”.The clock finally stopped at 4 hours and 44 minutes, when French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy overcame Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 in the fourth round at the Australian Open and set a record for the longest women’s Grand Slam match in the Open era.Italy’s Francesca Schiavone (left) shakes hands with Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova after their fourth round match at the Australian Open on Sunday. Schiavone won 6-4, 1-6, 16-14. APExhausted but elated, Schiavone described the match as “fantastic!” Schiavone is now 30, the age when many players are considering retirement. But she’s on a roll, playing the best tennis of her career and creating new pieces of history as she ages. She won the French Open last year, becoming the first Italian to win a major and the oldest woman to win her first Grand Slam in four decades. She also became the oldest woman in 12 years to crack the top 10 for the first time.With Sunday’s win she set a new personal best, reaching her first Australian Open quarter-finals in 11 tries. She has played in 42 consecutive Grand Slams. She is also expected to rise from her current ranking of No. 6, which was already a career high. “When you’re in a situation like this, I think every point is the most important. It’s like every point is match point. You have to keep going,” she said. To be exact, Schiavone saved six match points and closed the final set on her third match point. “Physically you are tired,” she said. “Mentally it’s the same.”advertisementSchiavone kept fresh by dousing herself with bottled water at game changeovers, pouring it over her head and her arms and legs. Both players sought rub-downs from their trainers to ease tight muscles. The third set was a three-hour marathon, with incredible shots and saves by both players, going more-or-less game for game until Schiavone edged ahead and ended to it at a staggering 16-14.The longest previous women’s match in a Grand Slam was in Melbourne last year when Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova beat Regina Kulikova 7-6 (5), 6-7 (10), 6-3 in a match lasting 4:19.At Roland Garros last year, Schiavone gained a reputation for dropping to the court and kissing the clay, a ritual that started in the quarter-finals and continued through the final. There was no kissing the ground at Melbourne Park. Schiavone raised both arms to the sky and then walked to the net to hug Kuznetsova. “At some stage, I was like, ‘What’s the score? Who’s serving?”’ Kuznetsova said.Sunday’s record-setting match was almost spiritual. “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. I’m still alive and sitting here,” said the No. 26-ranked Russian. “I am a religious person and I believe in God. If he makes me go through this, I will go through this and keep my head high and work even harder. I’m proud of the work I’ve done,” she said.Schiavone said her focus never strayed. “I was watching the clock. I say, ‘Brava, Francesca! You are tough!” she said. The Italian expects another tough match in the quarter-finals when she faces No. 1 Wozniacki. Asked if she’ll have the energy for the next round, she smiled, “If you ask me now, I say, ‘No.”’ “But I am young. I can run,” she said. “I can do anything.”Match summary Kuznetsova vsSchiavone  69 1st Serve% 57 5 Aces 3 3 Double Faults 10 68 Unforced Errors 67 69 Winners (Including Service) 59 33 Break Point Conversion % 35 181 Total Points Won 177last_img read more

Coach Pullela Gopi Chand proud of Saina Nehwal’s achievement

first_imgPullela Gopi Chand was unable to win an Olympic medal himself, but on Saturday he realised a dream as his ward Saina Nehwal clinched a historic bronze medal in London.”It has been a long journey for Saina. It still seems like yesterday she had lost the quarter-final in Beijing and here she is today with a bronze medal for herself and the country,” coach Gopi told Mail Today.Showing almost no sign of emotion, Gopi was extremely happy that a sport which he has been associated with for almost two decades has got glory for the country.”It’s incredible. Winning a medal in badminton in the Olympics is huge and Saina has put in a very good effort,” he said.Asked about the conversation he had with Saina after her loss in the semi-finals to Wang Yihan, the proud coach said: “I told her all was not lost and she should focus on the bronze medal play-off. Today, the entire nation can celebrate the success.”At a time when in almost every sport there is a clamour for foreign coaches, Saina has stuck with Gopi. “It’s a very special relationship with Saina. We have been working together for years and from Beijing to here, it has been a long journey. There are several areas we worked together on, though it’s well known now how she has laboured on her fitness and speed,” said Gopi.So, would badminton become more popular thanks to Saina? “I would be most happy if Saina’s medal can spur on the youngsters, and a whole new generation. There has to be belief that we Indians can do it and more parents should push their children into this sport,” added Gopi.advertisementIn his view, Saina still has a lot more to achieve. “She is still young and has many more tournaments to play this year. But looking ahead, with an Olympic medal to boast of, she can look at those events where she has not done well,” he said.The Asian Games and All England Championship should figure in that list.last_img read more

