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, October 31, 2007

Kevin White Tries His Luck in the PBL

Kevin White Tries His Luck in the PBL
by Rick Olivares

The Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in the far end of the Ateneo De Manila University campus is a little noisy even if school’s out for the semestral break. The university’s track and field team is doing some laps up above the indoor track oval. There’s the squeak and whacks of shuttlecocks from a badminton game close by.

By the Maplewood basketball court that dominates the massive training facility, a lone voice whips a newly formed basketball team in motion. Kevin White, a Fil-Am from Los Angeles, California has only been in the country for several months but he commands one squad as if he was born to do it. On the other team is his opposite number, Marcy Arellano late of the UE Red Warriors.

It’s practice for the Mail and More squad’s inaugural season in the Philippine Basketball League’s V-Go Extreme Energy Drink Cup yet they already boast of some stars from the recent and past UAAP wars in Arellano and his UE teammates Kelvin Gregorio and RJ Masbang, the University of Santo Tomas’ Mark Canlas, Far Eastern University’s Mac Baracael, and University of the Philippines’ Mike Bravo and Woody Co among others. The team is coached by Allan Gregorio.

Team assistant coach Mark Jomalesa tells White to try speaking in his passable Filipino, but White smiles and laughs, “No, in English.” His teammates laugh and they take a break.

The 5’ 10” White arrived in the Philippines a few months ago at the behest of his uncle Talk N Text’s Jimmy Alapag. “He’s like an idol for me considering what he’s accomplished,” says White who constantly seeks advice from his famous relative. “It’s the first time I’ve been here in the Philippines and I already like it.”

The 24-year old player who admits to being a rabid Los Angeles Lakers fan went to West Hill Junior College in LA. While growing up, he liked a lot of players, but the two players he tried to pattern his game after was former Lakers guard Nick Van Exel and current Golden State Warrior Baron Davis. “Those guys are nasty, man,” gushes White. “With that crazy dribble of theirs they can get anywhere on the court they want. Plus they can hit some huge clutch shots. I guess the thing we have in common is that we’re both combo guards. I’m a long ways from being like them though. But I try to get by.”

Another sport he’s passionate about is baseball. “The (New York) Yankees. I love the Yankees,” he says. “Not the (Los Angeles) Dodgers. It’s too bad they failed to get out of the first round of the play-offs for the third straight year, but they’ll be back. It makes them more hungry.”

With the American baseball season done, all his focus right now is for his team in the PBL. “I’ve got some great teammates and they’ve been a huge help in my adjustment to life here. Now hopefully, we can make it deep into the tournament. I guess that’s why I’m here.”

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