‘Life Goes On’ with BTS, as they talk about holding on to hopes

BTS (Big Hit Entertainment)

SEOUL — A wave of hope continues with BTS, as the group returned with a highly-anticipated “BE” album that reaches out to those disheartened amid the pandemic.

After dominating the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with its previous single “Dynamite,” the global pop sensation held a live-streamed press conference in Seoul last Friday ahead of the release of the new album.

Strict disinfection measures took place at the entrance, while reporters were seated with extra distance. Excitement and tension filled the air as the six suited bandmates — Suga was absent from recovering from shoulder surgery — stepped into their first official offline media event since the pandemic outbreak.

“Our press conference for ‘Dynamite’ was held online, and it’s our honor and pleasure to meet you (reporters) again. We hope to have a great time together,” said Jimin, looking fairly joyful.

Kicking off the session, the musicians explained that “Life Goes On,” the new album’s lead track, was more toned down than “Dynamite.” But in the same vein as the disco-pop track, “Life Goes On” tells listeners to keep moving forward even in these distressing times, on top of an acoustic alternative hip-hop sound.

“The core message of the song is simple and clear, that life still goes on. We unraveled such an obvious yet stern fact in our own language with a little more weight, softness and solidness,” explained RM, who partially crafted the song along with Suga and J-Hope.

Jin said, “We are placed in a situation where everything has stopped. I feel like that the past one year went by in sadness and emptiness. We tried to express our honest thoughts in the album, that it’s okay and we feel the same as you guys.”

The eight-track album also shows the band’s

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AGL Picks of the Week: Abdullah Ramadan embodies poised Al Jazira, stick-or-twist time begins

Match-week six of the 2020/21 Arabian Gulf League delivered several stellar displays, at both ends of the table.

Sharjah’s grip on the nascent title fight strengthened after the international break in Friday’s heated summit clash against Al Nasr. A penalty double from Brazilian playmaker Igor Coronado was enough to secure the King’s 2-1 triumph, maintaining their hold on top spot and the division’s only 100-per-cent record.

There were goals galore, meanwhile, on Saturday when UAE marksman Ali Mabkhout’s double helped Al Jazira to a rousing 5-3 victory at stuttering 2019/20 pacesetters Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club. Al Wahda roared into second spot with a 3-0 triumph versus 10-man Ajman, inspired by UAE Under-23 winger Yahya Al Ghassani.

Not even UFC superstar Conor McGregor’s surprise support could get over the hurt for sinking Al Wasl, who saw Salem Al Azizi sent off, when Togo striker Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba’s second-half penalty earned a 2-1 win for improving Al Ain. Fujairah shot away from the relegation zone with a consequential 1-0 success versus bottom-placed Hatta, Bani Yas’ sharp slide extended thanks to Chile forward Junior Fernandes’ brace in Ittihad Kalba’s 2-0 away victory and Al Dhafra snapped a three-match losing run in all competitions with the same scoreline against 13th-placed Khor Fakkan.

Here are Sport360°’s top picks and a talking point:

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Igor Coronado (Sharjah)

(UAE Pro League).

There can be no question about the identity of the AGL’s most-decisive player.

Coronado stepped up twice versus then second-placed Nasr from 12 yards and successfully converted to send Sharjah on their way to a sixth-successive win. The ex-Palermo creator used the same vehicle to dispatch Jazira before the international stoppage, while he’s only failed to notch in one league game this term.

He, truly, is the Middle East’s equivalent

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Serge Ibaka’s departure a heavy blow to Raptors’ championship aspirations

For now the details are few and the circumstances not completely understood, but on the same day the Toronto Raptors were able to retain their free-agent point guard, they lost their most viable big man.

The enthusiasm that greeted news Saturday morning that Fred VanVleet had re-signed with Toronto was tempered when Serge Ibaka signed with the Los Angeles Clippers for a two-year deal worth a reported $19 million late on Saturday night.

The move — which was unexpected — leaves the Raptors without another member of their championship core, one of the most colourful players in franchise history, and for the moment without a viable centre under contract.

“We’ll be okay,” was Raptors president Masai Ujiri’s text message shortly after the deal was reported.

Ujiri and Raptors general manager Bobby Webster deserve more than the benefit of the doubt at this stage, given they have seven straight playoff appearances to their credit not to mention the 2019 title. But it’s hard to spin the notion of Ibaka leaving as anything other than a heavy blow to a team hoping to compete for championships.

For the moment Ibaka’s combination of floor-spreading shooting and defensive ability seems difficult to replace.

Given that the Raptors’ other incumbent centre, Marc Gasol, is a free agent garnering his share of interest elsewhere and the only other bigs on the roster are an under-sized Chris Boucher — who has never played steady NBA minutes — and second-year Dewan Hernandez, a long-term project at best, Ujiri’s definition of ‘okay’ might be relative.

What’s not hard to argue is that by the time Ibaka was ready to leave he was on his way to becoming a folk hero in Toronto.

The slick-shooting centre with the chiselled frame and cheekbones to match had morphed from distant and taciturn

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