NBA

Doncic back for Mavs ahead of Game 4 with the Jazz

By Sports Desk April 23, 2022

Luka Doncic will return for the Dallas Mavericks for Game 4 of their NBA playoffs series against the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

Mavs point guard Doncic missed the first three games of the Western Conference first-round series with a left calf strain.

However, the organisation confirmed on Saturday that Doncic is available for Game 4 at Vivint Arena.

Dallas lead Utah 2-1 in the series despite being without their star man, with Jalen Brunson stepping up with 96 points in the three clashes so far.

The return of Doncic will still undoubtedly be a big boost for the Mavs, who have not progressed beyond this stage of the playoffs since they won the 2011 championship.

The Slovenian has been one of the most impressive players in the league this season, averaging 28.4 points per game in his 65 regular season appearances, as well as 8.7 assists and 9.1 rebounds.

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    England must stick with Phil Foden despite an "off night" against Serbia in their Euro 2024 opener, according to Manchester United great Roy Keane.

    Foden created just one chance in Sunday's 1-0 victory as the Manchester City star moved to the left flank, making way to accommodate an attack of Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane.

    The 24-year-old still managed 19 passes in the final third, only bettered by match-winning team-mate Jude Bellingham (24), but failed to register a single shot in an unusually quiet outing.

    Former United midfielder Keane has no doubts over Foden's ability, however, and lamented critics calling for his dropping from Gareth Southgate's starting XI.

    "This idea that you should start taking him out of the team, Phil Foden is an amazing, fantastic player who has had a great season," Keane said on ITV on Monday.

    "OK, he was quiet last night but he is entitled to an off night. Don't be writing this kid off. He has got so much talent. You stick with him.

    "You can talk about tactics and systems until the cows come home. Foden and these quality players will produce. He had a quiet night. Relax, everyone. He will be fine."

    Bellingham stole the show as his 13th-minute header from Saka's deflected right-wing cross proved the difference.

    Real Madrid's Champions League-winning midfielder also became the first player to score for the Three Lions at both the World Cup and European Championship while playing his club football outside of England.

    Kane was another to be kept quiet by Serbia, though the England captain had a late header expertly pushed away by Predrag Rajkovic.

    Keane insists Southgate's plethora of talent will always deliver in some form, though, whether it comes from Kane, Bellingham, Foden or any other player.

    "They have got to stay calm with it all," Keane added. "Because they have three or four world-class players, when Kane or Foden are having a bit of an off-night, players like Bellingham will step up.

    "It might be Foden or Kane in the next game. That is the beauty of having four or five world-class players."

    England head to Frankfurt on Thursday to face Denmark, aiming to extend their embryonic lead at the top of Group C before their final meeting with Slovenia.

  • Martinez dreaming big at Euro 2024 as Portugal boss defends Ronaldo inclusion Martinez dreaming big at Euro 2024 as Portugal boss defends Ronaldo inclusion

    Roberto Martinez is daring to dream as Portugal prepare to open their Euro 2024 campaign, where ageing star Cristiano Ronaldo has been selected "on merit".

    Portugal are the favourites to top Group F in Germany, opening their tournament against Czechia on Tuesday before facing Turkiye and Georgia.

    Martinez's side were the only team to win 100 per cent of their games in the qualifying campaign (10/10), while they also scored more goals than any other team (36).

    The former Belgium manager has major-tournament pedigree, too, guiding the Red Devils to third place at the 2018 World Cup and quarter-finals at Euro 2020.

    Going further on this occasion remains at the forefront of the Spaniard's mind.

    "We must believe, we need to dream big," the Portugal head coach said at Monday's pre-match press conference.

    "If we don't dream big, then it will be tough. But we also owe it to everyone to play well.

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    Portugal have the likes of Joao Felix, Diogo Jota and Goncalo Ramos to call upon in attack, though a familiar face remains in Ronaldo.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner holds the record for most games (25), most goals (14), joint-most assists on record (six – since 1972) and most editions with at least one goal (five) at the Euros.

    Indeed, since 1972, Ronaldo has scored/assisted twice as many goals as any other player at this tournament: 20 in total (14 goals, six assists). Michel Platini is second on 10 (nine goals, one assist).

    Ronaldo is also the European player with the most appearances at major tournaments, World Cup and Euros combined (47), therefore his inclusion is hardly a surprise.

     

    "Cristiano is in the national team on merit," Martinez added. "Nobody gets into the national team just by having a name.

    "Cristiano scored 51 goals in 50 games [for Al-Nassr last season].

    "For us he is a goalscorer, someone who can make that final move, someone who can really stretch defenders, really open spaces.

    "Obviously, over the years Cristiano has changed his way of playing slightly, but I can only say that Cristiano is in the national team on merit and the numbers are there to back that up."

    Ruben Dias says Ronaldo's influence spans further than his influence on the pitch, however.

    "I would say he represents inspiration, he represents that everything is possible, he represents that you can dream and you can achieve it," the Manchester City defender said.

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    Jude Bellingham "has everything to win the next Ballon d'Or", Serbia skipper Dusan Tadic insisted after his side fell victim to England's star midfielder.

    Bellingham was the hero with his first-half header ensuring Gareth Southgate's side got off to a winning start at Euro 2024, as they edged out the Eagles 1-0 in Gelsenkirchen.

    The Real Madrid midfielder built on the momentum from his memorable debut season with Los Blancos, for whom he scored 23 goals and helped win LaLiga and the Champions League.

    The second player after Michael Owen to score at the World Cup and European Championship before turning 21, he is also the first to do so for the Three Lions while playing his club football outside of England.

    And Tadic, who appeared as a second-half substitute in Serbia's first match at the European Championship as a unified nation, paid tribute to the 20-year-old.

    When asked whether he thought Bellingham was the difference in the Group C contest, the Eagles skipper told reporters: "Yes, definitely. I think he is a great player and a great personality. I think he has everything to win the next Ballon d'Or.

    "I think everything that he did was great today, he showed personality, he took England to the next level. He was always asking for the ball and I think he had a great game.

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