Rafael Nadal puts Stefanos Tsitsipas in crosshairs after slaying giantkiller Frances Tiafoe

first_imgAnd Nadal, 32, warned the 20-year-old Tsitsipas, who knocked out Roger Federer in the fourth round, to be ready as the Spaniard would be at his best in Thursday evening’s semi-final.“For me is always the same: you are in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam, you can’t expect an easy opponent,” he told reporters.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars“Stefanos is one of the best players of the world. To have the chance to be in that final, I need to play my best, and that’s what I am looking for.”Unseeded Tiafoe, 21, had shocked fifth seed Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov, seeded 20, but the 17-time Grand Slam champion proved too formidable for the popular American in his first major quarter-final. LATEST STORIES Cardiff City player Emiliano Sala aboard missing plane He repeated the lesson at the start of the second, continuing a game plan that seemed to be based on overpowering the speedy young pretender by keeping him pinned to the baseline.‘Barbecued chicken’“I knew he was going to bring crazy intensity, I knew the ball was going to be jumping,” said Tiafoe.Tiafoe was thrust into the global limelight partnering Serena Williams at the recent mixed teams Hopman Cup and the best Grand Slam performance for the youngster prior to this tournament was third round at Wimbledon last year.He was bidding to be the youngest American man to make the semi-finals since Andy Roddick in 2003.The problem was that Tiafoe, who turned 21 on Sunday, was up against the only player in the draw not to have dropped a set.“I knew if he got hold of a forehand, it was going to be barbecued chicken,” said Tiafoe.“But point in, point out, I’ve never seen someone so locked in.”Tiafoe finally forced chances to break at 1-2 in the second set, but Nadal twice held out to keep up an amazing run of not dropping his serve since 5-3 up in third set of his first round tie against James Duckworth.He broke Tiafoe again in the first game of the third set to end any fading hopes that the American could mount a comeback. MOST READ US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants The Spaniard has been in irresistible form in Australia in his first tournament since limping out of the US Open and having foot surgery.“I feel lucky to be where I am after what I went through to be able to compete at this level,” he said.“That’s why I get up in the morning and go to the gym and work hard.”Nadal had never faced the world number 39 before but decided rather than feel his way into the match he would bludgeon Tiafoe from the start.An immediate break of serve was the result and a controlled romp to the opening set in 31 minutes as he imposed his authority.ADVERTISEMENT If Nadal wins his 18th Grand Slam title in Melbourne to move two behind Roger Federer he will create his own slice of history.His second Australian Open crown would make him the first man in the Open-era, and only the third of all-time along with Roy Emerson and Rod Laver, to win each Grand Slam on two or more occasions.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating United States’ Frances Tiafoe in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)Ruthless Rafael Nadal brutally swatted aside a bright young star in the Australian Open quarter-finals Tuesday, before setting his sights on the leading new kid on the block, Stefanos Tsitsipas.The Spanish second seed continued his relentless progress by slaying giantkiller Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in just 107 minutes of power-packed, precision tennis.ADVERTISEMENT Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Duterte orders probe on radio broadcaster slay in Dumaguete PLAY LIST 00:38Duterte orders probe on radio broadcaster slay in Dumaguete01:19Magalong: Albayalde also got SUV out of ‘agaw bato’ operation in 201300:50Trending Articles02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Lacson backs proposal to elect president and vice president in tandem Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more

PBA: Shorthanded Alaska demolishes Columbian

first_imgUS judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants Alaska played without Kevin Racal, JV Casio, Simon Enciso and Vic Manuel, but despite that, was able tobounce back from a woeful first outing just three nights ago against Rain or Shine.Carl Bryan Cruz fired 20 points built around four triples to lead the Aces, the losing Governors’ Cup finalists to the Magnolia Hotshots last December.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesRELATED VIDEO Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Amoguis sisters from Davao dominate in 2019 Batang Pinoy swimming Alaska vs Columbian. PBA IMAGESMANILA, Philippines–Alaska’s severely undermanned Aces on Wednesday night still proved too much to handle for Columbian, scoring a 94-72 ripping of the Dyip at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay for their first win in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations.With four traditional starters on sick bay, the Aces played with remarkable consistency all night long to make what started out as a close game into a blowout and deal the Dyip a third straight loss in a 2-4 card.ADVERTISEMENT Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusationscenter_img Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting MOST READ PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug war ADVERTISEMENT View comments PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes SEA Games hosting troubles anger Dutertelast_img read more

