Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The heartbreaking week in Ateneo sports

It isn’t easy playing varsity sports when you have to have to contend with academics and if ever, a social life. Many varsity athletes still do not comprehend the responsibilities of representing the school or sometimes being named team captain. Just as there are coaches who are coaches merely because of their experience as a strategist or trainer there are athletes who well, thinks it’s cool to have a jersey or be on the team but have no clue about what it means to put on the uniform.

Like a player on the football team who has yet to fulfill his potential. And most recently was late again to practice because his alarm failed to ring.

Here’s a recent item concerning Los Angeles Lakers forward Vladimir Radmanovic who was almost an hour late for a recent shoot-around because his alarm didn't go off, he said.

He was fined by the team and didn't enter Thursday's game until the Lakers were ahead by 35 points with 1 minute 55 seconds left in the third quarter.

It didn't seem like enough of a punishment for at least one former NBA player.

"When you come to shoot-around with only five minutes left because you say your alarm clock didn't go off, that's a little spacey," TNT analyst Reggie Miller said. "He could say traffic was bad. I could go with that in L.A. But don't say your alarm clock didn't go off. Are you kidding me?"

Yeah, we’ve had athletes who were late for their call time because it was traffic. Unless you’ve lived abroad in the last quarter of a century then traffic is an everyday occurrence and is common place in the metro. Be surprised when there’s no traffic.

This second semester of UAAP competition, never have I watched more heartbreaking games at any one period of time than the past week.

It began last Sunday when the Women’s Volleyball Team fell to FEU in five sets. And this after spotting them a 2-sets to none lead. Sorry but I totally disagree that the airconditioned venue of the Arena makes it harder to loosen up because last Sunday, the heat and fatigue got to the team and it was so obvious on TV.

By the fourth set, the team was simply gasping for breath and in one timeout, no one could say anything because they were all tuckered out. That is until Bea Pascual said, “Hinga.”

While agree that the inexperience of the team eventually tells on them come crunch time I think that and them being forced to play too many minutes makes them less effective. The difference between high school and college competition is an ocean and for many, they are surprised at the pace of the game and how powerful some opponents could be.

FEU used nine players while we went seven players (I am excluding Averil Paje because she just made a cameo appearance in the fifth set and that doesn’t count). Why wasn’t Aillysse Nacachi and Misha Quimpo used to spell the Angeline Gervacio and Fille Cainglet? They could have provided a different look and some minutes while the starters got some needed rest.

Oh well.

Then there was that five-set loss by the Men’s Volleyball Team to DLSU. Some say we’ve peaked and that the team is out of gas.

I don’t think that they’re out of gas. For one, everyone is not taking them lightly anymore. Second, they’ve become tentative on the court. The sheer joy of playing and having nothing to lose is gone. They’re played tight and lacked fire. Even when they took the first set from La Salle, it seemed that they were the ones down.

They are one-for-five in their last five matches and now it begins to weigh heavily on their minds.

This is where the coaching and the motivational speeches end because it’s now in the players’ hands. They will determine where they go to from here on. But they have a good team captain in AJ Pareja and I could see after the match how this team looks forward to their next game. Hey, Duane. Shake it off okay? Bawi na lang.

Someone asked me last season why is it that I follow and write about their team when they’ve won nothing and are perennial doormats. Is that the case that we only follow teams when they begin to win? I hate placing emphasis on the line from the alma mater, “win or lose it’s the school we choose” but in the case of the volleyball team and similar ones, this is when that line rings out loud.

I’m actually appalled that the only Ateneo official who watches the football games is Jun Dalandan (Joe Santos watches volleyball and I'm excluding Ricky Palou and Em Fernandez because they are regular fixtures). But if they make the championship round you can bet you blue and white butt they will be there. C'mon! Ano? Puro basketball na lang?

Speaking about heartbreak, how about that thrashing of the women’s football team by La Salle 3-0?

It’s a really young team and it shows but I like the spirit of some of the newbies.

I like Yvette Gaston because she doesn’t give up on plays. And if there’s been an MVP on this team it has been goal keeper Krissy Drilon who also splits time with the softball team. And if they award the best goalkeeper, consideration for the choice should not be the goals given up but by the number of saves. And Krissy has had to fend off numerous attacks and scoring chances.

Belay Fernando. What can you say? She runs to help out in the attack and has to sprint back on defense. No easy feat for her.

Everyone tried their darn best in yesterday’s loss, but I like Tata Garcia’s heart playing on an injured foot. And in her limited minutes she played well.

I hate to say it but we do not have players who are as skilled as those on opposing teams. We have a few for sure. While heart can be an equalizer sometimes skill and talent can overwhelm those who lack it.

But I trust Coach Buda and Karen (and Jerwin and Jay) to get this team going.

Hey, it’s a big week for all our teams. Time to cheer them on. And yup, track and field is fast approaching.

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