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Jose Mourinho backs Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City to challenge for Premier League title

first_imgAdvertisement Comment Advertisement MORE: Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk backs Adrian to step up after injury to Alisson City kicked off their Premier League campaign with a 5-0 win over West Ham (Picture: Getty)Mourinho is hopeful that Chelsea can enjoy some success this season under new manager Frank Lampard despite feeling the effects of their two-window transfer ban. ‘I want to say the obvious thing. We would love Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal to be at that level. Football is unpredictable,’ he added.‘I think we all agree we are speaking about a team that won everything in England and we are speaking about the European champions and the runners up.More: FootballBruno Fernandes responds to Man Utd bust-up rumours with Ole Gunnar SolskjaerNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira moves‘And then we are speaking about United who finished sixth. And Arsenal finished fifth and playing Europa League too.‘Chelsea with this ban, which is not dramatic, because if someone could answer that ban it’s Chelsea.‘If that ban happens to one of the other clubs, it would be much more difficult. I hope something great happens with them.’ Metro Sport ReporterSunday 11 Aug 2019 1:54 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link1.7kShares Jose Mourinho believes Spurs will challenge Man City and Liverpool for the title (Picture: Sky Sports)Jose Mourinho has backed Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City to challenge for the Premier League title and joked that even City’s B team could compete for the trophy.Liverpool pushed City to the final weekend last term but, in the end, finished runners-up behind Pep Guardiola’s side despite amassing 97 points across a magnificent campaign.While Spurs ended the season 27 points behind City down in fourth, Mourinho is confident the north London club will be in the title race this time around after a strong summer transfer window.The Portuguese, though, believes United, Chelsea and Arsenal lack the firepower to be challenging at the business end of the season.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTMore: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityAsked which teams will be in the title race ahead of United’s clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford, Mourinho told Sky Sports: ‘Four: Man City, Tottenham, Liverpool and… Man City’s B team.‘When I looked at the bench yesterday, there were some images of the bench, and the players that were not even involved, I think even their B team could fight for the title.‘Independent of what happens today [Manchester United vs. Chelsea], even if one of the teams plays magnificently and has a fantastic result, I don’t believe that they are going to be in the title race.‘It’s also a little bit difficult for me, in spite of some really good players, I don’t think Arsenal will be in a title race. But I think Tottenham has to join it.’ Jose Mourinho backs Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City to challenge for Premier League titlelast_img read more

Filipino American History Month, 2016

first_imgLike Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Filipino American History Month, 2016 October 01, 2016 Asian Pacific American Affairs,  Proclamations Governor Wolf Proclamation — Filipino American History Month, 2016 by Governor Tom Wolf on Scribd SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img

Pension Corp strikes £900m reinsurance deal with Prudential

first_imgPension Insurance Corporation (PIC) has transferred the longevity risk of £900m (€1bn) of pension liabilities to the Prudential Insurance Company of America in the latest of a series of reinsurance deals between the two firms.The move, which covers approximately 7,500 pensioners across two pension plans, is the latest reinsurance deal to capitalise on the underlying buoyancy of the de-risking market.“We believe the reinsurance market will continue to be competitive in support of the significant de-risking activity expected over 2018,” said Jay Shah, chief origination officer at PIC.One estimate from Hymans Robertson, the consultancy firm, suggested that the underlying bulk annuity market could see approximately £700bn of DB scheme assets and liabilities transferred to insurance companies by 2032, equivalent to £50bn a year. Amy Kessler, head of longevity risk transfer at Prudential, said: “Over the last several years, Prudential’s longevity reinsurance innovations have proven time and again to help companies achieve certainty in their liabilities.”The transaction represents the first large-scale longevity reinsurance deal by Prudential this year.Prudential has assumed a total of $6bn (€5bn) through reinsurance deals with PIC since 2015. Most recently, the UK-based specialist insurer offloaded longevity risk in a deal worth $1.2bn in November 2017.Earlier this year as an extension of the two companies’ partnership PIC and Prudential launched a partially automated de-risking service for pension funds of less than £200m in size, which typically find it expensive to secure buy-ins and buyouts.In the past year Prudential has also backed longevity swap deals with insurer Scottish Widows and the UK pension fund of Marsh & McLennan Companies.last_img read more