Samsung Galaxy Tab4 7.0 goes on sale for Rs 17,825

first_imgSamsung Galaxy Tab4 7.0 has been spotted on Flipkart for Rs 17,825.Available in black and white colours, the Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 is yet to be listed on its official online store in India.Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 series having three tablets–Tab4 7.0, Galaxy Tab4 8.0 and Tab4 10.1–was announced in April this year.The Tab4 7.0 comes with a 7-inch screen having 1280×800 resolution. It is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB RAM. The device runs on Android 4.4 KitKat and sports a 3-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel snapper. Its internal storage stands at 8GB and has a microSD slot for memory expansion. It packs a 4,000 mAh battery.The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 comes with 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.last_img

Defending champion Andy Murray loses at Wimbledon

first_imgAndy Murray’s reign as Wimbledon champion ended Wednesday with a straight-set loss in the quarterfinals to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, making his breakthrough after years of being touted as the game’s next top player.Dimitrov completely outplayed Murray on Centre Court, winning 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-2 to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.The 11th-seeded Dimitrov broke Murray five times, including in the final game, to become the first Bulgarian man to advance to the final four of a major. It was his first victory over a top 10 player at a Grand Slam.Murray last year became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years. He came into the quarterfinals riding a 17-match winning streak at the All England Club and had not dropped a set this tournament.last_img

CWG 2014: Boxer Vijender Singh, Devendro Singh, Mandeep Jangra in final

first_imgVijender SinghFour Indian boxers — L. Sarita Devi, L. Devendro Singh, Mandeep Jangra and Vijender Singh — made it into their respective gold medal bouts after Pinki Jangra lost her semi-final to settle for the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games here on Friday.To start the proceedings, former World Champion Sarita proved too good for Mozambique’s Maria Machongua to win all four rounds of two minutes each in the women’s 57-60 kg semi-final at the SECC Hall.Not only that, the veteran had a perfect 40 points from all three judges while her opponent had to settle for the bronze. In the final Saturday, the 32-year-old Manipuri cop will take on Australia’s Shelley Watts for the gold.Sarita’s state-mate Devendro also delivered a brilliant performance to beat Welsh Ashley Williams 3:0 in the men’s 49 kg last four bout. The 22-year-old Indian earned a maximum of 30 points from each of the three judges to enter the summit clash.The diminutive Indian faces a tough task next against defending champion Paddy Barnes of Northern Ireland in the gold medal contest.Haryana’s Jangra then came out on top against Northern Ireland’s Steven Donnelley in the men’s 69 kg semi-final. After sharing the first two rounds, Jangra attacked Donnelley to come out the winner and will take on England’s Scott Fitzgerald in the final.In-form Olympic bronze medallist Vijender also came out with a stupendous performance to beat Connor Coyle of Northern Island 3:0 on points. The two-time Commonwealth Games medallist had a perfect score of 30 points in each round to Coyle’s 27 in the men’s 75 kg bout.advertisementEarlier, Pinki brought home India’s first medal from the discipline at the 2014 Games when she lost her women’s 48-51 kg semi-final to take home the bronze.The Haryana pugilist gave a tough fight to Michaela Walsh but the Northern Ireland woman’s height and better reach helped her win all four rounds.While Judge A gave both the boxers a total of 38 points, Judge B gave Michaela a perfect 40, four more than Pinki. Judge C too ruled in favour of Michaela, awarding her 39 points to Pinki’s 37.last_img read more

Meet the man with the golden shirt!

