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All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge and highly versatile wing Nicolas Batum have been joined by budding star Damian Lillard in a new core that is taking Portland places (Image | Getty)

All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge and highly versatile wing Nicolas Batum have been joined by budding star Damian Lillard in a new core that is taking Portland places (Image | Getty)

On November 13th 2013, the Portland Trail Blazers entertained the Phoenix Suns at the recently renamed Moda Center (rest in peace, Rose Garden) in a matchup of two teams widely expected to tank this season, with eight or 10 other teams, in search of landing top spot in the best NBA Draft in a decade.

Except the Suns, who had beaten Portland on NBA opening night in the desert, were 4-2 by then and had only lost in road games against Oklahoma City and San Antonio, both times by seven points or fewer.Portland, meanwhile, were 5-2 and were on their way to building an early-season 11-game winning streak which propelled them to the summit of the Western Conference.

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Britain’s future boxing star is a knockout

Teenage flyweight boxer Jack Bateson has another achievement under his belt – after being appointed as an England ambassador for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Fighting fit | Jack Bateson is in training for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. (Image | Sky Sports)

Fighting fit | Jack Bateson is in training for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. (Image | Sky Sports)

The Leeds-born youngster is currently training hard to reach the Great Britain team for the event, which will be held in Glasgow next summer.

Bateson says he has “very fond memories” of the Commonwealth Youth Games, in which he won a gold medal, and credits much of his current success to this triumph.

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Cardiac arrest survivor’s life-saving battle

Lifelong Billericay Town fan Tim Butt raised more than £600 last weekend to fund a defibrillator for the Essex non-league side, as part of a personal campaign to raise awareness of “hidden” heart conditions.

Battle | Tim Butt was lucky to survive a cardiac arrest in March, and has committed himself to fundraising. (Image | Emma Webb)

Battle | Tim Butt was lucky to survive a cardiac arrest in March, and has committed himself to fundraising. (Image | Emma Webb)

Tim, 24, was lucky to survive after suffering a cardiac arrest in March, but had no idea that he had a condition which put him at risk of heart problems.

Since recovering, he has committed himself to highlighting the risk of silent cardiac conditions, and raising money for national charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

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Immigration may seem a peculiar topic when talking about sport, but it is a subject that has been on my mind since Mo Farah became one of Britain’s most beloved sporting stars.

Icon | Mo Farah is idolised as a British sporting hero, putting him in the 'good immigration' bracket. (Image | NME)

Icon | Mo Farah is idolised as a British sporting hero, putting him in the ‘good immigration’ bracket. (Image | NME)

Few in this country will forget the sight of Farah winning gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the London 2012 Olympic Games: yet after the latter victory, Somali-born Farah had to deal with a journalist asking if he would have preferred to have run for Somalia, rather than Britain.

The 30-year-old gave the question short shrift, and has since developed into a sporting superstar, building on last year’s gold medals with two more at the World Athletics Championships last month.

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The most expensive man in football - but is Gareth Bale enough for Real Madrid to overturn their arch-rivals, in Spain or in Europe? (Image via faniq)

The most expensive man in football – but is Gareth Bale enough for Real Madrid to overturn their arch-rivals, in Spain or in Europe? (Image via faniq)

It has to be said – we are all relieved that the football season is now back in action. A lot of transfers have occurred this summer with a lot of teams willing to spend immense sums, such as Real Madrid and Barcelona (on Gareth Bale and Neymar respectively), and others choosing not to break the bank such as Manchester United.

The Armchair Pundits takes a look at the potential fortunes of the big 3 in Europe and offer predictions of who will be league champions in their respective countries.

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Friendly reunion it was not, but New Zealand fans relished seeing Richie McCaw back in black (Image | AP)

Friendly reunion it was not, but New Zealand fans relished seeing Richie McCaw back in black (Image | AP)

The Rugby Championship began this weekend in Sydney with an emphatic 47-29 victory for New Zealand, underlining once again their dominance since the Rugby World Cup of 2011.

The Kiwis welcomed back talismanic captain Richie McCaw and although he was received in typically robust style by the Australian forward pack, his ability in the rucks and in the loose was immense.

His return from a sabbatical from rugby following the 2012 autumn international loss against England galvanised the team to victory in the first Bledisloe Cup Test of 2013.

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Ross Barkley's impressive start to the season has earned him a surprisingly rapid elevation to the senior England squad (Image | Liverpool Echo)

Ross Barkley’s impressive start to the season has earned him a surprisingly rapid elevation to the senior England squad (Image | Liverpool Echo)

After my commanding performance in central midfield during game 3 of our works tournament last month (my first two efforts were poor), I was contacted by a man named Roy who asked if I wanted to appear in the Scotland friendly. He didn’t use the word “desperate”, but the tone of his voice was telling. Unfortunately, I was unavailable due to a family dinner.

The above may not be entirely true, but if England’s selection policy continues to develop along its current trajectory, I won’t be letting go of my phone any time soon.

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Dramatic finale for the Essex Spartans

In an emotional and dramatic climax to the Essex Spartans‘ disappointing 2013 season, head coach Marc Saunders stepped down after their ninth defeat this year at home to the Bedfordshire Blue Raiders.

Guidance | Former Philhadelphia Eagles star Cecil Martin flanks two Essex Spartans players. (Image | Emma Webb)

Guidance | Former Philadelphia Eagles star Cecil Martin poses with two Essex Spartans players. (Image | Emma Webb)

The team were also visited by Sky Sports analyst and former Philadelphia Eagles fullback Cecil Martin, fresh off the plane from running youth camps and football clinics across the continent.

The Spartans struggled from the off this year, with some moments of great game play but no visible results for their efforts.

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The Premier League season begins tomorrow, but there will be no Sir Alex Ferguson in sight. Perhaps some journalists, pundits, and fans will be reminded of the late comic, Spike Milligan, who used to end many of his comedy sketches by staring at the camera and asking: “What are we going to do now?”

Winning start | New Manchester United manager David Moyes has already won a trophy, but the real battle is about to begin. (Image | Daily Telegraph)

Winning start | New Manchester United manager David Moyes has already won a trophy, but the real battle is about to begin. (Image | Daily Telegraph)

Fergie may be gone, but the Premier League juggernaut continues, and it appears that the race for the 2013/14 title will be between three clubs: Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.

United are used to approaching the season under intense scrutiny, but this this time the pressure is different, for other clubs will see the Red Devils as a kingdom without a strong leader.

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Stuart Broad is congratulated by his England team-mates as his six wickets help England win another Ashes series (Image | Action)

Stuart Broad is congratulated by his England team-mates as his six wickets help England win another Ashes series (Image | Action)

The 2013 Ashes Series (mark 1) has not always been a display of two world-leading teams giving each other their best shot. There has been inconsistency of umpiring, sub-par batting aplenty and the occasional, inevitable washout.

What this series has had throughout, however, is drama. It was punctuated in characteristic style at Durham this weekend by the stoic Ian Bell, unarguably the outstanding performer of the series thus far.

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