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New York Knicks 102-87 Detroit Pistons: Premier League stars old and new flood to glitzy NBA game in London

New York Knicks 102 Detroit Pistons 87: Premier League stars old and new flood to glitzy NBA game in London

By
Laurie Whitwell

PUBLISHED:

22:51 GMT, 17 January 2013

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UPDATED:

00:04 GMT, 18 January 2013

A host of Premier League stars past and present sat courtside as the NBA brought its unique brand of razzamatazz to London tonight.

The New York Knicks beat the Detroit Pistons 102-87 in a regular-season game in front of a sell-out 18,689 crowd at the O2 Arena in North Greenwich.

Thierry Henry was
joined by former team-mates Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira, while QPR’s
Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anton Ferdinand and Armand Traore took a break
from fighting relegation to attend. Darren Bent, out of favour at Aston
Villa, saw some rare action too.

Thierry Henry and film director Spike Lee pose for a photo before the game

Connected: Thierry Henry and film director Spike Lee pose for a photo before the game

Ashley Cole

David Luiz

Donning the hats: Chelsea stars Ashley Cole and David Luiz sit courtside

Clint Dempsey, Jack Butland, Ryan Bertrand, Sylvain Distin, Tim Howard and Marouane Chamakh were all in the stands too.

Ashley Cole was here courtesy of his
friend Dave Hancock, the Knicks’ English director of training and
conditioning who was once physio at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho.

The England left-back proved an
unwelcome spectator however, with loud boos emanating when cameras
projected his image onto the big screen midway through the third period.
Think George Osborne at the Paralympics.

Spurs Clint Dempsey (centre) along with Everton's Tim Howard (left) and Sylvain Distin (right)

Night out: Spurs Clint Dempsey (centre) along with Everton's Tim Howard (left) and Sylvain Distin (right)

Cole kept his capped head bowed, though, and carried on his conversation, ignoring the jeers.

To be fair, Bacary Sagna was also moderately booed when cameras picked him out, so maybe it was simply pantomime season extending into January.

We were treated to Alexandra Burke
singing the national anthem with full X-Factor gusto beforehand as well
as Jake Whitehall and James Cordon shooting free-throws poorly at an
interval.

On the court Carmelo Anthony was once
again the Knicks stand-out performer, scoring a game-high 26 points to
show why he takes home $20million (12m) a year in wages.

Recently retired Fabrice Muamba (centre) enjoys the action

Cheeky grin: Recently retired Fabrice Muamba (centre) enjoys the action

Detroit Pistons (white) attempt a shot in front of the packed stands

Where's the ball gone: Detroit Pistons (white) attempt a shot in front of the packed stands

Aside from the eye-catching
three-pointers, the most memorable moments were Austin Daye’s mid-air
take-out of Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert’s astonishing miss when
striving for a slam dunk.

This is the third time in three years the NBA has come to England in a bid to widen its appeal.

But David Stern, the 70-year-old NBA
commissioner, gave a blunt appraisal of basketball’s chances when asked
if it could ever rival football for popularity. ‘In England Are you
kidding No chance’, he said.

‘We’re trying to work our way up to
somewhere underneath cricket and rugby. We have a wonderful amount of to
learn from the EPL. We met with Richard Scudamore and swapped stories
and the like to get smarter.

Pistons' cheerleaders prove the star pre-match entertainers

Crowd-pleaser: Pistons' cheerleaders prove the star pre-match entertainers

‘We have so much room to improve and
grow by leaps and bounds and then it would be some small fraction of the
love that the British have for football.’

He
did, however, add he was ‘confounded’ by UK Sport’s decision to cut
8.6m funding from British basketball following London 2012.

‘If
I were an enterprise deciding where to invest, I would think of
basketball. Our game is welcoming, inclusive, progressive and very
diverse.’

Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny (right) watches on

Relaxing: Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny (right) watches on

Pistons center Andre Drummond (left) comes in underneath Knicks center Tyson Chandler

Giant leap: Pistons center Andre Drummond (left) comes in underneath New york Knicks center Tyson Chandler

Darren Bent puts his league form behind him to make a public appearance

Day off: Darren Bent puts his league form behind him to make a public appearance


Anton Ferdinand fails to be inconspicuous

Eager beaver: Anton Ferdinand with Alan Hansen peeking from the foreground

Henry explains the basic to Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna

Deep in conversation: Henry explains the basic to Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna

Sagna takes the presenter role as he laps up the attention

Reporter: Sagna takes the presenter role as he laps up the attention

Gareth Bale tweeted a picture of him watching the NBA

What a TV! Gareth Bale tweeted a picture of him watching the NBA

The cheerleaders certainly weren't feeling the chill of the British winter

Not a bad start: The cheerleaders certainly weren't feeling the chill of the British winter

A full-house at the o2 arena watch the third NBA regular-season game in Europe

Get set: A full-house at the o2 arena watch the third NBA regular-season game in Europe

The ref takes a hasty back-step away from the jumping players

Tip off: The ref takes a hasty back-step away from the jumping players

New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony goes inside Pistons Tayshaun Prince

One-on-one: New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony goes inside Pistons Tayshaun Prince

Pistons' Rodney Stuckey (white) attempts a 2-pointer watched by Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire

Slam dunk: Pistons' Rodney Stuckey (white) attempts a 2-pointer watched by Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire

Kincks head coach Mike Woodson reacts to a referee decision

Not just in football: Kincks head coach Mike Woodson reacts to a referee decision

Pablo Prigioni of the Knicks tries to block the shot from Pistons' Will Bynum

Reaching for the basket: Pablo Prigioni of the Knicks tries to block the shot from Pistons' Will Bynum

Pistons' Stuckey shows off some very unfashionable leggings

Tights Pistons' Stuckey shows off some very unfashionable leggings

Knicks point guard Iman Shumpert smiles on his return from injury

No laughing matter: Knicks point guard Iman Shumpert smiles on his return from injury

James Corden and Jack Whitehall demonstrate just why they aren't basketball players

On court: James Corden and Jack Whitehall demonstrate just why they aren't basketball players

James Corden

James Corden

Future pro Corden gives it a go during a break but seems to suffer from the pressure

J.R Smith and Steve Novak of the Knicks have a cheeky barge

Celebration: J.R Smith and Steve Novak of the Knicks have a cheeky barge

Knicks' Carmelo Anthony salutes his fans

World famous: Knicks' Carmelo Anthony salutes his fans

London 2012 Olympics: Volleyball: Team GB lose to Dominican Republic

Team GB 0 Dominican Republic 3: Comprehensive defeat casts doubt over hosts' volleyball qualification

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UPDATED:

18:51 GMT, 3 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Great Britain's first window of opportunity to qualify for the quarter-finals of the women's volleyball competition was shut in the blinking of an eye by the Dominican Republic on Friday.

Monday's first-ever Games win over Algeria had put Audrey Cooper's unheralded side in such a position where one more success would put them through to the last eight – a result that for them would be the equivalent of a gold medal.

With well-regarded Japan up in their last game, this encounter was considered to be Britain's best chance of snaring that precious second win, but the Dominicans proved immovable at the net and were consistently able to put long runs of points together to stifle both the home players and crowd.

Here we go: Team GB's women (left) missed the opportunity to qualify to the next stage of the competition

Here we go: Team GB's women (left) missed the opportunity to qualify to the next stage of the competition

They were unerringly accurate on the spike and with Britain struggling for cohesion – more than once they had no-one set for a scoring shot – they were in control from the first point.

A win over Algeria in their final game will put this evening's victors through, but all is not lost for Britain.

Victory against Japan and favourable results elsewhere could do the trick but, by seeing off Algeria, the self-funded squad have already achieved their goal.

Owing to the precarious nature of the table, it went without saying that a strong start was needed for a British side who notoriously get nervous when under pressure, and it proved that anxiety got the better of them again as the Dominicans opened up an early 7-2 lead.

Team GB's women were unable to deal with the Dominican Republic's attack

Team GB's women were unable to deal with the Dominican Republic's attack

Easy going: The Dominican Republic players celebrate after another winning shot

Easy going: The Dominican Republic players celebrate after another winning shot

Confusion reigned in the ranks as Lucy Wicks failed to find Grace Carter on the spike and three players stood and watched a regulation block fall to the floor.

When Carter served long it was 8-3 and despite a mini surge inspired by Savanah Leaf, an impressive run of 12 straight points on the serve of Karla Echenique Medina took the set away from Britain.

In the middle of that devastating spell Lynne Beattie was shut down three times at the net and Milagros Cabral de la Cruz made Britain pay for their disorganised defensive wall, finding the ground with ease and leaving libero Maria Bertelli clutching the air.

Wicks managed to stem the tide with a cute attacking set, but when Jen Taylor dumped a serve into the net it opened up 15 set points at 24-9, with the Dominicans taking the first of them with their 10th successful spike from 13 attempts.

