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.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Facing adversity: the BaliPure Water Defenders

Facing adversity: the BaliPure Water Defenders
by rick olivares

The BaliPure Water Defenders could have possibly turned a page in their Premier Volleyball League campaign if not their short history.

Looking fatigued and out of the game, the Water Defenders were on the ropes against the Creamline Cool Smashers who showed character by showing there’s more to them than Alyssa Valdez who was out with a niggling injury. Alex Cabanos looked like she was going to serve BaliPure into oblivion. Kuttika Kaewpin was overpowering. Jem Galanza was playing like she did two seasons ago with Adamson. Laura Schaudt shut the door on Grethcel Soltones so many times that the latter could have been charged for an attempted break-in.

It was that kind of evening. Excuses could have been made by the Water Defenders.

BaliPure -- let’s be clear about this as Version 2 as this is a radically different team in look, style, and composition from the one that debuted last season – stood up and made things count.

And after a thrilling five-set win (for the second straight playdate) over the Cool Smashers – 20-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-18, 15-7 – BaliPure, with its 7-2 record, secured a semi-finals berth and some rest for a tired team. They just have one last bit of business to take care of this Thursday against the 5-4 Power Smashers.

A lot of club’s face adversity. It isn’t exclusive to BaliPure. This team, however, has a chip on its shoulder. They’ve got a mountain of motivation and something to prove.

The team was cobbled together only a couple of weeks before the season’s opening. In fact, several players only joined them either a day before or weeks after.

Grethcel Soltones, the team captain and one of two remaining original BaliPure players along with libero Alyssa Eroa, is coming off a third consecutive disappointing NCAA campaign. She took home the Most Valuable Player Award yet came away empty handed in terms of championships. Ending her college career with a bunch of bridesmaid’s finishes for San Sebastian. The National University contingent of setter Jasmine Nabor, utility player Aiko Urdas, open hitter Jorelle Singh, and middle hitter Risa Sato are likewise coming off a sensation flop of a UAAP season where they missed the Final Four in a year where they were expected to challenge for the title. Jerrili Malabanan was the odd-player out of the far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws where she went from starter to the far end of the bench. She wasn’t even supposed to join BaliPure but her mother fought tooth and nail to secure a release to play for the Water Defenders. And she seamlessly stepped into BaliPure’s line-up and showed everyone that she can contribute.

There’s head coach Roger Gorayeb who believes he can still conjure some of that championship pixie dust that has evaded him in some time.

And there’s team management too that in their second year had to rebuild from scratch. Seven of their former players are now with the Perlas Spikers while Alyssa Valdez banners Creamline. In rebuilding a decimated squad, Gorayeb and management shrewdly and quietly brought in some impact players.

Lizlee Ann Pantone showed why she is one of the best liberos in the game. Jasmine Nabor’s pick up is huge because a top setter will make it easy for the hitters to get the ball. And there’s Jang Bualee, the Thai reinforcement who when she first came over to the Philippines played for Gorayeb’s San Sebastian team in the V-League. Her familiarity with Gorayeb and Philippine volleyball makes for easier transition. And there’s Jennifer Keddy, the 6’4” former middle blocker from California Polytechnic State University who has shored up a wall that needed quite a few bricks.

In the five-set win over Creamline, the entire team finally came together in the fourth set. Up to that point, Bualee was in the midst of a wretched game. Soltones was oft blocked by Schaudt. The reception became better. The blocking even better. And Risa Sato and Bualee came alive on offense.

It was a massive win. One that could further propel them.

“We’re not yet done tinkering with the team,” said team manager Gil Cortez. “For now this is it. But we’re going to add more competitive pieces in the future.”

While the win over the Cool Smashers buoyed the team, Gorayeb is downplaying his team’s chances. After all, who gave them a ghost of a chance? Pocari Sweat, Perlas Spikers, and Creamline were tagged to compete for the title. Instead, BaliPure is sitting atop the table.

“Wala nang sikreto,” said Gorayeb on the eve of the match versus Creamline. “Everyone knows us now. What we need to do now is play consistently and show na hindi kami fluke.”


Check out the BaliPure locker room videos here (click on the link)

BaliPure Water Defenders locker room scenes post-Creamline win May 23, 2017

The BaliPure Purest Water Defenders secured its place in the semi-finals of the Reinforced Conference of the inaugural Premier Volleyball League after outlasting the Creamline Cool Smashers in five sets, 20-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-7.

BaliPure is atop the six-team PVL with a 7-2 record and one more match left in the preliminaries.

What followed was a simple but moving post-game locker room scene.

