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, May 2, 2016

Looking at the UE Red Warriors’ win over Ateneo

Derrick Pumaren draws a play for UE during the overtime period of their Filoil Flying V Premier Cup win over Ateneo.

Looking at the UE Red Warriors’ win over Ateneo
by rick olivares

The University of the East Red Warriors fashioned out a gritty 93-91 overtime win over the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup debut. And they did it all-Filipino. They were outrebounded and out-assisted but they won it with a lot of heart and hustle. They harried Ateneo into 28 turnovers and converted that into 24 turnover points. The Red Warriors also forced the Blue Eagles to shoot 35% (to their 41%). 

What did I like about UE's huge win?

Renz Palma took charge.
Last season, I repeatedly wrote that if Palma could approximate UST counterpart Ed Daquioag’s derring-do then this team will go places. What the Red Warriors need is someone to break down opposing defenses and create like Jeron Teng for La Salle or Kiefer Ravena last year for Ateneo. Palma can attack, side step, pirouette, glide in, create, and dazzle. he’s always had that. What he needs to do is perform more consistently. I thought that he was the missing piece last year.

Palma was scintillating as he broke down every defender in his face en route to a game high 22 points while adding eight rebounds, three assists, and two crucial and late steals. He’ll be a fun player to watch this season. Plus, if he gets going that will ease the burden on Edson Battiler.

Now if Paul Varilla can finally get going...

They’ve got studs up front.
All-Filipino? Not bad. As head coach Derrick Pumaren put it, “Awana si Bertrand Awana.” 

So the burden of the inside game falls to their version of Spider-Man — Ronnie De Leon. Even before with a lineup that included Charles Mammie and Chris Javier, RR De Leon showed that he belonged. He is good defensively with those long arms of his and he can stick that medium range jumper if need be. Now he's the man in the middle for UE. If he can stay away from foul trouble, he’ll be a huge presence inside.

Clark Derige, last year’s late revelation at the four-spot will still be huge for this team. Along with the tough Nick Abanto and Shannon Gagate, that’s quite a set of rebounders and defensive players.

Their first game revelation was Avin Pasaol who came up from Team B. He’ll be playing the three and occasionally the four spot. He finished with 15 points and had six rebounds. A lot of his points were clutch with people hanging all over his face. 

They’ve got a solid backcourt.
Aside from the explosive Battiler, Edgar Charcos is still there. He had that dazzling reverse lay-up against Ateneo. And there’s Philip Manalang who if you don’t watch out will hurt you with his long bombs. They’ve got speed, playmaking, and defensive toughness. 

They played tough defense.
When I asked Derrick Pumaren if his Red Warriors finally have his system down pat, he said yes. They just need to play more consistently.

What I like about this team is they are complete, deep, tough, and talented. This is a blue collar team; a typical Derrick Pumaren team. Expect them to scrap and fashion out some big wins. And that is what got them this win. The Red Warriors pretty much stopped every Ateneo player except for Chibueze Ikeh (mostly because of his size) and Tyler Tio who was fantastic.

However, Coach Derrick’s team tends to win on individual brilliance with different players going off in different intervals. They only had 10 assists, we’d like to see more.

Player Ratings:
Renz Palma - 10. Is this his time? Who knows? But he will be fun to watch.
Alvin Pasaol - 10. Stud. Key offensive rebounds, key baskets. Great presence. 
Edson Batiller - 8. Struggled offensively because of the defense on him. But he hit a huge triple to send the match into overtime.
RR De Leon - 7. I raved about him, right? But while he was brilliant offensively, for a center to grab only two rebounds? Not enough. Certainly not enough.
Clark Derige - 8. Same old Derige. Quiet but effective. 10 points and eight rebounds.
Edgar Charcos - 7. Didn’t shoot well, but hit enough key baskets. If you play him close, he’ll drive. But needs to get that scoring mentality out of the way.
Mark Acuno - 6. 
Philip Manalang - 6. Didn’t play much because he was in foul trouble. He is a canny player who can run the offense and play defense. He needs to stay on the court and learn to pick his spots when being aggressive on defense.
Nick Abanto - 5. A little too overly aggressive. Got tossed because of two technical fouls. 
Omar Larupay - 5. In Pumaren’s doghouse for poor play and four turnovers.
Andrey Armenion - 4. 
Shannon Gagate - 5.
Ralph Penuela 4. Got a lot of playing time in last year’s Filoil. Come UAAP, rode the bench as Derige and other players played better.
Paul Varilla - 3. Can be vexing. Disappointing. Athletic and smart but doesn’t do much. Played 23 minutes and had zero points and only one rebound and an assist to show.
Wilson Bartolome - 4.
Ian Poblete - 4. 

