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.

Monday, November 12, 2018

My thoughts about Ateneo’s 2nd round win over DLSU

My thoughts about Ateneo’s 2nd round win over DLSU
by rick olivares 
pic by joseph nocos

What a 71-62 win over La Salle that put Ateneo at 11-2.

There is nothing like beating your arch-rival that stops their win streak dead in its tracks, sweeps the elimination round series against them, and it gives you the top seed entering the Final Four.

It also placed La Salle in a precarious position because they fell to 8-5 with a game to play against 7-6 UP this coming Wednesday. Adamson and FEU play each other next Sunday with the latter needing the huge win. There is no chance now for La Salle to catch Adamson which will finish with one of the top two seeds.

It is particularly satisfying win more so when the refs took out most of our bigs in the first half and we had to make do with a patch-up unit that not only tied La Salle heading into the half, but actually outplayed them.

And here is what we thought of the game.

The team held up even with the bigs in foul trouble.
Some of the calls were ticky tacky and they reminded me of that first round game against La Salle in Season 76 where all our bigs were in foul trouble and La Salle defeated us.

There is a difference though. That team was ridden by injuries and players not 100%. No excuses though. That team came out to play.

This time, this current team is really rounding into form.

That squad on the floor during the second quarter – those guys saved the game as they prevented La Salle from running away with it – William Navarro, Mike Nieto, Matt Nieto, Thirdy Ravena, and Jolo Mendoza (with Matthew Daves helping out too).

Unconventional and make do line-up and they were brilliant. It was 29-21 at that point and they razed that lead to make it, 35-all heading into the half. There was a sequence where the returning Taane Samuel -- who channeled the spirit of Mac Cardona and goaded everyone with his antics – got blocked on consecutive possessions by Thirdy Ravena including one dunk attempt. Vicious. Reminded me of Larry Fonacier's back-to-back blocks on Cardona and Nonoy Baclao's back-to-back blocks on Rico Maierhofer.

We took their best shot at that stage and the 14-6 run ensured the game would be even at the half where Tab Baldwin could make his adjustments.

Next man up: William Navarro
Will’s stat line at the end of the game read: 7 points and 5 rebounds (three off the offensive glass) versus 1 turnover. He scored 5 points during that fateful second period. He was even robbed of a bucket when he was whistled for a phantom warding off foul. He could have had at least 10 points (he missed a few free throws too).

It has been an up and down season for Will. He played well during the summer and the William Jones Cup. However, come the UAAP, he has groped for form and confidence. Just as previous games helped Tyler Tio and SJ Belangel find their game, maybe this will help Navarro.

And Matthew Daves gave a good account of himself in his few minutes. Not bad.

On that note, the Big Fella was in foul trouble early in the game. I know Angelo was excited and you cannot blame the Big Fella. Big game atmosphere and all. But he should reign in his emotions and know better on those picks (whether he moved or not at this point) because he is very important to the team’s success.

The unconventional line-ups.
Just when you think Tab wasn’t going to show new tricks. We all knew Samuel would be activated for this game so we didn’t adjust to whatever he was going to do, we sprung a surprise by starting Adrian Wong who did all right. Not everything he did showed up on the stat sheet but he did all right.

We saw the previous two point guard back court of Tyler Tio and Matt Nieto. This time we also saw the Twin Tower combo of Angelo Kouame and Isaac Go.

Speaking of Tyler and Matt, I like the fact that Tab Baldwin has kept Tyler in the starting unit. He has continued to play very well and had zero turnovers again. That shows his efficiency.

Matt is still groping for form after that bout with dengue. If you noticed, he gets tired and his jumper is short. That’s because he doesn’t have his legs yet. But the trooper that he is, he just gives it his all.

This still underscores the depth at the point guard slot.

But the best piece of work was that make shift team in the last five minutes of the second quarter where the heads up play of Navarro and Mike Nieto were massive.

That five-offensive rebound stretch in the third period.
DLSU led, 44-43 at the 6:36 mark. Then came this incredible sequence where Ateneo grabbed five offensive boards.

Thirdy missed a triple attempt and got his own miss.
Raffy Verano missed a shot but he got his own miss.
Matt Nieto missed a triple on the kickout but Thirdy grabbed the offensive board.
Raffy missed the trey but Matt Nieto was first to the carom.
Angelo missed a shot but Raffy stuck it back for a bucket.

The whole sequence took 42 seconds. Like the twin Ravena blocks on Samuel, this speaks much of the tenacity to outwork La Salle.

Keeping cool.
We mentioned Taane Samuel’s antics. It might come as a surprise to most but if you saw him during the summer, he played exactly like that. But the kid has talent for hoops… and for hamming it up. That fake foul? Jeez. Well, we all know that the commissioners hail from the other school so they aren’t going to penalize him.

But I like the fact that no one was retaliating.

And that has been in place for over a decade now. That brings me back to the time when Eric Salamat asked to retaliate against then Green Archer Ryan AraƱa but was denied by Norman Black. Just play the game. The win is more satisfying. And besides, there are Thirdy’s blocks on Samuel to savor that will live on social media.

Over at the La Salle side, it looks like Kib Montalbo’s early injury has not made him the same player. But I have this feeling that former Blue Eaglet Joaqui Manuel (who I wish was still wearing blue and white) will be their spiritual leader soon if not a big game player for them.

Whether they have a 13-man line-up or not… what a team. You also have to give Louie Gonzales a lot of credit. The two wins aside, they are a deadly foe. They played great defense for the first 15 minutes then well… the tide turned on them.

