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, October 30, 2008

10 played 26 points. We're on top, lads!

What a nervy win by Liverpool over Portsmouth 1-nil. They followed up a magnificent win at Stamford Bridge with another clear winner over a spirited Pompey side that featured old mates Peter Crouch and David James. Liverpool needed this win as Chelsea mercilessly hammered Hull 3-0 to stay in solo second while knocking down the Tigers by three points in the standings.

LFC skipper Steven Gerrard punched through with a spot kick on the 75th minute his first in the EPL this season.

Robbie Keane came in for the captain in injury time and almost scored. Hey, Robbie. You gotta do more or else you'll go the way of Nick Barmby!

Tottenham is up this weekend!

KG on the world game

(Excerpt taken from Sports Illustrated)

Arash Marzaki:
There's a big fantasy basketball component in NBA 2K9, which is great for those who want to fantasize about being Kevin Garnett or playing for the Celtics. Is there anything that you would fantasize being if life were a game?

Kevin Garnett: That's a good question. I would want to be a superhero or a soccer player. I'm infatuated with soccer, with their skill level and what they're able to do, and obviously a superhero brings a lot to the table. I mean, you'd be super and a hero. You can't beat that.

Arash Marzaki: OK, I get the whole superhero thing. But why soccer?

Kevin Garnett: It's a giving sport where you have to play collectively to do well. I like that. I've always looked to set that man up but at the same time have the ability to score. I'd be like [Brazilian star] Kaká. You know Kaká sets up people, but at the same time, his skill level is uncanny and he can score himself. I'm big into being diverse. Diversity is good. I feel that if you have the option of saying you can do five-to-six different things and be great at all of them, that says a lot about you.

And my FIFA World Player of the Year is...

FIFA announced a list of 23 nominations for their World Player of the Year award.

Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal and Togo), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid and Argentina), Andrei Arshavin (Zenit St Petersburg and Russia), Michael Ballack (Chelsea and Germany), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus and Italy), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid and Spain), Deco (Chelsea and Portugal), Didier Drogba (Chelsea and Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona and Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal and Spain), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool and England), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan and Sweden), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona and Spain), Kaka (AC Milan and Brazil), Frank Lampard (Chelsea and England), Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich and France), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United and Portugal), John Terry (Chelsea and England), Fernando Torres (Liverpool and Spain), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid and Netherlands), David Villa (Valencia and Spain) and Xavi (Barcelona and Spain).

If it were up to me, I'd narrow that list down to the following:
  • Iker Casillas (Real Madrid and Spain)
  • Michael Ballack (Chelsea and Germany)
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan and Sweden)
  • Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich and France)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United and Portugal)
  • Fernando Torres (Liverpool and Spain)
  • Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid and the Netherlands)
  • David Villa (Valencia and Spain)

If I'd cut that further, I'd say the award is a toss up between Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres (with the likely winner being Ronaldo).


Back to the drawing board for the Sixers but the Phillies are champs!

The acquisition of one player does not a contender make.

If the Philadelphia 76ers thought that the mere addition of Elton Brand vaults them to the top of the East standings then the Toronto Raptors with their own off-season addition of Jermaine O'Neal, looked more fluid today.

The Raptors convincingly beat the 76ers 95-84. Just when Philly made a run, they went through three consecutive possessions where Igoudala missed an ill-advised trey, Reggie Evans committed an offensive goaltending violation that nullified two Philly points, and Andre Miller got stripped by Jose Calderon.

One the Toronto business end, Jason Kapono made a bunch of clutch treys to send the boobird Philly crowd next door to watch the Phillies try and win the World Series. The funny thing was just as the crowd was exiting, they were playing the Theme from Rocky (Gonna Fly Now).

Well, it must have been for them Phillies who phinally did it!

Congrats to the Phillies! The first city triumph since the 76ers in 1983!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NBA Opening Day!

Bucks vs. Bulls

Scott Skiles back at the United Center against my Chicago Bulls! Except he's in the visitor's locker room.

That was some elaborate intro by the Bulls. Now if their long term play can match the intensity of that video.

Nothing like having the hometown hero play for the home team. Nice ovation for Derrick Rose. Unfortunately, he's the PG and he should learn to pass first.

In the first half, the team seemed better with Kirk Hinrich as the PG. Those were some sick passes by Hinrich to Luol Deng for a turn around jump hook and to Tyrus Thomas for a slam.

The referees kept calling fouls -- some real stupid at that -- and it kept the game from developing any sort of rhythm.

But with 2 minutes left in the 3rd Quarter, the Bulls down by 2 points found their groove and from there mowed down the Bucks who hardly showed any teamwork. A 105-98 win by the Bulls to get their season going and the first for Vinny del Negro as head coach. Hey, he has Del Harris for an assistant.

Trailblazers vs. Lakers
After spotting the Blazers a 20 point lead, by the third it was down to 8 points. Do the Lakers fold up again as they did versus Boston last year? But this is a young Blazers they're playing. So no, the Lakers don't fold. Phil Jackson refused to call time and the Lakers hike that lead up to 20.

There was hardly any movement on Portland's part and they took too many three point attempts. Poor teamwork. If they thought they could weather LA with their athleticism it was they who got swamped. And 96-76. What a butt-kicking.

As for Greg Oden? Well, let's hope that injury he sustained early in the game isn't serious.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Liverpool on top

I have to admit that I only figured Liverpool to challenge for the Champions League what with European competition where they truly come alive. So far, they have been undefeated this year and are on top of the English Premier League after beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to take three points clear and a 1-0 win to put an end to the Blues' 86-win streak at home. To date they have 23 points in 9 matches (7 wins and 2 draws) in First Division play and are in the group stage of the Champions League where they too are undefeated.

Sweet justice it is for Xabi Alonso as he scored the game winner in the 10th minute. Remember he was dangled in the off-season for some other club and whether his fourth season in Anfield is his last, he sure will be playing for a bigger contract in England or abroad.

Earlier in the season, Liverpool beat Manchester United for the first time in four years (under Rafa Benitez as well) 2-1 with goals coming from Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel. Carlos Tevez scored for his side in a game that saw the debut of Bulgarian striker Dmitar Berbatov who came from Tottenham.

Pressure was off early in the season, but right now -- three points ahead of Chelsea and surprising Hull -- they're sure to feel it.

Sports Nation: Get inside the huddle and make a difference!

Sports is a topic that many people discuss in coffee shops, the workplace, bars, family gatherings, over the radio and other forms of media. It's practically everywhere as it affects our lives and communities in so many ways.

How so? Let us count the ways...
Justify Full
We're conducting a five-session course called Sports Nation.

This is an opportunity for sports fans everywhere to attend a class where they talk nothing but sports. It is inspired by that course in Bates College (Lewiston, Maine) -- ahem... The Red Sox Nation: Baseball and American Culture.

But more than talking, through Sports Nation, we seek to understand the social, cultural ramifications of sports in Philippine society and look for ways utilize sports as a force for social change.

We have two sections where each is enrolled in five two-hour sessions.

