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.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

These pictures of LeBron, Norman Black, and the Yankees say a lot

Torn shirt and all, LeBron James still torched the Celtics.

Now the PBA Finals has turned in a war.

Down but not yet out. Can the New York Yankees achieve the improbable?

Random thoughts about Ateneo’s 2nd round win over NU

Random thoughts about Ateneo’s 2nd round win over NU
by rick olivares

Ateneo won the season series versus National University with a difficult 85-72 win last Wednesday. The W agave Ateneo a 9-0 record while NU sank to 3-6 and are virtually out of Final Four contention (again I didn’t think they make it because they needed time to adjust to the new system and because of their youth – however, they will be better).

We know what JJ Alejandro can do (ditto with Dave Yu and Matt Salem who will all be graduating after this year) so let’s go to the youngsters.

Chino Mosqueda will become an integral piece to this team. He’s smart, tough, and willing to defend the opposing scorer. He has given Ateneo fits since he was in high school. This is his first year with lots of playing time so expect him to get better. Tzaddy Rangel has improved and will continue to do so. When Jordan Bartlett can play with consistency and play with that tapang that Enzo Joson does he will become an even more solid player.

Here are some thoughts and observations about Ateneo for that match.

I liked how NU tried to pull out Chib Ikeh and Isaac Go out into the perimeter then have someone almost immediately attack the lane. Or someone would cut inside. Issa Gaye is getting better with every game. I have been watching him since he was serving out his residency and he didn’t impress much then but now… he’ll be better as he works out on his dribbling skills, footwork, and strength and conditioning. At times, Ateneo looked confused. Who goes out to pick up the open man? Where are those cuts coming from?

And for the second straight game, teams are keying onto Matt Nieto. Second game in a row he got into foul trouble. They attack him and try to beat him off the dribble.

If you look at the attacks, they did what we do to opponents, drive and kick to an open man. Except that NU did a lot of damage early on from the inside. I am not crazy about all that bombarding from the outside. As the saying goes, live by the outside shot, you die by the outside shot. Ateneo did get its rhythm back but it was in the flow rather than trying to quickly overhaul the deficit than being patient.

In many a conversation with good friend Allan Caidic who I have known since my school days, you’d be surprised but he always attacks inside first before shooting outside. Yep. Why? So he gets confidence with an early bucket. Besides, if you get fouled, you got to the free throw line. And that’s from 15-feet out. If you are hitting it from 15-feet out you know you have that distance covered and can slowly work your way farther out.

In the first quarter, NU attempted 8 free throws to Ateneo’s 0. By the second and third period, when Ateneo went back inside, they began to troop to the free throw line more.

From a basketball standpoint, I thought that Jamike Jarin showed his coaching chops yesterday. He nearly pulled the rug from under Ateneo - NU shot better, had more fastbreak points and points from turnovers. Until Gian Mamuyac showed the Blue Eagles the way.

Mamu was excellent in doing what he does best – carve up the defense with his speed and slick moves. Still not convinced about the coaches’ attempts to turn him into a point guard (same as Jolo Mendoza) but who knows? Maybe they’ll get it down pat eventually. Please do not tell me – how about Mike Nieto. Big Mike is an all-around player. His size makes him unconventional. His single biggest weapon is his will and basketball intelligence.

While Ateneo may not have a dominant rim protector, several of them play good to great one-on-one defense. Come the fourth period, they finally stopped JJ Alejandro. If you watch Alejandro, he will find his teammates early in the game (much like Kiefer Ravena did in his last year) then come crunch time, he will take the shots.

Thirdy Ravena in the last two games has taken on some tough jobs – Jerie Pingoy (who is faster) and now, JJ Alejandro (who is craftier) – and he has done a good job.

Some may not like it but NU did something that Alvin Pasaol and La Salle does so well – they slightly bump a player on the drive to get the defender off balance – then they take a shot. The leaner Blue Eagles – Anton Asistio and Jolo Mendoza -- had a tough time with this.

