By tim morris Staff Writer Brookdale women prove they are among GSAC’s best Basketball team off to 13-2 in second full season JEFF HUNTLEY Jess Moreno of Brookdale goes up for a shot in a game against Salem Community College Thursday in Middletown. Project Adventure was quite a discovery for the Brookdale Community College women’s basketball team. Last summer, Brookdale’s coaches Marianne Campacci and Joanne Cobb took their team to the Catskills for one week of bonding and torturous workouts to get a head start on the 2000-2001 season. The lessons that they learned in August about each other have translated to wins on the hardwood. “The girls became the best of friends,” Campacci explained. “At camp, the girls developed a trust in one another and worked very hard. I think they made a lot of progress there. They are a great group of kids.” The Jersey Blues, in just their second full season of competition, have taken the Garden State Athletic Conference by storm this winter thanks to their preseason camp. Last Thursday’s 71-53 win over Salem in Lincroft lifted the Brookdale women to 13-2 on the season. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” noted Campacci. “We knew that we had a really good recruiting class, but we didn’t know how it would jell. Going to camp helped bring this team together. “This is a very unselfish team,” she added. “There are no jealousies whatsoever.” Proof of how solid the Jersey Blues recruiting class was is the fact that they start four freshmen and sophomore guard Lori McDermott. McDermott, a Middletown South grad, remains the Jersey Blues’ foundation, the team’s best all-around player. But she had to adjust from being the team’s point guard to a new, three-guard rotation with freshmen Jessica Moreno (Marist) and Casandra Crawford (Matawan Regional). “Lori is a very unselfish player,” said Campacci. “She was an All-American candidate last year. This year her scoring numbers are down, but that doesn’t bother her. She just wants to win. “Her assists and steals are up this year; she’s playing the complete game,” Campacci added. As for the three-guard rotation, Campacci said that any one of the three can play point guard at any time. “The girls are adjusting to it,” she said. “I told them that wherever you go to on the floor, that’s the position you play. If you are in the three spot, play the three spot.” Sharing the point guard duties has worked remarkably well. The win over Salem was a perfect example of what the Blues have been doing. Moreno and Crawford combined for 15 points and 17 assists, while McDermott popped for a game-high 20, including four three-pointers. That kind of balance in the backcourt has been difficult for teams to defend. Forwards Laura Hensley (St. Rose) and Toni Ingenito (Brick Memorial) are the other freshmen starters, and they provide a needed presence under the basket to keep Brookdale from being a one-dimensional, guard-oriented team. They can hurt teams in the paint. Ingenito had a double-double against Salem, scoring 16 points and pulling down 14 rebounds. The addition of the freshmen has given the Jersey Blues a lot of depth. Guard Daisey Billingsley (Freehold Borough), forward Danielle Odom (Middletown South) and 6-2 center Kelly Griffin (Cave Spring, Va.) are major players in the rotation. So, too, are guards Heather Andrews (Raritan) and Danielle Willis (Brick Memorial). Guard Amanda Gesualdo (Mater Dei) and forward Nicole Raimondi (Marlboro) round out the 2001 BCC team. About the only thing that has gone bad for the Jersey Blues was the loss last week of 6-1 center Andrea Thomas (Raritan) to a knee injury. Fortunately, Brookdale has the depth this year to overcome the loss of a frontline player. The Brookdale women, ranked 11th in the country, could find themselves in the top 10 in the national junior college polls this week following their big win over Salem. Although that isn’t lost on her team, Campacci said that the young Jersey Blues are too busy trying to build the program up to be satisfied at where they are at midseason. “The girls know they have a lot to prove,” noted Campacci. One of the things they have to prove is that they can play with Passaic, the GSAC lead. Passaic handed the Blues their only conference loss of the season. Brookdale gets Passaic in Lincroft in the rematch on Feb. 6. Brookdale is home tomorrow against Bergen and then hits the road for four straight games before returning home to meet Passaic on Feb. 6.