Looking at the Adamson Falcons’ debut in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup

Dawn Ochea (#5), Khristian Bernardo (#20), Sean Maganti (#15), Rob Manalang (#22), and CJ Cadua (#27)
This appears on

Looking at the Adamson Falcons’ debut in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup
by rick olivares

The Adamson Falcons might have lost their inaugural match of the 2016 Filoil Flying V Premier Cup to La Salle, 98-88, but there are lots to glean from the San Marcelino squad’s play. While of course, one match does not make a team’s performance, these are but first thoughts.

The Falcons started with Robbie Manalang at point guard, Jerrick Ahanmisi at the off guard spot, Sean Maganti at the three, and Khristian Bernardo and Papi Sarr at the four and five spots respectively. 

Scouting report:
Got into all sorts of problems with a poor start. They couldn’t stop the inside incursions of La Salle and Sarr got tagged with two early fouls. They missed a lot of their shots and fell into a 15-point hole late in the first period, 28-13.

Maybe you can say that the Falcons didn’t expect this kind of ferocity from La Salle or even opening day jitters but the Falcons looked overwhelmed early in the game. They looked very slow to cut the path of the Green Archers’ Jeron Teng who fished fouls from Ahanmisi and Maganti. Sarr invited all sorts of trouble when it took him so long to make a move in the post. The result was a strip, a poor shot, and an offensive foul.

Adamson settled down with their second unit that ironically featured their homegrown players — Dawn Ochea, Harold Ng, and Cristian Garcia came in. After Manalang and Maganti had a chance to assess the situation from the bench and following their teammates’ cue, they returned to floor and there was better balance.

Ochea and Garcia gave Adamson a presence inside, Maganti hit from medium range and was a pest defensively because of his long arms and terrific anticipation. Ng, the second year player, hit some big shots from different angles while being able to bring down the ball something that other players like Carlo Escalambre and Manalang couldn’t get done early.

They even took a 34-32 lead in the second quarter. 

Up to the last four minutes, Adamson remained within striking distance of La Salle but when Manalang and Ng both went out one after the other with cramps, that was it. They had trouble bringing the ball down with CJ Cadua and Carlo Escalambre having a tough time. The bantam-sized Cadua had his moments but he had trouble beating double teams or making quick passes. He did score four points all from free throws but he once he gets accustomed to the pace, he’ll be fine. Adamson gained some control when JV Pasturan, entered the match. 

Pasturan, who came up from the Baby Falcons (after transferring from the University of Visayas) reminds me of CSB’s JJ Domingo with his good ball handling skills and ability to stick that medium range shot. He could play a large part of this team.

Shooting - Yes, they can shoot.
Inside scoring — Need more of this.
Playmaking — They need point guards not points guards.
Defense - The Falcons run a similar pressing defense to La Salle and both teams had their own runs because of their defensive stops. So you know these Falcons will hustle. Furthermore, they’ve got talent (and JD Tungcab didn’t play because of an illness) but they need to put it together as they are still learning the Franz Pumaren system. However, where this team goes will also depend on the contributions of Papi Sarr. If not, they are going to have a tough time eking out wins. 

It’s a young team. The tournament is good learning ground for them.

Player ratings (scale of 1-10)
Sean Maganti - 9. Didn’t have good start but when he was reinserted by Pumaren became more effective. Long arms. Good defensive instinct. Nice medium range shot. Top scored with 13 points on 5-6 shooting.
Robbie Manalang - 8 Also didn’t start well but was good when he came back. Quick. Can shoot. Needs to attack the basket and create more. His absence late in the game hurt them. Look out for more from this Fil-Am.
Jerrick Ahanmisi - 5 Perhaps because of his pedigree (older brother Maverick who is with Rain or Shine), people expected a bit more. Got into foul trouble and was largely ineffective. Did have a triple late in the game. Says he likes to slash inside. Will do better.
Terrence Mustre - 6 At the height of La Salle’s first quarter onslaught, looked to take matters in his own hands by scoring. Sure it helped as he four points but he needs to be a floor general. Crucial turnover late in the game when he had his pocket picked. 
Harold Ng - 7 Gave life to Adamson with his outside shooting. Stabilized backcourt with ballhandling. Cool and calm play. 
Dawn Ochea - 8 Despite being undersized inside, he knows how to position himself and has great moves. Finished with 10 points and six rebounds (three off the offensive glass).
Papi Sarr - 5 Like his first UAAP season, had a slow start. Should be used by now to the double teams and hacks. Needs to take it stronger. Gave Ben Mbala a little trouble but the former had the much better and effective game.
James Pasturan - 7. Of all the point guards to play, I thought that he should a willingness to play court general. While he had three assists (in 14 minutes of play to go with his six points) he also had three turnovers. But I thought that the TOs were because teammates weren’t ready for some of the passes. Looked calm in the face of the La Salle press.
Carlo Escalambre - 6 Had trouble with the press. Franz Pumaren got in his face several times for his poor play. But later was all right. Did score six points. 
Khristian Bernardo - 6. Can be a presence at the four or even the five. At least with rebound and defense. Didn’t see the ball going his way much — which is expected — so he had to scrap his way for four points off putbacks. 
CJ Cadua - 6. I’d like to see more of what he can do. Only played three minutes but got four points, a rebound, and a steal. He did have two turnovers which is why he got yanked. And this was after Ng and Manalang went out of the game due to cramps. 
Jonathan Espeleta - 6. Not much to say just yet. 
Christian Garcia - 6 unfortunately bore the brunt of La Salle’s inside game (Ben Mbala, Abu Tratter, and Jayboy Gob). Can pass the ball which I like. Was in foul trouble but I blame that on the poor perimeter defense that allowed a lot of the lane incursions.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Green Redemption! The La Salle Lady Spikers are UAAP champs again.