Choose your section:
League 1 class schedule - Thursdays 7-9pm November 6, 13, 20 & 27 and December 4 (THIS CLASS MIGHT BEGIN ON THE 13TH OF NOVEMBER)

League 2
class schedule -- Saturdays 1030am-1230pm November 8, 15, 22 & 29 and December 6

Venue: Kolektib @ Cubao X (formerly Marikina Shoe Expo in Araneta Center, Cubao, QC). In front of Mogwai.

Course fee Php 1,200
Open to all from students from whatever school to business professionals. Even if you're from Afghanistan that's cool!
Classes must have a maximum of 16 enrollees
Enrollees are encouraged to wear the colors of their favorite sports teams

Managers: Rick Olivares (Business Mirror, Homestyle, Maxim, Loyola School Bulletin, Tower Sports NBA) and Chris Soler and Mike Abasolo (, One U) with special guest lecturers from the sports community.

If you're interested, send email to: Once you're in, we'll send you the details of all the sessions and what to expect.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The mag. The man.

Sports Illustrated is still my favorite sports mag by far -- even if their polls about Sportsman of the Year -- still suck. ESPN the Magazine started out like its cable parent, but content-wise, I thought that it paled by comparison. Then they started getting guys like Scoop Jackson and Rick Reilly. While that has made them a better magazine, SI still has more heart and when it comes to writing, the better ones. SLAM? Well, they've gotten better over the years but it's nothing much except slick layouts and props to everyone even to punks like Allen Iverson.

So here's the latest issue. And it's got Kobe on the cover too!

Holding the Galaxy by the Goldenballs

It hasn't even been two years since David Beckham moved to the Los Angeles Galaxy and now there's word he's moving on loan to AC Milan for the remainder of the footballing season. When you think about such as move, it's really because he's trying to get on Fabio Capello's good side by staying in shape (nothing wrong with that) and playing for the England coach's former club (nothing wrong with that either).

The surprise here is that the Galaxy and its GM/coach Bruce Arena have no clue what's going on. There has been no official statement from the club which begs the question, "Where did this come from?"

Obviously it's from Beckham's camp. The former England captain isn't the revolutionary he thought he could be unlike Pele who even when he moved to the NASL at a later age, had a more significant impact on the New York Cosmos, the league, and world football. Goldenballs is obviously testing the club. If the Galaxy let him go even on loan and Becks has an effect on the Rossoneri's campaign in the Serie A and Champions League then that might precipitate a move back to Europe. Losing Becks means that the MLS isn't worth squat and benching him like Capello did in their final season at Real Madrid means that the ignorant and twisted media will spin the situation into his favor.

If I were the Galaxy, I'd ask for someone in return (say, Kaka but that is wishful thinking) . They should get someone who will have a more well-rounded impact on the pitch. Becks is no doubt good but he plays better when he has other superstar players who can pick up those crosses of his or can cover up his mistakes. But him as a franchise player? Well, the Galaxy aren't good enough, right?

Should LA get another player from AC Milan -- maybe not on loan -- in return then after the season, I'd trade him to Real Madrid for Raul.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Teaching and making a difference. Get on up for Sports Nation.

Some of the coolest experiences in the last few years taking part in Alternative Class Day at Immaculate Conception Academy as a guest speaker/lecturer (on advertising), being asked to give two creative writing seminars in Ateneo, and conducting presentation skills and social entrepreneurship programs in San Beda, UST, and in Mindanao (for colleges and universities based in General Santos City and Davao). And this second semester, I'll be doing a few more again in UST, NU, and Adamson.

In recent months, I've been speaking a lot with people like Harvey Keh, Mark Ruiz, and Bam Aquino on social entrepreneurship and trying to make a difference. What these dudes do is really nothing short of inspiring and amazing. As for me, well, it's time to really put things into action. And i can't wait to work with these guys!

Some of those synergies are two ongoing projects -- Sports Nation and The Hope Project. The latter you'll hear sometime second week of November. But Sports Nation... well, I'm glad I have my buddies from inboundpass ( -- Chris Soler and Mike Abasolo -- helping out in this and it's something we really look forward to. And you'll see greater synergy between the two sites in the near future. We're also plugging this on BTV (muchos gracias to Vitto! one of the coolest guys I know who should really write a book about his experiences in sports).

Sports Nation is a chance to do something really meaningful with sports. And if successful, we hope to roll this out elsewhere. It's sports with a historical perspective, a mindset for action, and cool discussion for passionate fans. Hey, me and Soler even have a term for guys who enjoy the world sport.. we're footballheads! Bwahahaha. But Sports Nation tackles more than just hoops. There's a lot but I can't spill the beans on that until you're there.

And we do hope to see many of you there. Thanks to those who've signed up!

Thursday Morning Zingers

David Beckham will be playing for AC Milan in the next few months (on loan from the LA Galaxy). You can say all you want about becks but he is a footballer. No way Manchester United and Real Madrid would have won without him. All he needs now is to win the World Cup then he can be placed on a higher level.

Liverpool draws with Atletico Madrid 1-1 in Champions League play. Not only did Robbie Keane score his second goal for the Reds but that allowed the Reds to leave Spain with a crucial point.

Someone tell Jose Mourinho to shut the hell up. There are two people who need to do that now... Shaquille O'Neal and that Portuguese egghead who is so full of himself. Hey, Didier Drogba. Bet you're happy that you didn't follow him to Italy now, huh.

Bora shots

Watcha wearing, Rick? Ateneo Blue Eagles, New Jersey Nets, New York Yankees, and Real Madrid.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday Morning Zingers

The French side Arsenal dispatched Fenerbahce with the greatest of ease 5-2. Six Gunners scored: Emmanuel Adebayor, Theo Walcott, Mikael Silvestre, Abou Diaby, Alexandre Song Billong, and Aaron Ramsey. Hmm. So why is the score 5-2 and not 6-2? French internationalist Silvestre scored an own goal. Daniel Guiza who followed Fenerbahce manager Luis Arangones to Turkey scored for the home team which played sloppy football.

Ateneo could have made it another sweep but we lost the PRADA Finals last saturday to LSGH 76-66.

And take a gander at this.... the revenge of the referee! And the ref flipping Maierhofer the bird was the start of it. Last october 20, in a game between South Carolina and LSU, SC Gamecocks QB Stephen Garcia roled to his left and headed for the end zone in the second quarter when he colided with referee Wilbur Hakcett Jr. at the 5-yard line. Said SC's coach Steve Spurrier said that Hackett did nothing wrong. "He was trying to get out of the way," said the coach.

But isn't the ref a part of the game? Like the turf or the uprights? So does that mean now we get to run them over?

Incidentally, Hackett is a former linebacker at the University of Kentucky. That sort of explains things.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Going home for the winter

You have to hand it to the Boston Red Sox. They've been an incredible ball club over the last several years. They almost pulled off another comeback for the ages as they went to a Game 7 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Sorry though. I'm a New York Yankees fan so rooting for Boston is like rooting for DLSU in basketball.

Someone asked me if I think that Boston GM Theo Epstein will make wholesale changes for the Red Sox. Well, I don't think so. There are a number of very good free agents after the World Series and many teams would like to reload. But we might have seen the last of Curt Schilling in Fenway Park though.