Friday, November 9, 2018

The game of life with Borgie Hermida

The game of life with Borgie Hermida
by rick olivares

When you watch the ongoing Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, there’s this familiar college star on the sidelines. No, Borgie Hermida, former San Beda Red Lions star point guard isn’t going to check in for the Bataan Risers… he’s there to provide steady logistical and managerial support for the MPBL team.

Sometimes, it is hard to believe that he’s hung up his sneakers. Not when teammates Ogie Menor and JR Taganas are still plying their trade in the MPBL or the PBA.

When he was playing for San Beda, Hermida was a part of the three-peat champions from 2006-08 that ended a 28-year NCAA title drought. Then in his last year, the Red Lions made even bigger history by winning the title once more in 2010 via an 18-0 sweep.

Hermida though admits it wasn’t an easy decision to stop playing. He was drafted by Barako Bull in 2010 and also played for Shopinas and NLEX. However, the minutes were hard to come by and staring at Borgie was the sobering reality that his PBA career could be over.

“It is also my fault,” he humbly disclosed. “I entered the pros not really ready. Ibang iba sa college ball. Akala ko kaya ko kasi nung nasa college ako yung nang mamatanda pero pagdating sa pros, ako yung minamama. This is what I can share also to the young players – don’t rush going to the pros. Prepare yourself first.”

“It is hard for a player to get drafted then sit on the bench. That is why the MPBL is perfect because you get the chance to really prepare. But of course, if you think that you are ready then go.”

Hermida struggled with the notion that basketball was over. “For three-fourths of my life, I was devoted to playing basketball then it was over. I didn’t know what to do at that time. It helped that my faith in God kept me going. Naniniwala ako na whatever happens is for a reason that will be unveiled in time.”

Then came an offer from left field. NLEX offered Hermida a chance to handle its D-League team. “I was happy and thankful because my work was still basketball related and I was enjoying myself,” bared Borgie. “And nadala ko sa D-League yung suwerte when I was playing because we won two D-League championships. Hopefully, magiging tatlo dito sa Bataan Risers sa MPBL.”

“I am very happy with Bataan,” he beamed of working with his new team. We started from scratch then our team owner, Bong Zubiri, fully supports the formation of a team that will compete. He is generous and it makes my job easier knowing that this is not a multi-company owned team. He is so generous to the players that they all want to play hard for him, the team, and Bataan. We have built harmony within the team and yung samahan, malalim na, from management to the coaches to the players and utility men.”

Regarding Bataan province, the support is no less huge. “Ang sarap maglaro sa homecourt ng Risers,” enthused Hermida. “Buong buo ang support for the Risers from our LGU partners like Governor Abet Garcia, Vice Governor Cristina Garcia, Congresswoman Geraldine Roman, and Congressman Joet Garcia. Hopefully, we can give them and the whole province a championship.”

Speaking of lucky streaks, Hermida recently hit another home run when he recently got engaged to his girlfriend, Mainey Dela Cruz. “We met back in 2011 but only became a couple in 2014 after college. “Ever since I met her, I kept praying that she will be the woman I would marry.”

And that future is now.

“We are about to enter the next chapter of our lives and face the altar. It is something to look forward to. I’m excited to be married with the most remarkable woman.”

With the Bataan Risers on an 11-game winning tear, and his engagement, things are looking up for Borgie Hermida.

When you give your life and take no shortcuts to the game, it rewards you back. He might not have had a career the way he envisioned it to be. But you know… life isn’t so bad.

You see… good things happen to good guys.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

My thoughts about the Bataan Risers’ win over the Pasay Voyagers

My thoughts about the Bataan Risers’ win over the Pasay Voyagers
by rick olivares

It was a huge 77-60 win by Bataan over Pasay for their 11th straight win in 12 outings in the ongoing Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu’s Cup.

Here are my thoughts about that huge win.

A relentless attack inside.
I am a firm believer of initially attacking that basket instead of bombarding from the outside. The key word is initially. Because of you take outside shots and they are not going in, one might have a harder time going inside. In fact, this philosophy is shared by no less than the legendary Allan Caidic. Contrary to common knowledge, Caidic first played the center slot, hence, his ability to post up. Even when he later moved to the shooting guard or small forward position, he would always go inside first before shooting outside.

As such, Bataan’s first 13 baskets (after that were free throws) came from undergoal stabs or lay-ups.

It is a good thing they had their way inside because the Risers had a tough day at the office from the three-point mark (2-17).

Winning with a different set of heroes
With Pamboy Raymundo, Byron Villarias, and Gary David struggling to score, it was up to Robby Celiz, Al Carlos, Alfred Batino, and Gab Daganon to carry the Risers. And they did. To think that Bataan was missing JJ Alejandro and Gio Espuelas.

Celiz led with 16 points.

This type of grind it out win is good as it shows the character of Bataan
Unavailable players. The stars misfiring (read: Gary David, Raymundo and Jeepy Faundo). The other players pick up the slack against a tough foe. This kind of win shows the character of Bataan – deep and talented, tough. Again, it shows the collective effort.

Only Faundo was unable to score out of the 14 players sent in by head coach Jojo Lastimosa (although Jeepy did add a rebound in limited minutes). Everyone chipped in the stat sheet.

The willingness to share the ball.
Twenty-five assist by Bataan to the 18 of Pasay. The Risers could have had more but they missed some gimmes. Again, this says a lot about their team effort.

The pressure of winning against a very good opponent.
Everyone is thinking that because of the 11-match win streak, the opponents are easy pickings.

Not true. This was a very good Pasay team. They dropped 11 triples. Other squads would have been skewered. But Bataan come crunch time, they came through.

Next up… that match versus Basilan Steel (4-8) this coming November 12 in Pampanga.