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, July 31, 2008


(I originally wrote this for Business Mirror but they never ran this. Bastards! Henry Liao couldn't use this for Tower Sports because someone had written about the draft previously. Fine. So it's here instead.)
A Look Back at the Best NBA Draft Ever

by rick olivares
Part I A Whole New World
Twenty-four years ago… well, 24 is not a milestone number. But since it’s my story… let’s get on with it.
Twenty-two years ago, the NBA landscape was the sole domain of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird. Julius Erving occasionally crashed the party, but for the most part, the Larry O’Brien trophy during those early 1980’s was like an exchange gift between the Los Angeles and Boston franchises.
Amidst the Orwellian anxiety of 1984, the world instead found itself under Reaganomics, wary of the strife in India what with the chemical leak at Bhopal and the assassination of Indira Gandhi, suspicious of Mikhail Gorbachev’s first steps towards glasnost, and excited about the nascent steps of ESPN and MTV. Pop culture was going to change the world and the National Basketball Association already riding on the crest of its troika of stars was smack in the middle of momentous change. And the change about to unfold would profoundly affect not only the NBA but basketball forever.
The Coin Flip
The rookie draft brings a new hope every year to all the NBA teams. The woebegone teams hope to snag that one rookie who would give the team a ticket out of lotteryville and if the basketball gods smiled upon them, maybe an NBA title run or so. The top tier teams hope to stumble upon a sleeper (since they tended to pick last unless they manufactured a trade to better their position) who would ensure the continued success of their team without having to undergo an overhaul.
But back in 1984, the right to pick first was between the two worst teams and was determined by the flip of the coin. The remaining teams would pick by the inverse order of their previous season’s records. Of the 19 drafts that used this method, the team that called either “heads” or “tails” first saw their dynastic dreams turn to horror 12 times. 1984 would be the last ever NBA draft to be decided by a coin flip yet its ramifications would be felt for a long time to come.
The Rockets had been in a patient rebuilding phase ever since they lost franchise center Moses Malone (who led them to the 1981 finals against Boston) to Philadelphia. In 1983, Houston called “heads” and the coin turned up right for them enabling the Rockets to nab highly coveted center Ralph Sampson out of Virginia. And they hoped that in 1984, good fortune would continue to smile on them as they began to lay the foundation of a winning team.
A Stern Draft
Coincidentally 1984 was the first year of David J. Stern, the league’s former General Counsel who had taken over from Larry O’Brien as Commissioner. And the visibly excited Stern would imprint his savvy on the league with his first act as commissioner.
Houston which began an era of prosperity under George Maloof (whose untimely death forced the family to sell the franchise in 1982) had lady luck on their side once more after Portland erroneously called “tails.” Without hesitation, the Rockets selected that young stud out of Phi Slamma Jamma of Houston, Akeem Olajuwon. They would have no idea at that time, but the Twin Towers combination with Olajuwon and Sampson would be the rage of the NBA as teams fielded skyscraper frontlines. But more importantly, the foundation for long-term success was in place and they would go on to have one of the NBA’s all-time greatest in Olajuwon.
The year before, Portland picked Clyde Drexler, Olajuwon’s high-flying teammate in the University of Houston. Team officials figured that since they already had Drexler and shooters in Jim Paxson and Fat Lever it was best to shore up their front line that only had Wayne Cooper and Mychal Thompson. There was no need for a Jordan in their line-up since they already had one in Eddie Jordan (coincidentally, Eddie Jordan would later join the Washington Wizards’ after Michael Jordan’s ill-fated tenure with Abe Pollin’s team). So they picked out a seven-foot center out of Kentucky named Sam Bowie. Bowie for all his promise missed two years of college ball because of nagging foot injuries. But he did play 34 games in his final year with the Wildcats and his foot problems seemed to be behind him.
Then-Chicago Bulls General Manager Rod Thorn prayed fervently that his sad-sack Bulls would get a chance to draft the sensational Michael Jordan out of the University of North Carolina. Months before, Jordan picked up a second Player of the Year Award in collegiate ball and had led the United States to Olympic Gold in the LA Summer Games. Thorn’s Bulls may not have the first pick (who didn’t want Olajuwon?) and his team was still smarting from 1979 when the coin toss went the Los Angeles Lakers’ way (LA took Magic Johnson while the Bulls picked out serviceable but not great center Sidney Greenwood). When David Stern called out Sam Bowie’s name as Portland’s pick, the knot in Thorn’s stomach dissipated. Jordan was theirs and a new era of Bulls basketball was about to begin.
The Dallas Mavericks were stirring in the West. After years of being used as a doormat for the Western powers, they chalked up a winning season. Suddenly Dallas was a two-sport town what with the ever-popular Cowboys a perennial NFL power. They already had a solid core of Rolando Blackman, Mark Aguirre, Dale Ellis, Jay Vincent, and Brad Davis, but they had a doughnut hole in the middle of their defense. With Olajuwon and Bowie gone, they opted for Jordan’s teammate from UNC and the Olympic squad, Sam Perkins, a solid frontcourt player who could score from both inside and outside.