Does this mean the end of Boston's remarkable post-season success? Nah. They've got a good manager in Terry Francona (who I'd like to say was Michael Jordan's coach in the Chisox organization when he was playing Double A baseball) and a very smart GM in Epstein. Yeah you have to give props to these guys even if they're the "enemy." They'll be back even if Jason Varitek disappeared once more in the post-season.

So now... who am I rooting for in the World Series? No one. It's going to be fun to watch though. But one thing you have to say about those Devil Rays... they've been steadily improving over the last few years. Remember how the season started out for them... brawling with the Yankees? Well the D-Rays eliminated NY and then Boston to suddenly make the battle for American League supremacy a four-way battle (throw in those chockers from Anaheim).

Monday Morning Zingers

Rick DiPietro is back to his netminding chores for the New York Islanders. Unfortunately, they still can't buy a win.

Liverpool beat Wigan 3-2 thanks to another late goal by Dirk Kuyt. They're at second place in the English Premier League with 20 points after eight matches only because of a goal difference to Chelsea.

Hull continued its amazing run in the first division as they beat West Ham 1-0 to stay in 3rd place.

Lazio is now in 5rd place in the Italian Serie A as Inter Milan claimed the top once more.

Now what did I say about Dallas? They are in a world of shit right now. They started out with four straight wins and even as Tony Romo went down with an injury, the chinks in their armor have been exposed. The Romo-less Cowboys were throttled by the St. Louis Rams 34-14. Slip sliding away.

The New York Giants got back on track by beating the San Francisco 49ers 29-17 in a sloppy game on the road.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bleachers' Brew #129 The New World Borders

The New World Borders
by rick olivares

There are 35 Fil-foreigners currently playing in the Philippine Basketball Association. And that’s not even counting others who have obvious foreign ancestry yet are practically homegrown. As much as they have improved the local game and strengthened many a national team, I’ve always said that their proliferation and our national leaders’ predisposition towards “foreign goods” has stunted grassroots development and sent wrong signals to Filipinos everywhere.

And now there’s Sam Ekwe in whom San Beda College has found the solution to a previously 28-year title drought. The 6’8” Nigerian’s impact in the Red Lions’ fortunes has sent other programs scrambling for their own African imports. How many other schools have them now? There’s Far Eastern University, National University, and Jose Rizal University. The State U is said to have one in their stable!

Technically, there’s nothing wrong because no rules are being violated. Each collegiate league has its own rules on eligibility and as long as nothing is breached then it’s all good. NU Bulldogs’ Head Coach Manny Dandan spoke about his school’s stand on the issue: “We aren’t the most attractive destination for blue chip recruits so having a foreign student who can play for us is an equalizer. Or as they say it in San Beda, ‘Ekwe-lizer.’”

The JRU Heavy Bombers’ bench master Ariel Vanguardia offered his take on the foreigners, “Personally, I don’t like it, but until there are rules in place then there’s nothing wrong with it. But one thing is for sure, it will make everyone a better player.

As for the increase of Fil-foreigners and the appointment of foreign coaches, my stand changed in the wake of the recently concluded Beijing Olympics and Euro 2008. The whole world has adapted and I believe that it’s high time we did too.

I see nothing wrong with the appointment of Serbian Rahjko Toroman as head coach or program director of the men’s basketball national team. For quite some time even with supposedly our best coaches at the helm of our national squads, we haven’t made much of a dent in international basketball. It’s time to change all that. If Filipinos can go abroad and take jobs from other nationalities, what is wrong with them doing the same over here? As long as we still field Filipinos or even, ahem… Fil-foreigners, then I’m fine with that. The transfer of technology and knowledge can only benefit us. Under his tutelage, Iran made a quantum leap in the FIBA standings; an achievement previously inconceivable when you think that Iranians aren’t the most athletic sorts.

Take a gander at the English national football team. For the country that invented football, they only have the 1966 World Cup title to crow about. And that was ages ago and the world and the game has greatly changed since. Under Steve McClaren, the English failed miserably and so a search for a new coach was conducted. It was a list that included distinguished gaffers such as Martin O’Neill, Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, and a few others. O’Neill is an Irishman while Ferguson is Scottish. Take some time to let that sink in. If you don’t know the history between the two countries and England then I suggest you look it up. Mourinho is Portuguese but eventually, the English Football Association settled on Italian Fabio Capello who won as a player and as a coach in almost every stop of his (AS Roma, AC Milan, Juventus, and Real Madrid). Under Capello, England is undefeated in their World Cup Qualifiers and are close to clinching a berth in the South Africa World Cup Finals in 2010. When asked on where he will side should England and Italy collide in the World Cup, the square jawed coach said, “Right now, Fabio Capello is wearing the jersey of England.”

Globalization has taken a whole new meaning with the constant migration of peoples to and fro. There are a lot of countries now that claim to be melting pots with the new synergies further enriching the cultures and diversity is the face of the 21st century man.

Portugal’s greatest footballer ever isn’t Luis Figo or even Cristiano Ronaldo. It is the man who simply goes by the name Eusebio. Born in Lourenco Marques in Mozambique, Eusebio who scored 380 goals in 343 matches most of them with Benefica said, “I was born in Africa in a country that was one of the Portuguese colonies at that time but Portugal is where my daughters were born and where I learned and grew up as a man and as a professional footballer. I do not make much distinction between the two (on whether he is Mozambican or Portuguese). That is a political question and I am not a politician.”

The Portuguese men’s football team was coached by Luis Felipe Scolari. A Brazilian. Ponder that point as well. Portugal from 2003 up to the just concluded Euro 2008 was coached by a man from a colony of theirs.

The French national men’s football team is perhaps the finest example of this new world diversity. Players can trace their ethnic lines from countries like Algeria, Martinique, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Congo, India, and Senegal to name a few.

Several years ago when Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski joined the German national team, my office mate who is Polish-American, threw his hands up in the air in abject protest and blurted out, “Potępiać ów Niemcy. Są przejęcie nasz kraj znowu!

The danger lies in exploiting naturalization. FIFA has made moves to prevent countries from importing mercenaries. Croatia’s best footballer isn’t Luka Modric but Eduardo who is from Brasil. And come on, if Becky Hammon is Russian then I am the long-lost son of Roman Abramovich.

Can we actually say that the Ron Jacobs-mentored Northern Consolidated Cement team that won three international titles with Dennis Still, Jeff Moore, and Chip Engelland was ahead of its time? Maybe so. So if there’s Sam Ekwe who can be naturalized so he can play for the national team and even in the pros then why not? As for the Fil-Ams, they’re okay provided a strong grassroots program is given a lot of priority and support.

Knowing all the politicians, the old guard, and the narrow-minded, they’ll botch it up like always.

Let the winds of change blow where they may.

I'm now a part of one of the coolest groups

The group photo during the annual Fabilioh get together party. A bunch of other swell dudes weren't on hand but it was real fun. We finished up at 230am chatting about the UAAP, school, work, and high tech cheating in school today! Hahaha. Plenty interesting stories.