Green Redemption
by rick olivares pic by winston baltasar

That was some remarkable win by the La Salle Lady Spikers in Game 3 of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals.

They lost Game 5, a heartbreaker to be sure. And they even lost the first set of Game 3. Yet like any good champion, they should the erstwhile defending champions, Ateneo, that they aren’t the only ones who can come back. They did, shutting the door convincingly on Ateneo to take the next three sets.

Furthermore, they avenged all their losses this past season. National University defeated them in the first round and in their second round bout, knocked them out of any playoff contention for the fourth seat of the Final Four. After their huge first round win over Ateneo, UST feasted on them as their level noticeably went down. They returned the favor and defeated the Golden Tigresses in the second round. In the Final Four, pushed to the brink by the resurgent Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, they swept them in three to enter the finals.

However, they saved the best for last by denying the Lady Eagles a three-peat. Tit-fot-tat after Ateneo’s miraculous recovery in Season 76 when La Salle was going for their own three-peat. It also represents a personal victory for Ara Galang who came back from a devastating knee injury before the Finals of last year to become one of the league’s top performers this season. While Galang finished 10th in scoring and fourth in spiking during the eliminations (in the Finals, she averaged 10.3 points per game), she had clearly passed the torch to Kim Dy, who will be their next go-to star. And there’s the old master himself, Ramil De Jesus, who has matched wits with Ateneo counterpart, Anusorn Bundit, for the past three years. After losing for two seasons running, he’s bested Bundit. 

Bundit clearly raised the bar of coaching in the past three seasons. Even if he lost, he was still very good. But this season, De Jesus, returned to the summit. And how!

I thought that even in their very first game this season, La Salle looked very impressive. They looked superbly conditioned and even more motivated. That hunger was evident from the very first serve of the season. Their one flaw that I figured was their tendency to let their level of play drop especially after a big win. 

In contrast, I thought that even with Ateneo’s six-match win streak heading into the first round encounter with La Salle, there were cracks on the wall. In some of my match analyses during the season, while I pointed out that Ateneo’s floor defense wasn’t as bad as it looked like. Statistically, they were even better than last season. The problem is, almost every team -- not only La Salle, FEU, and UP — raised the level of their play. That is why up to the second to the last playing week of the eliminations, save for UE and Adamson, every other team had a shot at the playoffs. Furthermore, Ateneo couldn’t replicate their recipe for scoring in the utility position from Season 77 when they featured Michelle Morente and Jhoana Maraguinot. As valiant as Kim Gequillana was for the Lady Eagles, the lack of dependable scoring support for Alyssa Valdez (aside from their floor defense) hurt them. 

Even if La Salle lost Game 2 of the Finals, it didn’t mean that the title was automatically going to Katipunan. Not when you have the Best Setter, Best Blocker, as well as the Best Receiver and Digger around. Of course, there were all those wondrous weapons in Galang, Dy, and Cyd Demecillo so there was plenty of firepower to go around. 

I thought that La Salle had an easier time beating Ateneo — three sets in the first round, three sets in Game One, and four sets in Game 3. Whereas Ateneo needed five sets in the second round and in Game Two to pull out a win. That meant they needed to pull out all the stops. And unfortunately for them, they didn’t get it done in Game Three.

After perhaps the most competitive season we’ve seen with challenges left and right, the Lady Spikers are supreme. A ninth UAAP crown is ensconced in Taft. And what a story it is. Taking a most meaningful championship against their arch-rivals.

They’ll be celebrating this in Taft for a while. 

La Salle, UE win Filoil Flying V Premier Cup debuts

This appears in the Sunday, May 1, 2016 edition of the Business Mirror.

La Salle, UE win Filoil debuts
by rick olivares

The De La Salle Green Archers won the war of attrition over the pesky Adamson Falcons, 98-88, in the inaugural match of the 2016 Filoil Flying V Premier Cup yesterday. 

La Salle looked they were going to blow out Adamson when they spotted their foes a 15-point lead, 28-13, with 1:28 left in the first quarter with a power inside game behind Jeron Teng, Ben Mbala, and Jayboy Gob. Matters looked bleak for Adamson with Papi Sarr on the bench with foul trouble, yet the Falcons’ second unit of Dawn Ochea, Harold Ng, Khristian Bernardo, with new acquisitions Robby Manalang and Sean Maganti rallied to take the lead 34-32.

