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, November 30, 2010

Oh, sorry I wasn't paying attention. Another bribe? Am not surprised. Bribery after all is the world game.

Bribery in football? Sounds familiar, huh? Got this from Associated Press:

“Two European newspapers say they have obtained a document naming three FIFA executive committee members who allegedly received secret payments from world soccer's former marketing agency.

The allegations come three days before the trio are to take part in FIFA's vote on the hosts for the 2018 and 2002 World Cups.

Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger and Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung identify them as Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and Issa Hayatou of Cameroon.

The reports say the men received kickbacks from marketing agency ISL from 1988-99. ISL went bust in 2001.

The newspapers say they obtained the same document that the BBC plans to feature in a documentary being aired Monday.

FIFA said it had no comment on the reports.”

You might want to read this too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ateneo Blue Eaglets news

The Ateneo Blue Eaglets team competing in the MMBL: Anton Asistio, Fran Asuncion, Ged Austria, Gabe Capacio, Jeo Consunji, Mark Gamboa, Jay Javelosa, Anjo Labadan, Kiefer Lim, Kris Porter, Mio Puno, Paolo Quiogue, Tomas Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, Kyle Suarez, Lambert Tenorio, and Bolek Vitangcol. The team is now coached by Joe Silva. The Blue Eaglets are now competing in the Metro Manila Basketball League where they currently have a 2-2 record. Will see if I can get their sked.

Bleachers' Brew #236 A (bad) good football story about Philippine football

This appears in the Monday November 28, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror.
A bad good football story
by rick olivares

Last Saturday, November 27, members of the Philippine Football Federation unanimously ousted Jose Mari Martinez (25 voted aye, 2 abstained, and 2 disappeared without even casting their vote) as president ending three tumultuous, controversial, and scandalous years on top of one of the oldest sporting associations not just in Asia but also in the entire world.

We live on old glory when our teams were one of the best in Asia but there is no one alive to remember those days. Instead, we have become a laughingstock with our national teams marked as sure wins by opposing countries even before we step on the pitch.

Singapore which has 1/95s of our population is ranked #138th. We argue that with over 1.3 billion Chinese they can produce world-class athletes. Yet somehow that doesn’t translate with us.

I have always maintained that football is a huge sport in the Philippines. It is played from Aparri to Jolo yet because like the 7,000-plus islands that make up the Philippine Islands, the football community is so fragmented and disjointed and seemingly bound by the mirage of prosperity of FIFA money, power, and prestige.

It is said that politics makes for strange bedfellows. But money… money makes bastards of men.

I watched intently as the presidents of 25 football associations verbally voted for the resolution that called for his removal and replacement. Martinez expected as much from “the rebels” as he likes to call them. But in an “et tu, Brutus” moment for those who sided with him but had a change of heart, Martinez glowered and stared daggers. Those who were resolute in their beliefs didn’t need much explanation while those who were perceived to be once allies stammered and groped for the right words in order to soften the blow.

One FA president who voted for the resolution was very emotional about his decision. When I bumped into him inside Martinez’ office about two hours after the ouster, before he left, he had the moxie to ask the deposed president if there was any money earmarked for him! Still one who didn’t bother to make his voice heard claimed that “the rebels” coerced him and offered cash in exchange for his vote in the removal of Martinez.

Yet another who voted “yes” also went to Martinez to sign for something when he clearly shouldn’t have done so. The outgoing president declined to sign.

Why does doing the right thing seem to be so difficult?

The problem with us Filipinos is we are so quick to forgive and forget no matter how the grave the crime and no matter how damning the evidence. From those who have plundered the nation and set us on the track to staggering international debt to those who have launched coup de etats, they have been incredibly pardoned and acquitted. So now, are you telling me if I rob a bank and return the money then all is okay? We’re quits and it is a sign of good faith that perhaps it was an honest mistake?

So we cover it up, cough nod, and go about our business and forget things until a similar misdeed raises its ugly head again so we can cry “foul”? Or maybe that’s only true for those with money and power. 

No wonder our nation is like this.

There were four other presidents absent from the Congress. One of them refused to take part and said of Martinez, “Kayo naglagay diyan, kayo magtanggal diyan.”

So much for the healing power of football.

When I arrived at the PSC mid-morning, I sat down with Martinez to report on the press conference we held for the national team on the eve of the Suzuki Cup Finals in Hanoi, Vietnam. Not soon after that, one of the PFF’s finance officers arrived and while in conference, one of the member football associations asked if there was money.

Your guess is as good as mine about what he meant by that.

For years I had railed against Martinez and in fact, I still do though in a more tempered prose. A few weeks back, he asked me if I would like to work for him at the PFF and I replied that I knew about the financial troubles and didn’t think it wise to further strain resources. Furthermore, I added, “Do you want the fox inside the henhouse”?

He looked at me and laughed. “C’mon. Help me out here. Enough with the bad stories.”

Bad stories. That’s something I have to explain in greater depth to some people. I don’t really like writing scathing pieces. It brings me no joy or pleasure to do so. In truth, I’d rather pen stories that tell of titanic struggles and triumph moments and heart-rending defeats. But as a sports journalist, I have to do what is right as well. And that is why after the 2008 PFF Congress I stopped writing about local football and the PFF. I also refused to be used by others with agendas yet do not have the balls to go out and say it to the world.