By the way, congrats to those foks who managed to steal the Chris Tiu higante the night before the bonfire. You sure got balls doing that. Hahahaha.

Hitler galit sa San Beda

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A tip to the bleachers creatures

I've read a lot of basketball books and there are some pretty good ones out there: The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith, 07 Seconds of Less by Jack McCallum, A Season On the Brink by John Feinstein, Heaven is a Playground by Rick Telander, and Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made by David Halberstam to name a few, and Filip Bondy's Tip Off is another great read on a much tread 1984 NBA Draft.

In case you haven't read Mr. Bondy's other works, he wrote/co-wrote: Bleeding Pinstripes: A Season with the Bleachers Creatures of Yankee Stadium and The Selling of the Green: The Financial Rise and Moral Decline of the Boston Celtics. He is also a writer for the New York Daily News.

It's a great read this Tip Off, effendis. It's all the insider info and back story on the draft. Thanks to Robin for this!

Q: Now that the UAAP Men's basketball tournament is over, what have you been doing?
Rick: Ah, there are some stuff that I can't reveal right now. In a few days maybe. But aside from that, when I'm not busy I've reacquainted myself with my TV and DVD player watching the entire Season One of Life (starring Damian Lewis of Band of Brothers and Dreamcatcher fame), Heroes Season 2, the entire special edition DVD of Iron Man (thanks, Tiffany, my cousin who works at Dreamworks), and a documentary on Afghanistan. Whew, that's a lot!

Someone asked me why am I shifting towards writing different topics. Well, when I was contributing to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (while working at an ad agency), I was writing about bands and jazz musicians, young entrepreneurs, and about the never-ending insurgency in Mindanao. So now I've written something about Up Dharma Down that should also come out in the Business Mirror. It also represents a return to music. I also am writing about indie rock band Versus and one about Filipino art (that should also come out in a newspaper and If you ask friends of mine from school, they always talk about my passion for music. It was so easy to spot me carrying vinyl albums then. If XL Tajonera who is living in Cali now is reading this, then you'd remember that band we put up in school. Hahahaha. Man, that was a friggin' riot.

I am also writing about a very good friend of mine who joined the US Army and served a couple of tours in Iraq (he was there during the Invasion and was based in Fallujah). So now you can draw a correlation to the Afghanistan documentary. Hahahaha. If you read Bill Carter's Fools Rush In then you'll have an idea of what I am trying to do.

The nights have been kept alive by listening to Big Mountain (all their albums), Bob Dylan, (Highway 61 Revisited, John Wesley Harding and Slow Train Coming) and Smashing Pumpkins (Zeitgeist).

Q: Football's up?
Rick: Yes it is, but so's the NBA, NHL, and the Baseball World Series.

Q: You're a fan of France -- Les Bleus?
Rick: Yes, I am and this team is one that is in transition and in trouble. I know Zizou has been retired for two years but if you ask me, the team is struggling. Their play has been bad and they could miss the World Cup altogether if they continue this lackluster play.

I love them still for two players Sidney Govou and Franck Ribery. Raymond Domenech should play Ribery, the breakout star of the team during the last World Cup some more. Domenech (God give this man some clarity) should find players who match Ribery's enthusiasm and intensity. If you ask me, he was the unofficial MVP of Bayern Munich last year.

As much as I like Jeremy Toulalan, he needs to be more consistent. No aggresiveness on the pitch. And please bench William Gallas. Uninspired and out of shape.

On the other hand, I also follow England. Ah, who doesn't? It's like rooting for the Redeem Team. Of course, Fabio Capello is a genius. His willingness to change for the better of his team (such as having Steven Gerrard play up the middle of the right wing (as opposed to what the idiotic Steve McClaren did by asking him to play the left side. Hey have you every watch him over at Liverpool?). is a stroke of genius. England has scored 12 of their 14 goals after the half -- a sure sign of timely and apt adjustments in the locker room.

As for the captain's armband -- give it to Rio Ferdinand.

Q: Where can I buy soccer/football mags?
Rick: Someone was asking about FourFourTwo, World Soccer etc. Well, first of all, it's cheaper to buy them abroad. Really. It's cheaper in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand. So if you know someone there have them send it over.

Nevertheless, for FourFourTwo, the best place to buy it is at Magazine Exchange in Megamall (near Toy Kingdom) or at Greenbelt 3 (near the cinemas). The best time to go is the 15th of every month when the new stocks come in. As for World Soccer, go to Fully Booked either Rockwell or Bonifacio High Street. But if you want football info, then go to ESPN, UEFA, or Four Four Two.

If you ask me the best football mag -- it's World Soccer. FourFourTwo is like Q magazine. half of it is unreadable and a waste of space. World Soccer is a no nonsense mag.

Q: Is there an Ateneo basketball book coming out?
Rick: I have no idea if Ateneo is doing one but I am writing one with the help of some people. Let's give it a week for more details.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In Between Fragmented (and Bipolar) Days with Up Dharma Down

In Between Fragmented (and Bipolar) Days with Up Dharma Down by rick olivares

Behind the lush and deep soundscapes that make up the music of Up Dharma Down is a band amused by the complexity of people trying to pigeonhole them. “At least we know that people are listening to us,” reasoned out keyboardist and vocalist Armi Millare.

Once you go beyond the music and notice how relatively young all the four members of the band are then you’d know that they do not meditate in the stratosphere between gigs. “We’re simple people with simple tastes and who live a simple lifestyle,” debunked bassist Paul Yap. But he confessed to a vice that isn’t one bit Imeldific. “I love soccer shoes.”

When the band released their debut effort Fragmented they made many a person’s year-end and must see lists. Up Dharma Down graduated from playing gigs where no one would applaud to opening for band that you might have heard of --- Incubus. “That’s was a typical reaction early on,” confirmed manager and local music scene impresario Toti Dalmacion whose Terno Recordings is a slap at the mainstream and at once a showcase for Filipino ingenuity. “But in reality, people were surprised by what they heard. Kaya pala ng local na banda yung ganyan tunog. Parang foreign pero at once very original. The fact the UDD was hand-picked to open for those bands says a lot about their chops.”

The duality in the titles of their two albums -- Fragmented and the newly released Bipolar -- alludes to being children of the past and present, and how they are influenced by different genres that have cut a swath through their musical souls. “What we’ve done is to trace the roots of what influenced the music we listen to,” said drummer Ean Mayor. "Si ganyan was influenced pala by this, you know. That discovery opened us to old and different styles. Actually they may be old by other people's tandards but for us it’s a whole new world.

That’s why we refer to Bipolar as our second first album,” summed up guitarist Carlos Tañada. “Fragmented was more than two-and-a-half years ago. We’re not the same people we were before. We’ve grown physically, intellectually, emotionally, and musically. And the new album reflects those changes and influences.”

As part of the inspiration for the new album, the band had to take a trip down memory lane. Dalmacion lent his wards albums of new wave-era bands like The Blue Nile, XTC, and Prefab Sprout; artists whose intricately-layered music runs the gamut of genres that is distilled into something entirely original.