The Green Archers regained the lead heading into the half, 48-45. In the fourth period, DLSU took advantage of the absence of Manalang and Ng who both went down with cramps to lead by 14, 87-73, after a Kib Montalbo triple. Adamson attempted one last rally but a full court press employed by the Archers squelched any thoughts of an upset.

“I think we’re at 60-70% in terms of playing the system that I want,” said first year La Salle head coach Aldin Ayo of his new wards’ effort. “If you look at all my players none of them played for teams that did a lot of trapping. They know the concept but their bodies haven’t adjusted to playing it. But it was a good win.”

Jeron Teng led all scorers with 30 points. Jayboy Gob added 20point and seven rebounds while Cameroonian center Ben Mbala finished with a double double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Adamson saw five players reach double digits with Fil-Am Sean Maganti leading the way with 13 points. Manalang and Terrence Mustre, who played on La Salle’s UAAP Season 76 champion team before transfering to the San Marcelino campus finished with 11 points each. Ng and Ochea both had 10.

In the other seniors match, the University of the East Red Warriors rallied to defeat Ateneo, 93-91, in overtime. The Blue Eagles led by seven, 75-68, with two minutes left in regulation but consecutive turnovers and two huge missed free throws by Mike Nieto allowed UE to send the match in extension via a three-pointer by Edson Batiller.

In overtime, Renz Palma proved to be a handful for Ateneo as he drove the lane and found the basket at will. He hit four straight free throws with power forward Clark Derige chipping in one point to spot Ateneo a five-point lead. The Blue Eagles’ Adrian Wong sank a triple before the buzzer for the final scoreline.

Palma led UE with 22 points while Team B callup Alvin Pasaol added 15 while last year’s star, Battiler scored 14.

Chibueze Ikeh led Ateneo with 28 points while rookie Tyler Tio finished with 19.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Adamson Falcons get a dose of California Fil-Am sunshine

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Adamson Falcons get a dose of California Fil-Am sunshine
by rick olivares

Things are looking bright for the Adamson Falcons as they get a dose of some California sunshine with their young and exciting batch of Fil-Americans.

The Falcons despite finishing 3-11 in UAAP Season 78, were obviously a young and talented but woefully inexperienced squad. However, with champion tactician Franz Pumaren in the fold, you know that the Falcons have acquired more than coaching chops. They’ve attracted some pretty exciting talent… this time from the West Coast of the United States.

Gone are Joseph Nalos, William Polican, Jerome Garcia, Alwin Margallo, Gerald Fernandez Ivan Villanueva, and Nico Capote. The remnants from last year’s team are Khristian Bernardo, Jose Carlo Escalambre, Cristian Garcia, Harold Ng, Dawn Ochea, Papi Saar, Simon Camacho, Ken Miranda, and JD Tungcab. 

The newcomers include Fil-Ams Jerrick Ahanmisi, Charles Jordan Cadua, Jonathan Espeleta, Bruce Edwards, Robbie Manalang, Sean Maganti, Terrence Mustre, and Nikko Paranada, and former Baby Falcons point guard Frederick Pasturan. Mustre previously suited up for La Salle two seasons ago but transferred to the San Marcelino campus last season where he served out his residency.

Ahanmisi is the younger brother of Rain or Shine guard Maverick Ahanmisi and can play the two and three spots.
Five-foot-four CJ Cadua is a point guard out of Sweetwater High School in California. However, the small man made a reputation for playing bigger than his actual height. 

Another Californian is Bruce Edwards, a 6’4 forward out of La Jolla Country Day High School in La Jolla. Robbie Manalang is a 5’7” guard from Villa Park High School in Orange County. Sean Maganti is from Chaparral High School in Temecula that has graduated a number of American professional athletes including the Boston Red Sox’s Allen Thomas Craig, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Shane Peterson, former Cincinnati Bengal Tyler Hansen, Baltimore Ravens’ Talmadge Jackson III, and US Cycling Olympian Sarah Hammer. And lastly, Nikko Paranada is a 5’11” point guard from Foothills Christian High School in San Diego.

The sole FIl-Am not from California is Jonathan Espeleta, is a 6’1” shooting guard from Westlake High School in Waldorf, Maryland.

With the new additions, there seems to be a logjam at the one and two spots. Expect some players to be cut come UAAP time. 

The new look Adamson Falcons squad will make its Filoil Flying V Premier Cup debut this Saturday, April 30, when they play La Salle at 2pm at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Ateneo Lady Eagles serve up a timeless lesson about heart

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The Ateneo Lady Eagles serve up a timeless lesson about heart
by rick olivares pic by arvin lim

You’ve heard how kids say the darndest things. Well, how about a group of teenage girls and young adults teaching us some of the most incredible things. You know… like believing, not giving up, and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in a game for the ages. 

