Beijing, OCT 12 (AP/UNB) — When Wu Xintong's favorite team, the Los Angeles Lakers, played the Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai this Thursday, she broke a viewing streak of more than 10 years and deliberately missed the game.
Until recently, the 20-year-old student in northern Hebei province had followed her idol, Kobe Bryant, religiously. She meticulously recorded in a notebook the details of every Lakers performance, down to the time stamps of certain players' moves. By her own accounting, two-thirds of her closet is filled with Lakers jerseys and other purple and gold apparel, not to mention the Lakers mugs, stickers and cellphone cases she keeps in a box.
But then Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted last week in support of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, and everything changed for fans like Wu. A new chant flooded Chinese sports forums: "I can live without basketball, but I can't live without my motherland."
The burst of patriotic fervor — buoyed by Chinese companies swiftly suspending their NBA partnerships — came on the heels of a grand celebration marking 70 years of Communist Party rule in China. President Xi Jinping, the country's most powerful leader in decades, has rallied the populace around the promise of a Chinese Dream and national rejuvenation, a stronger domestic economy paired with global influence to rival that of the U.S. It is a vision increasingly trumpeted by ordinary Chinese people, who have found solidarity amid a protracted trade war and Hong Kong democracy movement, crises that the government has portrayed as deliberate bids to contain China's inevitable development.
On China's National Day, as audiences across the country tuned in for a military parade that showed off long-range missiles and a nuclear-armed glider, black-clad demonstrators in Hong Kong were burning the national flag and defacing photographs of Xi.
The government has depicted the mass pro-democracy protests, which began peacefully in June but have grown increasingly violent, as fringe riots led by foreign-influenced separatists bent on destroying the semi-autonomous Chinese city. This narrative has largely succeeded on the mainland, where internet memes deride the protesters as "trash youth" and refer to Hong Kong as China's "high-maintenance girlfriend." After NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he supported Morey's right to free speech, angry online nationalists set their targets on the basketball league.
"You eat at our house and then spit in our food," said commenters on the Twitter-like Weibo platform, referring to the NBA's multibillion-dollar ties to China.
The NBA controversy may have been the most high-profile, but it was far from the only debacle to involve an American corporation offending the ruling Communist Party's political sensibilities within the same span of days. Apple and jeweler Tiffany & Co. suffered immediate censure for appearing to support the Hong Kong protests, video game giant Activision Blizzard punished a high-ranked gamer for shouting Hong Kong protest slogans during a webcast, and "South Park" published a tongue-in-cheek apology for an episode about U.S. corporations succumbing to Chinese censorship.
On online forums and Weibo, web users reveled in the power of the Chinese consumer. One circulated image depicted Morey as a cartoon character lying awake at night, sleepless after squandering the Chinese market.
"The outpouring of anger from Chinese internet users appears to be real rather than manufactured, with hardly any sign of dissent," said Jessica Chen Weiss, a Cornell University professor who studies Chinese nationalism. "But this chorus of outrage also reflects how effective the Chinese government's messaging and propaganda have been at fanning popular nationalism, depicting the Hong Kong protests as an illegitimate separatist movement and framing the ongoing trade and tech war as a national struggle against foreign aggression."
The outrage coincides with a swell of patriotism from the National Holiday at the start of this month. Nationwide, flags handed out by the government festooned shop entrances and residential buildings. As homework for the weeklong holiday, elementary schoolchildren were assigned to take a photo of themselves standing beside a flag, as well as to write poems about their feelings toward the motherland.
A film called "My People, My Country" depicted seven pivotal moments in the history of the People's Republic, featuring major stars as a fighter jet pilot, an atom bomb scientist, a taxi driver and others who have played roles in China's development. Many Chinese people said they couldn't stop humming the movie's theme, sung by pop idol Faye Wong and played on a loop in many public venues.
Historical events covered in "My People, My Country" included the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the anniversary of the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the 1997 handover, when Hong Kong was returned to China from British rule.
"No force can stop the progress of the Chinese people," Xi said in a televised speech on National Day.
In a country where criticizing the Communist Party invites censorship and even arrest, expressions of love for the nation are a safer and more straightforward bet.
