…Russell’s heroics fail to ignite defending championsAS if Saturday’s cliff-hanger, which ended off the last ball, wasn’t enough, Sunday’s final of the second edition of Global T20 Canada produced a heart-stopping thriller which saw Winnipeg Hawks dethroning inaugural winners, Vancouver Knights, at the CAA Center, Brampton, Ontario, Canada, in the first super over of the tournament.The super over became a reality following the histrionics of Andre Russell who bulldozed his way to a boundary-studded unbeaten 46 off 20 balls, clobbering three fours and five sixes as Vancouver Knights ended on 192 for six in pursuit of Winnipeg Hawks’ 192 for eight in their 20 overs.Russell’s heroics were, however, in vain as the defending champions could only muster nine for two in the super over, with Winnipeg Hawks achieving the required 10 off four deliveries.The dangerous Russel, who, the Windies Cricket Board (WCB) said was using the tournament as part of rehabilitation from a knee surgery, entered the fray with Vancouver Knights needing 54 from 19 balls, and he did not disappoint the bumper sold-out crowd which, like last year, was the biggest of the three-week festival.By the start of the last over, bowled by Pakistani medium-pacer Kaleem Sana, the deficit had been reduced to 17 with Russell at the non-striker’s end at the commencement of the over. With last year’s man-of-the-match, Saad Bin Zafar, completing a single off the first delivery, Russell smashed the second delivery straight over the bowler’s head for a six. This brought the equation to 10 from four.Sana’s next ball was adjudged a no-ball and Russel obliged by smashing the free hit over the boundary, as it became three from three. With the next delivery being a maiden ball, it was three from two.In a mad rush for three off the final delivery, Saad Bin Zafar (27) failed to beat the cover fielder as himself and Russell only completed two as the spectators were left in awe.Earlier, Winnipeg Hawks were given a rollicking start of 73 in six overs by man-of-the-match, Shaiman Anwar, and Chris Lynn (37) with the former going on to hit a brilliant 90 before departing in the 16th over; his knock laced with eight fours and seven towering sixes.The consistent Lynn stroked four fours and three sixes while JP Duminy contributed a useful 33 off 27 balls with one four and two sixes. Russell, who was used sparingly as a bowler during the tournament, picked up four for 29 from his four overs.Vancouver Knights started disastrously, losing the wickets of Chadwick Walton (01), Tobias Visee (0), Daniel Sams (21) and Russie van der Dussen (23) and were 53 for four in the eighth over before Pakistani Shoaib Malik (64) and Saad Bin Zafar featured in a face-saving fifth-wicket partnership of 86 in 10.1 overs with Malik dominating the stand.Malik’s dismissal in the 17th over, after striking six fours and three sixes off 36 balls, seemed a telling blow for Vancouver Knights until Russell arrived and transformed the game but, as faith would have it, his effort was all in vain.Skipper Rayad Emrit, who also suffered at the hands of Russell, finished with two for 37 while Paul Van Meekeren took two for 40.On Saturday, Winnipeg Hawks were powered to victory off the last delivery of the innings with Anwar once more among the runs with 52 off 23 balls , hitting six fours and three sixes after sharing another enterprising opening stand of 76 in 6.1 overs with Lynn whose 35 (three fours and three sixes) came off 20 balls. Duminy spanked a quick-fire undefeated 50 off 34 balls with three fours and three sixes to ensure victory towards the end.Opponents Brampton Wolves had earlier reached exactly 200 for seven with several of their batsmen getting into the thirties but none going beyond. Emrit claimed three for 43 and Sana two for 25.
The Lakers officially missed out on their top free-agent target, sending a prideful organization into another summer tailspin.LaMarcus Aldridge agreed to a four-year deal worth $80 million with San Antonio on Saturday, according to an NBA source, giving Kobe Bryant even more reason to view the Spurs with envy for their endless continuity. “I’m happy to say I’m going home to Texas and will be a Spur!!” Aldridge wrote on Twitter. “I’m excited to join the team and be close to my family and friends.”The Lakers were hardly excited to hear this news. They already experienced a devastating week of free agency that included Greg Monroe and DeAndre Jordan expressing no thanks to the Lakers’ pitches. Published accounts said Aldridge walked away from the Lakers’ two-hour meeting Tuesday unimpressed with the team’s pitch, believing it focused too much on Hollywood style over X’s and O’s substance. Although the Lakers landed a second meeting with Aldridge on Thursday just to talk about basketball-related issues, that could not sway Aldridge, who was also courted by Phoenix, Portland, Miami and Toronto.There is also a sense Aldridge granted the Lakers’ request for a second meeting just so a historically successful franchise could save face. Aldridge’s rejection also continues a three-year-long trend in which the Lakers have whiffed out on their free-agent targets. Dwight Howard defected to Houston two years ago for less money for reasons including a younger roster, Kobe Bryant’s demanding personality and Mike D’Antoni’s coaching philosophy. Unlike Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony reported feeling impressed with the Lakers’ branding presentation last year that included a four-minute trailer on his life, made by movie producer Joel Silver. But Anthony still stayed in New York.Shortly after, Pau Gasol took less money to go to Chicago, his concerns over the Lakers’ rebuilding and endless trade rumors factored in more than any nostalgia over winning two NBA titles here. The Lakers also could not land in-person meetings last year with LeBron James or this year with Kevin Love and Marc Gasol. As for Aldridge, he had plenty of better options than the Lakers, including Phoenix, Houston and Miami. But Aldridge joined San Antonio partly in hopes that he and Kawhi Leonard could become the franchise’s future following Duncan’s eventual retirement. Aldridge could have carried the same torch under Bryant, but his future elicits far more question marks. Bryant has suffered three season-ending injuries in consecutive years. After the Lakers granted him a two-year, $48.5 million extension before returning from an injured left Achilles tendon on Dec. 2013, the Lakers have only had enough cap space to offer one max contract. With the Lakers determined to dance with the stars in free agency, they have lost out on second-tier talent. They could not retain sharpshooter Jodie Meeks in 2014 and emerging big man Ed Davis this past season. The Lakers also declined to pursue point guard Eric Bledsoe in 2014 and center Robin Lopez in 2015. The Lakers have $23 million to spend on underwhelming options. Other available free-agent big men include Kosta Koufas, Amare Stoudemire and Jason Smith. The Lakers could re-sign some of their own free agents, including Wayne Ellington or Jordan Hill.The Lakers have not revisited trade talks with the Sacramento Kings about All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, according to a league source familiar with the situation. The Kings are currently not looking to trade Cousins, either. But to sway Sacramento’s opinion, the Lakers would have to offer plenty of their young talent. That would include Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, if not more in future draft picks. Regardless of how that plays out, that won’t erase the sting of another top free agent saying no thanks to the Lakers, a disturbing trend for a franchise that usually could land stars anytime it asked. However, the Lakers have apparently found a bandage for their wound.The Lakers reached an agreement with the Indiana Pacers for center Roy Hibbert, a former All-Star who faced a diminished role. Terms of the deal haven’t been decided and the trade can’t be completed until July 9, when the NBA moratorium is lifted.Aldridge’s rejection seemed even more painful for a few reasons. The 29-year-old Aldridge averaged a career 23.4 points 10.2 rebounds per game last season, while making the All-Star team for a fourth consecutive year. With the Lakers choosing point guard D’Angelo Russell with the second pick of the 2015 NBA Draft over Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, the Lakers were left without a definitive post presence. The Lakers’ lone big men, Robert Sacre and Tarik Black, have a combined four years of NBA experience. Aldridge’s case also raised questions about whether the Lakers have not adjusted to an evolving NBA landscape. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error