You can be forgiven for thinking that the Ateneo Lady Eagles were dead in the water after they fell behind two sets to none and La Salle ready to wrap this up for their ninth UAAP Women’s Volleyball championship. After all they coughed up a huge three-point lead late in the second set and La Salle looked imperious in the early goings of the third set.

Yet come back they did. They reached deep into that reservoir of hope they call “Heartstrong” for a massive comeback win in five sets that not only evened the series at a match apiece but could have possibly reversed the tide against a very good and frightening volleyball machine. 

However this series ends, these Lady Eagles will have served up another lesson in that creed that all who went to the Ateneo hold dear — giving it that One Big Fight. Game One lacked it but they sure made up for it in this match.

As for this Lady Eagles squad of Anusorn Bundit… they seem to make a knack out of comebacks. They pretty much wrote the book on that in that daydream miracle of a Season 76. This season, where they are, their record aside, is incredible considering who they’ve lost by the wayside.

They were supposed to have Michelle Morente, Kat Tolentino, and Maddie Madayag. 

Mich was knocked out because of academics. Kat was lost during the V-League to a knee injury. Maddie… well, you all know what happened to her. During the aforementioned V-League, they had Gizelle Tan playing setter while Ella De Jesus plugged the huge hole left behind by libero par excellence, Denden Lazaro. That role was supposed to go to heir apparent Pam Dungo. Except she showed up before the season way out of shape. Now Gizelle, without even a pre-season to aptly learn the ropes on a position she’s not even the best at, is holding her own. 

So how’s that for a bad hand? In spite of that look at where they are. 

And speaking of bad hands, one game and two sets down… Ara Galang was pounding away, Mika Reyes was staring everyone down, Kim Fajardo was conducting a symphony of destruction, Kim Dy was finding holes in the Ateneo wall… They were doing everything right and scoring on incredible shots. In short, it was bleak. 

But there was that sliver of hope.

I said this during the first game of the Season 76 Finals and I mentioned it again during the second round match this Season 78 — La Salle had a chance to bury the Lady Eagles but they didn’t. 

This Game Two, Ateneo finished that first set strong. The Lady Eagles should have won the second set but hitting errors hurt them. But they were slowly finding their groove, like a diesel engine. And then they turned the heat on La Salle.

In an incandescent performance, Alyssa Valdez, on the day she was crowned the league’s Most Valuable Player for the third straight year, carried her team in true Jordanesque fashion -- doing something, anything, and everything. She played defense, served some mean ones, killed that ball dead, scored on those incredible backrow attacks, and perhaps more importantly, pulled her teammates together during huddles. That is why she has this massive following and is the game’s face. She brings it like no one else. Those 34 points? I will paraphrase former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan who after his team was skewered by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls 96-54 in Game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals, “I thought she scored 134 points.”

Sometimes, newly crowned MVPs play bad on coronation day. No such luck for La Salle. Valdez was Jordanesque.

Following her lead, Jia Morado, injury and all, battled the game’s best in Kim Fajardo. In spite of her youth, you know she’s special. And she finished with 70 excellent sets.

And the rest of the team like Jhoana Maraguinot, Bea De Leon, Amy Ahomiro, and Kim Gequillana did their part chipping in here and there. Even Therese Gaston made good in her cameo appearance. 

Now, the Ateneo Lady Eagles are in a good position to win it for a third straight year.

Once more, however this championship series ends, the Ateneo Lady Eagles should give us pause to be thankful for their incredible efforts that have resulted in great victories, historic championships, and stories we will revisit forever in our lifetime and maybe the next. They’ve brought pride and restored it some. Plus, they’ve fought that One Big Fight.

And that is all we ever ask of them.


Additional reading: Alyssa Valdez & Marck Espejo are Season 78 MVPs.

All eyes on Ayo’s Archers in Filoil Flying V debu

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All eyes on Ayo’s Archers in Filoil Flying V debut
by rick olivares

When the La Salle Green Archers take to the hardcourt when the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup tips off this Saturday, April 30, all eyes will be not only on their new players but also their new head coach who comes in with a lot of expectations.

Aldin Ayo, fresh off his conquest of the NCAA Season 91 men’s basketball championship where his Letran Knights upset the six-peat seeking San Beda Red Lions will make his debut in a league that is considered the premier college pre-season tournament in the country. Ayo replaces Juno Sauler who led the Green Archers to their eighth UAAP title in 2013 and he brings with him that relentless trapping defense that he learned as a player with the Knights and refined as their head coach last season.

While the zone press isn’t new to La Salle as Derrick and Franz Pumaren employed that strategy during their respective tenures, Aldin Ayo’s version is relentless with the evidence pointing to Letran’s incredible and masterful season in the NCAA where they upset six-peat seeking San Beda. 

“We’re still learning the system,” cautioned assistant coach Paulo Sauler, one of two holdovers from the previous coaching staff with the other being Siot Tanquincen. Both served under Juno Sauler who is now with the Star Hotshots in the PBA. “But we’ll get there.”