That's what the band strives for originality, quality, and the timelessness of their music,” explained the noted audiophile who through the years has built a massive collection of vinyl and compact discs. “Up Dharma Down is about raising the bar musically for Filipinos.”

But believe it or not, the band stumbled upon their unique sound by accident. Fiddling around with their instruments, they added riffs, synths, melodies, and vocals here and there. Tañada was adding keyboards here and there. Yap helped structure the vocals while Mayor collected everyone’s contributions, sorted them out, and added his own beats.
"You see," cackled Yap. with obvious glee. "There is a method in our madness. It’s like an artist throwing cans of paint on a canvas. It’s a nice mix.”

On the strength of word of mouth and critical acclaim (plus more than 10,000 CD sales of their debut album), UDD became the hot ticket in the local music scene garnering a slew of awards and recognition (the were featured in a July 2007 issue of Time Magazine). They went on to produce music for the advertising campaigns of Coca Cola (Buhay Coke, Buksan Mo), Lipton Tea (Clarity), and McDonald’s (Float Away) and picked up a corporate sponsorship from sports wear giant adidas. And it's a metaphor that isn't lost on them.

“I cannot think of a more apt brand than adidas,” glowed Dalmacion about his favorite footwear as Millare and Yap nodded enthusiastically in agreement. “They’re (adidas) an institution. Their legacy is that their footwear stands the test of time. Some of their shoes are like timeless favorites and best sellers forever. We want to view UDD as something similar.

When we signed a contract (with Terno Recordings),” recalled Millare. "All I cared about was getting our first record out everything else be damned. After that, we got to do so many things we thought weren't going to happen at all. And now we're on our second first album. Who would have thought? I have to admit that this has been too fun to pass up or ignore and is definitely something to be grateful for."

Join Up dharma Down as they launch Bipolar on October 24, 2008, 8pm at the Hexagon Lounge, 4th floor of the RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue corner Buendia, in Makati City. The band will perform all songs from the 14 track album plus some of the older band favorites.
Php 150 gets you in with a drink, while Php 500 gets you in with a drink PLUS a limited edition Bipolar CD designed by Ean Mayor and Everywhere We Shoot!. It includes a DVD of "On Either Side," a 40-minute documentary directed by Keith Tan, offering viewers a peek into how the album was made and some insights from the band members.

Robert De Niro where art thou?

Remember that movie starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes... The Fan? De Niro's character Gil Renard takes obssession to overdrive when baseball player Bobby Rayburn jstruggles with his new team, the San Fransisco Giants. Kinda disturbing, huh? Well, here's more fan behaviour justified or not...

After England left back Ashley Cole made a poor pass that led to a Kazakhstan goal, the crowd at Wembley Stadium booed the Chelsea player every time he touched the ball. Get this, the score at that time was 5-1 in favor of England.

The Three Lions' boss Fabio Capello was noticeably pissed at the crowd for their display. "I couldn't understand the crowd booing Ashley Cole after he made a mistake. It is possible for one player to make mistake. It is very important that the crowd help him and not boo him."

Over in Cincinnati, Bengals fans are returning or selling their pricey tickets with 10 games left in the schedule with some five home games to be played. The Bengals are currently at 0-6 and the fans have had enough. $64 tickets are being sold for as low as $24.

The team in the meantime is pleading with the fans to be patient with the turnaround. Said one fuming fan who has clearly had enough, "Bad economy. Bad team. Guess what? I'd rather save my money for a rainy day."

In another incident involving supporters of Atletico Madrid, the Spanish side was hit with the heaviest sanctions so far by UEFA which fined the Spanish side with €150,000 for their fans' racist abuse of Marseille players earlier this month and handed a three-match stadium ban - one game suspended - after crowd trouble and lack of organisation at the same match. The Rojiblancos' (red whites) coach Javier Aguirre has also been banned for his club's home and away fixtures against Liverpool for insulting Marseille player Mathieu Valbuena.

What's up with this, Spain? Is this how you really are? Racists? I guess getting your asses kicked in so many wars has not taught you any basic human decency at all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A chat with Kamae De Jesus

Rick: How did you get the courtside reporter position for Ateneo and why were there two of you?
Kamae: There were 24 who audtioned from Ateneo with three screenings. I host a lot of events and I knew I could do it. I just didn't know all that basketball stuff. I asked to be given another screening and I did my research and studied the team. So the next time around, I was more confident. Hahahaha. There were three screenings and when it was done there was Portia and me. Now we both hosted the Orsem and we were quite thankful that it had to be one or the other. With my full school load, I could only do the weekend games. So in the end it worked out for both of us.

Rick: So when did you become a fan of the Blue Eagles?
Kamae: I became a fan with the 2002 team. I was right across Ateneo -- I went to Miriam. Portia was a fan like forever. I'm a nerd. I spend more time studying and reading. Hahahaha. But I'm such a fan now. Hahahaha.

Rick: What was it like being on cam for the first time?
Kamae: That was the first game of the season -- Ateneo versus La Salle and there were some 23,000 people! I took Red Bull that made me all the more hyper. Sobrang hyper lalo na I could feel the intensity at the Araneta Coliseum. I was nervous but I told myself, "Girl, you can do this! You have hosting experience." But come second quarter, I was okay. It was an eye opener being inside the dugout. DLSU was leading at the half but you could see how calm everyone was. (Head coach) Norman Black was so cool. The pressure was on but he said so calmly that they could do this. You could see it in the players' eyes na, "We know we have it, but we're struggling now. But we're going to to this." That told me that this team was special.

Rick: Bet it was fun?
Kamae: Definitely. I hope I did my part in helping out by not just reporting on our team but by also repeatedly encouraging the boys. It was easy with my batchmates (Jai Reyes and Rabeh Al-Hussaini). I felt the younger ones would call me, "Ate."

Rick: Ate? Gosh if you're an "ate" then what am I?
Kamae: I know. (laughter) But it wasn't easy for those boys. In between classes and training, you could see how hard it is. And there were all these expectations. So I know they worked hard for it and they deserve it.

Rick: Then you got to host the bonfire...
Kamae: Yeah that was cool. I had class that day until 730p but my prof (Bobby Guevara) let me out early since my call time was 7pm. "It's not every year where we have a bonfire anyway," he said. The bonfire was real fun even if the Bell Field was all muddy. And I got to host with Bill Velasco and Grace Lee. That's three different generations of Ateneans. Whooo. Sarap maging Atenista!

The View from the Bench

Everyone dreams about being a star, winning a championship, hitting a game winner, and becoming a success story. Unfortunately, very few are able to nail all of the above. Most toil in anonymity and are on the fringes.

This past collegiate hoops season, I went inside the dugout of six UAAP teams (three of them at least thrice), two NCAA squads, and one from NAASCU. I got to speak to quite a number of players. One story I picked up was from the players who are at the end of their benches. What's it like to be at the end of the bench? They're going to go nameless here.

Mahirap lalo na nung high school at freshman year ko medyo babad. It's tough. Sometimes I wonder if I went to the right school.