"Online nationalism is an outcome of patriotic education efforts: identification with the Chinese nation has become part of many people's identities, as have the stories of national humiliation at the hands of foreign imperialists and the recent rise to glory," said Florian Schneider, director of the Leiden Asia Centre in the Netherlands.
Schneider added, however, that much like angry online commentary elsewhere in the world, Chinese nationalist sentiments can rapidly fade as people lose steam or other topics vie for their attention.
Fans and companies' eagerness to attack and dismiss the NBA has not gone unquestioned in China. Some online commentators, including the editor-in-chief of the nationalistic Global Times, challenged the fruitfulness of completely disassociating from the NBA.
"Ending cooperation with the NBA does not have to become a kind of trend," said Hu Xijin, who in a separate commentary called patriotism one of China's greatest resources.
J.C. Wang, a 23-year-old sports microblogger in central Henan province, said he hopes young people won't blindly harass Chinese fans and NBA players in the name of patriotism, though he also feels that Morey and the NBA should apologize.
"For a large number of Chinese basketball fans, NBA is already an indispensable part of life," Wang said.
Then he echoed a conviction expressed by many online: "I love basketball and the NBA, but I also know why I can comfortably lie in bed at home and watch the NBA in the first place."
In other words, without China's economic progress, opportunities to enjoy such leisure activities wouldn't even be available. This week, the Communist Party has proven that it can just as swiftly take these luxuries away.
While the pre-season Shanghai game between the Lakers and Nets went ahead as scheduled, it was not broadcast online or aired on state television. No Chinese media outlets reported on the game.
"If no one else around me is watching, (NBA fandom) may just become something that never happened," Wang said.
OCT 12 (AP/UNB)-- A look at what's happening around the majors today:
Zack Greinke is set to throw the first pitch in the hugely hyped AL Championship Series — Yankees-Astros, starting at Minute Maid Park.
"It's the matchup that everybody wants to watch. It's must-see TV right there," Houston shortstop Carlos Correa said.
Jose Altuve, George Springer and a dominant rotation helped Houston lead the majors with a franchise-record 107 wins. Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge and a strong bullpen sent New York toward 103 victories.
Greinke pitches the opener, to be followed by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole as the Astros lined up their aces on regular rest. Masahiro Tanaka starts Game 1 for the Yankees, with James Paxton and Luis Severino up next.
Washington ace Max Scherzer starts Game 2 of the NL Championship Series in his hometown of St. Louis. Scherzer also played college ball at the University of Missouri, but he had no interest in reliving old times.
"Yeah, grew up here, but at this point in time really doesn't mean anything because I got a bigger task at hand and that's to go out here and win it for the Nats," he said Friday. "So that's where my mind's at."
Scherzer was terrific in the Division Series against the Dodgers, striking out 10 while pitching eight innings of one-run ball. Adam Wainwright pitches for the Cardinals in his first game since he threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 3 of the NLDS against Atlanta.
The Nationals expect to get reliever Daniel Hudson back on the roster for Game 2. He was put on the postseason paternity list before the NLCS opener — Hudson and his wife welcomed a baby girl Friday. Washington manager Dave Martinez said everyone is healthy.
"For me, I told him, I said, 'Hey, family is always first,'" Martinez said. "I get it. I understand. The timing didn't work out like we thought. Baby wasn't ready to come out, so we get him back when we get him back."
Right-hander Wander Suero was on Washington's active roster against St. Louis until Hudson returns. Hudson has two saves and a win during the playoffs.
Sean Doolittle closed out a 2-0 Game 1 victory Friday night.
It should be a bit warmer at Busch Stadium for Game 2 after overnight freeze warnings and frost advisories were posted in the St. Louis area. Many of the Nationals and Cardinals warmed up in hooded sweatshirts before the opener Friday night — temperatures were expected to drop into the low 40s by the last out. The forecast called for highs near 60 at the start of the second game.
For both teams, it was a quick switch from summer to fall. The Cards wrapped up their NL Division Series this week in Atlanta, where it was in the mid-90s. The Nationals came from their NLDS win at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
OCT 12 (AP/UNB)-- Zion Williamson wowed the home crowd with another impressive preseason performance, scoring 26 points and grabbing five rebounds in New Orleans' 128-127 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
Javon Bess was credited with the game-winning layup in the final seconds after Utah's Jarrell Brantley was called for goaltending.