By tim morris Staff Writer Brookdale tennis team still serving aces on the courts Blues’ dual meet winning streak is at 24 The beat goes on for the men’s tennis team at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft. With just one player returning from the 2001 team that finished third at the Junior College National Championships, the Jersey Blues haven’t missed a beat. With a 2-0 record in dual meets, BCC’s men have extended their winning streak to 24 straight. The Blues also won the prestigious Hartford (Md.) Invitational, beating the defending national champions Nassau. The invitational brought together the best junior college teams in the Northeast. Brookdale was the defending champion. “This team looks very, very strong,” said head coach Rich Karpinski. “It is completely new. It was nice to get a crop like this. They work very hard. “They saw at the Hartford Invitational what they need to do on the national level,” he added. “They are real excited about the season.” Ron Lampa is the lone returner for the Blues and it doesn’t get any better than what he brings to the team. The sophomore won the national championship at second singles in 2001. He is playing first singles this year and finished second at Hartford. “Ron has great groundstrokes and is a more powerful player this year,” said Karpinski. “That has taken him to a higher level. He’s serve and volleying more and getting to the net with a short ball. “His ability to attack and execute at the net made the difference at the nationals,” he added. “He peaked at the right time last year.” Lampa has had plenty of competition for his No. 1 slot from his brother, Able Lampa. They were a dynamite tandem for Ocean Township High School and doing the same for the Jersey Blues. “Able is big and strong and has a great serve-and-volley game,” said Karpinski. “He’s right on his brother’s tail.” Able Lampa made his first spring tournament a memorable one by winning second singles at Hartford. He and Ron teamed up at first doubles to take second. Ryan Krone is playing third singles for Brookdale. He has very strong groundstrokes, according to Karpinski. Krone just needs to be a little more consistent from the baseline, and Karpinski is confident that will come with more match play under his belt. He does hit the ball hard. At fourth singles, Leon Harary also brings a solid baseline game. He is good with his forehand and backhand and has been serve and volleying more. His solid game is ideal for doubles. Jim Brennan won the fifth singles flight at Hartford and has been a welcome addition to the team. He is a human backboard and keeps the ball in play and runs his opponents all over the court, winning many of his matches by frustrating his opponent into mistakes. At Hartford, Harary and Brennan proved to be an ideal team as they won second doubles. Another good addition to the team is Abe Saka at sixth singles. Like most of his teammates, his game starts with the fundamentals — a very steady game from the baseline. And, like his teammates, the winning edge is his ability to play well at the net. Brookdale’s reserve seventh player is Tim Lopez, another player with dependable groundstrokes. Saturday and Monday, the Jersey Blues will look to add to the dual meet winning streak with home matches against Gloucester and Mercer (their top competition). The Region XIX Tournament, which is the first step toward the NJCAA tournament, is May 3-4 at Mercer Community College. The NJCAA will be held later in the month in Tyler, Texas.
The Middletown Babe Ruth 12-and-under girls softball team recently won its division in its own tournament, and followed it up with a second-place finish in the North New Jersey Babe Ruth Softball District 1 Tournament. The 12-and-under girls started their tournament season on June 27 with games against Lodi and Holmdel. Against Lodi, Middletown jumped out to an early lead before finishing them off in a lopsided 16-4 victory. Middletown pitching held Lodi to only two hits and tallied eight strikeouts in four innings. Middletown’s second game of the day was against neighboring Holmdel. Middletown again jumped out early, scoring five runs in the first inning en-route to a 14-5 victory. Middletown continued its championship march on June 29 when they met up with the Freehold All-stars. Middletown pitcher Liza Kuhn dominated, hurling a complete-game no-hitter, striking out 12 batters in a five-inning, 11-1 victory. Middletown came back to the field the next night to face neighbor and bitter rival Hazlet in their final seeding game. Hazlet jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against Middletown, but Middletown chipped away in the bottom of the third inning, when Amanda Nunez and Chelsey Thomas reached base on a walk and bunt single and both came around to score on timely steals on the base paths. With two outs in the third, two more Middletown players, Kaitlyn Robertson and Julia Kuhn, worked tough walks and both put on a running display, stealing second, third and home to give Middletown a 4-3 lead, which they never relinquished. The