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, August 21, 2014

Unheralded players shine in Day 2 of Gatorade PBA Draft Combine

Rene Pacquiao
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Unheralded players shine in Day 2 of Gatorade PBA Draft Combine
by rick olivares

Rapper Eminem once famously sang, “You only get one shot; do not miss your chance.”

While most PBA coaches will have their wish list among the rookie hopefuls in the upcoming annual draft, the Gatorade PBA Draft Combine is where they can get a first hand look at those flying under the radar.

With only few slots open for the 95 draft applicants this was a good chance for them to showcase their skills.

While some of the projected top picks – Stanley Pringle, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, and Gilas cadets Kevin Alas, Ronald Pascual, and Jake Pascual – were believed to take it easy and not go hard, some of the lesser known players seized the opportunity.

Several NAASCU stars in STI Olympian Mclean Sabellina, and University of Manila Hawks Jeff Viernes and Edmar Pateno had strong showings.

Sabellina, who last played for Boracay Rum in the D-League dazzled the crowd with his athleticism as he scored 12 points (5 of 6 from the field) including a dunk in traffic off a spectacular feed by Philip Paniamogan.

Jumbo Plastic’s Viernes has the distinction of being one of a handful of college basketball players to lead two different colleges to titles. Viernes led UM to back-to-back NAASCU titles then transferred when the school closed down its athletic program. Viernes transferred to St. Clare where promptly led them to the 2013 NAASCU championship. During the draft combine, the high scoring point guard tallied nine points, five rebounds, two assists, and one steal almost 19 minutes of play.

Pateno who since 2011 has been playing in the commercial league circuit also gave a good account of himself by scoring 11 points on four-for-five shooting from the field.

The General Santos native hoped he could land a spot on Manny Pacquiao’s KIA squad but he isn’t betting on it until it happens. “Importante ‘tong camp na to kasi nabigyan kami ng chance maipakita yung kaya namin.”

And speaking of Pacquiao, his 27-year 6’5” cousin, Rene, is in the draft. The former Southwestern University Cobra scored two points on one-for-four shooting and grabbed two boards in 14 minutes of action. Rene, who briefly played for Hog’s Breath in the D-League, said that KIA will select him during the draft. “Dream ng marami makalaro sa PBA,” said Rene who is currently staying at the boxing champion’s Forbes Park mansion. “Ang kailangan dito sa camp na ‘to hindi ka mahiyain. Pagkakataon ‘to.”

However, it wasn’t only the unheralded who had stellar showings. San Beda Red Lion Anthony Semerad also had a solid outing with eight points, three rebounds, and one steal while playing terrific defense. “I’m satisfied with what I showed the coaches,” noted the 6’4” Fil-Australian forward.

“The scrimmages were characterized by great defense,” noted Camp Director Bong Ramos. “The applicants wanted to impress that they can be two-way players.”

Fil-Am players like Penn State’s Stanley Pringle (four points, six rebounds, one assist, and one steal), Cal State Polytechnic’s Matthew Ganuelas-Rosser (five points), for Asbury University Eagles guard Philip Aaron Morrison (four points, one rebound, and four assists) also impressed despite deliberately not going all out as they are assured of top spots in the upcoming Gatorade PBA Draft.

Before the draft hopefuls were put through their paces in the drills and scrimmage, PBA star Dondon Hontiveros wished the players good luck and even if they aren’t drafted, that it doesn’t mean their basketball dream isn’t over. They’ll just have to work harder and through the back door which means joining as a practice player. The Alaska Aces’ shooting guard noted that there are many players who were able to latch on the a team several years after their initial draft. “The important thing is not to give up,” said Hontiveros.

Notes: PBA coaches noted that four San Beda players arrived 20 minutes late for the camp: Anthony and David Semerad as well as Jake and Kyle Pascual. “You have to take note also of the little things,” said a disappointed coach who requested anonymity. San Sebastian Stag Jonathan Semira was unable to attend because of an injury.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sabellina catches coaches’ eyes at Gatorade PBA Draft Combine

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Sabellina catches coaches’ eyes at Gatorade PBA Draft Combine
by rick olivares pic by mon rubio

With one thunderous jam, Mclean Sabellina served notice to the various PBA coaches gathered for Day 2 of the Gatorade PBA Draft Combine that they might want to re-evaluate some of their pre-draft choices.

Sabellina, the 6’3” forward from Boracay Rhum and formerly of the STI Olympians flashed into the lane and collected a zip pass from Philip Paniamogan who drew the defense when he drove hard down the left baseline.

The Cagayan De Oro native rose and dunked the ball in traffic sending the crowd at the Gatorade Hoops Center oohing and ahhing.

