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Travel an extra grind for Division I’s smallest schools

first_imgIn this Jan. 5, 2018, photo, Northern Arizona basketball players Luke Avdalovic, Omar Ndiaye and Gino Littles leave the team hotel in Ogden, Utah to board a bus for their next game in Pocatello, Idaho. Unlike high-major programs that fly on charters and eat at nice restaurants, the Lumberjacks fly commercially and eat at chain restaurants to save money. (AP Photo/John Marshall)POCATELLO, Idaho — As the bus rolls past mileage signs for places like Malad City, Arimo and Woodruff, the long frames of Northern Arizona’s basketball players splay across the seats. Heads rest on makeshift pillows of jackets and backpacks, legs stretch across aisles, feet rise above headrests.Outside, flurries dance in the headlights as roadside reflectors flash like car turn signals. Yellow weed stalks, evidence of a recent thaw, peek through the white blanket along the highway.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Some have it easier than others.At the highest levels of Division I, buses park next to charter planes filled with spacious seats, teams’ schedules based on when the runway is open. Convenience affords efficiency: Practice at home, fly out in the evening, play the next day, head straight home.Travel at the low-major level can feel like “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” All that’s missing is the train and Del Griffith.Charter flights are not within the smallest D-I schools’ budget, so commercial is the only way to go. That means long security lines and clock-watching gate waits, just for the opportunity to fold into seats barely big enough for averaged-sized humans.Six-foot-10 and a middle seat is like 5-9 squeezed into a toddler car seat.ADVERTISEMENT Redemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie Thompson Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Brian Heruela arrival bolsters Phoenix backcourt, defense Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award “I’m hurting for like two hours and when I get up, my knees finally get back to normal,” said Isaiah Thomas, NAU’s 6-9 junior forward. “It’s not enjoyable.”Nor is planning.The dilemma: Early-morning practice before flying out or a pre-sunrise departure to practice later at the destination? For the return, leave early on little sleep and rest later or sleep in and get back later?No matter how coaches work it, the players end up tired.“You have to factor it in,” Sacramento State coach Brian Katz said. “You try to convince your guys, you’re 19 years old, you shouldn’t get tired from anything. But in your mind you try to account for it because it’s a factor for sure.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparc Pockets of dense fog envelop the bus, visibility measured in yards for perilous moments before thankfully clearing.The players are oblivious to the cold world outside. Their only concern is finding comfort on this opening three-hour leg of a two-day return to Flagstaff, Arizona.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folk“It’s pretty hard travel after a game,” NAU coach Jack Murphy said. “You want to get home, get the guys some rest on their day off, but it’s a long day of travel on their ‘day off.’”Travel is one of the most arduous aspects of college basketball. Hours upon hours every season are dedicated to getting to the next town, buses and planes essentially becoming players’ and coaches’ mobile second homes. Meralco ‘never the same’ after Almazan injury in PBA Finals LATEST STORIEScenter_img Scottie Thompson also worthy of Finals MVP, thinks Cone OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours On Erik Spoelstra’s mind these days: A berth, and a birth Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Read Next OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more

British MPs’ US$3.9M EU Claim Backfires

first_imgA recent article alleging that a British parliamentary committee claimed that Liberia could not account for US$60 million of European Union financing for the health sector has been found to be inconsistent with records and facts seen and obtained by this newspaper.An article published by a Ghanaian online site, alleged that members of the British parliament’s International Development Committee (IDC) expressed concern that some of the monies sent to Liberia through EU were allegedly not disbursed to targeted areas evident by the recent Ebola outbreak which has overwhelmed the country’s health sector and sent the Liberian economy tumbling into downturn.However, investigations launched by this newspaper into the IDC’s alleged indictment show a completely different story as opposed to what the report has painted.“We have to ask whether Liberia would have dealt better with the original outbreak and prevented its spread had $56 million from the EU been spent as intended by the Liberian Ministry of Finance [and Development Planning] on its health system,” the British Parliamentarians had questioned in their IDC report, following recent visits to Liberia and Sierra Leone where they had gone to ascertain the impact of the deadly Ebola virus on two of West Africa’s worst-hit nations.According to the committee, Liberia’s Finance Ministry’s reported failure to provide what it calls a “clear-cut report” placed many of the “gains made by earlier Department for International Development (DfID) programs at risk”.The UK Parliamentary Committee through its Chairman, Sir Malcolm Bruce, said the scale of the Ebola crisis unfolding in Liberia and Sierra Leone may be connected to “declining levels of international support for health system improvements in what remain two of the poorest and least developed countries in the world.”Contrary to the said report, the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), had actually made direct disbursement of US$26 million to the Health Sector, through two tranches of payments for fiscal year 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 respectively.According to a highly placed source from the MFDP, who preferred anonymity, as the Ministry is yet to release an official statement on the IDC report, government’s actual spending toward health sector support over the referenced two-year period amounted to US$26 million; with another US$26 million still pending to be spent on the health sector, from the total US$52 million EU-approved funding for Liberia’s health sector support.The health sector saw a steady rise in its budget in the 2006-2007 fiscal year, consistent with information contained in the GOL fiscal outturn for the period.  From 2011 to 2014, the sector has seen over US$177.2 million dollars investment including direct budget support from donors but excluding support from other mechanisms like the “Pool Fund” and the “Global Fund”.The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare received over US$136 million dollars to service its costs including personnel and logistics.In the same period, various referral hospitals and medical centers received around US$40 million dollars from the central government.“I don’t know how the EU budgetary support works with other countries, but in our case, EU-approved funding is only disbursed when government has done actual spending toward the health sector and presented supporting documents to the donor. It is like pre-financing,” our MFDP source also stated.Highlighting some of the serious contradictions in the IDC report, another MFDP high ranking staffer disclosed that EU’s entire support to the Liberian health sector made through the Government amounted to US$48.7 million from 2009 to 2014.“Is the IDC report computing the US$22 million that EU had spent and managed on organizations like Save the Children, IRC, Merlin, Médécins du Monde and Redemption Hospital to be included in the US60 million given to support health care in Liberia for two years, out of which the Liberian government is said to have spent only US$3.9 million?” the source wondered.Although the British MPs’ report noted the significant progress both Sierra Leone and Liberia have made over the past decade, and that both countries are at a critical juncture where it is likely to take at least a generation of sustained support to secure lasting benefits, observers believe that the British Parliamentarians – who actually summarized their report by calling for continuance of aid to the region – should have done due diligence in properly analyzing the statistics of their Government and people’s contribution to the government and people of Liberia.As the international community rallies around countries ravaged by the deadly Ebola virus disease, many believe the sustained support will show dividends, as is being evidenced in Liberia, where the virus has been reported to be on a significant decline.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more