The Philadelphia 76er’s were unable to defend their crown the previous year and sought to find help for Moses Malone upfront. GM Pat Williams liked Charles Barkley, this healthy kid out of Auburn who for all his talent didn’t crack Bobby Knight’s Olympic team even if he was clearly one of the three best players during the try-outs (Knight would later say that as much as he was impressed with Barkley’s talent, he didn’t seem a fit for the team he was molding for the LA Olympics). Williams hoped that his infectious style of play would reinvigorate his team of aging stars. What they didn’t know was that Barkley would turn out to be a high-impact rookie and they would not draft another one until Allen Iverson more than a decade later.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would select Sam Bowie’s Kentucky teammate Mel Turpin next. The sporting scene in Cleveland was a mess. The glory days of the Indians and fireballing pitcher Bob Feller were long gone. The Browns were a year away from landing quarterback Bernie Kosar. And the Cavs were led by World B. Free whose glory days were in a 76ers tank top. They figured that Mel Turpin would provide them power up front instead he is perhaps best known as that Michael Jordan highlight in Come Fly With Me when a Utah Jazz fan yelled at Jordan to pick on someone his own size after he dunked on John Stockton. The next time down the floor, Jordan throws down one on seven-foot Mel Turpin to which Jordan asked the fan, “Was he big enough?”
The aging San Antonio Spurs had the seventh pick that year and they hoped to land a player whose youth and enthusiasm would give the former ABA-refugee an adrenaline shot. They selected the slam dunking Arkansas Razorback Alvin Robertson, the third Olympian picked in that draft. With George Gervin and Artis Gilmore handling the scoring chores, he perfectly complemented point guard John Lucas with his hellacious defense. He would become known in San Antonio circles as Sgt. Stuff for his power slams on bigger players. Robertson would make the All Star team four times, was the inaugural winner of the NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year Award and the Defensive Player of the Year Award both in 1986. And in his final playing year, he scored the first points ever in Toronto Raptors history when he hit a three-pointer
While Sam Bowie is unfairly lampooned in trivia games for being Portland’s pick instead of Michael Jordan (remember, The Trailblazers did not need another high-flying shooting guard when they already had Clyde Drexler firmly entrenched there for the next decade). Yet it should be noted that Bowie had decent stats in his 10-year tenure in the League. In fact, he posted lifetime averages of 10.9 and 7.5 rebounds. Many players can barely post that. The next pick – the eighth --- could very well be the worst pick of that draft. Not Bowie.
With the eighth pick of the 1st round, Lancaster Gordon was selected out of Louisville by Los Angeles. Gordon was never a high-impact player. Although he did play a respectable number of games, he was gone after four seasons where he averaged 5 points per outing. Oh yeah. He played for the Clippers.
Otis Thorpe, out of Providence would go next to the Kansas City Kings. He would go on to be a solid front court player and would later be an integral part of the Houston Rockets’ back-to-back champs of the mid-90s.
Leon Wood, the fourth Olympian to be picked, came out of Cal State Fullerton to join Barkley in Philadelphia. But Wood found it hard to get playing time with the talent-laden 76ers. After two years, he found himself without a team. He would sit one out before latching onto a pair of contracts with the Atlanta Hawks. By his fourth year, he was out of the league.
Kevin Willis was in high school when he saw Magic Johnson lead the Spartans to the NCAA title and that made a huge impression on him as he chose to go to Johnson’s alma mater Michigan State. That year, with the 11th pick, the Atlanta Hawks selected him to join what was becoming an exciting brash team. They had the Human Highlight Film Dominique Wilkins, Wayne “Tree” Rollins, Glen “Doc” Rivers, Randy Wittman, Dan Roundfield, and Scott Hastings. Willis with his height and penchant for hauling down rebounds was to figure nicely in Coach Mike Fratello’s line-up. But it would be years later where he served as a back up for Tim Duncan in San Antonio where he’d pick up that elusive championship ring.
Tim McCormick, Jay Humphries, Terence Stansfield, and Michael Cage would all go next in the 12-15th picks. Of the four, Humphries and Cage would have good NBA careers with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Clippers later on. In hindsight, there would be two sleepers of that ‘84 draft. The 16th pick was another player cut by Bobby Knight on that Olympic team -- John Stockton out of tiny Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington. He would lead the Utah Jazz to two NBA Finals appearances and finish his career with the League’s all-time best assist record. He would pick up a Gold Medal in the Barcelona Olympics as part of the one and only American Dream Team.
The other sleeper was none other than Jerome Kersey out of Longwood College. Kersey was a virtual unknown but he would go on to help lead the Trailblazers to two Finals appearances in 1990 and 1992. He would bring his bruising power game to the San Antonio Spurs where he wrapped up his career with a title during the strike-shortened season of 1998-99.
The 1984 draft signaled the arrival of Michael Jordan and the dawning of a new era in basketball. His flair and basketball skills coupled with his high marketability would be greatly seized upon by both Nike and ESPN forever bringing to sports high-profile endorsements and the sports highlight that would go on to be a staple of modern television programming. With that, the league began to expand first domestically and ultimately, internationally. From 23 teams during the 1984-85 season, there are now 29 teams. And more than ever, the league has seen an influx of foreign talent like no other.
Part II Draft Oddities
PBA Imports
There were two players in that 1984 draft who would ply their trade as imports in the Philippine Basketball Association:
  • Michael Young, the 24th pick of the 1st round from the University of Houston selected by the Boston Celtics led Manila Beer to the 1986 Finals vs. the Ginebra San Miguel team led by Billy Ray Bates and Michael Hackett.
  • Bobby Parks, the 58th pick of the 3rd round from Memphis State by the Atlanta Hawks led Shell to numerous championships and as an import on loan, led Ginebra San Miguel to an Invitational Championship.
Charles Barkley’s Philadelphia 76ers teammates