victory against Hazlet secured the first seed in the tournament for Middletown, who went an impressive 4-0 in round-robin play, defeating their opponents by a combined total of 51-13. July 3 marked Middletown’s next game, a semifinal matchup with an always good Manalapan team. Middletown came out swinging, and scored an 8-1 victory and a berth in the tournament championship game. Middletown’s offense was paced by Valerie Andrew, who smacked two more home runs, her third and fourth of the tournament. That evening pitted Middletown against neighbor and nemesis Hazlet in the 12-and-under championship game. Hazlet jumped out to a 1-0 lead after batting in the top of the first inning on an RBI single from Alexa Ryan. Middletown answered in their half of the first, scoring two runs and taking a 2-1 lead. After getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the second, Middletown scored their final two runs in the bottom of the inning. Nunez, Julia Politano, Thomas and Michelle Heilmann had four straight hits that led to Middletown’s final two runs. Middletown held on getting great pitching by Kuhn and Heilmann; and solid defense from their fielders. Hazlet scored only one run in their final four at-bats. After winning the Middletown Babe Ruth Summer Softball Tournament, the girls moved on to the North New Jersey Babe Ruth Softball District 1 Tournament held up in Iselin. Middletown opened up on July 9 facing the Sandy Hook All-Stars. Middletown hitters put on a hitting demonstration, clubbing out 28 runs on their way to a 28-2 victory. Liza Kuhn and Politano combined for a no-hitter. The victory advanced Middletown to the semifinals of the winner’s bracket. Middletown again faced Manalapan in a semifinal matchup. Middletown’s hot hitting continued with a 12-2 victory. Pitcher Julia Kuhn held the Manalapan Belles to a single hit. The victory gave Middletown a berth to the winner’s bracket final against a perennial powerhouse Iselin team. In the winner’s bracket final, Middletown came out flat and lost a tough game to Iselin. The loss, which was Middletown’s first of the tournament season, dropped Middletown to the loser’s bracket final, and pitted them again against rival Hazlet, who defeated a tough Cheesequake team to earn the rematch. The matchup of Middletown and Hazlet was their third of this early tournament season. After holding Hazlet scoreless in the first inning, Middletown scored a run in their half of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Hazlet mounted a rally in the second inning, scoring four runs to take a 4-1 lead. In the bottom of the third, Middletown narrowed the gap to 4-2, getting a double from Andrew, a walk from Chelsey Thomas, and hits by Kuhn, Vicky Cruz and Ashley Adams. Hazlet answered with two runs in the top of the fourth to increase their lead up to 6-2. Middletown bounced right back, scoring two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead back down to two at 6-4. In the top of the fifth, Hazlet added three more runs to rebuild their lead to five (9-4). With their backs against the wall, Middletown took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning by scoring six runs. Heilmann started the rally with a single, followed by a Robertson walk, back-to-back singles by Julia Kuhn and Andrew, and a double by Cruz. Following singles from Liza Kuhn and Nunez, the final run was scored on a walk to Julia Politano. Middletown sent 11 batters to the plate in the six-run fifth inning. Facing defeat and elimination from the tournament, Hazlet mounted a charge of their own. After three straight walks loaded the bases, Hazlet tied the game on a run-scoring single. Middletown got out of the base-loaded jam, allowing only that one run. Middletown failed to score in the bottom of the sixth, and the game went to extra innings. The teams both went scoreless in the seventh inning, and Middletown held Hazlet scoreless in the top of the eighth inning. Middletown came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning, looking to end the game and advance to the district championship. Politano led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk. Middletown got back-to-back singles from Heilmann and Robertson to load the bases with no outs. With the winning run standing 60 feet away on third base, Julia Kuhn ripped the ball to left center field to bring home the winning run. The victory against Hazlet gave Middletown a rematch against Iselin for the district championship. Middletown fell short in the final, but still was able to secure a second-place finish in the North New Jersey Babe Ruth District 1 Tournament and earned a berth in the state tournament. The Middletown 12-and-under All-Stars are Ashley Adams, Valerie Andrew, Vicky Cruz, Brittany Foster, Michelle Heilmann, Marie Kaylor, Julia Kuhn, Liza Kuhn, Shawna Lougee, Amanda Nunez, Mary Piasecki, Julia Politano, Kaitlyn Robertson, Nicole Spinelli and Chelsey Thomas. The team is Managed by Jim Poitano, with the assistance of coaches Steve Kuhn, Billy Thomas, Manny Soler, and scorekeeper Cliff Andrew.