Ayo brought over his staff from Letran including assistants Lius Gonzales and Glenn Capacio.

While in Letran, Ayo made use of Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, or McJour Luib to guard the three passing lanes with athletic forward Kevin Racal playing like a free safety in the event of a long inbound pass or crosscourt pass from rapped players.

“I think we have the players to execute what coach Aldin wants,” corroborated Sauler. “We have the athletes and youth to make it work. With Ben in the line-up, he will address some of our height issues. That will free up our bigs like Abu and Larry to help grab those rebounds and do some scoring."

However, Sauler pointed to the relative youth of the team with only Jeron Teng, Thomas Torres, and Kib Montalbo the only ones left from the Season 76 UAAP championship team. “We’ve got a mostly young team with lots of potential.”

The veterans will have to count on juniors Abu Tratter and Prince Rivero as well as sophomores Jollo Go, Andrei Caracut, Larry Muyang, Andrew Langston, and Jayboy Gob for support. The rookies include Aljun Melecio, Ricci Rivero, Mark Dyke, and Brent Paraiso. Cameroonian center Ben Mbala after a two-year delay will finally make his league debut. 

La Salle will make their Filoil Flying V Premier Cup debut on opening day, April 30 at 2pm at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan against the Franz Pumaren-coached Adamson team that includes former Green Archer point guard Terrence Mustre who played alongside Teng and Torres on the Season 76 champion team.

Tickets to the tournament are available at the venue gate as well as Ticketnet outlets.

Hillsborough: Anatomy of Disaster

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Guiao files petition vs PAGCOR, PCSO for denying PSC funds

Guiao files petition vs PAGCOR, PCSO for denying PSC funds
by rick olivares

In a bold stroke, Joseller “Yeng” Guiao, took off his coaching hat and put on his congressman’s barong to go where no local sports official or government official has gone before… he filed a Petition for Mandamus with the Supreme Court yesterday, Tuesday, April 26, against the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for their collective failure to honor their obligation to remit close to PhP4 billion, from 2010-2015 alone, to the Philippine Sports Commission.

"In Section 26 of Republic Act 6847 better known as “the Philippine Sports Commission Act” of 1990, it is clearly mandated that 5% of PAGCOR’s gross income should be automatically remitted to the Philippine Sports Commission,” noted Guiao who aside from his head coaching duties with PBA club Rain or Shine is also Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Youth and Sports. “If you look at the law, it is very clear — 5% of PAGCOR’s gross income shall be automatically remitted directly to the PSC. The operational words are ‘shall' and ‘automatically.’ That leaves no room for interpretation. It is very clear. For PCSO, they are also supposed to remit 30% of the proceeds from six sweepstakes or lottery draws per annum but so far they have refused to comply. That is clear, sweepstakes or lottery."

The gaming agency has unilaterally decreased its contribution to 2.1% of its gross income since 1993. “So if you count the years from 1993 (under the administration of former president Fidel V. Ramos), that is possibly about PhP10 billion pesos that were allocated for sports development but never reached the PSC,” said the solon.

"In the committee hearings in congress, this always comes up when we discuss funding for sports. So dapat talaga matapos na. I am on the committee for youth and sports, I am not doing my job if I cannot do this. Now if the Supreme Court renders a decision pro or against, at least alam na natin kung ano yung situation natin at hindi tayo nakabitin."

Guiao was quick to clarify that the timing of the filing for the petition of a judicial writ isn’t politically motivated. The congressman who is in his second term in Pampanga is a member of the Liberal Party. "I’d like to emphasize that the timing is best now. For one, this does not hurt this government because I don’t think this case is going to be decided in the next 60-plus days. For the next administration, it does not become political or personal against the next government. We’re neutral. This isn’t anyone’s fault. This was just a carryover from before. No one was questioning it."

"Everyone is asking the same thing, batas na natin ito so we’re expecting that this will be followed to the letter but PSC is saying we’re only receiving this amount and not this. Everyone is surprised but no one is doing anything. So this is the time to do something about this."

“It is sad that the lack of funds deprives us of promoting sports development,” observed Guiao. “Like every other Filipino, I get upset when I see our performances in competitions from the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games or the Olympics. We can clearly do better. The necessary monies doesn’t mean that we will win a gold medal tomorrow but it will put us on that path for better performances and results.”

“If we are successful in recovering PSC’s just share from PAGCOR and PCSO remittances, imagine the good that it will do to Philippine Sports. We can build better facilities, provide better nutrition and training to our athletes. We will also have enough funds to build a new national training center to replace our flood-prone and pollution-laden complex in Manila." 

Alyssa Valdez, Marck Espejo repeat as UAAP Season 78 Volleyball MVPs & other awardees

Valdez, Espejo repeat as Volleyball MVPs
by rick olivares

Alyssa Valdez is the UAAP’s Most Valuable Player for the Women’s Division for a third year in the row. The graduating Ateneo Lady Eagle is also the league’s Best Scorer and Server, making it also a three-peat of sorts as she has won in all three categories the past three seasons. In Season 75, her sophomore season, she was the Best Scorer. 