His raw athleticism and nose for the ball enabled him to lead all scorers during the scrimmage for the draft hopefuls. Sabellina’s final stat line read: 12 points on five-for-six shooting (including two-for-two from the free throw line) and three rebounds versus one turnover. All in 15 minutes of play.

“That got everyone’s attention because he took good shots and in the flow of their offense,” noted Barako Bull Energy head coach Siot Tanquincen. “Didn’t take bad shots and that is something coaches look out for.”

“Impressive yung laro niya,” underscored camp director Bong Ramos who last coached Barako Bull in the last conference of PBA Season 39. “And that is what the camp is all about for those who are not name players to show what they can do.”

Sabellina was a former mythical selection for STI in NAASCU during the 2011 season. “He’s like a young Arwind Santos,” compared STI Team Manager Mhel Garrido of his former player to the former FEU Tamaraws/San Miguel Beer standout.

“Happy naman ako sa pinakita ko,” said an ebullient Sabellina after the end of the rookie camp. “Excited ako pero aaminin ko na nininerbyos ako. Sana makuha talaga kasi pangarap ko makapaglaro sa PBA.”

Sabellina’s sports tests results are as follows:
Height: 6’3”
Wingspan: 6’7”
Weight: 80.7kg
Lane Agility: 9.72 seconds
Shuttle Run: 17.83 seconds
Three-Fourths Court Sprint: 3.38 seconds
Standing Vertical Leap: 31.4 inches

Maximum Vertical Leap: 62.4 inches

With Mclean Sabellina who I covered years ago in my one year of following NAASCU. Wrote about the STI Olympians for our late magazine, Rebound, as well as for Business Mirror. Thanks to Mhel Garrido and Vic Ycasiano.

Turning up aces: For Louie Alas, if his sons Kevin & Jun Jun are drafted, it means fulfilling his lost PBA dream.

This appears on the PBA website.

Turning up aces:
For Louie Alas, if his sons Kevin & Jun Jun are drafted, it means fulfilling his lost PBA dream.
by rick olivares pic by mon rubio


Jun Jun Alas backed up 6’4” Andrew Avillanoza down the post. Alas, at six-feet flat but at a hefty 118 kg. of pure brute force moved his taller guard like a bulldozer going through a cement door.


Avillanoza threw his arms up and Alas threw  jump hook that was all net.

A quiet cheer rose up from the far side of the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City where the coaches of PBA team Alaska gave assistant coach Louie Alas high and low fives.

The elder Alas kept quiet and refused to give in to a smile. But deep inside, the long-time coach was brimming with pride but hoping against hope.

His second oldest son, Kevin, seemed to be a shoo-in Top 10 pick for the upcoming Gatorade PBA Draft. Jun Jun, the older brother, was not. Both had played for the Letran Knights with Kevin the star point guard after the graduation of RJ Jazul while Jun Jun was one of the team’s several bruisers.

During Louie’s college heyday, he was the star combo guard for the Adamson Falcons. In 1990, he was selected by the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs in the draft. Unfortunately, he suffered a career ending knee injury during practice. It took a while for him to get over his misfortune. It was a time, when practically a ACL injury meant it was all over for a basketball player.

Alas dove head long into coaching to stay in the game that he dearly loved.

He won titles with Letran and also coached Mobiline in the PBA. Now working as an assistant first with Luigi Trillo and now with Alex Compton with the Alaska Aces, for the first time since 1990, he feels his stomach rumbling with excitement and nervousness. But he doesn’t say so except to the close friends he confides in.

Should Kevin or even Jun Jun be drafted and go on to play in the PBA, they will fulfill a dream that the father once had. He will live that dream through his sons.

While coaching them in college in Letran, they went to the NCAA Finals two years ago where they fell in three games to eventual champion, powerhouse San Beda. It was the swansong for the Alas family with the school that had been home to them for well over a decade. Kevin was able to experience some championships with NLEX in the D-League as well as with Sinag, the national team that participates in the Southeast Asian Games.

“I know papa will be proud,” said Kevin during a late night dinner at North Park in Little Baguio, San Juan City four days before the Gatorade PBA Draft Combine. “Excited din siya.”

His two older sons aren’t the only ones Louie keeps tabs on. There’s his third son, Kenneth, who at 6’4” is still growing. Kenneth chose a different path opting to play for rival San Beda Red Cubs instead of the Letran Squires.

“It’s his choice, says Liza, the mother of the basketball-loving brood. “So we support him and his decisions.”

Completing the “starting five” of Alas basketball is the fourth and youngest son, Kiefer who is beginning to learn the game.

“The game has been good to us,” said Coach Louie while watching his sons engage in the competitive drills and scrimmage put together by colleagues Bong Ramos and Bai Cristobal. “And hopefully, it will be good as well for my other two sons.”

Then the assembled crowd of coaches, fans, agents, and media roared. Jun Jun Alas scored another bucket.