There were six players from the draft who would go on to be Charles Barkley’s teammates in Philadelphia:
  • Leon Wood 10th pick 1st round from Cal State Fullerton by Philadelphia
  • Tim McCormick 12th pick 1st round from Michigan by Seattle
  • Ron Anderson 27th pick 2nd round from Fresno State by Cleveland
  • Steve Colter 33rd pick 2nd round from New Mexico State by Portland
  • Ben Coleman 37th pick 2nd round from Maryland by Chicago
  • Michael Young 24th pick 1st round from Houston by the Boston Celtics
A seventh player, Tom Sewell, the 22nd pick in the1st round from Lamar by the 76er’s would not be signed by the team.
Familiar Names but Who Never Played
  • Michael Jordan’s buddy on the Tar Heels, Mr. Basketball in North Carolina, Matt Doherty was selected as the 120th pick in the 7th round by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
  • Brazilian hotshot Oscar Schmidt was chosen by the New Jersey Nets as the 131st pick of the 7th round, but Schmidt opted to play in Europe.
  • Another Olympic Gold Medalist, but in track and field, Carl Lewis was selected as the 208th pick of the 10th round out of the University of Houston by the Chicago Bulls. But rather than run with the Bulls, Lewis decided to stay with running in the Olympics where he would continue to win more medals.
See here, I’ve got myself a Championship Ring
Five players in the 1984 NBA draft would win a total of 12 championships:
  • Akeem Olajuwon won 2 titles with Houston 1993-95
  • Otis Thorpe won 2 titles with Houston 1993-95
  • Michael Jordan won 6 titles with Chicago 1991-93; 1996-98 with Chicago
  • Jerome Kersey won 1 title 1998-99 with San Antonio Spurs
  • Kevin Willis won 1 title 2002-03 with San Antonio
Deck the Halls with the Legends of the Game
And four members of the draft will surely go down as first balloters on their way to Springfield:
  • Akeem Olajuwon
  • Michael Jordan
  • Charles Barkley
  • John Stockton
Best Pick: Michael Jordan. Enuff said.
Worst Pick: When you pass on the greatest player of all-time, it's hard to rationalize, but Hakeem Olajuwon won Houston two titles and Portland already had Clyde Drexler entrenched at shooting guard. Instead, I’ll take to task the Los Angeles Clippers who were long purveyors of NBA incompetence for selecting Lancaster Gordon with the eight pick.
Most Pivotal Pick: Hindsight is 20/20 and no one knew at the time that Sam Perkins had peaked as a junior at UNC, but Dallas missed out on a franchise player and perhaps a few NBA titles when they chose Perkins instead of Charles Barkley.
Biggest Disappointment: Sam Bowie. A great talent whose career was riddled with foot injuries that limited him to 511 games in 10 seasons.
Biggest Sleeper: John Stockton. Like who knew?
Biggest Steal: Portland arguably dropped the ball with Bowie, but they atoned for it somewhat by grabbing Jerome Kersey with the second-to-last pick of the Second Round. Kersey was a critical piece in Portland's two Finals teams, notching 20.7 points per game and 8.3 rebounds in the 1990 Playoffs and 16.2 points and 7.7 boards in the 1992 Playoff run. Not bad for a guy from Longwood College.
Best Draft: Chicago Bulls. Say no more.
Worst Draft: Dallas missed out on not one but two franchise players: Barkley and Stockton. The starting unit of Stockton, Rolando Blackman, Mark Aguirre, Barkley and your brother at center could've won an NBA title.
The 1984 NBA Rookie Draft
1. Houston - Akeem Olajuwon (Houston)
2. Portland - Sam Bowie (Kentucky)
3. Chicago - Michael Jordan (North Carolina)
4. Dallas - Sam Perkins (North Carolina)
5. Philadelphia - Charles Barkley (Auburn)
6. Cleveland - Mel Turpin (Kentucky)
7. San Antonio - Alvin Robertson (Arkansas)
8. LA Clippers - Lancaster Gordon (Louisville)
9. Kansas City - Otis Thorpe (Providence)
10. Philadelphia - Leon Wood (Cal State Fullerton)
11. Atlanta - Kevin Willis (Michigan State)
12. Seattle - Tim McCormick (Michigan)
13. Phoenix - Jay Humphries (Colorado)
14. LA Clippers - Michael Cage (San Diego State)
15. Dallas - Terence Stansbury (Temple)
16. Utah - John Stockton (Gonzaga)
17. New Jersey - Jeff Turner (Vanderbilt)
18. Indiana - Vern Fleming (Georgia)
19. Portland - Bernard Thompson (Fresno State)
20. Detroit - Tony Campbell (Ohio State)
21. Milwaukee - Kenny Fields (UCLA)
22. Philadelphia - Tom Sewell (Lamar)
23. LA Lakers - Earl Jones (District of Columbia)
24. Boston - Michael Young (Houston)
Part III The Aftermath
Back in the mid-80’s, one could walk up to the ticket office and buy a ticket to a Bulls game. The Kings of the City of the Big Shoulders lay in the broad frames of Richard Dent, William “the Refrigerator” Perry, Mike Singletary, and Jim McMahon. The Monsters of the Midway were back and the hottest seat in the house was at Soldier Field. But it was clear even then, that something special was brewing over at the Chicago Stadium were Michael Jordan’s air raids routinely thrilled crowds and made the news.
It was becoming increasingly clear more so by 1988, that the wave of the NBA’s future lay not in the ground attack of the Showtime Lakers or the carefully pre-meditated offense of the Celtics. The fate of the Larry O’Brien trophy depended on who had air supremacy.
Jordan and later on the pieces to the championship puzzle in Scottie Pippen, John Paxson, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright and a few years later on --: Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper, and Luc Longley rudely snuffed out the championship dreams of many a great team including that of Jordan’s fellow draft and Olympic mates.
There were the New York Knicks of Patrick Ewing.
The Miami Heat that had Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway.
The Indiana Pacers that had Reggie Miller and Jordan’s Olympic teammate Chris Mullin.
The Cleveland Cavaliers who were shattered time and again in the play-offs by Jordan.
The Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns of Charles Barkley.
The Utah Jazz of John Stockton and Karl Malone.
And the Portland Trailblazers of Clyde Drexler and Jerome Kersey.
It wouldn’t be until Jordan’s sabbaticals from the game that Olajuwon’s Rockets would win and Kersey and Willis would latch on to other teams.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hey, isn't that John Candy?