While the individual awards are huge for Valdez, she hopes her team can bounce back in Game 2 of the UAAP Finals to force a Game 3. “The individual awards are nice but a team award is better because everyone can celebrate and cherish that,” said Valdez of her solo efforts vis-a-vis a collective goal. “A three-peat will be wonderful but all we can do is go out and give it out best.

Other Women’s Division Awardees
Best Spiker - Jaja Santiago (National University)
Best Blocker - Mary Joy Baron (De La Salle University)
Best Digger - Dawn Macandili (De La Salle University)
Best Receiver - Dawn Macandili (De La Salle University)
Best Server - Kim Fajardo (De La Salle University)
Rookie of the Year - Isa Molde (University of the Philippines)

Over at the Men’s Division, Ateneo makes it a twin kill for repeat season MVP awards as the phenomenal Marck Espejo is also league MVP. He also bagged the Best Spiker and Best Server awards.

Best Scorer - Raymark Woo (De La Salle University) 
Best Blocker - Edward Camposano (University of the East)
Best Digger - Ricky Marcos (National University)
Best Setter - Esmilzo Polvorosa (Ateneo de Manila University)
Best Receiver - Rikko Marius Marmeto (Far Eastern University)
Rookie of the Year - James Natividad (National University)

Ateneo defeated NU in four sets to take a one-game lead and hope to close out the championship series in two matches.

The next day of the volleyball finals in on Wednesday.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Next generation ballers suiting up for Ateneo Blue Eaglets

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Next generation ballers suiting up for Ateneo Blue Eaglets
by rick olivares

At one point in their young lives, Danny Ildefonso (NU), Dennis Espino (UST), and Rodney Santos (San Sebastian) intersected in the 1990s playing in their respective leagues as well as the now defunct Philippine Amateur Basketball League. And of course, in the Philippine Basketball Association. 

Now their sons are all on one team… the Ateneo Blue Eaglets.

Ildefonso is in his second year with the Eaglets, his team losing in last UAAP Juniors season’s Final Four to De La Salle Zobel. He returns to team up with Josh Espino and Migo Santos. Espino stands around 6’3” and will play the four and five alongside 6’6” Zack Salazar who was on the Eaglets’ Team B last season. Santos, at 5’10" will play the two guard. Ildefonso plays the two and three.

There’s also a third generation Ateneo player on the team — Gian Afable whose father Gene won a UAAP basketball title in 1988. An uncle of the father was former Blue Eagle hotshot Chito Afable who was a part of the 1969 NCAA Ateneo champion squad. 

“Right now, we will not win based on pedigree,” said Ateneo Blue Eaglets head coach Joe Silva. “We will need to work hard for any success. And we hope that our veterans — Carlos Gatmaytan, SJ Belangel, Jason Credo, and Dave Ildefonso will lead this team.”

Other players named to the squad include Andrei Flores, Amchel Angeles, Rap Escalona, Rajah Gusi, Allen TaƱedo, Cholo Deonio, Jeco and Gabe Laud, Andrei Davidas, and JM Berjay. Forward RV Berjay should return to the lineup by the Blue Eaglets’ third match as he has to attend to some academic requirements.

Of late, there have been a spate of next generation players. Most recently, they featured Aaron Black (son of Norman Black), Thirdy Ravena (son of Bong Ravena and younger brother of Kiefer), Matt and Mike Nieto (twin sons of former Ateneo Blue Eagle Jet Nieto), Shaun Ildefonso (older brother of Dave), and Jolo Mendoza (son of former UP Fighting Maroon Jiggs Mendoza). If Kobe Paras didn’t transfer to La Salle Greenhills and subsequently the United States to pursue a NCAA Division 1 and NBA dream, he was supposed to have played on Ateneo's 2015 UAAP Juniors champion squad.

Ateneo Blue Eagles field curious Filoil Flying V lineup

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Ateneo fields curious Filoil Flying V lineup
by rick olivares

It is a curious line-up albeit temporary that was submitted by the Ateneo Blue Eagles to the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup. 

Of the 14 names submitted to the country’s top pre-season college basketball league, only four suited up in Ateneo’s blue and whites the previous UAAP campaign.

The only names on the Blue Eagles UAAP Season 78 roster are John Apacible, Aaron Black, Chibueze Ikeh, Matt Nieto, and Vince Tolentino. The new faces on the squad include Bryan Andrade from the Ateneo Blue Eaglets, Tyler Tio who came up from the Xavier Stallions, and Team B call-ups Jose Manuel Escaler, Louis Timothy Cu, Jay Javelosa, Cole Micek, Marc Salandanan, and Dan Wong, brother of Adrian Wong who made a huge splash last season with his late game heroics. Thirdy Ravena, younger brother of Kiefer, makes his return to the line-up after sitting out last season due academics. Javelosa on the other hand returns to the Team A line-up after moving down to Team B last season.