Ateneo is a finesse team that gets thrown off by the physical stuff. I think that they have to be better prepared for this. It isn’t like this is the first time – UE does that to them a lot. Ditto with UST and La Salle. It’s a mindset that you have to be ready for this so come game time, you aren’t complaining because nothing ever comes of that. The lapses in concentration were there.

In fact, I forgot to point this out during the match against Adamson. During a Thirdy Ravena free throw, the players were communicating with whoever on what to do after the second free throw. Even Thirdy was engaged. I was appalled. Shouldn’t you be concentrating on the free throw? Thirdy botched it. In a close game that would be a telling miss.

Yes, it is a young team (but is a team composed of mostly juniors and seniors considered young?) but the concentration should be better as many of these kids have been exposed to big games since they were in high school. And last year’s finals trip was a big learning experience.

I have to point out how Thirdy was off in the first half then came alive in the second. Yeah, you know… team ball. But come crunch time you need someone to be taking those big time shots. Thirdy is that man right now. He is stronger and so much better. He is more confident of what he can do and his role in this team. And the scary thing is – he is getting even better.

This was a good win against a team that is well coached and is much better than its record. Lots of adversity – first time being behind after the first two quarters, NU taking it to them late in the game, shorter rotation, shooting not there… but this was a character win for Ateneo.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Biggest Superliga GP fires off Saturday

Biggest Superliga GP fires off Saturday

A record nine teams will be seeing action when the Chooks To Go Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix fires off on Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Bannered by Serbians Sara Klisura and Katarina Vukamanovic as well as Montenegrin Dragana Perunicnic, two-time champion Foton remains the heavy favorite while Petron, Cignal and F2 Logistics are tipped to give the powerhouse squad a serious fight.

The Blaze Spikers will bank on seasoned reinforcement Lindsay Stalzer and Hillary Hurley of the United States with Yuri Fukuda of Japan serving as libero, while the HD Spikers addressed their needs at the defensive end with the recruitment of Beth Carey of Australia, Alexis Matthews of United States and Mami Miyashita of Japan.

The Cargo Movers will rest injured spiker Ara Galang, but her absence will be hardly felt with the acquisition of Kennedy Bryan of United States and Olympian Maria Jose Perez of Venezuela.

“With a record of nine teams, this is going to be the biggest PSL ever,” said PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara. “We have a very competitive field and all teams are capable of coming up with a very good fight. This is going to be a very great season and we know that only the strongest will survive.”

Also seeing action are Generika-Ayala, Sta. Lucia Realty, Cocolife and new teams Iriga City and University of Santo Tomas.

The Lifesavers will parade Katarina Pilepic of Croatia, Penina Snuka of Hawaii and Darlene Ramdin of Trinidad and Tobago, who is just fresh from leading her country to the FIVB World Championship in Japan next year.

Sta. Lucia, meanwhile, will have Canadian national team members Marisa Field and Kristen Moncks and Ukrainian Bodhana Anisova at the forefront while Cocolife will bank on Tai Manu-Olevao and Taylor Milton of the United States.

Iriga City is also a force despite being the league’s newest member. The Lady Oragons will parade Tamara Kmezic of Serbia, who is the tallest import ever to play in the PSL at 6-foot-6. 

Kmezic will be assisted by Japanese libero Minami Yoshioka as well as local star Grethcel Soltones.

The Lady Tigresses, meanwhile, is the only team without an import as they would be competing as a guest team in preparation for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball tournament next year.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A game of moments: A post-script to Ateneo's win over Adamson and before their game vs NU

A game of moments
by rick olivares

Sometimes, games can hinge on a certain moment.

If Derek Jeter didn’t play the extra cut-off man in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS and executed the flip to catcher Jorge Posada who tagged a lumbering Jeremy Giambi at the home plate, the Oakland Athletics could have possibly swept the New York Yankees.