Leinster into top two

first_img The province’s head coach Matt O’Connor reintegrated a number of their international players and a very efficient first half hour at the RDS yielded three tries – one each for Brendan Macken and Jack McGrath as well as a penalty try. The Scarlets ate into the 22-0 half-time deficit with an opportunist score from Gareth Davies and Gareth Maule added another by the hour mark. Leinster ran out bonus point winners over the Scarlets for the second time this season as they moved into second spot in the RaboDirect PRO12. But Leinster made sure of the bonus point with tries from Eoin Reddan and man-of-the-match Zane Kirchner before a late consolation effort from Scarlets centre Adam Warren. The Scarlets were first to threaten, with half-backs Aled Thomas and Gareth Davies leading them through a mammoth set of phases as they edged towards the home try-line. But Leinster held them at bay and a smart run and kick downfield from captain Shane Jennings got his side firing, with an eighth minute penalty slotted home by Ian Madigan. Kirchner added some zip to an attack on the left before centre Macken evaded Warren’s grasp in midfield and darted over in the right corner. Madigan was unable to convert. Kirchner was eager to impress on his first home start, dummying and linking superbly with Madigan to create another opening for Macken. The South African was denied his first try for the province just moments later. Scarlets centre Maule did really well to get his hand under the ball – with support from Nick Reynolds – as Kirchner went for the line. Television match official Kevin Beggs ruled that the ball had been held up, but from the resulting five-metre scrum Leinster forced a couple of penalties and the third collapse led to the awarding of a penalty try. After Madigan’s conversion, the Scarlets looked set to hit back immediately as scrum-half Davies raided through but his pass to the supporting John Barclay was adjudged forward. Injuries to Martin Moore and Gareth Owen briefly broke up the game’s momentum, however the Scarlets were now struggling and Leinster’s power up front ground them down again with prop McGrath piling over under the posts. Madigan added the extras once more before Simon Easterby’s charges forced the issue approaching the interval. Frazier Climo and Thomas ran out of space in the right corner and although Leo Cullen was sin-binned for three penalties on the trot, the Llanelli pack were unable to convert a late spell of pressure into points. The visitors – with a reinforced front row containing Romanian international Horatiu Pungea – pressed for an elusive try and they got their reward seven minutes into the second period. Scrum-half Davies profited from a Jennings knock-on as he scooped up a breaking ball and his momentum took him past Madigan and Reddan to score in the left corner. Thomas sent the conversion to the left and wide and the Scarlets suffered a setback soon after as number eight Sione Timani saw yellow for a foot trip on Lote Tuqiri. Reynolds did well to tackle his opposite number Fitzgerald into touch to deny Leinster a fourth try and the visitors made it a 10-point game with a terrific breakaway effort. Barclay scrapped for a ruck ball and Jordan Williams and Warren spearheaded a fine counter-attack which ended with Gareth Davies providing the try-scoring pass for Maule who injured himself as he grounded the ball. After Thomas supplied the extras and Maule was taken off, Leinster made sure to score before Timani’s return. Sean Cronin’s barnstorming run got the hosts into position and Reddan plunged over from a close range ruck, with Madigan sweeping home the touchline conversion. There was still time for replacement Jimmy Gopperth to break down the left and set up Kirchner for a comfortable finish in the corner, before the Welsh region had the final say as Warren evaded Tuqiri’s clutches in injury-time. Press Associationlast_img read more