Ah. Mahirap magsalita. Nakaka-insulto minsan. Alam ko na kapag tambak doon lang pinapasok. Minsan hindi rin. Ewan ko kay coach. Siya na bahala.

Paano ako magpapakita ng anong kaya eh, ipapasok ko na ilan minuto? Ang hirap kumuha ng kumpiyansa. Tapos isang pagkakamali ilalabas ka na.

Ah, I can't explain kung bakit biglang na-bangko ako. Wala naman sinasabi si coach. But I have to be ready so when he calls me I can contribute. Dati meron playing time ngayon wala masyado.

Buti pa yung mga rookies meron minuto. Wag mo sasabihin na sinabi ko yan, ha? Patay ako sa coach.

Tanong ko nga -- I practice all the time. I show up and play hard pero wala pa rin. Ilan taon na ako nandito pero ganyan pa rin. Masaya kapag nanalo ang team pero hindi kumpleto kasi hindi man ako nakatulong. Masakit. Alam mo --parang saling pusa. Hahahaha.

Bakit ako nag-eensayo wala naman akong playing time? Siguro naman meron purpose sa lahat ng ito. Frustrating. Sinasabi ko na ganyan talaga sa mga taong nagtatanong pero masakit. Anong chance mo mag-PBL kung wala ka naman playing time? So panaginip na lang ang PBA. Gusto ko rin naman makapasok sa pro. Makakatulong din ako sa pamilya ko. Hindi naman kami mayaman. Basketball lang pagkakataon ko.

Mahirap yung recruit ng recruit. Yung mga dating nakuha halos wala nang chance maka-angat o magkaroon ng playing time. Kaya lumipat ako ng ibang school. At least doon meron akong playing time.

Nung high school ako, highly recruited ako tapos ganyan lang. Bangko. (He spat on the floor in disgust.) Siguro hindi ako pang-basketball. Problema ko hindi ako nakapag-aral. Hindi naman uso sa amin yun. Paano na ngayon? Last year ko na, subukan ko na lang mag-aral. Mahirap yung walang trabaho.

Role ko? Taga-palakpak. Minsan taga-abot ng tubig.

Hirap minsan pag meron nagpapa-picture o autograph. Eh bangko naman di ba? Parang anong ginawa ko? Nahihiya din naman ako.

Bad trip din. Hehehe. Pero walk-in naman ako. So hindi naman ako nag-expect ma-line-up. Pero syempre. Sana bigyan ng chance. Hahaha. Wag mo sasabihin kay coach ha? Sabihin pa niya madaldal ako.

All the players swore me to secrecy. Some know me well and minced no words about burning a hole in their pants. Some were careful. Most were bitter.

Honestly, I didn't know how to console them. I offered words of encouragement because I have seen bench players eventually get their due. But that doesn't work for all. Not every situation is like a feel-good movie with a sunset ending.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Morning zingers

What did I say about this weekend being crucial for the Dallas Cowboys? Well, they lost to the Arizona Cardinals 30-24 in overtime. There was something wrong the moment JJ Arrington returned a kickoff for a touchdown to put Arizona on top 6-0 with the game only mere moments old. Now the finger pointing begins.

The English Premier League's 39th game proposal could yet be revived after Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam, one of the fiercest critics of the controversial suggestion, altered his stance on the matter and called on the league to ''share the secrets of their success.''

In February the Premier League floated the idea of an international round of matches in five cities across the world from 2011 but were forced to shelve the plans amid widespread condemnation from fans and various sporting authorities, including FIFA and Bin Hammam's AFC.

If they play in Hong Kong I'm going. Liverpool.................

For the Blue Eagle contingent to the Uni-Games, it will be the rookies and third string players of Team A with a sprinkling of Team B. Guess who's going to join the team for practice on Wednesday. Hoooo yeah!

A thousand words in my lifetime

There was this print ad by Nikon (that I previously credited to Kodak) that grafted itself onto my consciousness the moment I saw it.

It was an ad without any visuals. But the copy was plenty powerful.

A three year-old boy saluting at his father's funeral.
A woman crying over the body of a student shot by the National Guard.
An American President lifting his pet beagle up by its ears.

A lone student standing in front of four tanks.

If you can picture it in your head, it was probably taken with a Nikon.

The ad was written by Richard Kelly and art directed by Ron Rosen of Scali McCabe Sloves (New York) and won a couple of advertising awards.

In case you don't know what the pictures are -- Yeah, I hear you. It's a generational gap thing. -- JFK Jr. during his famous father's funeral, then it was the Kent State demos during the Vietnam War, then it was Lyndon B. Johnson pulling his pet beagle's ears, and lastly in was that Tianamen Square picture. Save for the last shot, I saw all those shots in old Time, Newsweek, and Life magazines that my grandfolks saved for me (the JFK and RFK assassinations, the Apollo 11 landings, and the Vietnam War). Yes, I still have everyone of them. The last shot, well has to be one of the most published of all time.

When you talk about images. In those dreary years of Blue Eagle basketball, there is only one thing that comes to mind, a shot taken of the team with their arms raised during the alma mater. And we were the only one singing then. Let no one tell you otherwise.

The reason why I say that image says a lot of the team was those were really trying years when it was coming off the NCAA withdrawal, going 0-12, and the eventual rise of Ateneo basketball.

As La Salle became the toast of UAAP Men's Basketball, there are three images now that come to mind: the shot taken by Ernie Sarmiento of Larry Fonacier blocking Mark Cardona and of the subsequent shot of Wesley Gonzalez standing over the fallen Cardona. And there's this year's shot by Vic Icasas of Nonoy Baclao reprising Gonzalez with his towering over Rico Maierhofer. Am glad that Nonoy apologized to Rico about it -- and on TV no less.

My point is, they represent what Ateneo basketball is all about now -- climbing back to the top and in the process, trying to reclaim what the Green Archers have worn over their collective heads over the years.

One thing is for sure. Those dreary days of Blue Eagle basketball are now over. Can't wait for those new images.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bleachers' Brew #128 That Locker Room Voice

That Locker Room Voice

by rick olivares

Someone asked me how is it that I am able to write about more than what goes on during a game. Well, I’m one of those who sit through a movie to read the credits. All the way to the soundtrack and location shootings. That says a lot of detail then. It helps because that’s how I got to know that Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello played one of the terrorists in Iron Man and that it was Compufonic’s “Welcome to Mindhead” which provided the great intro music to the abort sequence of Gene Hackman’s Behind Enemy Lines.

During games, I pay great attention to what goes on in front and around me: from defensive alignments to how many staggered screens are set to free up a shooter, who’s grabbing who, and when I can write fast enough, how many touches a player gets in one game. That’s how I was able to figure out how Benedict Fernandez is a key to Far Eastern University’s game. In almost every possession by the Tamaraws, the ball goes through the shooting guard who can light it up pretty quick.

As much as I love watching games live, there’s something about seeing the match on television where you get the benefit of instant replay, good angles, and the color commentary.