If referee Hugh Hollins didn’t call a late foul on Scottie Pippen during the 1984 NBA Eastern Conference semi-finals, it is possible the Chicago Bulls would have advanced to the finals and maybe even won an incredible fourth straight title. And if that happened then it is possible that Michael Jordan would have not returned to the Bulls as they won without him.

Games can hinge on certain moments. Sometimes, they even happen on certain intervals during a match.

With barely two minutes gone by during the Adamson-Ateneo match last October 14, Blue Eagle center Chibueze Ikeh was whistled for a foul. At that point, Ateneo had opportunities to score but missed them all. It was Adamson’s game plan to go hard inside and to pit the Falcons’ Papi Sarr against Ikeh.

Ikeh has been solid and efficient thus far. He has been tried and tested and will continue to be treated as such until the season is over. While he doesn’t put up a lot of points, his steadiness and presence has given Ateneo as close to a force inside the lane. The last time they had that Man in the Middle was when Greg Slaughter patrolled the lane with aplomb in leading the Blue Eagles to the fourth and fifth titles in its fabled five-peat.

Fouls are measured in increments of time. They can alter substitution patterns. One is enough for a quarter. Two in the first frame and more often than not, you do not return until the second half.

With Ikeh called so early, the coach has to make a decision – does he yank him or make him play a bit more? The latter clearly a gamble.

Incredibly, Ikeh plays the next six minutes while evading another crippling foul as Adamson and Sarr are unable to take advantage. When Ikeh exits the first quarter, Ateneo is up, 11-8. The moment has gone by with Ateneo unscathed.

Isaac Go comes in the second quarter and delivers. In that frame, he is whistled for two fouls this time with Ateneo up, 23-13.

The ball goes to Sarr who commits an offensive foul.

When Ikeh returns late in the second quarter, he is whistled for his second foul. Ateneo’s lead is cut to six, 29-23 but Jolo Mendoza hits a jumper to give the blue and white a bit more breathing space heading into the half time break.

In the third period, Ikeh once more gets the better of Sarr scoring five points including a triple. He is called for his third foul with a little over five to play in the period; 41-33, Ateneo. Isaac Go comes in and hit a jumper and a three-ball, and the lead swells to 49-34.

At the 2:23 mark, Kris Porter comes in for Go and Ateneo leading, 51-36. I have been puzzled by Porter who has changed his game in the past couple of years when he’d prefer to fire from the outside instead of battling inside the pit where he made a name for himself in high school. With Ikeh and Go on the bench, Ateneo needs him although he does have help with the quick-thinking Mike Nieto on court at the same time. Porter dribbles out of trouble and later scores a basket.


As good as Ateneo has been, the frontline – at least from the four and five spots have been a bit suspect. But others will argue that the individual stats do not matter; only the collective. Porter has done well in the brief moments he is on the floor. He might have only scored two points but he keeps his head in the game and only gets called for two fouls that he uses judiciously. And he has zero turnovers. That he did somewhat all right and limited the damage Adamson could do when Ikeh and Go were off the floor is massive. And it does go unnoticed.

And there was Thirdy Ravena taking on the task of guarding former teammate Jerie Pingoy who is now wearing the Adamson colors. Pingoy only scored three points off him. It was a move reminiscent of Rich Alvarez containing Mike Cortez in the 2002 UAAP Finals. Or Emman Monfort shutting down the league’s most valuable player in RR Garcia in the Season 73 championship series.

However, these moments – Ikeh staving off further foul trouble, Porter holding his ground, Ravena shutting down a dangerous man -- helped Ateneo to a 71-59 win; their eighth straight.

The college ball season is so short that every win is huge and every loss even bigger. Just ask the Season 70 Blue Eagles who lost their heads in a moment and lost in a monumental upset to NU that eventually cost them a twice-to-beat advantage in the semi-finals.

And speaking of the Bulldogs. This pesky nemesis is at a point where a win will revive their final four push and a loss will sink them. The moments? They will be there. Someone just has to seize them.