Agent: Benteke’s focus all on Villa

first_img But Benteke still has two years left on his current contract and his agent Eris Kismet says the 24-year-old is solely focused on Villa’s fight for Barclays Premier League survival and FA Cup final date with Arsenal on May 30. “At the moment, there is no interest,” Kismet told Sky Sports News HQ. “Every player and staff member is concentrated on avoiding relegation, anything else is just a distraction. “I know everyone wants the same thing because I watch the games and I think Aston Villa are playing the best football in England right now.” Villa are just two points clear of the relegation zone after Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Manchester City but have reached only their second FA Cup final since 1957, with Benteke on target in the 2-1 semi-final victory against Liverpool. Press Association Benteke has been in sparkling form since Tim Sherwood became Villa manager in February, scoring nine goals in his last eight appearances after managing only three until then for previous boss Paul Lambert. That form has led to speculation that the forward Villa signed from Belgian club Genk for £7million in August 2012 could move on at the end of the summer, with both Liverpool and Manchester United reported to be monitoring the situation. center_img Christian Benteke’s agent says there has been no interest in his client and that the in-form Belgium striker is only focused on his Aston Villa career.last_img read more

Guyana Under-15s off to French Guiana

first_imgA HAPPY and confident-looking Guyana Under-15 football team and coaching staff pose for a picture, just before leaving the Signature Hotel early yesterday morning for French Guiana where they will participate in an International tournament between December 17 and 22. (Cullen Bess-Nelson photo)last_img