This time Louie Alas allowed himself a smile.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Results of sports tests for Day 1 of 2014 Gatorade PBA Draft Combine

Mike Gamboa: Giving a PBA dream one last try

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Mike Gamboa: Giving a PBA dream one last try
by rick olivares pic by mon rubio

Do dreams truly die?

For Mike Gamboa, he always wanted to play in the PBA. He first set his sights on the short terms goals – playing point guard for the Ateneo Blue Eaglets and then the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the UAAP. But the poor showing of the latter especially in his final season made him decide to forego his dream.

This past year, Gamboa has been working for Taiwanese computer company ASUS. He was thinking of studying in the United States to take up his Masters in Business Administration when his father, Jojo, who once played for the Ateneo Blue Eagles, convinced him to give it one more try and apply for the 2014 Gatorade PBA Draft on August 24.

Following some reflection, Mike decided to give the dream one more try. “I thought that it was over for me when it comes to competitive basketball. But I have one more itch to scratch. If I get drafted then it’s good. If not, then at least I can say to myself that I tried,” he reasoned out.

Standing 5’6”, Gamboa is already at a disadvantage in a sport that is increasingly ruled by the stratospheric.

Furthermore, he is competing against 94 other hopefuls for extremely limited slots scattered across 12 PBA teams.

During Day One of the Gatorade PBA Draft Combine, the showcase for the applicants in front of the pro coaching community as well as the media and the fans, Mike got posted up immediately by the taller Harold Arboleda.

After his Team A’s scrimmage opponents, Team B, scored, Gamboa immediately redeemed himself by pilfering counterpart Franz Delgado’s pocket for an easy layup.

A few possessions later, Andrew Avillanoza drove hard at him sending Mike sprawling towards the baseline. He briefly looked up at the referee is he was going to call an offensive foul. When none was forthcoming, he quickly picked himself up and went back on defense.

He later drove hard and scored on an and-one underscoring his fearlessness in going up against the giants in the lane. Gamboa finished with five points, one rebound, one assist, and one steal versus two turnovers.

“It’s a challenge, no doubt,” quipped Mike after the end of the day’s session. He pronounced himself half satisfied with his performance. “I had not played in a while. So it really felt good to be out there. It’s still is a long shot to even get drafted.”

But he pointed out the achievements of Emman Monfort and Anjo Caram in the PBA. “All I need is a chance,” hoped Mike. “And I promise to do the best. But if not, at least I can say that I tried and will have no regrets. Life for me… goes on.”

Banchero tops Gatorade PBA Draft Combine sports tests

Banchero tops Gatorade PBA Draft Combine sports tests
by rick olivares pic by mon rubio

“Hindi naman namin makukuha ‘yan,” joked KIA assistant coach Louie Gonzales when informed that 25-year old Fil-American guard Chris Banchero topped all five of the tests of Day One of the 2014 Gatorade PBA Draft Combine at the Gatorade Hoops Center at Mandaluyong City. “Kaya iba na lang papanoorin namin.”

Banchero, the Seattle, Washington native topped the Shuttle Run Test (in 16.87 seconds), Three Quarter Court Sprint (2.91 minutes), Standing Vertical Leap (33.73 inches), Maximum Vertical Leap (68.32 inches), and the Lane Agility Drill (8.33 seconds).

“That’s pretty impressive,” noted Alaska Aces head coach Alex Compton. “Has anyone done that?”

According to PBA officials, since the first ever Rookie Camp held in 1995 at the parking lot of the SM Megamall, no one has achieved that.

The Shuttle Run measures how fast a player moves when changing directions. The Three Quarter Court Sprint measures the amount of time it takes for a player to sprint the distance of three quarters of a basketball court. The Standing Vertical and Maximum Vertical Leaps measures the height of a player’s vertical leap from a standing and a running position respectively. The Lane Agility Drill measures how fast a player moves around the key.

“These tests are patterned after what the National Basketball Association measures for their rookies,” said Focus Athletics Coach Mark Carron who also serves as the strength and conditioning coach of the National University Bulldogs. “In addition to their talent and skills, the results of these tests are something that coaches can use in determining the kind of player they want to draft.”

PBA coaches concur. “When Coach Tim Cone saw Justin Melton’s vertical leap, he drafted him,” shared one coach who requested anonymity. “Coach Tim is also a fan of athleticism.”

“I just went out and did my best,” described Banchero of his accomplishments. “I’ve been working hard everyday. I’m excited and nervous about the upcoming draft. Playing in the PBA has been a dream of mine for quite a while now.”

Banchero admitted to following Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text back in the US when he learned about the PBA from his mother.

“Right now, I don’t know where I am going but I just want to be in the league and to be able to help the team I get into.”

The sports or physiological tests were conducted by the coaches of Focus Athletics and the University of Santo Tomas Sports Science Department.