Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Looking at the Bataan Risers vs Gen San Warriors match Wednesday July 18, 2018

Bataan Risers vs Gen San Warriors
by rick olivares

The Bataan Risers (2-1) versus the Gen San Warriors (1-2)
July 18, 2018
9pm at the Bataan Gym

The Bataan Risers saw their two-game win streak to open the MPBL Datu’s Cup end at the hands of the Manila Stars, 89-82.

The Risers led, 56-46, after JJ Alejandro hit a free throw at the 6:34 mark of the third period. The Stars answered with a pair of treys by Roger Yap and Reil Cervantes who conspired to overhaul the deficit. By quarter’s end, Manila, 69-64.

It was Bataan’s turn to try and turn the game around with a scorching four period that saw a Bryon Villarias jumper trim the lead to a solitary basket 84-82 with 1:29 left to play. A technical foul slapped on Bataan saw former Arellano Chief Adrian Celada hit a free throw to give their team extra cushion. Both sides exchanged scoreless possessions after which former St. Clare College star Aris Dionisio (who last starred for the Flying V Thunder in the D-League) scored off a layup with 16 seconds left to give Manila an even bigger cushion. Marvin Hayes hit the marginal free throws for Manila for the win.

Villarias led Bataan with 17 points while Alfred Batiño added 13. JJ Alejandro finished with 12 points.

It was a sorry loss for Bataan which looks to bounce back in front of their home fans in the Bataan Gym.

Facing them this time around are the General Santos City Warriors. All of Warriors’ matches have been close. The started their season with a 77-72 loss to the Quezon City Capitals. They defeated the Imus Bandera, 79-73, and followed up with an 88-81 loss to the Marikina Shoemasters. They lost their matches by six points, crumbling in the game’s final minute of play.

There is a lot of homegrown pride for the Gen San squad that has four homegrown players who all suited up for the local Holy Trinity College. And these players first came to national prominence five years ago when they joined the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup. It was during that stint where Edson Batiller was recruited by the University of the East (other players were recruited but in terms of eligibility could not play anymore).

During that match, Christopher Masaglang led Gen San with 17 points while John Orbeta added 15.

Small forward Aldrinar Yusop added six points while power forward Delmar Mahaling added 10. Mark Landicho missed their last match due to an injury.

Masaglang, who plays like Peter June Simon, is averaging 15.6 points per game. Mahaling backstops him with 13.3 points. Yusop chips in four markers per match but dishes off 3.5 assists per game. Former CEU Scorpion John David Orbeta is the team’s other source of scoring. Orbeta who has played extensively in Southeast Asia is averaging 8.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

What does Bataan need to do to defend their homecourt against the Warriors who like to play a fast game?

The Risers need to find support for their backcourt. Pamboy Raymundo is leading the squad in scoring with 16.0 points per game. Bryon Villarias is the only other player in double digits with 11.0 per outing. If they forward-centers Jeepy Faundo (4.6 points and 6.3 boards) and Alfred Batiño (8.3 points and 8.3 rebounds) provide some scoring sock up front.

And some ifs here…

If former Gilas player Gary David who in 16 minutes per game can regain his shooting touch – he is shooting 30% from the field for 7.6 points off the bench).

If Ervin Grospe who was a steady player during his time with Jose Rizal University can also get his touches and scoring from close range, then Bataan will have that potent mix to defend their home court and rise up the standings where they are currently ranked ninth.

Voted for Toni Kroos' goal as the Goal of the 2018 World Cup

I liked the third goal of CR7 vs Spain, Pavard vs Argentina, Di Maria vs France, Coutinho vs Switzerland, Chadli vs Japan, and Modric vs Argentina as my fave goals of the FIFA World Cup But I thought in terms of magnitude & timing, Toni Kroos' goal vs Sweden was the best.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A win of “firsts” for the Creamline Cool Smashers

A win of “firsts” for the Creamline Cool Smashers
by rick olivares

Anusorn “Tai” Bundit sat by the next to the people manning the registration booth of the Buffalo Wings restaurant at Capital Commons. Nearby, several dozen fans of the Creamline Cool Smashers queued to have their pictures taken with the players of the team; recent Philippine Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Champions. They swept the Pay Maya High Flyers in the best-of-three title series to claim their first ever league crown in their two year existence.

“Bad year. Good year,” summed up the Thai coach of the calendar year so far. In his final and most turbulent season with the Ateneo Lady Eagles, the team snuck under the radar to nearly top the league. Yet, they fell in the Final Four. And just like that, it was all over. Five years. Five Final Four appearances. Four Finals appearances. Two championships. And a whole lot of heartache.

