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.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Xavier celebrates BBI cagefest double

Xavier celebrates BBI cagefest double
by rick olivares

Xavier School’s 12-Under and 17-Under squads celebrated a double championship last Saturday, March 17, with twin victories in the Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals Nationwide Battle of Champions. It was especially sweet as both squads accomplished the feat on their home court of the Jacinto Tiu Gym.

In the finals of the 12-Under Division, Brent Tiu led the Golden Stallions with 15 points and 10 rebounds, in an 80-43 rout of San Miguel Elementary School of Bulacan. The Golden Stallions led throughout the match and were never threatened as the SME Angels were thoroughly outgunned and outplayed.

“Nakita namin na malayo yung skill and talent level namin,” pointed out Bulacan coach Christian Canlapan. “This is something we have to learn from and if we have the opportunity to come back next year, play better.”

In the juniors division of 17-Under, both Xavier and Centerphil Montessori of Iloilo Silver Knights battled tooth and nail in the first 13 minutes after which the Golden Stallions broke a 22-all deadlock to take the half, 40-31.

Come the third period, Xavier stepped on the gas pedal behind Miguel Tan and Martin Sadhwani to hike the lead to 61-45 after 30 minutes. The Silver Knights tried to make one last go at the championship but Tan and Sadhwani once more combined to finish off the Illongos, 79-60.

“My goal was to win this game, this championship for the graduating seniors (Sadhwani, Steven Tiu, and Nathan Chan),” said Tan who finished with a game high 27 points and 12 rebounds. “We lost a couple of championships this year so this is a good way to end the season – with a title.”

Sadhwani earlier in the day towed Xavier to the championship round by scoring 35 points in the 75-74 semi-finals win over Montessori De San Ildefonso Bulacan including the game-winning triple with 1:07 left. In the championship match, Sadhwani tallied 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in his final match for the Golden Stallions. “It’s a good way to go out,” summed up Sadhwani.

Named to the U-17 Mythical Five were Xavier’s Miguel Tan, Emilio Aguinaldo College of Cavite’s JR Ilustrisimo, Centerphil Montessori’s Ian Carl Gasacao, and MDSI Bulacan’s Dan Angelo PariƱas and Joderick Inductivo. Gasacao was named the Best in Defense while Xavier guard Lance Alandy Dy was awarded a trophy for Best in Assists.

Miguel Tan was named Most Valuable Player.

For the Under-12 Division, the Mythical Five awardees were Paulo Torno of St. Thomas More of Cavite, Ceejay Pacapat of Bukidnon Faith Christian Academy, Clark Pengson of Bulacan San Miguel Elementary School, and Xavier’s Brent Tiu and Paulo Rodriguez. Rodriguez was adjudged the Best in Assists while Torno bagged the Best Defender Award. Brent Tiu took home the MVP trophy.

A Golden Ending

A Golden Ending
by rick olivares

Martin Sadhwani leaped high in the air to corral a high forward pass. As he landed, he took one step then kissed the ball off the glass to give Xavier School its biggest lead of the match, 77-55, against Centerphil Montessori of Iloilo with time down to 1:24 in the Under-17 championship of the Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals Nationwide Battle of Champions.

The graduating Golden Stallion landed in a heap as cramps finally grounded him. It was his team’s second game of the day and like his other teammates, Sadhwani was tired, Earlier, his heroics saw Xavier squeak past tough Montessori De San Ildefonso of Bulacan in the semi-finals. Sadhwani, the son of entrepreneur and Ateneo Graduate School professor Rajan Sadhwani and fashion maven Apples Aberin, scored 13 points in the final period including the game-winning shot for Xavier that had to rally past the squad of head coach John Paul Magbitang.

As the seconds ticked away in the championship match against Iloilo, Sadhwani lay next to the Xavier bench and through gritted teeth, managed both a pained and joyous smile.

About three weeks ago, Sadhwani and his teammates stood in disbelief as they lost in the title game of the Breakdown Basketball Invitations U-17 championship to San Beda. Thrice they played the Red Cubs during the season. Three times they came away losers including two in title matches. San Beda was supposed to represent the National Capital Region in the BBI Nationwide Battle of Champions, but a scheduling conflict with the SM-NBTC National Finals saw them offer their slot to Xavier.