The atmosphere in the huddle was one of quiet confidence.

San Francisco 49ers have been here before. Hey, it was Super Bowl XXIII in Miami, F-L-A. One for all the marbles as they were going for their third Vince Lombardi trophy in the 80s.

Only this time, they were down 16-13 against the Cincinnati Bengals of Boomer Esiason with time down to 3:20 left in the 4th quarter when 49ers QB Joe Montana called for a huddle to map out their final drive from their own 8 yard line. Before he could issue out the play (20 Halfback Curl X-Up), Montana noticed the actor/comedian up in the stands. “Hey, isn’t that John Candy,” said the former Notre Dame QB1.

It was the most unlikely crack in the most inopportune of moments and it loosened up his offensive unit.

The play called for spreading out their wide receivers in response to the Bengals’ bracketing defense that was designed to overpower the 49er’s linemen. With San Francisco running back Roger Craig covered, Montana found wide receiver John Taylor in the end zone for an eight-yard pass for a 20-16 victory and that Super Bowl ring.

Since then, 20 Halfback Curl X-Up has been known in San Francisco and football history as the John Candy play.

Note: I've always thought that some of the best sports documentaries of all time were done by NFL Films. Do yourself a favor and check them out.

CCL Power Rankings Week 6

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Magnificent 7

How good is this........................

It's been years since Kenny Dalglish and Kevin Keegan wore #7 for Liverpool now former Tottenham icon and LFC fan Robbie Keane is in Anfield wearing that sacred number.

Even better, he forms a great strike team with Fernando Torres. And with both players entering their prime... watch out EPL! With Captain Stevie G backing them up from midfield these guys should do a lot for us long suffering Reds fans. Orf wid yer heads, Red Devils.

I've seen Liverpool play in an overseas game versus AC Milan but that was really nothing. Should I watch a game in Anfield, I can die a happy man.

Ready to kick butt and take names

Toni Rivero has just turned 20 yet she goes to Beijing having already experienced Olympic competition in Athens where she was eliminated in the semi-final repechage of the under 67kg category by the eventual silver medallist. Rivero’s most significant achievement so far was the silver medal she won at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha. However, she has established a record of consistent achievement at regional level having won twice at the South East Asian Games and secured her place in Beijing with a second-place finish at a special Olympic qualifying competition in Vietnam last year.

Here's something I wrote about Toni earlier in the year.

Wait until they get a skating rink...

Junel Baculi sits silently taking in everything thats going on around him. National University is playing Ateneo De Manila and however tough the Bulldogs are it looks like the Blue Eagles will pull through with a win. "Iba yung may pride... at syempre, good recruiting and training. A good school with all the tradition and history to play for."

Recently appointed as the Athletic Director of NU, the former basketball player stresses one thing: patience. "You don't get to where you are without being patient," he says as he taps my arms for emphasis. "Cliche, pero it's true that you must first learn how to lose before you win."

He appreciates my remembering him from his Philips Sardines days when he teamed up with Benjie Paras, Bennett Palad, Benjie Gutierrez, and Aris Franco under Joe Lipa to battle the all-star squads of RFM and Magnolia. He laughs, "Bata pa ako noon. Pero ibang iba yung labanan noon, right?"

He confirms though that there's a fresh air of hope billowing through Sampaloc as SM Prime Holdings has become a partner with the venerable school. "We're going to bring the pride back and restore NU to where it once was."

The groundbreaking for the school's new athletic building is this Thursday. "You know what SM can do," he says leaving my thoughts to wonder and imagine about having such a powerful business entity behind the school. He laughs at the jokes that the facility will contain a cinema, a skating rink, and a food court. "All I can say is that we'll have good facilities and quality education that will help our enrollees. It's a lofty vision but it's doable. Excited ako just to be a part of it."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ateneo vs. NU Round One

The Avengers

Ateneo 74 vs. NU 62
words by rick olivares
pix by miggy mendoza

July 27, 2008
Philsports Arena

For the last 10 months, the Ateneo Blue Eagles have had to answer questions about that loss to National University in the second round of Season 70 that gave life to De La Salle and subsequently a twice-to-beat advantage that served them well. “Frankly, we’re sick and tired of hearing about it,” said one team official who refused to be identified.

When asked about it by sports scribes in the Press Room, Norman Black coolly replied, “So you’re still living in the past? We were eliminated by La Salle not NU.”

No matter how the Blue Eagles tried to downplay it, this was a big game. A few months ago, they trashed NU in a practice game at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center. “That felt good but it wasn’t good enough,” said Black then. “We have to take it back on the court come UAAP time.

The American mentor’s wards had a four-game win skein going while NU was going nowhere fast. Bulldogs Coach Manny Dandan was optimistic before tip-off. The Bulldogs had hung tough in the first round of every opponent they’ve played so far. The problem was finishing strong and weathering the opponent’s rally to come especially in the third quarter where things have fallen apart for them. “It’s our general lack of experience and having six rookies,” said Dandan before the match. The season and the game had this sudden urgency to it. Hapless UP, had already a win at NU's expense. Adamson, clearly rejuvenated with the return of Leo Austria to the bench, had a pair of wins and was giving the seeded teams a run for their money. “No excuses," clarified Dandan. "We’re hoping this is the game where we turn things around.”

And turn the game’s results they nearly did. After Nico Salva unloaded a three pointer to end the first quarter Ateneo up 21-15, Ateneo Sports Shooter Nono Felipe, muttered a stern warning. “Kailangan nilang tambakan just to be sure.”

Despite the presence of Edwin Asoro (14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks) who came to play in this game, what has always defined NU basketball is its outside shooting. They shoot much like the torrential downpour that has deluged the Metro in the last two days. With Jay Jahnke unable to get on track in an almost terrible 34 minutes of play, it was up to Jessey Garcia (24 points) to reprise the role of the graduated Jonathan Fernandez. And he had capable back-up in Elmer Fabula and Chris Catamora. Players like Fernandez, Garcia and Fabula are like Jayvee Casio and UP’s Martin Reyes – they are catch-and-shoot players who give Ateneo nightmares from the perimeter.

And in the third quarter, NU’s waterloo and Ateneo’s strength, for a while it was Garcia versus the Blue Eagles. The Bulldog gunner scored 13 points to Ateneo’s total of 15 points with nine of them coming of a pair of treys and the more conventional three-point play off Raymond Austria. “Laban lang,” he cried out as he accepted a high five from teammate Raymond Aguilar.

With the Bulldogs plethora of shooters arrayed outside the arc, Ateneo’s defense was somewhat stretched. Black sent Eric Salamat back with 4:30 left in the 3rd Quarter.

