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Casey up for NBA top coach honours, VanVleet sixth man nominee

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Five days after he was fired by the Toronto Raptors, Dwane Casey was named a finalist for NBA coach of the year.

On a night when the 2015 winner, Mike Budenholzer, reached a deal to coach the Milwaukee Bucks — scratching his name off the list of candidates for the Raptors job, the 61-year-old Casey made the shortlist after the best regular season in Raptor history: 59 wins and the top seed in the East for the first time. The other coaching finalists are Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics) and Quin Snyder (Utah Jazz).

Dwane Casey made the shortlist for NBA coach of the year. The award will be handed out June 25.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet also earned a shot at the NBA’s sixth man award. VanVleet is a finalist along with former Raptor Lou Williams (Los Angeles Clippers) and Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets).

Other nominees for major awards, which will be handed out June 25 in Santa Monica, Calif.:

MVP: James Harden, LeBron James, Anthony Davis

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TOP ROOKIE: Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum

MOST IMPROVED: Clint Capela, Spencer Dinwiddie, Victor Oladipo

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Manchester United slump to dismal defeat at Brighton

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Manchester United conceded three first-half goals as they slumped to a 3-2 defeat at Brighton in a game illuminated by a superb goal from Seagulls striker Glenn Murray.

Murray’s outstanding flick opened the scoring, Shane Duffy quickly adding a second, and although Romelu Lukaku pulled one back, Pascal Gross scored a penalty before half-time to restore the two-goal lead.

Paul Pogba’s penalty in second-half stoppage time was too little, too late for disjointed United.

Brighton began on the front foot, Solly March’s cross cleared by Pogba and then Gross attempting to flick on an Anthony Knockaert delivery only for United to get it away.

Pogba spread the play to Anthony Martial on the left, his low ball into the area cleared as United hit back, and Brighton sprang forward again when March’s cross was held by David De Gea.

United had a good chance to take the lead after 10 minutes when, after Lewis Dunk had given the ball away to Lukaku, Pogba played the striker in only for him to fizz a low shot past the near post.

Brighton captain Dunk was struggling after his challenge with Lukaku, with home boss Chris Hughton prepared to bring on Leon Balogun in his place.

A clumsy Luke Shaw challenge on Knockaert gave Brighton a free kick on halfway but, when a long ball forward was headed down, an offside flag stopped Murray.

Dunk was eventually substituted after 20 minutes, and soon afterwards Knockaert had half a chance when he latched on to a speculative ball but sliced his attempt well wide.

But after 25 minutes Brighton broke through, March producing another dangerous cross from the left and Murray’s sublime flick steering the ball beyond De Gea and into the corner.

Two minutes later they doubled their lead when, after one ball had fizzed across the box, United failed to deal with the second and Duffy turned and fired into the corner.

Pogba thumped a speculative effort well over with United struggling to make any headway against the well-organised home side — but after 34 minutes they found a way back, Shaw’s bouncing, deflected ball into the area glanced home by Lukaku.

Knockaert was brought down 25 yards out, getting up to curl the free kick over the bar, but three minutes from the break Brighton had a penalty when Eric Bailly fouled Gross as he broke through — and the Brighton man blasted the kick in off De Gea.

United were increasingly ragged, Martial booked for a foul on Knockaert after they had given the ball away near their own area, and Jose Mourinho made a double change at the break, bringing on Marcus Rashford for Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard for Andreas Pereira.

But the defence that had struggled so badly in the first half remained unchanged and both March and Davy Propper were within a whisker of winning the ball back as Bailly dawdled near his own area.

Pogba headed well wide from a deep delivery as United sought a way back into things on the south coast, but Brighton were happy to sit deep with their visitors showing little in the way of imagination.

On the hour, Rashford’s dangerous header across goal was well dealt with by Duffy before Mourinho made his final change, Marouane Fellaini coming on for Martial as United finally began to put some pressure on their hosts.

Goal scorer Murray was booked for a challenge on Lindelof, much to the disgust of the home fans, but United were struggling to find any sort of threatening final ball, instead playing hopeful passes forward that were easily dealt with by the Brighton defence.

