(REUTERS) – Two of Brazil’s top soccer clubs, Botafogo and Fluminense, said yesterday they would defy an order from their federation to resume playing competitively this week, as the country’s daily coronavirus death toll hovers around 1 000.The Rio de Janeiro state football federation proposed that the state championship, one of several state-wide tournaments that take place in Brazil before the national leagues begin in the second half of the year, restart on June 18, pending state government approval.Botafogo president Nelson Mufarrej called the ruling “disconnected from reality”, and both clubs said they planned legal action on health and safety grounds to avoid having to resume playing so soon.“Unfortunately, the majority of clubs understand that this is the time to play games again, in spite of the chaotic scenes we’re living through right now,” Mufarrej said in a statement. “We’re against it.”Brazil’s documented deaths from the pandemic stand at just below 44 000, more than any country in the world except the United States, and that toll has been rising by around 1 000 per day for the past week.City rival Fluminense’s chairman Mario Bittencourt said his players, inactive since action was halted in mid-March, were also not ready to play competitively again.“The pandemic persists,” Bittencourt said. “The dates set for our games (22nd and 24th) are unacceptable from the point of view of the health of our players and we won’t be taking the field, and we will look to take action in the sporting court to do what is right.”Botafogo and Fluminense have been asked to play in the first round of rescheduled games. All four of the state’s top teams, which also include Flamengo and Vasco da Gama, are down to play a game between June 18 and 22.
EL SEGUNDO >> It was the promise of offense that led the Lakers to draft Brandon Ingram. First, the length that allows him to breeze past defenders, to create space and score over and around challengers. Second, the sublime scoring intuition.However, while the Lakers wait for that part of Ingram’s game to mature, he is averaging 7.2 points through 10 games, they have found him helping in other, less-advertised ways. Namely: Defense.Late in Tuesday’s win over Brooklyn, Ingram met Nets forward Trevor Booker at the rim for a dramatic blocked shot to preserve a four-point lead.“He’s a good defender,” coach Luke Walton said. “He’s got a good feel for where cutters are coming from and how to use his length. If he puts his mind to it in practice and the games, down toward the end of games when it gets tight, and he really locks in on defense, he’s really tough to score on.” Ingram’s defense has been a factor in the Lakers’ 7-5 start. He and the team will be tested in the coming weeks with a tightly-packed schedule that includes the Spurs, the Thunder and a pair of games against the Warriors.“We’ve got a very tough stretch coming up,” Walton said. “There’s going to be some ups and downs and we’ve got to continue to just come in and work and continue to trust in what we’re doing. Whether we’re winning games and losing games and keep working on getting better as a team in what we’re trying to do.”Old and newWalton does not descend directly from the famed Gregg Popovich coaching tree, but there is a connection.Walton coached with Steve Kerr in Golden State and Kerr is close with Popovich from his time as a player with the Spurs, an organization Walton admires.“In my opinion they’re the most professional team there is in this league,” Walton said.The Lakers play host to San Antonio (9-3) on Friday, marking Walton’s first head-to-head coaching matchup against Popovich. The Warriors did not face the Spurs last season until after Walton’s 43-game run as interim coach.The NBA’s longest-tenured coach has disciples leading teams throughout the league and Walton is one of them, even if he has done his studying from afar.However, there is at least one lesson Walton has picked up from Popovich and that is coaching to the strengths of players on the roster. Popovich’s teams have played fast, they have played slow. The modern Spurs play nothing like the coach’s early teams in San Antonio.“You look at the big picture of what’s your own team’s personal strengths or weaknesses,” Walton said, “and you try to coach around that instead of just having one style and, no matter who your players are, doing it that way.“The way he’s done it on the move is incredible, without really any slippage from rebuilding processes is absolutely incredible.” Walton first told Ingram of his potential as a defender during his pre-draft workout last spring. Ingram was surprised to hear it.Through high school and one season at Duke, Ingram said, he paid little mind to defense. To be told that could be his calling card?“Coming into this league I would have never thought of something like that,” Ingram said.However, long and lean are among the most valued attributes in the modern NBA and Walton sees endless defensive potential in the young forward as he learns how to play angles and use his body, like on the block against Booker.“Once he fully understands it and fully commits to it, he’ll be great at it,” Walton said. “To play defense anyway at this level at his age is near impossible. These are grown men you’re playing against and normally it physically just beats you down, but he’s been pretty good with it.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error