Williamson scored five of the Pelicans' first seven points, including his first 3-pointer of the preseason. He finished the first half with 10 points, but was even better after the break.
With Utah's Rudy Gobert vigilantly defending the paint, fans had to wait until the third quarter to roar for Williamson's first dunk on his new home court. It came after he missed a runner in the lane over Gobert, but raced to the left side of the rim to snag the rebound and throw it down with two hands.
Williamson asserted himself more while being guarded by Jazz reserves in the fourth quarter. He twice banked in double-clutch floaters while being fouled by Ed Davis. Williamson smiled and flexed his bicep after the second as the crowd came out of its seats.
Soon after, he sank a driving underhanded floater as he was fouled by William Howard and completed the three-point play to put the Pelicans up 109-106.
The No. 1 overall pick in June finished 9 of 12 from the field and 7 of 9 on free throws in 23 minutes.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 22 points for the Pelicans (3-0). Brandon Ingram scored 18 and Lonzo Ball had 15
Utah (1-2) was led by Jeff Green, who scored 20 points off the bench. Royce O'Neale added 16.
BUCKS 118, MAVERICKS 111
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 of his 34 points in the first half and finished with 11 rebounds in 23 minutes for Milwaukee.
Ersan Ilyasova added 18 points, Dragan Bender scored 17 and Donte DiVincenzo had 14 for the Bucks (3-0).
Luka Doncic was 5 of 8 from 3-point range and scored 20 of his 27 points in the first half for Dallas (0-3). The Mavericks trailed by 19 early in the fourth quarter and scored 16 straight points to cut the deficit to 111-109 with 2:24 to go. Bender's finger roll ended Dallas' run and the Bucks closed on a 7-2 spurt.
WIZARDS 115, KNICKS 99
Bradley Beal scored 21 points and Washington used a 20-0 run in the first half to turn around the game and split its preseason series with New York.
Moritz Wagner added 18 points and Thomas Bryant had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards (1-1). They trailed 30-15 in the first quarter, then surged to a 35-30 lead on Davis Bertans' 3-pointer early in the second on their way to a 41-17 advantage in the second.
Marcus Morris scored 21 points for the Knicks (1-1), who beat the Wizards 104-99 on Monday in Washington. Rookie RJ Barrett had 15 points and Julius Randle added 14 points and eight rebounds.
Wizards first-round pick Rui Hachimura sat out to rest.
New York played without potential starters Dennis Smith Jr. (strained lower back) and Kevin Knox (strained right calf).
CELTICS 100, MAGIC 75
Jayson Tatum scored 15 points, Marcus Smart added 14 and the Celtics used a 35-11 first quarter to spoil Orlando's first home game.
Boston (2-0) scored the first 11 points of the game and led 21-2 later in the quarter after holding the Magic to 1-of-14 shooting. Tatum and Smart each scored 12 points in the first half as the Celtics led by 28 points.
Terrence Ross led Orlando (3-1) with 21 points, including four of the Magic's six 3-pointers.
PACERS 105, BULLS 87
T.J. Warren scored 17 points for his new team and Myles Turner, last season's leader in blocked shots, had 14 points, seven rebounds and five blocks as Indiana cruised.
Domantas Sabonis was the only Indiana (3-0) starter not in double-figure scoring, but he had a game-high 14 rebounds with eight points. Malcolm Brogdon added 14 points.
Coby White was 10 of 22 from the field and scored 24 points for Chicago (0-3).
PISTONS 109, CAVALIERS 105
Andre Drummond had 15 points and eight rebounds and Detroit rallied late, taking its first lead since the final quarter at 104-103 with 1:08 left. Cleveland led 83-64 in the third quarter.
Bruce Brown, Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson added 15 points each for Detroit (2-1).
Collin Sexton scored 24 points and made 3 of 5 from 3-point range for Cleveland (1-1). Tristan Thompson added 15 points and eight rebounds.