Henry Onyekuru: New Kid on the Emirates Block

first_imgAfter failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in his 21 years in charge of Arsenal and the chances of losing high -profile players likely imminent, Arsene Wenger’s first signing is surprisingly Nigerian teenager, Henry Onyekuru. Is this young Nigerian ripe for the robust English Premier League? Is Onyekuru the kind of player Wenger needs in his ‘z̄’ times? Kunle Adewale asks “Thierry Henry has always been my idol since I was a kid. I love watching him play, watching Arsenal and going to YouTube to watch most of his games. I remember saying if I had to move to the Premier League I want to be like Thierry Henry. So, it’s like a dream come true,” Onyekuru said.In a chat with THISDAY, former Nigerian international, and footballer’s agent, Waidi Akani is of the opinion that for Arsenal to have signed Onyekuru, it means he has something up his sleeves.“Arsenal is one of the top clubs in Europe with a very formidable scouting team. So, for them to have scouted him, it means he has a very great potential and future. However, that does not mean the club gets it right all the time.“His move to Arsenal is a big benefit to Nigeria and the national team coaches should take advantage of it, but without relegating any of the players we have at our disposal simply because he had signed for a big team like Arsena.“Really, we cannot count on him for now because he is yet to prove himself for the country at any level. Football is not a one-season game, so we should not get so excited thinking that we now have a good striker simply because he scored 24 goals last season for his Belgian club.“He is still young, just 19 years old. Maybe he should first be tried at the Under 20 or 23 level and see what he can offer. Football could be funny at times. With all the noise about him, he might just not fit into our style of football”, Akani noted.The 19-year-old is the top scorer in the Belgian league with 24 goals and nine assists in all competitions last season, which has caught the eye of the Gunners as Wenger looks to build a squad to challenge for the title next season.The north London club has already had a £87m bid rejected for Monaco forward, Kylian Mbappe, this summer and Wenger is desperate to get a few new faces to the squad in an attempt to add some verve after missing out on qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in over 20 years. Onyekuru comes in handy with a price tag of £6.8million after he was initially linked with Celtic as a replacement for Moussa Dembele, but a rumoured £1million bid was laughed away as he is ‘too good’ for Scottish football.However, there is enough there to make it a worthwhile investment. When one considers Real Madrid have just spent £38m on Vinicius Junior, a 16-year-old yet to play 90 minutes of senior football, it looks like a bargain.Wenger has been criticised for not signing the star players Arsenal need to compete for the biggest prizes. Even those who are glad he is staying at Arsenal want him to make more daring moves. Therefore, an unknown Onyekuru who Wenger seems to have signed with little opposition from rivals does not fit that bill.At least, Arsenal fans can be assured they are getting a player who is delighted to be there. Onyekuru said, “I have had fun in Belgium, but I have always dreamed of the Premier League.”Some analysts, however, are of the opinion that Onyekuru’s invitation to the Super Eagles was long overdue, arguing that there had been some incredulity at his absence from the initial squad named by Gernot Rohr, and was only invited by virtue of the unavailability of striker Olarenwaju Kayode for the friendlies against Corsica and Togo.Not that it matters how he got in, only that he had, and finally he had the chance to showcase his abilities to the coaching crew.Onyekuru can play all across the front line; he favours the left as it gives him the space he needs to go through the gears, as well as come inside on his stronger right foot. His low centre of gravity, as he stands at about 5ft 9in, enables quick changes of direction, but his dribbling style really isn’t defined by it, unlike most players his size. He does have good close control, but relies more on his speed and trickery, often looking like he has shown too much to the opponent before snatching it away.In front of goal, Onyekuru is an improviser. He possesses good movement, especially when he has to spin in behind a full-back; he is often up and away before they even know it. When through, he can finish in a number of ways; though, like most speedsters, he seems to enjoy going past the goalkeeper. That doesn’t preclude dinks, curled finishes in the manner of his idol and namesake, Thierry Henry.There is a lot to admire about him, but he is still a teenager, so there are a lot of areas where he can improve. That is only natural. His aptitudes for the defensive side of the game, as well as his decision-making, are still undeveloped.Name the attributes of a stereotypical Wenger signing in the last 10 years – quick, small, skillful, an attacker who can play all across the front line but whose best position is not yet entirely clear – and you have a potted description of Onyekuru.He is unashamedly direct – he will pick the ball up, accelerate quickly, and go towards goal. He also has shades of Arjen Robben – he plays mostly on the left for Eupen, so he can cut in and shoot on his stronger right foot.Surprisingly for one blessed with such pace, Onyekuru likes to come deep for the ball, rather than playing on the shoulder of defenders.He is small of stature – 5ft 9in – but uses this quick change of direction effectively, bamboozling defenders, using his change of pace to get past his man rather than a barrage of step overs.Perhaps the biggest weakness in Onyekuru’s game is a streak of single-mindedness. It can manifest as overconfidence or as selfishness, but too often he wants to go alone. He will often get the better of his marker, and opt for a shot from an angle rather than lay in a teammate in a better position centrally.This selfishness has also been apparent off the pitch when he went on strike in January after claiming that Eupen had broken promises to sell him in the transfer window that month.If he is given time, Onyekuru has the makings of a Premier League star. Whether he gets that time is another matter.The prospect of a link up with Rohr’s attacking prodigies for Nigeria is also umber-appealing; one need only think what a front four including him, Isaac Success, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho could get up to.Onyekuru began his football career with the Aspire Academy in 2010, and graduated in 2015 joining their partner club, KAS Eupen and made his debut for Eupen in September of the same year in a 2-2 tie against Dessel Sport in the Belgian Second Division and helped the team get promoted to the Belgium First Division A in his debut season.After a successful season in the Belgium first division, Onyekuru finished as one of the top scorers in the league, catching the attention of various big teams in Europe. He finished the 2016–17 season as joint top-scorer with 22 goals, but the trophy was handed to his rival as he scored more away goals than Onyekuru.He made his senior debut for Nigeria in a 3-0 friendly win over Togo on July 1.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram With £150 million to spend in the summer transfer, Arsenal fans are optimistic of the arrival of big-names at the Emirates Stadium, but, it was Nigerian and KAS Eupen of Belgium striker, Henry Onyekuru that was Arsene Wenger’s first summer signing.The forward is a fan of Arsenal legend and record goalscorer, Thierry Henry, and is delighted joining the club of his dreams.last_img read more