Lynne Beattie bats the ball back over the net

Gina Altagracia Mambru Casilla bats the ball back over the net for the Dominican Republic

Write caption here

The second set had a more even start with Britain going through to 4-4 but, that rapidly turned into an 8-4 deficit with Janine Sandell netting and Cabral de la Cruz shutting down Beattie and Carter.

Even when they did work a scoring opportunity – often through Wicks' liking for an early attacking set – they found brilliant libero Brenda Castillo omnipresent on the floor, managing to get the slightest finger under anything that went her way.

As in the first set, a long run of points on serve then followed, with Candida Arias Perez presiding over a run of eight points which contributed to putting her side 16-10 ahead when Cooper called her players off for a chat.

The interlude helped as Beattie got the crowd moving with two spikes, but normal service was resumed quickly after as the Dominicans' brute force saw them go out to 25-18.

There were yet more errors at the start of the third set – one GB knew they had to win – as the Dominican Republic went to 8-2 at the first technical time-out, and the hosts' failure to get up high to generate power at the net was costing them.

All too often they had to settle for a tip from Carter or Ciara Michel but, once the latter got the ball in hand to serve, a run of five successive points got them level at 10-10.

Yet composure and efficiency would win the day again, with the Dominicans clean in attack, digging, setting and spiking, while Britain often floundered when trying to lay on plays on their way to a 25-19 reverse.

London 2012 Olympics: Team GB lose volleyball opener

Great Britain 0 Bulgaria 3: Brokking's Team GB suffer defeat in volleyball opener

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UPDATED:

10:51 GMT, 29 July 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Bulgaria's brilliant defence snuffed out Great Britain's men's hopes of marking their Olympic debut with a win at Earls Court on Sunday morning.

The world No 9s formed a near-impenetrable line at the net, preventing Harry Brokking's big-hitters from ever being able to get their side in front.

They trailed from the first point and their go-to man Dami Bakare was shut down completely to the point that his lack of confidence saw him make three successive third-set errors that turned an 13-9 advantage into a 16-15 deficit.

The 23-year-old was not alone in being locked down by Bulgaria, though, with only the outstanding Mark Plotyczer able to play with any freedom as Britain saw one of the games they had targeted to win slip away from them 25-18, 25-20, 26-24.

Take that: Nikolay Nikolov (No 18) spikes as Mark McGivern puts his hands up in attempt to block

Take that: Nikolay Nikolov (No 18) spikes as Mark McGivern puts his hands up in attempt to block

Neither side could get a jump on the other over the opening points, before Bulgaria pulled 8-4 clear, albeit with the help of a terrible decision against Bakare when a thunderous spike was called out, with replays indicating it was in by a foot.

Brokking called a time-out as a result of the mini slump, but with Bulgaria cleanly finding their hitters at almost every opportunity, it was impossible for Britain to get a roll going on their own serve.

That all changed when Nathan French got the ball in his hands, with his venomous deliveries giving Bulgaria less time to set themselves and a run of four successive points brought the hosts back in to it at 11-13.

Doubling up: Todor Skrimov spikes as Ben Pipes (2nd right) and Christopher Lamont (right) try to send it back

Doubling up: Todor Skrimov spikes as Ben Pipes (2nd right) and Christopher Lamont (right) try to send it back

But the difference was proving to be the ability of both sides to block at the net, with Vladimir Nikolov expertly shutting down Bakare, normally Britain's most potent weapon, and although Plotyczer did have some success up high, Bulgaria were always in control thanks to their early burst and took the set 25-17.

The second started in identical fashion, with Britain holding their own on the initial points before Bulgaria found a way to ease out to 8-4, with Brokking calling another time-out.

The only difference was that on this occasion, GB came back to within two points at 9-11 – captain Ben Pipes sending down an ace – but with the stellar Todor Skrimov unplayable above the net, the pull away eventually came to 15-20 and the set was then secured.

Up and away: Nikolay Nikolov leaps as he puts everything into a big serve

Up and away: Nikolay Nikolov leaps as he puts everything into a big serve

One thing Brokking's players are not short on though is spirit, and they demonstrated that the months spent together holed up in student accommodation in Sheffield has fostered a strong character by racing ahead at the start of the third.

Five-all quickly became 11-7 as Bakare showed soft hands to tip a winner and when French shut down Skrimov at the net, the tide appeared to be changing slightly.

Winding up: Mark McGivern prepares to serve for Great Britain

Winding up: Mark McGivern prepares to serve for Great Britain

It was not to be, though, and three Bakare errors in a row – one unforgivable when he and Dan Hunter went for the same ball – put Bulgaria back ahead at 16-15.