Salamat is like the Tasmanian Devil on defense. He’s a pest so disruptive on opposing point guards that one has to be aware of his whereabouts at all times. After Chris Tiu scored four straight points to restore some order for Ateneo, Salamat (12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 steals), picked Bulldog guard Jerome Tungcul’s pockets and dashed off for a lay-up. It was the third year Blue Eagle’s fifth steal of the game. His first entry into the game at 4:23 of the 1s Quarter turned a 13-8 Ateneo deficit helped Ateneo to a 15-2 wind-up that was capped by Salva’s trey. He continued his larcenous ways in the 2nd Quarter with a lay-up and a pair of steals, one off Jewel Ponferada for a breakaway lay-up and later another off Fabula for an and-one on Jahnke.

As Jahnke headed to the bench in disgust, he muttered under his breath and shook his head. He may have had one of his worst outings in his UAAP career but his teammates were more than willing to pick up the slack. Nine Bulldogs scored.

But beating Ateneo is altogether another matter. One of the hallmarks of Black’s contributions to Ateneo basketball is their steel nerves. There is none of the panic that was characteristic of the team especially during the end game. The Blue Eagles endured a stirring rally by NU highlighted by a pair of blocks by Asoro on Nonoy Baclao and Kirk Long that saw the lead creep perilously close at 62-59 for Ateneo.

NU would only score three more points while Ateneo’s finishing kick netted 12 with Chris Tiu (17 points and 9 rebounds) knocking down Catamora and with all day to shoot, a three for the game’s final points at 74-62 for Ateneo’s fifth straight win.

It was NU’s grittiest game the season thus far but it left them with a gaping 0-5 record and some sullen faces.

Payback,” uttered Eric Salamat with a pumped fist. Just as his defense on the perimeter stymied the Bulldogs, Baclao took care of the inside with 11 boards and 3 blocks (my unofficial count had him at 4). It was a huge victory but one that didn’t come easy. “Nakabawi na kami. No more questions.”

As the vanquished Bulldogs made their way towards their dugout, an NU supporter patted Jahnke’s shoulder. “Good game,” consoled the Bulldogs fan who herself had to keep a brave front.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. They have to answer all these questions on a season that’s going nowhere fast.

Ateneo 74 - Tiu 17, Baclao 16, Salamat 12, Al-Husseini 9, Salva 5, Long 5, Reyes 5, Buenafe 3, Nkemakolam 2, Burke 0, Sumalinog 0, Austria 0

NU 62 - Garcia 24, Asoro 14, Aguilar 8, Fabula 5, Catamora 4, Tungcul 2, Ponferada 2, Luy 2, De La Cruz 1, Berry 0, Batac 0, Galapon 0, Jahnke 0

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bleachers' Brew #117 The Thin Red (and Blue) Line

(This appears in my July 28, 2008 Monday column in the Business Mirror.)

The Thin Red (and Blue) Line
by rick olivares

The foot of Chino Roces Bridge offers a remarkable if not revealing dichotomy of the history of this place. There are the ever-present barbed wire barricades meant to keep out a seemingly never-ending horde of protesters who have taken issue with almost everything under the sun. During the rumble years of the NCAA, it was like the Maginot Line; it was meant to prevent rival schools from unwanted intrusions. Yet conversely, the bridge was designed not to keep the people in but to send them to and fro. The road sign at the foot of the bridge confirms this: Avenida and Divisoria to the south, Sta. Mesa and Makati to the east, and the US Embassy to the west. Again there’s the dichotomy -- if the demonstrators were kept away from MalacaƱang Palace’s doorstep, there was always that long-accused edifice of imperialism along Roxas Boulevard where they could vent their lung power. But the bridge is there to send off the graduates of the schools of the area to supposedly greener pastures.

Next to MalacaƱang, the words of the prophets lie inside those Benedictine walls of San Beda College. There is pride in here – you can feel it as soon as you step in. There too, is a rich history written with the names and deeds of famous alumni on its sanctified halls, in its literature, and in its awe-inspiring trophy room where the one and only Crispulo Zamora Trophy stands as the centerpiece.

Should you sift through the trophies or even The Bedan, you will see how intertwined this school’s history is with an erstwhile foe that has long since left the U-belt for the sprawling lawn of Loyola.

The early Ateneo-UP rivalry dissipated when the latter left to form the UAAP with UST and NU. As the Blue and Whites took control of the cage crowns, the Red and Whites (teams were then called by their colors) announced their arrival by matching Ateneo every step of the way and it was a white hot rivalry.

As it was written by a Bedan sportswriter in 1946, “One very commendable feature about these Ateneo-San Beda games is that despite the intense rivalry, the games are very clean. The Ateneans are good sports. For them last Sunday’s double header must have been a hard one to drop. We know what that feels like. But there was no whimper or complaint. They have shown that they can win and lose.

A couple of decades after that was written, that statement would have been untrue for it was the increasing violence that bedeviled not just between the two schools but also the league that saw both bolting the NCAA.

After an Ateneo win, one player was allegedly have said, “The Lion is not dead. It only has been tamed with the Eagle riding majestically on its back.” When San Beda turned the tables on its foe, the reply was just as telling: “The Lion was seen walking regally chewing the last bits of eagle flesh in its massive jaws with blue feathers flying in the sunbeams.

The two schools interchanged their own three-peats in the 1930’s and later got in each other’s way time and again en route to more glory. Ateneo was stopped by San Beda in its attempted three-peats in 1955, 1959, and 1978 while the former returned the favor only once in 1953.

There was drama in the rivalry. The Red Lions’ very own Bonnie Carbonell and Lito Bangoy were from Ateneo De Davao and were earmarked for Loyola until a run in with a Jesuit who wasn’t too enamored with the attention that athletes got. And the two made the Loyolans pay for the snub in a grand way. They took the ’52, ’53, and ’55 cage crowns with the latter culminating with the awarding of the Zamora Trophy.