first_imgJames Bond’s rival had a golden gun. This school dropout is acquiring a golden shirt that weighs four kilograms and costs a staggering Rs 1.30 crore.But then, Pankaj Parakh, a school dropout who made his fortune from his garment fabrication business and who is a corporator to boot, is no stranger to opulence. Whenever he ventures on to the streets in Yeola, 260 km from Mumbai, women stare at him and men glare at him as he is adorned with gold jewellery weighing at least two-three kg.Now, at a special function on his 45th birthday on Friday, Parakh will wear his latest acquisition at a huge gathering that will include the likes of Maharashtra Tourism Minister Chhagan Bhujbal of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and around a dozen legislators of different parties and celebs.With the shirt and its seven gold buttons, Parakh hopes to enter the Guinness World Records and the Limca Book of Records.”Gold has always fascinated me since I was five years old and studying in school. Over the years, I have become passionate about this royal metal. I have got this special shirt stitched to mark my 45th birthday this Friday,” Parakh told IANS in an exclusive tete-a-tete here.The shirt was designed by Bafna Jewellers of Nashik, 85 km away, and meticulously executed by Shanti Jewellers at Parel in Mumbai, where a team of around 20 select artisans spent 3,200 hours over the past two months to ‘stitch’ it.Parakh, who took delivery in Mumbai, offered a sneak peek of his treasured shirt and even wore it for a darshan of the city’s famed Siddhivinayak Temple before posing for some pictures near the temple, while curious onlookers watched from a distance.advertisementHe said that the gold used in the shirt is of 18-22 carat purity, without any mixture of any other metals – and the entire deal is properly accounted for (an assurance to snoopy tax sleuths!).Though made of gold, the shirt is fully flexible and comfortable, absolutely smooth and harmless and with a thin cloth lining the inside to avoid rubbing the body.Besides, it can be washed and hung-dried, and if torn or damaged, can be repaired and modified with a lifetime guarantee of durability, Parakh said.Recounting his love for gold, Parakh said that in his youth, he could not afford much as he left school after Class 8 and plunged into the family garments business in Yeola, a town of some 60,000 where he is an NCP corporator.”Yet, for my marriage 23 years ago, many guests considered me an embarrassment as I sported more gold than the bride,” he recalled with a chuckle.Over the years, after taking care of all his family’s needs – a good house looked after by wife Pratibha and higher education for his two doting sons Siddharth (22) and Rahul (19), both now in college – Parakh likes to plough back his excess income to finance his passion for acquiring a gilded edge.”My family is hardly impressed or interested in my love for gold. They just ignore and accept it as a part of domestic life. But the rest of my extended family thinks I am weird,” Parakh laughed.Parakh remembered that when the family attends weddings, he adorns himself with around three kg gold ornaments while his wife looks stark with her 40-50 grams!”In public, when I go around Yeola, or meet my constituents, I get extreme reactions – some say I flash my wealth, others feel I am poking fun at people’s poverty, though women are usually silent observers,” he smiled.However, he felt that though there are many wealthy people in the country, it is his passion for gold – and sheer guts, bolstered by his licensed revolver – that makes him wear so much of the precious yellow metal.After launching his independent garment business in 1982, he also plunged into politics and has been an elected corporator since 1991.Yeola is renowned for its Paithani silk saris and the Shalu and Pitamber varieties of saris, considered nationally-recognised brands.However, despite all the glitter of gold, Parakh turns out to be a genuine, down-to-earth and caring human being, deeply involved in a variety of social and educational activities.For instance, he has fully financed 120 polio operations in the past five years through the renowned Narayan Seva Sansthan Hospital of Udaipur in Rajasthan.”I spend at least a week each year to offer voluntary services at the 1,000-bedded hospital, the biggest and best for polio treatment in India. I also arrange for any requirements of the poor patients like food, medicines, surgery and blankets, from which I get immense satisfaction,” Parakh said.advertisementLast year Datta Fuge, a businessman from Pimpri-Chinchwad, entered the Guinness World Records with a gold shirt costing Rs.1.27 crore – a record that Parakh hopes to break this year.Other prominent ‘gold men’ in Maharashtra include Jagdish Gaikwad of Navi Mumbai (Thane), who rarely ventures outdoors without 3-4 kg gold and the late Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader from Pune, Ramesh Wanjale, and to a certain extent, Guinness Record holder and famed music director Bappi Lahiri of Mumbai.last_img read more