“It’s a temporary one,” bared assistant head coach Sandy Arespacochaga who added that Ateneo merely complied with the deadline for the submission of players. “We will make changes over the next few days or weeks because many of our players are still unavailable because of their final weeks of class."

Conspicuously missing are Adrian Wong, Arvin Tolentino, Hubert Cani, Isaac Go, Jerie Pingoy, Mike Nieto, GBoy Babilonia, and much-ballyhooed transferee CJ Perez. According to Ateneo manager Chris Quimpo, the other players should gradually make a return to the line-up in a couple of weeks upon completion of their academic requirements.

The Ateneo Blue Eagles will also sport a new but familiar figure on the sidelines in team consultant Tab Baldwin who is also the national team head coach. 

Ateneo missed the two previous Filoil Flying V Premier Cups after they opted to train abroad. The team finally returned to domestic pre-season tournaments with Baldwin saying that the exposure will be good for both the coaching staff and the players “as we need to see what we are up against.”

The Blue Eagles make their Filoil debut on Saturday, April 30, against the University of the East Red Warriors at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Tip-off is at 4pm. The opening match will pit Adamson University against De La Salle University at 2pm.

In Juniors play, the San Beda Red Cubs take on the Ateneo Blue Eaglets at 6pm.

Tickets to the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup are available at the ticket office of the Filoil Flying V Centre as well as all Ticketnet outlets.


The Ateneo Blue Eagles' Filoil sked:

Vs UE April 30 4pm
Vs Adamson May 6 4pm 
Vs Letran May 26 5pm
Vs. Lyceum May 27 5pm
Vs. San Beda May 28 5pm
Vs. Mapua June 2  5pm

Vs. La Salle June 4 4pm

Cast my votes for my Major League Baseball All-Star Game selections

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bata, Django go to Batang City Jail

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Bata, Django go to Batang City Jail
by rick olivares

“If you don’t make this shot, you’re staying behind,” teased Django Bustamante.

Colleague Efren “Bata” Reyes smiled, rubbed chalk on his cue stick, and sank his trademark “SMB” trick shot as the huge crowd at the Sigue Sigue Sputnik compound at the New Bilibid Prison roared in approval.

The two world-class billiards players made their long-planned exhibition games inside the New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa last Saturday, April 23, where they played against and with the eight best cue artists from the penitentiary.

“Efren saw some of the pictures that I would post on my Facebook wall about our sports program here at New Bilibid,” related Philippine Sports Commission Commissioner Jose Luis “Jolly” Gomez during the opening address to the officials and inmates of the national penitentiary at the Sigue Sigue Sputnik compound. “And he told me that he would very much like to get involved in our events. So here he is along with another of our world-class athletes, Django Bustamante.”

The PSC organized a two-week prison-wide billiards tournament wherein eight inmates emerged as champions in their different groups for the right to compete against as well as alongside the two billiards legends. “Activities like sports keeps the morale high and people out of trouble,” added Anthony Omega, chief of the Sports And Recreation Office of the Bureau of Corrections. “The various sports programs we introduce keeps people fit and gives them hope of being good at something. Hopefully, it will help in the betterment of their lives."

“It’s a dream come true for not only me but for all of us,” said inmate Amadito Salditos who took part in the exhibition. 

It ended in truly dream-like fashion as Salditos defeated a rather unlucky Bata Reyes who scratched twice, losing 3-0. Bustamante had an easier time dispatching inmate Joven Geron, 3-1. 

In doubles competition, Bustamante and Ellan Del Rosario teamed up for a 3-0 win over Reyes and Richard Roque. Bata and Django then treated the crowds to several trick shots.

The two billiards legends later moved over to the Batang City Jail compound where they played with and against Marlow De Guzman and Alfredo Requiz. Inside the sweltering hot and jam-packed basketball court, the two, though visibly sweating, never ceased smiling. “The court is only packed like this for basketball games and Manny Pacquiao. And now, Bata and Django,” pointed out De Guzman. “The entire Bilibid came out to watch them play."

“If our presence her provided some momentary joy and hope for these people to change and rehabilitate their lives then it’s all good,” enthused Bustamente who regaled the crowds with his stories and huge victories alongside Reyes against the world’s best. “I’ve never had so much fun in my life.”

For his part, Reyes was happy. “It was hot,” said the man they call “the Magician” in the vernacular. “But the smiles on people’s faces. The cheers. It was worth it.”

More than the event, Joven Geron received some valuable advice from Reyes. “He said that I am good at billiards and should I get out, I should not only make good choices in life but also work on my game to become a professional billiards player. Not too many people offer words of hope but he did. And it means a lot to me.”

Each inmate hurdled anywhere from 10 to 20 other contestants to reach the dream exhibition matches. 

“I would only see Bata and Django on television or read about them in the newspaper,” said Del Rosario. “Who would have thought I would get to see them, play against them here inside Bilibid."