Pogba tried a different approach, hitting a fine shot from distance that produced an equally good response from keeper Mat Ryan, who dived to push it away one-handed.

Ryan was hurt in a collision with teammate Duffy as both tried to deal with another looping United cross, but the Australia international was able to continue.

Hughton made a late change, taking off Gross and replacing him with Beram Kayal and then replacing Murray with Jurgen Locadia.

Pogba scored a late, late penalty after Duffy’s foul on Fellaini, but the Seagulls saw out the remaining time to beat United at home for the second successive season.

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Kelowna Apple Triathlon and Triathlon Canada cancel Sunday's races

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Poor Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) forced Kelowna Apple Triathlon and Triathlon Canada officials to cancel Sunday’s scheduled age group and CAMTRI races.

With the province of British Columbia in a state of emergency as a result of more than 560 active forest fires, AQHI levels skyrocketed to a 10+ rating (very high risk) on Friday evening and have remained high throughout the weekend.

Consulting regularly with local health care officials, the emergency risk management team at the Kelowna Apple Triathlon has been on high alert. Race officials originally cancelled all of Saturday races including the 2018 National Championships. A modified ITU CAMTRI Continental Cup race was put back on Sunday’s schedule for elite athletes, but health risks remained too high.

“To say we are disappointed is a huge understatement,” said Susie Ernsting, Race Director for Apple Triathlon. “This weekend of racing was a culmination of months of hard work from the dedicated volunteers, Board of Directors, and hard-working athletes. We were so excited to have the Apple return to Kelowna, and it is beyond devastating that we are unable to do any races. We hope to regroup for 2019 and appreciate the triathlon community’s understanding these circumstances are outside of our control.”

“We are obviously disappointed to have to cancel races today, but the health and safety of our athletes, volunteers and spectators are our number one priority,” says Kelowna Apple Triathlon Society Chair Matt Canzer. “When the air quality health index is like this it’s just not safe to engage in strenuous outdoor activity. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and support. We look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2019 for an excellent race and we hope we can count on the community to join us.”

Triathlon Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee will adjust the Pan American Games selection criteria for Canadian athletes that were connected with the National Championships/CAMTRI race. Triathlon Canada will update all impacted participants, along with its provincial partners, as soon as the new criteria is completed.

“This is obviously an unfortunate series of events that Mother Nature has dealt us. The National Championships is the lone event of the year that brings all of us in the Triathlon Canada Nation together, but the protection, safety and health of our athletes, coaches and volunteers is our number one priority – always,” said Kim Van Bruggen, Chief Executive Officer, Triathlon Canada. “We can’t thank Susie Ernsting and her team at the Apple enough for their passion, commitment and tireless work in trying to pull this off. The Apple is one of the most prestigious events on the calendar and we hope to see our nation’s best racing here again in the very near future.”

The final word comes from Susie Ernsting and Kelowna Apple Triathlon Society. “On behalf of everyone at Apple Triathlon and Triathlon Canada, please accept our sincerest apologies to all of the athletes who were unable to race. Our thoughts are with those who have been negatively impacted by the fires, and our continual gratitude goes out to all those fighting to keep them in control and ensure our safety.”


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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Heavy smoke and poor air quality force cancellation of two Okanagan triathlons

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Officials say two triathlons in British Columbia’s Central Okanagan have been cancelled due to heavy smoke and poor air quality from wildfires burning throughout the province.

The remaining races for both the Super League Triathlon in Penticton and the Kelowna Apple Triathlon were cancelled early Sunday morning.

The races cancelled in Kelowna included a make-up for a cancelled 2018 national championship event that was initially scheduled for Saturday and subsequently pushed to Sunday.

Triathlon Canada CEO Kim Van Bruggen says the safety of the athletes and coaches is her organization’s top priority, and thanked the directors of the Apple Triathlon for their support.

A statement from Triathlon Canada says they and the Canadian Olympic Committee would take the cancelled races into account for selection to the Pan American Games.

Environment Canada rated the air quality as “Very High Risk” for the Central Okanagan on Sunday, scoring over 10 on its index.

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