Murray State’s Ja Morant ascends to possible NBA lottery pick

first_imgGrace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Step-back 3 NBA’s new weapon, though not a shot for everyone For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes PLAY LIST 01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes04:04‘Quiel’ now a severe tropical storm – Pagasa01:07Cops linking 2 drug cases to murder of Tagudin judge – CJ Peralta All the attention has taken some getting used to.“Honestly, it surprised me,” said Morant, who also leads Murray State with 5.6 rebounds per game. “I didn’t think I would be here right now in this position I’m in. I know eventually that it would have played out in the end, but it happened fast.”If the draft projections play out, Morant could be selected right after Williamson. Their AAU team — the South Carolina Hornets — also featured guard Devontae Shuler, who now plays at Mississippi.Williamson was the man on that AAU squad, though Morant, a year older than Williamson and just 6-0, was still growing. Even so, their AAU coach, Ricky Taylor, said Morant’s point guard skills and floor leadership were “unreal” — not to mention his ability to elevate.“He could get off the ground then, but he’s getting to the rim,” Taylor said. “Those three more inches have helped him a lot. He’s definitely more aggressive now, whereas he didn’t have to be then.”ADVERTISEMENT View comments US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting And until Morant’s injured right ankle heals, he’s being careful with his highlight-reel dunks that turned him into an overnight sensation.“There’s still a little bit of pain in it,” said Morant, who turned the ankle in the early minutes against Belmont on Jan. 24. “I’m playing under the rim now, so …”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesNonetheless, his sophomore season has been over the top.The 6-foot-3 guard became a sensation with his acrobatic dunks, rivaling those by his former AAU teammate — Duke’s Zion Williamson. Murray State’s Ja Morant in action during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against SIU – Edwardsville in Murray, Ky., Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)Ja Morant is finding ways to stay grounded following his ascension to the bright lights of college basketball’s national stage.The high-flying Murray State point guard is off social media to the dismay of 141,000 followers on his verified Twitter account. He is not listening to lofty projections of being a top-three NBA draft pick if he leaves after this season.ADVERTISEMENT The national narrative about Morant almost seems like this is his first year on Murray State’s campus.But he had a solid freshman season, averaging 12.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists and helped the Racers win the Ohio Valley Conference to reach the NCAA Tournament.Now, he has taken his game to another level, averaging 23.9 points and leading the nation in assists at 10.4 per a game. He wants to become the first player to finish averaging those lofty numbers since assists became an official NCAA statistic in 1985-86.And though Morant’s draft stock is rising and financial advisers have been in constant contact with dad Tee Morant, any decision about his son’s future will have to wait until the spring.Morant said he isn’t thinking about turning pro. He’s focusing on helping the Racers (19-4) repeat as OVC champions.Nobody is counting him out, not after his performance in the game he injured his ankle. He returned after the injury and finished with 20 points and nine assist in a 79-66 loss to Belmont.“I knew how resilient he was and his threshold for pain,” Tee Morant said of his son in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “Once I saw him jogging, I knew he was coming back in.”It’s been an impressive journey for a little-known recruit playing for a small mid-major often overshadowed by the Bluegrass State’s basketball powerhouses, Kentucky and Louisville. It’s even more improbable considering Morant wasn’t even on Murray State’s recruiting radar initially.The school discovered Morant by accident in 2016 during a summer AAU camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina.He was playing 3-on-3 in an auxiliary gym when then-Racers assistant James Kane — who was there to scout guard Tevin Brown — went searching for a concession stand. He heard balls bouncing and peeked inside the gym for a look and saw Morant dominating the game. LATEST STORIES SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Morant was a late roster addition and not listed, but Kane came away enamored with him and made a hard pitch for the guard.“It got to the point where it was overwhelming to Ja and they were … calling daily,” the elder Morant recalled. “Coach Kane would call me and be like, ’tell your son to answer his phone or call me or text me or something. They were persistent.”While Kane left Murray State to join former Racers coach Steve Prohm at Iowa State, Morant ended up in Murray, Kentucky.“I knew Ja was going to be a special player,” Murray State coach Matt McMahon said. “Probably didn’t know it would happen this quick, but he’s an elite talent. Add to that his ability to make everyone around him better and the fact that he’s a hard worker who’s a winner, that sets up to have this once-in-a-lifetime type player.”Morant is among the top 15 finalists for the Wooden Award, which goes to college basketball’s top men’s and women’s player, and in the top 10 for the Bob Cousy Award for the nation’s top point guard.He could be Murray State’s highest NBA draft selection, and would follow Racer standouts Cameron Payne (first-round, 2015) and Isaiah Canaan (second, 2013) into the NBA.An improbable journey indeed. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READlast_img read more