Fishing has been very productive on the Sea Girt reef, with as many bluefish as you can handle and most anglers hitting their limit. Pool fish have been between 10 and 13 pounds. Miss Belmar Princess sails every night at 7:30, returning around 2 a.m. Jimmy and son Ryan Granito from Old Bridge had a great day of father-andson bonding on the Keyport pier. Ryan was set up for some bluefish action with peanut bunker and wound up playing catch and release with three flatties. Just when the season ends, the fluke know to head in close for some free meals. Get the poles and kids, and check out the new fishing pier. Crabby’s Bait & Tackle is right on the corner; stop in and they will set you up for some good family fishing on the pier. Fish or no fish, it’s the effort that the kids love. NJSaltwaterfisherman.com reported that Capt. Allen Gonzalez on Reel Class Fishing Charters from Point Pleasant had Bill Tevlin, his girlfriend Steph, Bluefish Steve, and Steve’s buddy Ron aboard for a jig-troll sea bass trip. Set up on the troll with Clark spoons and looking for albies (albacore) and bonito between Bay Head and Mantoloking, they found the no-luck water conditions were not on their side. They managed to locate birds working about two miles off when the ocean erupted with alligator-size bluefish chasing rain fish, peanuts and snapper blues clear out of the water among a fleet of around 40 boats. They used light spinning gear and tackle, jigs and top water plugs, and every blue was 12 to 15 pounds. From the chaos of jigging monster blues, they shot out to the reef for some sea bass. The wind made it difficult, with only a few shorts, so they finished up the ocean portion of the trip jigging a few more big blues in on the beach. Eventually, they headed into the river, put on some small storm shads and threw them at the bridges, and were rewarded with a few stripers, tops being about 24 inches taken by Steph. If you ever chartered a trip before, these are what great captains do. They mix it up and are not afraid to try everything they can to catch fish, any fish. That’s what a good charter is all about. To charter Capt. Allen, give him a call at (201) 248-5281 or look him up at www.reelclassfishing. com. Fish on. Updates and tournaments Art Bokor and teammate Joe Keris, both of Robbinsville, captured many of the awards at the Boomer Esiason Foundation (BEF)- FCA Montauk (N.Y.) Slam, a Redbone @ Large series event. Besides runnerup team honors, Bokor was the runner-up angler, scored as the top rod angler for both days, was named the spin/plug division champion, and recorded the most bluefish and albie releases. He and Keris flank their guide, Capt. Chris Jensen, of Hope, Warren County, catch-and-release fishing for blues, false albacore and stripers. The money raised from the celebrity charity tournament went to the BEF to be used for scholarships for students with cystic fibrosis. With their BEF- FCA Montauk Slam Redbone@ Large tournament awards, Tim Borski, Tavernier, Fla., and Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, Tampa, Fla., Redbone series tournament director Capt. Gary Ellis, Islamorada, Fla., and guide Capt. Paul Dixon, East Hampton, N.Y., Borski was named the grand champion of the Boomer Esiason Foundation-partnered Redbone event, and Boggs was the celebrity grand champion. The wins qualified both Borski and Boggs for invitations to the IGFA Inshore World Championship in 2008. The FISH (Fishing in Seaside Heights) Children’s Fishing Tournament, sponsored by Seaside Heights Fishing Club, will be held Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration begins 9 a.m. at Franklin Avenue Stage. The tournament is free to all children 16 years of age and younger. Bait and fishing rigs will be supplied free, so get out there – no excuses. There will be awards for first, second, and third place, and a door prize to each participating child. There will also be free lunch on the beach, and a free T-shirt to the first 200 children who register. Dress warm, and get the kids into fishing. All you need are the poles. RON NUZZOLO Miss Belmar Princess keeps local anglers busy
PREMIER League champions Manchester City will be without eight players for Sunday’s Community Shield clash with Arsenal at Wembley (5pm), the traditional curtain-raiser to the English season.Speaking at a news conference, manager Manuel Pellegrini said captain Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Sergio Aguero, Martin Demichelis, Frank Lampard and Bacary Sagna had only returned to training this week after being given extended time off after the World Cup.Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo had already been ruled out with a broken foot.“Frank Lampard is not ready to play,” Chilean Pellegrini said.“All the players that arrive this Monday, Demichelis, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Sagna, Fernandinho, Lampard and Aguero, they have a special pre-season this week and next week.“Negredo has at least two or three months that he won’t play. He is coming to Carrington again and he is working on different things.”Pellegrini said beating last season’s FA Cup winners Arsenal was important for setting the right tone for the defence of their league title.City suffered surprise defeats to Cardiff City and Aston Villa early on last season, and while they eventually fought their way to the Premier League summit, Pellegrini was keen to avoid a similarly slow start.