Baldwinsville volleyball sweeps Niskayuna for regional title

first_imgWhether it was Rileigh Kimball up front putting away kills or the duo of Summer McClintic and Jenna Garvey sending out passes from the back line, B’ville kept putting together point runs as it won the second set 25-19.There wasn’t much drama in the third set, either, the Bees putting the match away 25-17 to end years of regional finals frustration and earn its way back to Glens Falls for the state final four.This Saturday at Cool Insuring Arena (formerly the Civic Center), the Bees will start to seek a third state title to go with the ones it earned in 2010 and 2013.In round-robin play next Saturday at 3 p.m., B’ville will play six sets against three opponents – Ossining, Connetquot and Orchard Park or Rochester Mercy. The best two teams advance to Sunday’s state final at 2 p.m.Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInRedditComment on this Story Exactly one week later, it was the less-familiar Silver Warriors on the other side of the net, rather than the familiar Plainsmen. Instead of a seasoned, confident opponent that had foiled B’ville before, now it was the Bees holding the edge in big-match experience.From the moment the first serve went in the air, that difference was on display.B’ville gained the lead during the first set and deftly withstood all of Niskayuna’s attempts to catch up, winning that set 25-20. As the match wore on, the Bees got even more comfortable. The presence of the Baldwinsville girls volleyball team in a Class AA regional final was routine. What wasn’t was the team the Bees had to defeat in order to return to state championship weekend.And while that might have made all the difference, the truth was that B’ville played so well in Saturday’s match against Section II champion Niskayuna, prevailing in a three-set sweep, that it might not have mattered which side it faced.After years of duels between B’ville and Shenendehowa in this regional round, the formula changed when Niskayuna knocked off Shen in the Nov. 9 sectional Division II championship match.center_img Tags: Baldwinsvillevolleyballlast_img read more

Syracuse shows improved doubles performance in 5-2 win over Pittsburgh

first_imgRhiann Newborn smashed an ace past her opponent and she turned to her doubles partner, Breanna Bachini, as both girls screamed and pumped their fists.A “Let’s go, Orange!” chant from the Syracuse team thundered through Drumlins Tennis Center.The Pittsburgh pair — Molly Wickman and Amber Washington — battled back against the Orange with lobs and drop shots as the struggle to win the doubles point carried on.“(The doubles point) was big,” Newborn said. “The match depended on us winning or losing. Coach told me to take it out when (Wickman) lobbed it.”No. 34 Syracuse (6-4, 1-3 Atlantic Coast) eventually won the doubles point and bested Pitt (2-7, 0-4), 5-2, to pick up its first conference victory on the season. While the match didn’t yield a three-match doubles sweep — something head coach Younes Limam has looked for all season – it showed the improvement in Syracuse’s doubles attack and carried momentum into the singles section.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange evened its doubles record on the year to 5-5 after losing the doubles point to Notre Dame on Friday. SU is also still adjusting to conference-style doubles play, which is a first-to-eight format rather than the nonconference first-to-six format.“(The last doubles) was quite a match,” Limam said. “I definitely think it was gusty. We came in big in (the last doubles) and we had a chance to win the second match. I’m proud of the effort.”Komal Safdar and Valeria Salazar, formerly ranked as the 59th-best doubles pair in the nation, beat Pitt’s pairing of Katherine Castro and Lolade Ogungbesan, 8-2. Castro and Ogungsbesan, while unranked, had beaten a Notre Dame duo, then-ranked 14th, earlier in the season.Safdar and Salazar used their aggressive net play to force bad angles — and worse shots — in their favor. The SU duo forced quick reactions, spins, pirouettes and backhands until a Pitt unforced error ended the point.“We had the team all united,” Safdar said. “We had the fans and involved and that’s what made the difference.”In Syracuse’s last doubles match, freshman Nicole Mitchell and senior Amanda Rodgers faced Pitt’s Callie Frey and Audrey Ann Blakely. The 8-7 Pittsburgh victory was decided on a tiebreak and Mitchell and Rodgers had battled back from an early hole.That’s when Bachini and Newborn closed out the doubles point for Syracuse with an 8-7 (7-4) win.“When you’re winning points, it gives you momentum,” Safdar said. “The closer doubles point definitely gave us momentum going into the singles.”Newborn said she felt a shift in match momentum when she sent the winner past Pitt to close the doubles play. Her opponents were intimidated and her confidence was boosted, she said.Rodgers said the momentum from the doubles point, combined with her frustration at failing to capture the third set in her match on Friday, helped her adopt a better mentality and win her three-set singles match, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.“Doubles was huge for us today,” Limam said. “Winning the doubles and going into the singles in great position. We got out to a fast start. That’s something we talked about. We’re very glad we got the W today.” Comments Published on March 1, 2015 at 6:19 pm Contact Sam: | @Sam4TR Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Miller: Lakers out to prove all things are possible again