Before the ascension of Loyzaga as the Golden Age of Philippine basketball’s star, there were the feats of Ateneo’s Luis “Moro” Lorenzo. During the game’s infancy in the country, Lorenzo’s 33 points in one tussle were deemed to be an unbreakable and unattainable record until Loyzaga arrived. And as San Beda romped through the field seemingly unbeatable in the big matches, the giant-killing Blue Eagles of 1953 with Frankie Rabat, Mike Littaua, and Rusty Cacho felled the Red Lions in what many Ateneans of yesteryear call perhaps the greatest team to wear blue and white. “You don’t understand who Caloy Loyzaga was,” venerated Ateneo Sports Hall-of-Famer Ding Camua who played in Ateneo’s ’61 champion team and is currently the Manager for Pharex’s PBL team. “He was a cut about everyone else. He was like a god yet we showed his mortality that year.”

Upon returning home from the 1954 World Basketball Championships in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, a contingent of Bedans met Caloy Loyzaga, Tony Genato, Pons Valdez, and Rafael Barretto at the airport. The Philippines placed third in the competition and the National Team returned to a heroes’ welcome yet the first thing Loyzaga asked his Red Lions’ teammate Carbonell was, “So tell me, how did you lose the (1954 NCAA) championship to Ateneo?

My friend,” greeted Carbonell as he clasped hands with then dubbed ‘the Great Difference*.’ “We were waiting for you.”

Loyzaga, third in the tournament in scoring, led the Philippines to a third place finish in the tournament, the highest an Asian team has ever reached.

The late Poch Estella went to Mendiola for primary and secondary education before he moved to Ateneo for college. There he battled first Pons Valdez then Loyzaga inside the paint. Ramon and Bobby Rius, the scions of Bedan great Arturo (whom they affectionately nicknamed “Lulli”) played for the late 1960’s Ateneo teams that ended with the title of ’69. Every time one of the Rius brothers touched the ball, they were booed mercilessly by the Bedan crowd. The sons of Caloy Loyzaga, Chito and Joey both went to Loyola for their elementary years before transferring to Mendiola. While in Ateneo Grade School, Loyzaga found himself teaming up with Steve Watson but the two would later meet as opponents in the title games of ’77 & ’78.

The exodus of the fabled Red Cubs to schools like Ateneo, La Salle, and UP would continue as San Beda floundered after its departure from the NCAA in the early 1980’s. It didn’t help when later Coach Orly Castelo began an aggressive recruiting program from the provinces and other schools that only further disenfranchised its high school players. The bleeding only stopped after its alumni decided to ensure that their players within its walls.

After the 1978 win over La Salle, it was a 30-year wait for San Beda. There were the painful and harrowing misses of 1991 and 1996. And had PCU’s Beau Belga had the presence of mind to dump the ball in the post to teammate Gabby Espinas who scored earlier on the defensively-challenged Yousif Aljamal, the waiting might have been longer. After endlessly waiting to exhale, the Araneta Coliseum exploded in song and tears. They’ve won two in a row now and are poised for a third and maybe even a fourth.

In recent years beginning with the off-season tournaments, San Beda and Ateneo have seen each other on the court once more. For today’s generation, that doesn’t mean much except that each is another foe to be conquered. But history, tradition, and bloodlines have a way of seeping into the fore. The presence of several former Red Cubs in the Ateneo varsity has not gone unnoticed either.

Already there the whispers that San Beda would like to move its athletic teams to the UAAP once it is accorded its “university” status within the next two years. And the whispers are getting louder. Should that happen then it’s almost the entire original cast of the NCAA when it was founded way back in 1924. The only missing school would be the University of Manila that is currently plying its trade in the rival NAASCU. Maybe then the UAAP should reclaim the name of “NCAA.”

Think about it, the red and white versus the blue and white. Heck, the green and white are there too.

Let’s not even speculate about the dichotomy in that.

* Loyzaga was first dubbed “the Great Difference” by the late pioneering sportscaster/writer Willie Hernandez.

Pictures: The first one with King Caloy receiving the trophy was for the 1952 title while the next two were from the 1953 championship that ADMU won.

Author's dedication: For the following gentlemen who had the ANIMO in them.

For San Beda: Caloy Loyzaga and Bonnie Carbonell. I had a chance to chat with Mr. Carbonell some time last year and it was a great yarn he had to tell. I've featured bits of that interview elsewhere. He did feel bad about not going to Ateneo, but he's more than happy about how things turned out, "God sends you where you need to go," he said.

Go San Beda Fight!

For Ateneo, the late Poch Estella and for Rusty Cacho. During the making of Fight! Fight! The Story of the Blue & White, I was able to chat with Mr Estella for about two hours. Even at his age, sickly and weak, you could see the spirit in him. He was very passionate about what he was relating all which he could remember in perfect detail. Then Ole Orbeta arrived as did Fr. James Reuter SJ. No one had a dry eye in the room then.

One Big Fight!

For those who enjoy those old yarns, go to and check out in the search option: Post War Blues I, II & III. They're about those old Moro Lorenzo and Chole Gaston teams. I also have the story of the 1975 Blue Eagles and Blue Spikers champion teams.

I guess it's an epidemic

Wrong jersey by two UST high school players in their game yesterday at Blue Eagle Gym. The photo is by Aly Yap.

The last boat to the play-offs

(Xavier Nady was immediately inserted into the line-up in New York's second game at Fenway this weekend.)

The New York Yankees have reentered the race for a slot in the American League play-offs. Breathing down Boston's neck, the Yanks took the first two games of the series -- their eighth straight overall -- for a two game deficit behind division leader Tampa Bay.

They're starting to play well and have made some good trades to help their final campaign in the old Yankee Stadium -- Sidney Ponson, Richie Sexson, Xavier Nady, and Damaso Marte. Manager Joe Girardi is suddenly getting better pitching out of his starting rotation and everyone's hitting. Maybe in the one season where expectations went down after an extremely slow and disappointing start, things might turn out differently. But there's a lot of baseball left to be played. So we'll see how tings go this September.