“It’s not a friendly match,” he added. “It is an important game against an important team in Arsenal.“Maybe both teams, Arsenal and our team, do not arrive in our best moment because both have a lot of players who have just arrived from the World Cup but I think it will be a very good game and important for both teams to win it.“We have to start from zero, we won the title last year but now plenty of teams have the same option.”As for Arsenal, summer signing Alexis Sanchez is set to make his competitive debut.Sanchez could be one of three debutants for the Gunners at Wembley, with Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers also available. New goalkeeper David Ospina is a doubt with a thigh problem.Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski are not available. The trio do not return to training until Monday after being given extra rest following their World Cup triumph with Germany last month.Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain believes Arsenal are still benefiting from the feel-good factor of winning the FA Cup and thinks the triumph could spur the team on to more success this season.The Gunners ended a nine-year wait for silverware when they beat Hull at Wembley in May – a victory that eased the disappointment of another underwhelming league finish.Arsenal spent more than 100 days at the top of the Barclays Premier League last season but had to settle for fourth, seven points behind City.“When there’s a lot of talk about a team that should or could be winning things and it’s not happening it can become a little bit frustrating,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said.“There’s been a little bit of negative media about Arsenal in recent years but we always believed we would win a trophy soon and the squad we’re putting together could do it.“The fact it did happen, I don’t know if it was a relief, it was a really nice reward for the togetherness we’ve had to show for a while now.“It does start a winning momentum and once you know you can win, it gives you confidence – you can go into competitions thinking you can win and expecting to go far.”
The UK Football Association said it was willing to investigate after a victory for England Women over Australia was followed by allegations that a group of spectators from the British Army shouted sexist abuse during the game.An Army contingent based in Cyprus attended England’s 3-0 win at the low-profile Cyprus Cup tournament in Nicosia on Friday.Two female England supporters who were at the game said the troops targeted Australian defender Servet Uzunlar throughout the match, as well as the Australian team’s substitutes as they took off their tracksuits before entering the field.Rachel O’Sullivan and Sophie Downey, who cover women’s football for www.girlsontheball.com, said the majority of the alleged abuse was made towards the Australian players and substitutes, whose bench was on the side of the pitch where the soldiers were sitting.Downey said: “We’ve been to lots of games before and we can engage in banter, but this wasn’t banter – it was constant, gender-specific abuse.“There were around 50 troops watching the game and a group of around 10 of them were directing constant insults – they were on the side of the Australian dugout so it was more focused on their players.“We weren’t sure whether to tweet about it because it’s the Army and we didn’t want to offend people – I’m a very proud English person and I’m very proud of what the Army do – but I was ashamed of them today.”O’Sullivan added: “One Australian player, number six (Uzunlar), they were harassing her over and over and over again, throughout the game.“They were making horrible comments, shouting at her, whistling – it was uncomfortable to hear. These are teenage girls and they were sexually objectifying them.”An MoD spokeswoman said: “Behaviour of the kind described is totally unacceptable and is not tolerated in the Armed Forces where abuse, bullying and discrimination have no place.“We are investigating these claims and if it is found that any UK personnel have fallen below the high standards we expect then appropriate action will be taken.”Downey and O’Sullivan said they complained to the commander in charge of the contingent at the end of the match and he apologised, saying he had not heard the abuse.An FA spokesperson told Press Association Sport: “We’ve spoken to the (England) players, manager and assistant manager after the game and none of them have said they heard anything during the game worthy of reporting or complaining about.“They appreciated the British Army’s support and were happy to have photographs taken with the Army boys at the end of the game.”The FA spokesperson added: “The FA will investigate all allegations of discriminatory abuse. If anyone did experience any form of discriminatory behaviour we would urge people to report it by calling 0800 085 0508, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or downloading the Kick It Out app from the App store of Google Play.”An Australian supporter at the match, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “This was a stunning one-off that I’ve never heard before in women’s football.