“It wasn’t easy for us to accept the spot because we didn’t earn it,” reflected Xavier head coach Carlo Tan. “But since San Beda wasn’t available, why not? The challenge was adjusting everyone’s mindset because they thought the season was over. Some were attending to retreats and graduation practice.”

For Sadhwani, it meant one more chance to go out a winner before college beckoned. This school year, the Golden Stallions had played in four championship games and came away with a winner’s medal once. “This would mean a lot to me if we win because this will be my last game in a Xavier uniform,” said Sadhwani before the match. He resisted moving to Ateneo a year before as he wanted to finish out his high school in the former’s brother Jesuit school. “It would make my last year in high school even more memorable.”

“I want to win this for the graduating seniors,” declared Xavier center Miguel Tan who still has a year left to play. “It would be a nice parting gift for them; for Martin, Steven Tiu, and Nathan Chan.”

During this end-of-the-season pocket tournament – the first nationwide championship series for BBI that involved six cities – Sadhwani missed two games; Tan, one, and Chan, the title match. For a while, Chan contemplated on missing one last school requirement to play, but school came first.

Yet when it was all said and done, the handsome trophy, medals as well as individual awards handed out, Tan had kept his promise. The Batang Gilas center scored 35 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and blocked four shots to lead Xavier to a 79-60 triumph. Sadhwani finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists including two nifty passes to Tan that led to buckets.

“Promise kept,” quipped Tan who pocketed the Most Valuable Player Award in addition to a Mythical Five selection.

Over by the Xavier bench, Lance Alandy Dy who played stellar in Nathan Chan’s absence, gave Steven Tiu a tearful hug. Sadhwani and Tan shook hands.

Golden ending, Martin?

“Yeah,” he smiled. “Definitely, golden.”

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Ateneo, LSGH hope to continue championship form for NBTC tourney

Ateneo, LSGH hope to continue championship form for NBTC tourney
by rick olivares

When the SM-NBTC National Finals tips off March 18, 2018 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, the champion teams from the NCAA and UAAP Juniors Division will feel a little pressure from their lay-off.

According to Ateneo Blue Eaglets coach Joe Silva whose wards capped off a memorable season with a nail-biting win over NU two weeks ago, he is going in with a pair of disadvantages. “When the UAAP ended two weeks ago, the boys immediately attended to their studies because it was finals week. And we haven’t practiced since then,” explained the two-time champion coach. “In fact, today (Thursday, March 15) will be our first and we won’t have Joaqui Manuel who is out with a fractured foot and Dave Ildefonso who is already practicing with NU.”

“We will be missing those two players but we are calling up Forthsky Padrigao to beef us up.”

Silva’s NCAA Juniors counterpart, Marvin Bienvenida of La Salle Greenhills, said that his team has been preparing for this tournament. “We have been preparing for this for the past two months,” admitted Bienvenida. “Honestly, we weren’t able to maintain our form after winning the NCAA. After a few weeks we were on a high. But we took losses in some other leagues and we needed that to get back on track. It has been an up and down journey for us but I am a little optimistic that we are slowly climbing up again.”

Reigning SM-NBTC champions San Beda are undergoing a massive facelift come tip-off time. “We are parading our Team B who will be moving up to the NCAA Team next season,” bared JB Sison. “This team were recently crowned as Breakdown Basketball Under-17 champions and although malaki yun, iba pa rin yung mayroon NCAA experience. Parang sila Sam Abuhijle and Evan Nelle years ago. When they started out sa NBTC, it was as Team B. Tatlong taon bago mag-champion dito sa NBTC so tignan natin.”

A returning squad to the annual high school national tournament that has adjusted its format similar to the US NCAA March Madness is Crossover Canada. Its Filipino head coach, Mike Cruz, hopes his team will perform better after not getting out of the first round in the past two years. “Of course, we expect to make a better show this year. We prepared longer although our problem is we do not have the core of the past few years, we hope the newcomers will make an impact.”

Only power forward Matthew Daves and guard Andrew Cruz remain from last year’s squad. “With the new format, hindi na kami mabibigla. We have time to adjust with the seeding then climb up the ladder.”