If they beat the Sox this series, maybe Hank Steinbrenner can learn to relax even if only a bit.

On another note, congratulations to Richard "Goose" Gossage for being the latest Yankee to make it to the Baseball Hall of Fame. If current Yankees' closer Mariano gets by on guile, Gossage overpowered batters with a 100mph fastball or slider that was pretty much hard to hit. He helped the Yankees win in the 1978 World Series against the LA Dodgers and led the league in saves thrice.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The King of Swing (or How to Improve Your Golf Swing)

The King of Swing*
by rick olivares

(* Thanks to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy for the title)

The greens are inviting and soothing. Don’t let nature’s serenity lull you into a false sense of security. It can be every bit deceiving until you suddenly fall below par. But the course isn’t alone what dictates performance. How many times have you heard that golf is a game where you compete against yourself? Unless you’re one of the uninitiated who thinks that golf is like that out-of-whack Adam Sandler flick Happy Gilmore that brought the thuggery of hockey onto the links, golf is a gentleman’s game where your preparation and discipline can spell the difference.

You don’t have to be muscle-bound or even BALCO-powered to be able to drive the ball deep into the fairway. Tiger Woods, despite his lean frame has almost single-handedly revolutionized the game like no other since the days of the Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Woods has plowed through the world’s toughest courses and the records books on the strength of a superior game and a grasp of the game’s fundamentals. Yes, fundamentals. There is a science unto the game and the golf swing. Says that noted rocket scientist of the fairway Nicklaus, “How well you swing the golf club depends almost entirely on how well you prepare beforehand. Your golf swing technique is crucial to your performance on the links.”

Our very own Gerald Rosales, many times champion on the Asian golf circuit concurs, “I think they key to a good swing is to have the good fundamentals-- starting from the grip, posture, alignment, timing. As much as technology has caught up with the game, it still boils down to the fundamentals of the perfect swing and the short game (putting)”

“While golf can be enjoyable; it can likewise be very frustrating game,” warns Rosales. “I have been playing for 16 years now and I still get frustrated. The game’s hurdles should never discourage you. It’s all part of the thrill and agony of the game that’s why you need to get a good coach to guide you with your fundamentals which you constantly have to revisit. Once you learn to put your frustrations aside, you'll discover that golf is a beautiful, relaxing game.”

The Fundamentals of the Perfect Swing

The Grip

With your left hand, the club should fit diagonally from the first knuckle of your forefinger across the palm and underneath the bottom pad.

The “V” formed between your left thumb and forefinger should point toward your right shoulder. Make sure that there’s no gap between the thumb and the forefinger.

Place the top pad of the right hand on the left thumb and close the right hand around the club. The right pinkie overlaps the forefinger of the left hand and the right hand should be extended down the shaft as far as possible.

NOTE: When swinging the club, try to relax as much as possible. This will allow you to swing freely.


A correct posture and balance is critical to playing good golf and getting a good swing at the ball.

Start with your feet about shoulder width apart with your weight distributed about 50-50 between your feet.

Bend you waist as your shoulder moves forward over the edge of your toes. Your hip should move back behind your heels.

Flex your knees slightly to gain the weight in the middle of your feet – not on your heels or toes.

NOTE: Correct posture and good balance allows you to hit the ball with good tempo and a low tension level. This leads to solid hits and more clubhead speed at impact.

Proper Aim
Like any other sport where there is a goal, a good shot requires a proper aim.

Aim your clubface where you want to drive or putt the ball.

Align your body parallel to your clubface. Poor aim and alignment will produce a bad golf swing because your body will react as you try to make the ball fly towards the target.

“It sounds like that’s a lot to be conscious of,” notes Gerard Cantada, former Junior World Golf Champion and currently Jennifer Rosales’ coach, “But mastering the fundamentals is the only way to have a solid game and to get a good swing on the ball.”

Guidelines to develop good posture:

  1. Place the club behind your back. Be sure you place the club against both the base of your spine and the back of your head. This will place your spine in a neutral position.
  2. Bend forward at the hips (not the waist) by moving your hips back. Do so in a way that places the tip of the shoulders over the toe line.
  3. Unlock the knees just enough to take pressure off the lower back and the hamstrings.
  4. Grip the club with the arms on top of the chest not on the sides.
  5. Drop the arms down so that a line dropped down from the inside of the shoulders touches the butt of the club and the tip of the knees and the ends at the balls of your feet. To get the club to the ground, increase the amount of flex in the hips and the knees but do not bend the spine!

Golf Stretching Exercises

Like any other sport, pre-game and post-game stretching is important to prevent injuries. Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes of stretching is highly recommended. “I do cardiovascular exercises to improve my stamina and work out with light weights to improve my strength,” adds Gerald Rosales. “I do a lot of stretching moves for my lower back and hamstrings.”

“Coaches and trainers will give you different ideas and techniques,” chimes in Cantada. “But the long and short of it is the importance of stretching. Stretch, stretch, stretch before you play. "

SIDE BAR: With Mary Grace Estuesta, SEA Games Gold Medalist 1989 & 1991

Currently the first and only Lady Golf Director in the country at the Sta. Elena Golf Club.

Rick: Is there a science to swinging a golf club? What are the fundamentals? Please describe as briefly as you can.
Mary Grace: There is a science to swinging a golf club but I have been known to be a "feel” player. I never got into details. I have never been analytical. I really don't teach, but of course as a player, 50% of a bad shot is even before you swing the club - that means you have to have the right set up, grip, alignment and mind set... and then the next 50% is swinging the club, and that takes a few seconds to do so everything has to fall in to place. I tell most of my golf friends that timing is very important. You have to find your own RHYTHM and believe me, when it works. --it works WELL.

Rick:. How do you get the power you need to drive that ball when teeing off?
Mary Grace: i believe in timing and rhythm, and if you have the right set up and basics, you will hit the ball well.