It’s over now. He has a lot to say about the finality of it all, but in the here and now, this win is what matters. The PVL triumph was his first Philippine club title in several tries (with Ateneo in the collegiate conference). And it is satisfying. Very satisfying.

“First time for everything,” he smiled that toothy smile of his. “Hopefully, more.”

It isn’t only the first time for Bundit. For American Laura Schaudt, the championship is her first in her professional volleyball career.

After playing for Oregon State University where her team made the US NCAA tournament once in 2014, this title represents her first in her volleyball career. When she was initially tapped last season to play for Creamline, the American lass admitted that she struggled. “It was my first time outside the USA to play volleyball and when you do that, you need a certain mindset,” she admitted. “I struggled with the different style of play, environment, and weather and all these different circumstances that you don’t really think about but then they eventually matter. I went to play in France after that and coming back to the Philippines, I knew what I was getting into so that helped me adjust quickly away. It helped me connect to the team and contribute. Professionally, it’s about adapting and adjusting. And even if I didn’t play a lot of games this time, I am happy to help.”

Schaudt came in right before the semi-finals as a late replacement for original Serbian import Nina Asceric who went down with a knee injury. Creamline took a loss to defending champions Pocari Sweat-Philippine Air Force in the first game of the semi-finals after which the Cool Smashers came back to win the next two en route to the finals. “I was worried after my first game back and we took a loss,” added Laura. “You don’t want to be a jinx. But thankfully, we came back and I was able to help.”

And there are others too. For back-up setter Alex Cabanos, this too is her first club title. “I won a Uni-Games title with UST. While it was disappointing that we struggled in the UAAP, that was still a win for us. And you cherish what you have along the way. And to be able to win with some former opponents in college and to become close like sisters along the way is a blessing,” she shared.

For another first timer, Jema Galanza, winning is a great feeling. After her Adamson Lady Falcons squad languished at the bottom for years, this past UAAP season, they made their move. They were entertaining and sometimes frustrating. Through it all, Galanza played her finest season with Adamson. In an import-flavored PVL conference, the minutes have been hard to come by. With the next conference coming up in September, Galanza is looking forward to really help out.

“I hope I can play better and a bit more,” Galanza said.

Even for familiar faces like Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado, this title is their first in what seems ages. “Three years to be exact,” pointed out Valdez. Titles have been hard to come by. She won one with PLDT and before that her last was with Ateneo. “That’s why you savor them because they do not come by easily,” she pointed out.

As for the first in franchise history, this was a long time coming. Kenneth Yu, digital marketing manager for Rebisco, the parent company of Creamline, “There are so many learnings in this endeavor, as a company, I mean,” shared the executive. “But like in any business, it’s all part of the process. And you really remember your first time.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

SBP’s Pangilinan exhorts Ateneo to represent the country well in the Jones Cup

SBP’s Pangilinan exhorts Ateneo to represent the country well in the Jones Cup
by rick olivares

MANILA, PHILIPPINES -- Manuel V. Pangilinan, Chairman Emeritus of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas met with the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles during a sendoff prior to the 40th staging of the William Jones Cup wherein the defending UAAP champions and titlists in three preseason tournaments will represent the country in the annual cage meet.

“With the ongoing season for the Philippine Basketball Association where all our national players are still participating, and our Gilas Cadets all seeing action in various leagues, we felt that it was best to send a team that has performed well and has the cohesion to compete,” said Pangilinan.

The William Jones Cup will be held from 14-22 July at the Xinzhuang Gymnasium in New Taipei City, Taiwan.

The appointment of Ateneo comes at a time when the national team is taxed to the limit given the ongoing Fiba investigations after the incident between the Philippines and Australia last July 2.

Veteran national and former Ateneo coach Joe Lipa confirmed that this is the first time that a collegiate squad will represent the country. The previous iterations might have had a more La Salle flavor to the Northern Consolidated Squad but it also featured stars from other schools such as San Beda and Letran as well as some naturalized players.

“The task will not be easy,” underscored Pangilinan. “Other teams will also send their collegians but most will feature senior or junior national teams aided by imports. But that is how we as Filipinos go about it – as underdogs with a sense of purpose and a determination to prove our worthwhile representing our country. In my opinion, that is a powerful combination.”

Former Philippine national coach Tab Baldwin, who is currently the Ateneo mentor will oversee the Ateneo team’s campaign. The Filipinos will only have freshman center Angelo Kouame from Ivory Coast to battle the foreign behemoths.

Baldwin might possibly activate 6’5” Filipino-Canadian Matthew Daves to give the Philippines some additional ceiling for the tournament.

“All we can do is give our very best and hope for the best,” summed up Pangilinan.

The campaign of the Ateneo team to the 40th William Jones Cup is sponsored by Smart Sports.