The momentum was quickly back with Britain, Plotyczer spiking to 23-21, but the see-saw nature of the set meant that he was soon having to block to save match point.

A long Mark McGivern serve would give Bulgaria another, though, and they took it this time despite some brilliant defence from Hunter.

Brought down with a bump: Mark Plotyczer (sitting) is consoled by team-mate Nathan French

Brought down with a bump: Mark Plotyczer (sitting) is consoled by team-mate Nathan French

London 2012 Olympics: Hannah England injury worry for trials

England injury has Van Commenee worried with Olympic trials looming

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UPDATED:

17:56 GMT, 31 May 2012

World silver medallist Hannah England faces an uphill battle to compete at the Olympic trials after suffering an achilles injury.

England, who won a surprise silver in the 1,500 metres in Daegu last year, was spiked during a race in Hengelo on Sunday and will be out for 'several' weeks according to UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee.

The Olympic trials in Birmingham are just three weeks away, with the first two athletes in each event qualifying automatically for the Games, providing they hold a current 'A' standard. One other discretionary place is also available to the selectors.

At a price: Hannah England (centre) won in Hengelo on Sunday but was hurt

At a price: Hannah England (centre) won in Hengelo on Sunday but was hurt

Van Commenee said: 'Hannah England got a spike in her achilles tendon. Although she won the race she will be out for a number of weeks, which is not good news. That is a worry.

'She's had no surgery but she had to be in hospital a few days. We're using all the modern technology to get the wound healing quickly. She won't necessarily be running straight away, but cross-training and other things.'

Silver lining: England was a surprise medallist in the 1,500m in Daegu

Silver lining: England was a surprise medallist in the 1,500m in Daegu

Asked if the 25-year-old will be fit for the trials, Van Commenee added: 'She'll try. We're working towards that scenario but it's impossible at this point to predict.'

England sounded slightly more upbeat on her Facebook fan page, adding: 'Glad to get an A qualifier and a win in Hengelo on Sunday. Got some battle scars though from being spiked. No stitches but will have some cool scars! Taking it easy this week to avoid infection and reduce risk of any lingering problems.'

Manchester City gave United taste of new power – Martin Samuel

Martin Samuel: City smiles better as Kompany and Co take a leap of faith

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UPDATED:

23:56 GMT, 30 April 2012

The jump was high, almost Jordanesque. It had hang time, it had uncommon spring, it took Vincent Kompany into the air as if launched, or slung, or supernaturally lifted; it did not seem all his own work, somehow.

And that is what it meant to score the winning goal against Manchester United; that is what it meant to Manchester City and their captain.

That leap, that celebration, said it all. If Kompany leapt higher than Chris Smalling to score that was nothing compared to the spike of pure joy that came out of him once the ball had hit the net.

Unbridled joy: Vincent Kompany scores the only goal of the game (above) and celebrates (below)

Unbridled joy: Vincent Kompany scores the only goal of the game (above) and celebrates (below)

Vincent Kompany celebrates scoring the opening goal against Manchester United

There is still a way to go; still two matches in which advantage in Manchester’s first duel of football’s modern era — although surely not its last —might shift again. Yet City will know they will never have a better chance than right here, right now. They will know the title is theirs to lose (just as it was Manchester United’s before this game), despite the well-rehearsed negatives of manager Roberto Mancini.

He will continue to play down the chances of his team, citing United’s supposedly advantageous fixture list and greater experience, but few will be taken in after this. Kompany’s flyer told how City really feel. It was not the leap of runners-up, not the jump of an also-ran. On the last day of April, Kompany rose like a champion, at first to head the goal, and then to glory in it, and few think City will come down to earth in May.

It was a huge result and, strange as this seems, may come to define the reborn City even more than the 6-1 victory at Old Trafford in October. Extreme results can be discounted and nobody seriously believes there are five goals between these teams; just as there are not six between United and Arsenal.

This was different. This was a proper hard shift. Mancini’s side scored just before half-time, meaning Manchester United had 15 minutes to regroup, reconsider and storm the citadel in the second half.

Down and out: Manchester United are faced with losing the Premier League title to their bitter rivals

Down and out: Manchester United are faced with losing the Premier League title to their bitter rivals

Down and out: Manchester United are faced with losing the Premier League title to their bitter rivals

‘There is no finer sight in football, than Manchester United chasing down a lead,’ Teddy Sheringham once asserted and, in this case, a simple equaliser, not even a winner, would have been enough.