“They were calling the girls t****, telling the referee ‘I’d like to blow you’.“I said something to the Army sergeant, ‘This isn’t a complaint as an Australian supporter, it’s a complaint as a woman’. It was beyond the pale.“He was apologetic after the game and offered to apologise to the players.“He said they’re just a bunch of young boys, but I have 17 and 18-year-old brothers, I know what they’re like but they wouldn’t say that to strangers.”The controversy comes after recordings of fans at Manchester United and Manchester City abusing Chelsea club doctor Eva Carneiro were broadcast by the BBC on Thursday night, prompting the London club to call for an end to sexism in football. (Press Association)
By Iacovos ConstantinouThe weekend games at the top of the table made us no wiser as to who will finally clinch the Cyprus championship as all three games ended in score draws leaving the league standings unchanged. In the relegation group, things are clearer as Othellos Athienou will now need a miracle to avoid the drop as they trail the team directly above them by five points.In a riveting game at the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium, APOEL had to come back from behind three times to salvage a point against a spirited Anorthosis who are still harbouring hopes of a top-three finish.Former APOEL striker Concalves gave the home team the lead twice with Charalambides and Efraim answering for the visitors. Makris restored the lead for the Famagusta team early in the second half before a late Jason Demetriou own goal restored parity.The visitors, who hit the post three times, could have clinched it deep into injury time but their top scorer Djebbour blasted over with the goal gaping.It would have been rough justice for Anorthosis who were furious when referee Mashias failed to give APOEL’s Lanig his marching orders for a lunging tackle on Makris midway in the first half, having received his first yellow a few minutes earlier, with the score delicately poised at 1-1.In a poor game with few chances, Omonia and AEK played out a 1-1 draw. A point separates the two teams who next week face the top two teams APOEL and Apollon respectively.The visitors took the lead through Kante before Loibianidze equalised with seven mnutes to go. Ermis Aradippou proved punters wrong as they forced Apollon to a deserved draw in Limassol.Ermis took the lead twice through Onilo and Manu with Lopez and Merkis equalising for the home side.Both sides missed chances to win the game. In the bottom group, Othellos Athienou needed the points to keep their survival hopes alive and even took the lead against Ethnikos Achnas through Sassy.However Ethnikos quickly took charge of the game and after hitting the post twice and missing a penalty, Pinceli finally equalised before the break.Hadjivassilis got the winner for the visitors, leaving Othellos stuck in last place five points adrift of Ayia Napa.Ayia Napa got hammered 3-0 by Nea Salamina who have now guaranteed their place in the top flight.The goals came from Leon and a Panayiotov own goal in the first half while Morris wrapped up the scoring four minutes from time.Doxa hit four past a second string AEL side that has managed just one win in the playoff stages.Lombo opened the score for the visitors in the seventh minute with the same player doubling the score before the break.Ramos made it three after the break before Lobo completed his hatrick a minute from time.
By Iacovos ConstantinouThe Cyprus football championship began this weekend with the main title contenders, APOEL, AEK, Apollon and Omonia, recording their first wins against Ermis, Paphos, Aris and Nea Salamina respectively.Anorthosis defeated AEL while Ethnikos Achnas shared the spoils with Doxa.APOEL ended the game as a contest in the first half hour as they raced into a four-goal lead. It was a welcome win for APOEL’s coach Domingos Paciencia who has come under a lot of criticism in recent weeks for his team’s disappointing displays.“It was not an easy game. We worked hard right from the start and we made it look easy by the way we played,” he said.APOEL’s coach also made a reference to Wednesday’s crucial Champions League decider against Astana, urging fans to get behind the team from the first whistle.For his part Ermis coach Pavlos Dermitzakis apologised for his team’s poor showing but he did point out that 23 players came and went over the summer and in the last week alone Ermis signed six players.Leal, a summer transfer from Turkish team Gaziantepspor, got off the mark for the reigning champions with a brace as did another summer recruit, Bosnian international Ismet Stilic. Top scorer Tomas de Vincenti and club captain Constantinos Charalambides also got on the scoresheet with Ermis’ solitary goal coming from Greek striker Vassiloyiannis.Omonia had to come back from a two-goal deficit at half-time to overcome newly promoted Nea Salamina 5-3 with two very late goals.The Nicosia side was found wanting at the back as the visitors took a 3-1 lead before the break. Omonia players