#1 Stevens said of loss against the Thunder. von corse178 24.09.2019 11:26

LONDON -- Gibraltar became the smallest European football nation on Friday after the British colonys lengthy push to join UEFA was completed by gaining full membership. The campaign for recognition has long been resisted by Spain, which wanted to stop the tiny territory on its southern tip from joining UEFA and being able to play in its competitions. Gibraltar has been a frequent source of tension between Britain and Spain, which claims sovereignty over the territory that was ceded to Britain in 1713. The path to becoming UEFAs 54th member, which started in 1999, became clearer after a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling in Gibraltars favour in 2006. The following year UEFA called a vote at its Congress but Spain engineered strong opposition to Gibraltars bid. The congress in London on Friday, though, overwhelmingly backed Gibraltar, which was granted provisional member status last year. There was no chance for Spain to express any opposition apart from by refusing to raise a green card, which signified support, as most nations did. "This is a momentous occasion for football in Gibraltar," Gibraltar Football Association president Gareth Latin said. "UEFA membership means we can begin the next chapter of Gibraltarian football." Gibraltar can now enter into the qualifying competition for the 2016 European Championship. UEFA President Michel Platini said Spain would be kept apart in qualifying in a bid to avoid inflaming political tension, as happens with Armenia and Azerbaijan. "Its better to try and ... pre-empt such a situation and avoid it happening rather than dealing with the consequences," Platini said. Gibraltar is now looking to quickly play its first friendly as a UEFA member. "Obviously the calendars are full for most nations, but, if someone is free, then we would be happy to play anyone at this stage," head coach Allen Bula told British broadcaster Sky Sports. There is uncertainty over where the team would play international fixtures with a small stadium being upgraded on the rocky territory where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. They could be played in nearby Portugal. Gibraltar has six top-division teams and 600 registered senior players in its population of almost 30,000, who have full British citizenship. "We have been trying to achieve this (UEFA decision) for 14 years, and we want to give this to the Gibraltar community and we want to develop our kids so they have a chance to become professionals," Latin said. The GFA, which was founded in 1895, applied to FIFA for membership in 1997 with the backing of England, but the world governing body delegated the decision to UEFA. Spain had UEFA change its rules in 1999 so that members were U.N.-recognized states. But Gibraltars original application predates this change. Gibraltar sends teams to the Commonwealth Games but does not have a recognized National Olympic Committee. Now, though, it is an official footballing nation. "Finally the politics of ancient rivalry and colonial tribalism have been kicked into touch," said Graham Watson, who represents Gibraltar in the European Parliament. The territory was captured by Anglo-Dutch naval forces in 1704 and ceded to Britain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. The strategically situated rock has had a British military base ever since. "Gibraltars presence on the international stage is going from strength to strength ... now Gibraltar can sell itself to the world through the art of the beautiful game," Watson said. Cheap Vapormax Flyknit Ireland . 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Winning is synonymous with the San Antonio Spurs, so much so that after garnering victories in 19 of their first 24 games, they still expect to play better. Theyll take that goal onto the hardwood on Wednesday against the visiting Boston Celtics at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.The Spurs head into the contest against Boston off their best overall performance of the season, a 130-101 destruction of the Brooklyn Nets in which San Antonio led by at least 13 points over the final 2 1/2 quarters. The Spurs established season-highs for points in a game, points in a quarter (41, in the first), assists (38) and 3-point baskets 14 (out of 26 attempted).Can a team thats 19-5 turn a corner and play even better? Guard Manu Ginobili said the Spurs have not yet touched on their potential.Thats not a good sign for Boston, which has lost 10 straight to San Antonio dating to the 2010-11 campaign.(The win over the Nets) was a great step ahead; now we have to make sure we continue to improve and learn from these first 24 games, Ginobili said. You wont find anyone in this locker room whos satisfied with the way we are playing. We all know we can do so much better. We wont look at our record or the success weve had.It was just the 11th time all season that the Spurs preferred starting five -- Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge at forward, Tony Parker and Danny Green at guard and Pau Gasol at center -- played together.The fun is when everyone feels involved, Ginobili said. A lot of times we talk about how good things start for us with our defense, but over the past 15 games or so weve struggled some on offense and thats been whats slowing us down.Leonard scored 30 points iin 27 minutes in the win over the Nets, the 19th time this season and fifth straight game that Leonard led the Spurs in scoring.ddddddddddddBoston hits the Alamo City off back-to-back losses, at home to Toronto on Dec. 9 and at Oklahoma City on Sunday, a 99-96 setback in which the Celtics led in the final minutes but let it get away.Thats a frustrating loss, because we played really hard on the defensive end for most of the night, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of loss against the Thunder. We had critical turnovers throughout the game. We screwed up a few coverages throughout the course of the night, but not very many.The Celtics (13-11) did play enough defense to stop Oklahoma Citys Russell Westbrooks triple-double streak at seven games.It is frustrating, but we need to look at this film, have a good practice, and get focused, Celtics center Al Horford said. No ones going to feel bad for us. We need to stay together. And we will.Boston has five players who average double-figures in scoring, led by guard Isaiah Thomas 26.0 points per contest. Guard Avery Bradley scores 17.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, 6.3 of those on the defensive end.The Celtics spent the past two days in San Antonio, where they had their first taped full practice in months. It was Boston only consecutive off days on the road in this seasons schedule.San Antonio won the first matchup with the Celtics 109-103 on Nov. 25 in Boston. Leonard led the Spurs with a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds and guard Patty Mills added 19 points off the bench in that win. ' ' '

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