Rick: What exercises do you prescribe to make sure you're ready for the rigors of golf?
Mary Grace: I am a believer of stretching and yoga. Stretching will really help you be flexible, which you really need in golf but if you are very competitive, I would suggest walking when you play and not to use a golf cart. Walk. Walk. Walk. You will appreciate the golf course more!

Rick: Any advice for new women golfers?
Mary Grace: For any new golfer - not only women – you have to find a good teacher. The basics that you learn from your teacher will mold your game and mindset from the start. A good teacher will help you love or hate the game. There are a lot of good golf teachers around. A good teacher won't change your swing if they think you don't need to. And when you are ready, you have to find the right equipment. I believe in custom fitting because I believe that the player should not adjust to the clubs -- the clubs should be adjusted to the kind of swing that a player has. But of course do custom fitting when you are comfortable and stable with your swing.

Enjoy your game. Be patient. And practice!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jerseys, forfeits, and checklists

I was in a meeting yesterday in San Beda College involving several schools - SBC, UST, ADMU, and La Consolacion College -- when one faculty adviser walked in with the grim news. The Red Lions, playing one of their ugliest games were upset by the JRU Heavy Bombers; and perhaps even worse, their match to the College of Saint Benilde was forfeited because of a case of another wrong jersey. Two losses in one day! Incredible. Well, CSB, the wrath of the Bedan crowd will descend upon you in your next game.

I remember LA Tenorio telling me about how the Red Cubs would sometimes play two games in one day sometimes with only an hour or two separating both matches. I asked if there was an instance when they lost both games and he said no. One game but not both.

The mood in the meeting quickly turned from upbeat to sour. The Bedans in the meeting (five of them) noticeably bothered. The UST contingent -- 11 strong -- segued into their team's misfortunes in the UAAP. Well, the Ateneans kept quiet but offered sympathies. Ah, you can tell what these games mean to all of us.

But these rules whether right or wrong have had one school at the receiving end of it at one time or another. On a similar note, I remember Michael Jordan wearing #12 and another number that I can't remember at the moment during a Chicago Bulls game (no not #45). His jersey was stolen from his hotel in each instance (had to be room service I tell you). The Bulls informed the League about the number switch before the game and if I'm not mistaken were fined though I'm not sure about both instances though). Johnny "Red" Kerr joked about it being a sales strat to sell more merchandise. But anyways, to prevent this from happening again, the jerseys were all put in the hands of equipment man John Ligmanowski after that. Plus they always had at least two jerseys on hand in case a player wanted to change during the half or in the case of Dennis Rodman, a whole lot more since he would toss his game kit into the crowd after a Bulls win.

Speaking of forfeiture, in 1961, the Ateneo Blue Eagles had their first three wins overturned when SBC protested senior's guard Dodie Agcaoili's presence on the team. I think rules changed that time forbidding a player to play on another school squad. Agcaoili was a literal last minute addition to the Ateneo track team during the athletics championships. Literally on the day itself as the Blue Tracksters were lacking one man. Agcaoili incredibly won a bronze. This SBC protested and both schools and the League had to go to the courts to settle this matter, but in the end, Ateneo went from 3-0 to 0-3. That enabled Mapua to win the first round flag. Ateneo proceeded to win all their remaining matches and clobber the Cardinals in the finals. The championship set off an ugly rumble that suspended the games for the next three years. Everyone instead played in a Home and Away League.

Well, some might point out that it is a matter of eligibility (I'm sure I'm missing some facts about the rule but it was really more of an interpretation rule) as compared to jerseys. But if you want to talk about apparel, I do know there was a time when two teams (one of which was Ateneo) both brought the same light uniforms to a game so one team ended up (using a coin toss to settle it) who would change the color of their trunks. The Blue Eagles won that game incidentally.

Sure rules are rules and maybe it's time to revisit a lot of them. Personally I wonder why there are always changes or innovations every year. Some of them meant to target a team or two maybe even to suit certain ones.

But for the record, here are the UAAP's Rules on Uniforms:

D. Uniforms

1. In all events except swimming, athletics, judo, table tennis, lawn tennis, and badminton, the surnames of the athletes shall be indicated at the back of their shirts with the lettering at least two (2) inches wide but not more than two (2) inches high.

2. UAAP logo may be required or not per sport.

3. If required, the UAAP logo must be bigger than that of the corporate sponsor. Manufacturer’s trademark is not considered/counted as corporate logo.

4. As for the school, it can be a logo or the school name.

5. Within each team, the athletes should wear the same uniform.

6. In the event of any violation not attributable to the school, they should be given a grace period of fourteen (14) calendar days within which to rectify the error. After this period, non-compliant athletes cannot be fielded, the team loses by default.

Check out these rules. If these are really in effect and unless I missed out on something such as sanctions, then there are only corrective measures; nothing punitive.

Before taking an incident as a precedent, it should be established first that rule or law was correctly applied. Otherwise, a wrong precedent will be set and could be grounds for not following the same. Hmm. Lest you think, I'm a lawyer, I consulted a good friend of mine on this. Thanks, buddy!

One thing is for sure, when going to the games this year, there's a checklist:
- IDs
- jerseys
- proper bench decorum

So what's next?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

CCL Power Rankings Week 5

A chip on their shoulder

So what do you think of this line up? I would have replaced at least one of them for another center or a shot blocker.

2008 U.S. Olympic Team
Carmelo Anthony Forward 6-8 230 Nuggets
Carlos Boozer Forward 6-9 258 Jazz
Chris Bosh Forward 6-10 230 Raptors
Kobe Bryant Guard 6-6 220 Lakers
Dwight Howard Center 6-11 265 Magic
LeBron James Forward 6-8 240 Cavaliers
Jason Kidd Guard 6-4 212 Mavericks
Chris Paul Guard 6-0 170 Hornets
Tayshaun Prince Forward 6-9 205 Pistons
Michael Redd Guard 6-6 215 Bucks
Dwyane Wade Guard 6-4 212 Heat
Deron Williams Guard 6-3 205 Jazz