When I watched my first baseball game, I got a ticket high up in the upper tier. Not only was it cheaper but it also gave me a great view of the action. After a while, I noticed people beside me with earphones on listening to the radio broadcast. The analysts provided insights and anecdotes, more stats than the scoreboard could handle, and in-game interviews that made for a better game experience.

It was the late ABC sportscaster Jim McKay who grabbed a hold of my attention with his now immortal, “Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports... the thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat... the human drama of athletic competition... this is "ABC's Wide World of Sports!" The shot of Yugoslav Vinko Bogataj flying out of control during the 1970 Ski-flying Championships in Obertsdorf, West Germany and crashing into the nearby barriers remains forever linked to McKay’s melodramatic intonation of “and the agony of defeat.”

Since then, I paid equal attention to the sportscasters’ spiels and have seen how they affect the overall viewing experience. There are some sports such as basketball and soccer that can be viewed without the benefit of color commentary. On the other hand, stat-intensive and stop-start sports like baseball and American football are perfect for great television.

There is a reason why the National Football League (NFL) is the most watched domestic sports league with the highest revenue. In my opinion, they have the best coverage (most particularly NBC’s Sunday Night Football) in all of sports. NBC’s multi-awarded tandem of Al Michaels (the best play-by-play announcer) and John Madden (the most honored sports broadcaster of our times), studio host Bob Costas, and reporter Andrea Kremer, who asks the interesting and intelligent questions, make me come away thoroughly entertained and more knowledgeable.

My interest in the NFL was wholly a result of watching those documentaries done by NFL Films. The father and son tandem of Ed and Steve Sabol who first founded Blair Motion Pictures (that was eventually bought out and re-christened NFL Films) turned the game into an epic battle where every inch of turf was akin to a military operation and almost a literal life and death battle. The Sabols exclusively utilized film give their footage a wholly different texture from the traditional TV broadcast. Several cameras were employed that took a variety of angles of almost every play with one camera exclusively used in slow motion. Sound bytes from radio broadcasts were also used as well as close up shots of the expressions of players, the coaches, and crowd that ran the gamut of emotions. The game was then edited using the rich baritone of Philadelphia sportscaster John Facenda who was described as having “the voice of God.” When Facenda passed away, Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas took over and is still a regular at Inside the NFL.

The footage, the rich voices, and the dramatic and superb orchestral scoring changed the way sports (and non-sports) documentaries were done. More so, it helped in the branding and selling of the game that has turned the NFL into a billion dollar a year industry and people like me a lifelong fan.

There’s something about those deep basso voices of narrators that make for great storytelling. Think of actor James Earl Jones who not only is the voice of Darth Vader but also did “This is CNN” for the worldwide news giant. Awesome ain’t it?

Following the formula of NFL Films is NBA Entertainment but with a somewhat different bent towards narration. Actor Laurence Fishburne provides a compelling yet soulful narration to Michael Jordan to the Max, an IMAX film about the 1998 Chicago Bulls’ Last Dance. It’s a superb film with great footage, soundtrack, and scoring. Another thespian, former James Bond Pierce Brosnan provided the voice over for The 2006 FIFA World Cup Film: The Grand Finale. It is particularly vexing when you think that Brosnan’s dry wit and delivery is a study in contrast with a highly-emotional sport set in its biggest stage.

Regarding baseball, I confess to not watching too many outside New York Yankees games. But how many teams have gone beyond the sport into an international consciousness? As much as their onfield success, the Yankees owed their popularity to a trio of departed greats from Mel Allen, Phil Rizzuto, and Bobby Murcer who helped spread the popularity of pinstriped baseball. I loved the candor that Rizzuto brought to the broadcasts. If Allen popularized “how about that” and “going, going, gone,” it was the Scooter’s expressions (as Rizzuto was nicknamed) of “Holy cow” and “unbelievable” that brought fun into the game. There would be other sportscasters like Ken Singleton, Michael Kay, Paul O’Niell, and John Flaherty who have made Yankee broadcasts even more entertaining with their insider information and knowledge. Baseball, already a scientific game loaded with serious stats, was broken down by the Scooter.

As a sportswriter with strong sportscasting aspirations, I think that I have to be not only particular about stats but to be observant and to write or call it with a dash for drama. After all, as I learned it’s more than a game of inches and points and turf.

Some other stuff that's plenty good: The Road to Redemption (the story of the Redeem Team). If that doesn't get your eyelids welled up or your hair standing then I don't know what will. Liverpool's No Heart As Big is another good one. Especially the first five minutes. The 1998 Chicago Bulls DVD is another keeper.

I saw a documentary on Jimmy Connors before but for the life of me, I can't remember where. That was inspiring.

Friday, October 10, 2008

On being courtside

People ask me what is it like to have the best seat in the house -- courtside -- during basketball games. The truth is... it's awesome.

I relish it because I get to sit at the baseline on the sidelines, I get to go to the dugout, the press room, on the court after the games, chat with the table officials, the refs, the commissioner, the players, the coaches, fans, ball boys, event security, and the pop corn vendor. Yes, the roving vendors who sell hotdogs, popcorn, and whatnot. You should hear their zen-like thoughts about the game, "Parang maling timpla na popcorn yung laro ni (place name of player here) -- sobrang alat."

Ironically though, despite being close to the action, there's a certain serenity to it all. In case you wonder if the players on the court hear what is being cheered or shouted at the stands, well, for the most part they don't. Because if they do, that means they're not focused on the game at hand. Ditto with us media folks on the side. You'll find us engrossed not just in the game but what goes on all around. We look not just at the players but the bench or even the refs and the officials. Amongst ourselves, we get to discuss and compare notes on the spot. Occasionally though the players, like everyone else on the court, hear the crowd more so during deadball situations. Certain cheers also get their adrenaline pumping.

There's this feeling of calm being detached from all the hollering. There is the urge from time to time to give the refs a piece of your mind but for the most part, we're quiet. Sometimes, we're able to pick up snippets of conversation, questions, or even trash talking (Bader Malabes taunting Chris Tiu, PJ Barua telling Rico Maierhofer that he's a second too late in the rotation, Dylan Ababou telling Jeric Fortuna to pass the ball). It's actually amazing. Kinda like being wired that
sometimes you won't believe the exchanges that we see and hear on the court.

But all in all, it's been fun being on the court for the last two years. A great great experience.

When I wrote "It's time to add another stripe" at the start of the new season, I wondered what would happen if we did annex our fourth UAAP Men's Basketball title, hence "add another stripe."

Now that we have it there are four stripes. But adidas is three stripes. So does that make it K-Swiss?


The Road to the National Championship

There will be 4 Zonal Championships:
· The dates and venues of the Zonal competitions are as follows:

Zone 1 – Nov. 4-6, Venue: Makati Coliseum or Ynares Sports Center or Cuneta Astrodome
Zone 2 – Nov. 7-9, Venue: Makati Coliseum or Ynares Sports Center or Cuneta Astrodome
Zone 3 – Nov 9-11, Venue: Ormoc City Dome
Zone 4 – Nov 14-16, Venue: Xavier University Gym, Cagayan de Oro


· There will also be one more extra stage: the WILDCARD phase. In this stage, 5 teams will advance and be given slots in the different Zonal competitions.