were booed off the pitch at the interval but a comedy of errors by Salamina’s own backline allowed them back into the game. The jeers turned to cheers as Skembri headed into the net in the 90th minute to give Omonia the lead with Cillian Sheridan converting a penalty deep into injury time for his second of the day. Omonia’s other two goals came from the evergreen 38-year-old Nuno Assis.Pavlou, Jurjuric and Adorno were the scoreers for the visitors.Apollon had to work very hard to overcome Aris on Saturday. The visitors were the better team in a barren first half with chances few and far betweenIn the second half Apollon upped their game and scored twice through Thuram and Slavchev with Aris’ reply coming from Marangoudakis right at the end.AEK midfielder Tomas turned from villain to hero against Paphos FC as he scored both his team’s goals having failed to convert one of the two penalties his side were awarded. Despite a bright start, Paphos gradually tired and when they were reduced to ten men they succumbed to the inevitable.Anorthosis managed to overcome AEL at the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium scoring in each half through recent signing Ndlovu and defender Holgerson towards the end of the game.The first half belonged entirely to the home side who should have taken a more commanding lead at the break. AEL improved in the second half and pressed forward for the equaliser but were twice denied by Anorthosis keeper Coprivec.In the last of the weekend games Doxa managed to nick a point against Ethnikos despite playing for almost the whole of the second half with ten men after their skipper Fernandez was sent off with a second yellow card.Doxa took an early lead through Lopo bot two second-half goals from Pinceli and a Garai own goal gave Ethnikos the lead. Edmar equalised for Doxa five minutes from time.In the final match of the opening round last night, Paralimni won 2-0 away at local rivals Ayia Napa.
Liverpool reached the League Cup final on penalties after a gripping last-four second leg tie at Anfield ended 1-0 to the visitors after extra time and 1-1 on aggregate.Stoke, who bossed vast swathes of the encounter at Anfield, took the lead in first-half stoppage time when Marko Arnautovic swept the ball home from an offside position but the assistant’s flag stayed down and the goal was allowed to stand.After neither side could add to the scoring for the remainder of the encounter, the clash went to penalties and Joe Allen scored the decisive sudden death kick to give Liverpool a 6-5 win in the shootout.Liverpool will face either Everton or Manchester City in the final on Feb. 28, with Roberto Martinez’s side holding a 2-1 lead heading into Wednesday’s second leg.
Russell Westbrook took a little bit of the focus away from West team-mate and retiring great Kobe Bryant’s final NBA All-Star Game appearance when the Oklahoma City point guard claimed MVP honours for a second straight year on Sunday.The 27-year-old Westbrook scored 31 points in the West’s 196-173 victory to become the first player to win solo back-to-back most valuable player awards in the 65-season history of the high-profile showcase event.Bob Pettit was named MVP for the 1958 game and shared the honour with Elgin Baylor in 1959.There was speculation that Bryant would be named MVP for sentimental reasons and East team leader Paul George made a case for himself with 41 points but Westbrook nailed a bunch of key three-pointers in the second half to lead the West to victory.“I didn’t know what was going to happen, man,” the shocked Thunder guard told reporters.“I was just sitting there and kind of talking and enjoying, and my name got called.“Any time you can be in the history books, it always means something. I’m just thankful to be able to play the game of basketball and be in a game like this is something that I never take for granted.”BONDING WITH BRYANTWestbrook, who scored 41 points to win MVP honours last year with a tally one point shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star Game record in 1962, admitted that it was special to play in Bryant’s final appearance.He also enjoyed being around the Los Angeles Lakers guard all weekend.“I think everybody in the whole arena, whole room, definitely aspired to see Kobe Bryant in his last game,” Westbrook added. “It’s just an honour and blessing to be able to be a part of it and kind of see him on his way out.“Being able to talk to him and get knowledge and just hear him talking about different things he’s done for himself, for the game, his family. It’s a great moment to be able to sit back and just chat with a guy like that.“You embrace all those moments.”For George, his performance also served notice that he has fully recovered from the compound fracture he suffered in his right leg during the American training camp for the 2014 FIBA World Cup 18 months ago.His nine three-pointers was an All-Star Game record.“It’s really special,” the Indiana Pacers forward said. “I had a hard-fought summer, hard-fought rehab year. It was just a very upward climb.“It took every day and really every moment of rehab to get through it. There were a lot of days where I felt I like I was down and out, but I just stayed with it.”