Locker room scene Part 1

Locker room scene Part 2

Locker room scene Part 3

Post-match team prayer.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

4-Down for San Sebastian.

4-Down for San Sebastian.

One Stag -- usually a very good one on one player stays high with the other four Stags lined up close to the basket. The downside to this is if he gets picked up then it's a breakaway basket.

There are multiple options -- either the player outside -- usually Jerick Fabian or Alfred Gayosa or even Jason David -- will try to attack his man and go up in the middle. The players on either side of the blocks -- at least one of them comes up for a screen and this guy usually can shoot from the outside. If the player attack draws attention. That leaves the player setting the screen for a wide open shot.

On the left: The player also moving up for the screen creates space and the player his passes the ball now to the wing for his teammates to attack.

On the right: Alvin Capobres uses the pick to go to the right side of the court where he could have either an open shot or he can use the pick for a short stab.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Check out those big shots from EAC's win over Adamson

The Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals dealt Adamson University its first loss in six matches in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup, 76-73. The battle went into overtime as both sides traded runs and big shots. None more b igger than Sidney Onwubere, Rob Manalang, and Francis Munsayac.

Sidney Onwubere drills a triple over Adamson's Simon Camacho who played him very well. 64-61, EAC with 6.6 seconds left.

Adamson's Rob Manalang hits a triple with some guys all over him. It drops to notch the count at 64-all with .9 of a second left.

Terrific movement without the ball by Francis Munsayac and cool under pressure inbound by Jerome Garcia that leads to a breakaway lay-up handing EAC a massive four-point lead with seconds left.

The win, EAC's first in three outings, is especially sweet for former Adamson Falcon Jerome Garcia who lets his feeling be known.

And so we had our traditional media room photo with the winners.

FC Bilibid: More than just a club

FC Bilibid: More than just a club
by rick olivares

With all due respect to FC Barcelona, the creed of “more than just a club” also applies to this pint-sized football team several thousands of miles away.

No, they aren’t world-beaters. They aren’t top-flight champions or a squad of regional galacticos.

Instead, FC Bilibid, a team over about 40 kids – let’s qualify that further – a team of malnourished, impoverished kids whose fathers are incarcerated at the New Bilibid prison in Muntinlupa, play a bigger game with bigger stakes than Catalan or La Liga supremacy.

They play for a shot at life.

Team Manager Rafael Misa picked up some of the kids from the Muntinlupa United Football Club, a squad I first wrote about some five years ago that featured kids whose fathers or mothers were either inmates at Bilibid prison or were the scions of jail guards. It could have been an explosive mix. Instead, they were explosive on the football pitch.

The old MUFC team split up, some staying with the mother team while others going on to join Misa in the new FC Bilibid.

“I think it’s healthier that way because the old MUFC team was too big to look after all the kids,” related Misa who once played football for Ateneo and whose daughter, Kylie, later followed his footsteps in donning the blue and white for college.

“Our program isn’t all just about football,” explained Misa. “We also have a feeding program where I ask help from my batchmates in feeding these kids. Aside from helping their bodies develop through nutrition and football, we also have a catechism aspect to what we do. I have asked the Jesuits for help with regards to this. As we were taught in school, it’s developing sound minds and sound bodies.”

Last weekend, May 20-21, FC Bilibid participated in the Yokohama Cup at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig. In one of their matches, both sides had to go through penalty kicks to decide the winner.

Each team lined up three spot takers. Both teams made their first spot kicks then promptly missed the second. Now it was sudden death. The team in orange had saw their shot parried and now it was up to one kid in blue and white to either end the contest or send into further extension. The ball found the back of the net.

The team from FC Bilibid exploded in rapturous celebration. They piled on top of one another, ran all over the field, and lost their minds in a figurative way.

A few meters away, Misa, like a proud dad, laughed as the kids high-fived him one after the other.

During the two-day Yokohama Cup, FC Bilibid’s three boys teams all had podium if not decent finishes.

In the Boys U-12 category, they finished third. In the Boys Under-14, they reigned supreme defeating Dinalupihan, 2-nil. And lastly, in the Boys Under-16, they were third runner-up.

One kid who requested that his name not be mentioned said that he hopes football will grant him a scholarship to some school. Another hoped that he could play in the UAAP and if possible, the national team.

“Hope is a powerful thing,” summed up Misa. “It has been a couple of years since we organized the club. Aside from seeing them smile and see them develop as young children, days like these.. seeing them have fun, play the game of football – winning is even a bonus --- it makes it all worth it.”
Celebrating a win!

Celebrating a goal!