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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Here's to Mark Barroca...

Several people asked me what I thought about the accusations that FEU's Mark Barroca has been throwing games. I answered every time out that I'd be really surprised if he does. And if he did, I'd be very cross at him.

But I know that he doesn't and never will.

He was on FEU's Team B with his current batch of teammates when their 2006 squad was blown up in the off season. That team was blown up because management felt it wasn't good enough to challenge for a title. It was deemed that the players on Team B were not only better than the UAAP team but ready to contend for a title in the years to come. It was only in 2007 when JR Gerilla was thrown off the team and Jeff Chan forever banished from the Morayta campus. And Barroca, like the others were there when Mac Baracael was nearly killed.

Don't tell me that those lessons aren't learned. He is signed to Smart Gilas and Oracle. He knows he is set if he plays his cards right. While in Jakarta with the Smart Gilas team I was privy to one session where the players openly talked and teased one another about basketball; game fixing included. I thought that Mark gave a very passionate diatribe on shady dealings and being unhappy about losing. I thought it was rare for an athlete especially one who isn't very good at expressing himself to wax eloquent. And I respected him more for that.

He is so excited about the future. In fact, of the Tamaraws team, it is only him and Aldrech Ramos with a sterling class attendance record. He really wants to move up and learn. Before I packed my bags ahead of the team and left for Manila, he sought my advice because he wanted to ask his girlfriend togo to Corregidor. He wanted to know more about the island fortress from me. How he knew that I've been there twice I'll never know. I don't think he even goes here to Bleachers' Brew.

The reason why he was very successful with Smart Gilas and Oracle is that he has the ball in his hands all the time. He plays lots of minutes and clearly wants the ball come crunch time. With FEU, it's another story. Glenn Capacio said prior to the start of the current season, he'd give the ball to RR Garcia while turning Barroca into a shooting guard. How many point guards do they have -- five or six? Barroca will never be the shooting guard that Ben Fernandez is. Plain and simple, iba yung laro.

On a lighter note, Capacio also joked that he is the only one to be able to stop Barroca; something he jests about even in the presence of his prized guard.

The truth is Barroca finds FEU's offense (even before the arrival of Garcia) to be restrictive. Having said that, he totally enjoys playing for Gilas. It's hard for him to be effective when the ball is in Garcia's hands. I've seen him play bad games for FEU, Oracle, and Gilas and he always bounces back. I've been inside their locker room and at their practice and have made many friends on their team. I may not know as much as the others but from what I know, it isn't so.

At the start of the season, I was worried that he would suffer from fatigue. I even voiced that concern to their trainer on several occasions. During the summer, he was playing and practicing for FEU, Oracle, and Gilas. I wondered if he would one day collapse from exhaustion. In Jakarta, after matches his arm would be real sore. In fact prior to one game, he couldn't lift his arms because they were leaden. One time an opponent from Kuwait took a shot at him. He was already in pain yet he was taking shots from a guy he can twist like a pretzel six ways 'til Sunday without breaking a sweat. Obviously binawian niya ng mas matindi (it almost sparked a rumble). Siya rin yung tinitira ng kalaban and they geared their defense to stopping him.

I understand that FEU officials are meeting right now -- around noon time of this post -- to deliberate on his case. If this is true (and I know he has not admitted to anything) then it's really disappointing. But this Tamaraws team are like brothers having been together solidly for three years now. I know that JR Cawaling is upset at the accusations hurled against his teammate. It's totally not fair.

Like I said, I don't believe it and so do many others. If it does turn out to be true, then how crushing is that? He would be a great ham artist. I just hope this is resolved because this isn't simply one person's future but could also affect their program once more. I mean why would someone want to play for a school that blames players after they have a bad game? You should see that school in Taft. They're doing a good job of that.

By the same token, players on other squads are reported to be doing some shady things. Even in Ateneo, over the years, there rumors of players (just a few mind you) who were throwing games. But they were just that. Rumors. Although some will say otherwise but never show a shred of evidence.

Man, all this is making my head spin.
Good luck with it, Mark.