first_imgFortunes can change quickly in the NBA, where, by rule, something has to happen at least every 24 seconds.Not even the reigning-champion Warriors, however, can break this fast, the landscape of opportunity around the league U-turning this week in a manner violent enough to cause spinal distress.Just a few days ago, the overwhelming consensus was that the rest of the NBA was kidding itself, that Golden State was unstoppably in position to win all foreseeable titles.Everyone else wasn’t only playing for second; they were playing to be swept into second. Outside of Oakland, championship dreams had the buoyancy of a deflated Spalding. After that? Hey, is it too early to name the Lakers the NBA’s Most Improved Players?The rookie regime of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka on Tuesday made a decision that shook up the franchise’s present and – more significantly – future. In so doing, they beat the NBA’s 24-second shock clock.In an astonishing move, they dealt D’Angelo Russell to and dumped Timofey Mozgov on the Brooklyn Nets, in exchange for Brook Lopez and a late first-round draft pick.The surprising part wasn’t swapping Russell, who, from the beginning, seemed to fit the Lakers like a second left high-top. Rather, it was the ability to rid themselves of Mozgov’s contract that startled.The Russian center last summer signed an outrageous deal – four-years, $64 million – that was only as oppressive as communism itself.By definition, those types of contracts aren’t traded. They are, for the record, dumped, as noted above and, over the past two days, in headlines everywhere else.If Johnson and Pelinka next can find a team willing to take Luol Deng and what remains on the four-year, $72-million deal he signed a year ago, Magic might become the first person with two statues outside Staples Center.With the draft set for today, the Lakers can now select Lonzo Ball at No. 2, bringing into clearer focus the direction of a team that for too many years has operated on the fuzzy fringes.Just that quickly, the Lakers have gone from rebuilding to possibly relaunching, George, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James potential 2018 free-agent targets given the team’s sudden and promising salary cap space.It wasn’t that long ago, meaning last July, that the Lakers couldn’t even convince Kevin Durant to take them seriously enough to have a sit-down meeting.Today, they are again the rumored destination for every would-be available star. Apparently, the mere presence of Jim Buss was enough to undo the decades of good work done by his late father, Jerry.If this all sounds too good to be true, like one of those breathless television infomercials promising the greatest household gadget since the front door, maybe it is.Because – But wait, there’s more! – the Lakers could trade for George at any second, accelerating their progress and continuing to stun during a week in which Jerry West joining the Clippers, as a news item, doesn’t seem so jarring anymore by comparison.Ball met with reporters Wednesday in New York and said he has no idea what the Lakers are going to do with their first draft pick.While his comments were benign and predictable, they might have been in contrast to his father, LaVar, who, at some point, probably claimed his oldest son’s one-step-ahead vision extends beyond the court.“I can’t tell the future,” Lonzo confirmed. “I don’t know where I am going.”Nobody can be certain at the moment, although I’m sure Johnson and Pelinka have a good idea.Still, with the way the landscape has been shifting this week, all possibilities remain alive, including some we don’t even know exist right now.An interesting offseason is about to become more interesting, the Lakers restoring one of their great traditions.Where he was when he directed “Showtime,” Magic Johnson is out front again, the leader of show-me time. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Now – just a couple trades, a dozen reports and a million rumors later – pretty much all things are possible again, up to and including the Lakers being the league’s newest super team!Paul George will be dealt next. Or perhaps it will be Jimmy Butler. Maybe Kevin Love. Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis are definitely leaving New York. Unless they aren’t.The Rockets are going to sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, assuming the Spurs don’t sign Paul first and assuming Houston or San Antonio is more adept at luring Clippers to Texas than Dallas was two summers ago.For a league that just gave us a postseason devoid of drama, the NBA has bounced back with an offseason already packed with more intrigue than Shakespeare’s imagination.Yeah, you’re right. The Warriors are still the decided favorites to win a third championship in four years next spring.last_img read more