Oct 15-19, Venue: Makati Coliseum or Ynares Sports Center or Cuneta Astrodome
Schools expected to participate: STI, St.Claire, Lyceum (Manila), St. Francis of Assisi, CCP, EAC, UST and Arellano University. More schools expected to be added.

The PCC Sweet Sixteen officially begins on November 24. Schedule is as follows:
November 24, 26, 27, 29,
December 1, 3, 6, 8

All games to be played 2:00pm 1st game; 4:00 pm 2nd game at the San Juan Arena.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Just because I'm brown

I had this officemate before... JR was his name. He was a large black man, 6'2" maybe. He could have played American Football somewhere because he fits the bill in terms of his physique. Maybe he was aware of that that's why he was a bully. He was mean to everyone except the Puerto Ricans and Mexicans (could be he knew that these hombres were tougher than him). Jorge who was from Tijuana was a small guy who was absolutely fearless. I knew someone like him back in school. But unlike JR, he was cool. Jorge and I later explored the underground fight circuit in Brookyln.

I'm getting ahead of my story. I never liked JR and oft would get steamed at him. The one thing you have to learn quickly and to adopt is a long line of patience. If you're in short supply of that then I suggest you go get some and it's not at the Dollar Store in your neighborhood.

What made things worse was JR was a racist. How can a black man be a racist? But he was to Asians and Middle Easterns. I worked in a place that was multi-cultural. And in the melting pot that is New York, you have to be all the more careful of what you say. One time I was on my way to the bathroom when he barred my way and let my other officemate go first. "White women first, bleeping Asians last."

I sort of lost it and told him to go where the sun don't shine. Well, in less polite terms. My cousin who is quite adept at taekwondo wanted to kick the living crap out of him.

There are a few other incidents including dating a white girl and let me tell you that experiencing racism is something else. I can't quite put a finger to it except that it isn't pleasant and it inflames a different kind of anger and passion. I remember during Puerto Rico Day, many of the stores were boarded up in case some looting or rioting breaks out. That brought the Puerto Rican community up in arms because that was associating them with thieves and unsavory folk.

Being Filipino. What I do remember the most was when they'd say, "Oh, so you're Filipino" was take your pick...Manny Pacquiao, maids and OFWs, corruption, and TNTs. Not in that order. Somewhere along the way, they'd concede a "hard working and talented" that somehow doesn't balance the scales totally.

I ran with a multi-ethnic group choosing to do so because I thought it was more cool to learn different cultures. We had an Egyptian, Jamaican, American, Puerto Rican, Latino, and African in the group. The fun thing was we all got along so well and learned from each other a lot. From language (and cuss words), political views, religion, and sampling everyone's cuisine. Cusine. Once we even tried out an Ethiopian restaurant in Greenwich Village (we joked that the rice was from the UN). That was a blast.

That brings me to Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand's blast versus FIFA for not being stringent enough on racist incidents in football that continue to this day. Yes, it's a sad fact despite the international nature of the game, these incidents although not as common as it was several years ago still happen. The rising ticket prices and the more family nature of the stadia and terraces has shown a marked difference in those who go to football matches. But it's a damn shame.

I honestly don't know what to think of FIFA. Docking clubs of chump change isn't enough. They should take away home field advantage in international competitions, bust them up several huge points, and well, make them play closed door matches. Hit them where it hurts too -- in their wallets and in the game they supposedly love. English clubs were banned for several years from European play. Why can't the same be done for these countries?

The fact that it happens in places like Spain and makes my blood boil. And Spain... when you think how they treated Filipinos when we were a colony. That was a long time ago but 300 years is a long, long time.

Watch this video from ESPN. It was done several years ago but even as Rio Ferdinand made his comments yesterday, you can see how it is still bloody well alive in the world today.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

When is a win a win?

When is a win a win?

One week after taking it on the chin from rival Washington Redskins at Texas Stadium 26-24 that revealed a chink in Dallas' armor, the doubts linger. After a loss, it's always good to go out and flatten the next opponent. Coaches and the fans like that. Instead, the Dallas Cowboys survived a terrible and winless Cincinnati Bengals team 31-22. After going up 17-0 on their first three possessions, the lead shrunk to one before a series of defensive stops restored some sanity.

But the questions remain. If anyone saw Terrell Owens sob on the sideline after his touchdown you know something is seriously wrong when those tears aren't for a Super Bowl title. From pre-season favorites to win it all (go ask Michael Strahan too), well, they're still there but all of a sudden those Giants from New York look mighty like them New England Patriots when they were tearing up the NFL.

So how should teams come out? When is a win a win?

The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls answered critics for their 1995 play-off crash. They went 72-10 and begun their second troika of championships. Every time they suffered a loss during the regular season, in the following game, the crushed the opposition by at least 20 points. So you knew they were driven. You know... a bump in the road.

This past UAAP season, Ateneo went 16-1. There were games when the Blue Eagles didn't thrash the opponent and had they not built a sizeable lead in the early goings they might have been beaten. A lack of a killer instinct, bemoaned many. Yet they still won a title as they closed out their last four games in convincing fashion (as if 16-1 isn't convincing enough).

Even when you win, sometimes you feel like a loser. Ask Fabio Capello who lead Real Madrid to two La Liga titles in each of his two years in Spain but got fired the year after for his pragmatic style of football play.

In Major League Baseball, the worst-to-first Tampa Bay Devil Rays pooh-pooh their great goings heading into the ALCS with Boston. "The best record doesn't mean anything anything until you win a title," one player said referring to the California Angels who won 100 games but folded against the Red Sox who had all sorts of issues this year. But for sure, tell that to the 1998 Seattle Mariners who won a record 116 games (out of a total 162 matches in a season) yet were sent home for the fall by the New York Yankees that same season.

There's that infamous taunt by another school about winning the games that matter. But doesn't every game matter? Doesn't every win put one in a position to advance further? Last year's New England Patriots made it to the Super Bowl where they ran into a hungrier New York Giants team. I guess what makes the Patriots fall even more ignonimous because of their undefeated record heading into the Super Bowl.

At the start of this NFL season, those same New York Giants (minus the retired Strahan) beat the Redskins 16-7. The new look Washington team entered NY territory three times during the game and the last one was in the final minute. Chatting with a friend from Virginia who is a die-hard Redskins fan, she said that the team didn't look good. I said it was too early and I thought there was a lot to be learned from that game. And true enough, the Redskins went on a three-game tear entering this weekend and everyone is signing Hossanas to first year coach Jim Zorn, and his leading cast of Jason Campbell, Santana Moss and Clinton Portis.

So when is a win a win?

Sometimes it's when you lose and get back up. After all, you can't make an omelette without breaking an egg. Sometimes it's flashing that deadly form and kicking butt all the way. Yet in reality though it's only in hindsight where we can truly analyze it.

As for the Dallas Cowboys... well, we have to wait for this next weekend when they face the 3-2 Arizona Cardinals and the resumption of the soap opera between Tony Romo and TO. So maybe then we'll know whether the win is really a win.