That it did not come is to City’s immense credit. In the circumstances, having seen so many United revivals, few expected City to have the best of the second half, too: yet they did. Indeed, when United got a late corner in the five minutes of injury time, the mood in the stands seemed beyond tension. It was almost as if the whole ground, and not just the two banks of red, expected United to score.

The professionals in City’s ranks begged to differ, however. Patrick Vieira tweeted that his team were controlling the game and he felt incredibly relaxed; Joe Hart had earlier been seen laughing while awaiting a United corner; Mario Balotelli, warming up as a substitute, had joked with Yaya Toure, who was taking a throw-in.

It helps to have players who do not recognise City’s reputation as the punchline of a thousand old jokes; they only know the club as they are now. Powerful, vibrant, on the brink of greatness.
In the last minute, and all minutes before, United were comfortably repelled by a City team utterly at ease with themselves.

Pass masters: Yaya Toure (right) helped Manchester City control the midfield, and the game

Pass masters: Yaya Toure (right) helped Manchester City control the midfield, and the game

Not that City were gung-ho or
needlessly cavalier. During those final exchanges, they deployed a bank
of five defenders with two midfield players guarding, as Mancini’s
Italian instincts came to the fore. The job was done by then, though,
and it was Mancini who proved the braver general.

As expected, needing only a draw to keep his team on course for the title, Sir Alex Ferguson did not take chances. Going against type on several similar occasions, Mancini came out high energy, high risk and determined to attack.

And when City come to play it can be brilliant to watch. They are a strong team, but subtle going forward, all neat exchanges of passing and darting penalty-area runs.

Gareth Barry may have been man of the match on the night — a towering performance in midfield — but it was when Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Carlos Tevez were bobbing and weaving around the box that City looked at their most threatening.

This was City unleashed, City as they should be, a club revived and sensing their moment. The stadium rocked, the stadium roared, and the players responded, at once feeding off the energy, then inspiring it.

What a difference: Carlos Tevez (right) has been in fine form since making his return

What a difference: Carlos Tevez (right) has been in fine form since making his return

Tevez has made a difference, of that
there is no doubt. He has arrived like a power surge and those around
him now crackle with electricity.

It is hard to imagine that Aguero looked exhausted only a matter of weeks ago, that Nasri lacked confidence, that David Silva was on his last legs. If City did not exactly besiege the United goal, they were a constant threat, exchanging quick passes and quicker thoughts, their ideas and movement a serious issue for United.

Until Kompany’s intervention, there had always been a United leg, a red-clad body, in the way, even as the pressure built. The pessimists in the blue ranks — and that will be quite some number, given their history — must have feared one of those nights. Yet, at City, that phrase is increasingly taking on new meaning.

This was one of those nights, one of those nights when a revived, rebooted club soared.

As Mancini shut the space down, his work done, Nigel de Jong was introduced for Tevez and soon booked for a foul on Danny Welbeck. It led to probably the other highlight of the night for the City faithful, the sight of Mancini going toe to toe with Ferguson on the touchline and giving as good as he got.

Both men made chirping gestures — Ferguson later accused Mancini of influencing referees, and oh how we laughed — but on and off the field it would appear United have met their match.

There will be more than a few joining Kompany in mid-air if that proves the case.

Arsenal to unveil statues of former heroes

Arsenal to unveil three statues of heroes as part of 125th anniversary celebrations

Arsenal have announced they will unveil statues to commemorate three legends as part of their 125th anniversary celebrations at the Emirates Stadium on Friday.

The club are keeping details of who the three legends are firmly under wraps until the day itself but club legends Cliff Bastin and Thierry Henry are among the favourites to be honoured.

The unveiling forms part of the on-going celebrations by the club to mark the special anniversary of the north London giants.

Old and the new: Top goalscorer Henry and 1930s hero Bastin could be honoured Old and the new: Top goalscorer Henry and 1930s hero Bastin could be honoured

Old and the new: Top goalscorer Henry and 1920s and 1930s hero Bastin could be honoured by the club

In May the Gunners revealed their new home kit to mark the 125 years since the club – founded in Woolwich, south London, in 1886 as The Royal Arsenal – was born.

And earlier this year the club collaborated with shirt designers Nike to produce a short film called Forever Forward.

The film paid respects to the club”s past and the vision of things to come.

It featured insight from players and fans Spike Lee, DJ and producer Gilles Peterson, and striker Theo Walcott.

The Gunners have arrived in Greece where they are preparing to face Olympiakos in their final Champions League Group F clash having already qualified for the next phase.

New era: Wenger is building a team for the future at the Emirates

New era: Wenger is building a team for the future at the Emirates