76ERS 100, HORNETS 87
Josh Richardson scored 18 points and Tobias Harris added 16 for Philadelphia.
Ben Simmons made 6 of 8 from the field and finished with 15 points, and Al Horford had 11 points and nine rebounds for the 76ers (2-0).
Dwayne Bacon led the Hornets (0-3) with 17 points. Charlotte never recovered after trailing 33-14 at the end of the first period.
Shanghai, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic went from perfectly unbeatable to unbelievably beaten in the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Masters.
Federer and Djokovic had been a combined 13-0 in Shanghai with a spot in the semifinals on the line, but both lost Friday.
Federer saved five match points in the second set and received a point penalty in the third in the 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3 loss to fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev. Djokovic, the defending champion, lost to sixth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
"He deserved the victory," Djokovic said of the 21-year-old Tsitsipas. "He was the better player in the second and third sets. I started well in the first set, but I wasn't sharp enough."
Djokovic had been 8-0 in quarterfinal matches at the Shanghai Masters, and won four titles. Federer had been 5-0.
Federer received a code violation for hitting a ball into the stands, and then received a point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after flicking a ball into the air when trailing 3-0 in the third set.
When asked about the point penalty after the match, Federer didn't want to go into any detail.
"So you could write on Twitter, you mean?" Federer answered. "No, it would be nice to write something nice once also about the game.
The 22-year-old Zverev now leads Federer 4-3 in career meetings.
"I mean, they're knocking on the door big time, the young guys," Federer said. "It's exciting. They're great. It's really open now, I think, for the finish of this tournament."
Zverev will next play Matteo Berrettini, an 11th-seeded Italian who defeated fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem 7-6 (8), 6-4.
Until Friday's match, Djokovic had won 24 straight sets in Asia, a run that included last year's Shanghai Masters and the title in Tokyo last week.
Tsitsipas has now beaten Djokovic twice in three matches. The Greek player defeated Djokovic in their first meeting at the 2018 Toronto tournament and Djokovic won their match in Madrid this season.
"It's the best comeback that I have ever had probably," Tsitsipas said of Friday's victory.
Tsitsipas also earned a place at the year-end ATP Finals for the first time on Friday. But that was guaranteed when third-seeded Daniil Medvedev beat Fabio Fognini 6-3, 7-6 (4) in another quarterfinal match.
Medvedev, who will face Tsitsipas in Saturday's semifinals, is one match away from reaching a sixth consecutive tournament final. He reached his first Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open, and then won titles in Cincinnati and St. Petersburg.
Medvedev leads the tour with 57 match wins this season and is 40-1 on hard courts when winning the first set. The only time he lost a hard-court match after winning the first set was against Gael Monfils in Rotterdam.
Prior to Friday's match, Fognini said Medvedev was one of the most dangerous players to face.
"If some top players like Fabio can say this about me, shows that I'm on the good way, I'm playing good, and it's not easy to play against me," Medvedev said. "Surely, yeah, that's what I tried to show today on the match and it worked out."
Dhaka, Oct 11 (UNB) – Bangladesh U-21 hockey team registered a 2-0 win over touring Oman U-21 hockey team by 2-0 in the third match of Walton five-match practice series at Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium here on Friday.
Ashraful Islam opened account from a penalty corner in the 12th minute and Safiul Alam Shishir sealed the fate scoring from a penalty corner in the 53rd minute.
Bangladesh will play Oman in the fourth match at the same venue on Saturday at 6pm.
President of Bangladesh Hockey Federation (BHF) and Chief of Bangladesh Air Force Air Chief Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat will present there as the chief guest.
Earlier, Bangladesh youth hockey team made a flying start in the series outplaying Oman by 5-1 goals in the opening match at the same venue on Tuesday but played out to a 2-2 draw in their 2nd match.
Oman arrived here on Monday from Pakistan after playing four preparatory matches there, responding to the invitation of the BHF as part of Bangladesh team’s preparations for the next year’s Junior Asia Cup in Dhaka, a qualifying meet for the Junior Hockey World Cup.
The BHF earlier decided to host Asian Champions Trophy in October 2019 and Junior Asia Cup Hockey in June 2020, marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.