Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 2nd 2016 Contents A47
Saturday, January 2, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
SYDNEY, Australia---The West Indies team
were hailed as "favourites" among Aus-
tralians as they were specially honoured
guests at an afternoon function hosted
by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
on New Year s Day.
In brief remarks, Turnbull referenced
the rich cricketing history between West
Indies and Australia, one of the highlights
being the famous tied Test which formed
part of the unforgettable 1960-61 series.
"There is a certain aura, a magic, a
charisma about the West Indies cricketers
that is really unique and Australians relate
to it," he told the audience.
"The affection and respect between the
West Indies and Australia was symbolised
by the Frank Worrell Trophy.
We welcome the West Indies team to
Australia and we are absolutely delighted
to have them here."
Both teams presented West Indies with
specially signed shirts and interacted with
guests at the official residence.
West Indies are on the final leg of their
three-Test our of Australia, and face off
with he hosts in the last Test at the Sydney
Cricket Ground starting Sunday.
They lost the opening game in Hobart
by an innings and 212 runs and the second
in Melbourne by 177 runs. (CMC)
BARCELONA, Spain---Rafa Benitez held
on to his job last year but faces another
tough test of his coaching credentials
tomorrow when Real Madrid visits Valen-
cia for its first Spanish league game of
Benitez has been the focus of criticism
from disgruntled fans for Madrid s unpre-
dictable campaign, which has included a
lopsided loss to fierce rival Barcelona and
its embarrassing disqualification from the
Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible play-
er.Madrid travels to Mestalla Stadium after
two easy victories at its own Santiago Bern-
abeu home that failed to win over its most
skeptical supporters, some of whom jeered
Madrid defender Pepe has called for
"We have to let our coach continue to
improve," Pepe said. "If a new manager
came, we d have to adapt to new systems
and that isn t good. We should save the
evaluations for the end of the season."
Madrid has struggled on the road this
season, dropping points on four of eight
of its outings. Its last away game ended in
a 1-0 loss at Villarreal.
Madrid is in third place, two points
behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Defending champion Barcelona has played
one less game than its rivals.
Here are some more things to know
about the 18th round of La Liga:
ALSO IN NEED
Benitez s counterpart on Sunday is also
in need of a victory.
Former Manchester United defender
Gary Neville s coaching debut has got off
to an uninspiring start.
Valencia has only beaten a third-division
side in the Copa del Rey since he took over.
Otherwise, the team has recorded a pair
of draws and two losses, including a poor
showing in a 1-0 league defeat at regional
rival Villarreal on Thursday. That loss left
Valencia 10th --- and 11 points from the
Champions League spots.
"The team is united and we are trying
to get a win as soon as possible," said
Valencia striker Alvaro Negredo. "January
will be a key month."
Barcelona makes the short trip across
the Catalan capital to play the first of three
derbies against Espanyol on Saturday.
The two clubs will also meet in the round
of 16 of the Copa del Rey over the next
Barcelona will be heavily favored to con-
tinue its record form of 2015, when Luis
Enrique s team won five titles and set a
new record --- 180 --- for goals scored.
The strike trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar
and Luis Suarez combined for 137 of those
goals. Suarez is leading the league this
campaign with 15, followed by Neymar and
Madrid s Cristiano Ronaldo with 14 each.
Espanyol s defense is the fourth worst
in the competition with 28 goals conceded.
Only the three teams in the relegation zone
have conceded more.
BEFORE THE STORM
Atletico Madrid hosts last-place Levante
on Saturday before facing a difficult run
of matches in the rest of January.
Diego Simeone s team then plays at Celta
Vigo and Las Palmas, returns home against
Sevilla, and finishes the month at
Barcelona s Camp Nou.
Levante has lost four of its last five,
scoring just two goals in that stretch, while
Atletico has the best defense in the league
with only eight goals conceded.
Other than Madrid at Valencia, the most
intriguing fixture of the round promises
to be Deportivo La Coruna hosting Villarreal
Villarreal heads to Riazor on the strength
of four consecutive wins that have pushed
it into fourth place.
Deportivo, meanwhile, is the surprise
side of the season. Led by striker Lucas
Perez and his 12 goals, it is in sixth place
after not losing in eight rounds.
Today, fifth-place Celta plays at a resur-
gent Malaga that has won three straight.
HOUSTON---Golden State s Klay Thompson cov-
ered for the absence of star player Stephen Curry
by scoring 38 points to lead the Warriors to a
114-110 win at Houston on Thursday.
Having suffered only their second defeat of the
season on Wednesday when Curry missed his first
game due to a lower leg injury, the Warriors found
just enough to compensate for the loss of the
reigning league MVP and edged the Rockets.
Among other results on New Year s Eve, Okla-
homa City hung on to send Phoenix to a seventh
successive loss, and the Los Angeles Clippers
capped a perfect five-game road trip by defeating
Golden State s Thompson made six 3-pointers,
while Draymond Green had a triple-double of 16
assists---a career high--- along with 10 points and
11 rebounds. James Harden had 30 points for Hous-
ton, which has dropped seven straight regular-
season games to Golden State. Oklahoma City s
dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin
Durant steered the Thunder to a 110-106 win
against Phoenix. Westbrook had 36 points and 12
assists while Durant scored 23 points for Oklahoma
City, which has won 12 of 14 games. Westbrook
also had five steals and blocked a shot.
T.J. Warren had 29 points and nine rebounds
for the Suns, who had six players score in double
figures but still lost. Scores were tied with 1:34
left when Durant scored on a fade-away jumper
and got free for a dunk that made it 106-102 with
31.7 seconds remaining.Los Angeles Chris Paul
made up for a poor shooting performance by
pulling off some pivotal plays in the closing minutes
to seal a 95-89 win for the Clippers at New Orleans.
Paul missed 15 of his first 17 shots, but hit a 19-
foot step-back jumper with a minute to go to give
Los Angeles a 90-87 lead. Before and after that
score, Paul assisted on baskets by Jamal Crawford.
Paul, who finished with 12 assists, then added
three free throws in the final 21 seconds.
J.J. Redick scored 26 points for the Clippers for
a second straight night. Anthony Davis had 14
points and 15 rebounds for New Orleans. Milwau-
kee s Khris Middleton scored 33 points as the
Bucks stopped a three-game losing streak and
edged Indiana 120-116. Detroit also arrested a
three-game skid and swept past Minnesota 115-
90, with Andre Drummond contributing 23 points
and 18 rebounds. Utah broke clear in the second
quarter to beat Portland 109-96 as Trey Burke
scored a season-high 27 points. (AP)
Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson (11)
sticks his tongue out after making a basket
against the Houston Rockets during the second
half of an NBA basketball game on Thursday, in
Houston. The Warriors won 114-110. AP PHOTO
Australia PM Turnbull hails
the 'magic' of West Indies
WELCOME: West Indies captain jason Holder shares a laugh with Australia Prime Minister
Malcolm Turnbull and wife Lucy Turnbull, as team manager Sir Richie Richardson looks on.
Madrid visits Valencia in test for struggling coaches
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, center, celebrates after scoring a goal during a Spanish La
Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu
stadium in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday. AP PHOTO
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