However, the sport is near and dear to my heart and I agreed to help organize the press conference for the national team. I also worked on the press kit and wrote his press statement. But leaving nothing to chance, I made sure I had a “Plan B” in the event someone didn’t fulfill their part of the bargain. It’s a good thing I did because what could go wrong did go wrong. And luckily, we pulled it off without a hitch and sent off the nationals in high spirits.

I also became the bridge between the PFF and Gatorade as the sports drink giant plans to be more involved in the sport. It sure helps when my colleagues and I (who work with the global brand) love and believe that we can make great strides with the game.

Not soon after Martinez left the Philsports Complex to repair to the PFF House of Football one last time, the members of Congress discussed a few matters. Some put things in perspective and said that they understand that what transpired was a bloody process but it had to be done.

Some guests said a few words. And I too, had a few words for Congress. I said that I had been covering the local football scene for some six years now and I have written good and bad stories. This whole affair to depose a president who they have no confidence in will change the way the sport is governed in the Philippines. Whether there are repercussions from this or not, they will have to stand for what they did and believe is right. Other sporting associations with similar problems will learn their lessons. But the men who led this will be held to a higher standard and that they have a responsibility given them. And while I pledge my support for their endeavors, I ended by saying that I had enough of writing bad stories. It’s certainly time to write some good ones.

PFF Congress boots out Mari Martinez

This appears in the Monday, November 29, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror.

PFF Congress boots out Mari Martinez
by rick olivares

The tumultuous and controversial three-year reign of Jose Mari Martinez at the top of the Philippine Football Federation is over as he was unanimously ousted in the PFF 7th Ordinary Congress held last Saturday November 27, 2010 at the Audio-Visual Room of the Philsports Complex in Pasig City.

Twenty-five presidents of the 29 present members football associations (out of the total 33) of the PFF voted to approve a resolution by the eight members of the Board of Governors recommending the removal and replacement of Martinez as president.

Mariano V. Araneta, current head of the Iloilo Football Association, was named interim president who will serve out the last year of Martinez’ four-year term. Araneta was also the chairman of the PFF’s Finance Committee who launched the probe into the federation’s finances.

Ismael Batiles of the Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental Football Association was named the Executive Vice President.

Martinez was accused and charged in court for the falsification of public documents when he had notarized a Secretary’s Certificate where one Henry Tsai was named a signatory to the PFF accounts in Banco de Oro and Bank of the Philippine Islands. The board unanimously claimed that there was no motion to include Tsai in the list of signatories.

Tsai, Martinez’ old officemate at Soriamont Steamship Agencies which is owned by Andres Soriano, was first named as “Managing Consultant” and later as “Executive Vice President.”

The audit by Campos, Campos & Co. showed that over PhP 5 million of PFF funds were entrusted by Martinez to Tsai with close to PhP 4 million unliquidated. There were also numerous entries in the accounting where Martinez was purported to use the funds to pay for personal usage such as groceries, medical and credit cards bills, as well as shares in the Valle Verde Country Club.

The PFF Congress also took him to task for misusing the Financial Assistance Plans annual subsidy from the Federation de International Football Association.

In his first year as president, Martinez survived an ouster move when Asian Football Confederation Mohammed Bin-Hammam made a guest appearance and announced a gift donation to the PFF of PhP10 million. Opponents of Martinez decried the move as a “bribe.” Several members then of the opposition bailed out at the last moment when key persons wavered in the move.

Last Saturday, there was no such break in the ranks. In fact, it was even bolstered by a change in heart of several BOG members who were perceived to be allies of Martinez.

Those who voted in favor of the resolution were Eric Pocon (Agusan del Sur), Richard Montayre (Cebu), Abenir Labja (Compostela Valley), Mariano Araneta (Iloilo), Arturo Pacificador Jr. (Laguna), Alex Macabangkit (Iligan Lanao del Norte), Cabili Sinsuat (Maguindanao-Cotabato City), Felix Rivera (Masbate), Ismael Batiles Jr. (Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental), Jug Jimenez (Misamis-Ozamiz), Juan Luis Carpio (Naga City-Camarines Sur), Jose Vito Borromeo (NCR), Mario Narola (Quezon), Dick Emperado (Negros Occidental), Mayor Joselito Piñol (North Cotabato), Ronald Patulin (Oriental Mindoro), Elipio Daypa (Quezon), Mario Garovillo (Rizal), Dave Araral (South Cotabato), Antonio Oculto (Sultan Kudarat), Mario Semorlan (Surigao del Norte), Glenn Caratativo (Tarlac), Antonio Buca (Zamboanga del Norte-Dipolog), and Flaviano Fucoy III (Zamboanga del Sur-Pagadian).

Renato Cosmod (Davao) and Jose Reneva (Camarines Norte) abstained from the voting while Leopoldo Arnaiz (Baguio) and Taghi Kashef (Legazpi-Albay) left without casting their votes.

“The decision has been made by a few,” noted Martinez who retreated to his old office at the PFF House of Football that was a few hundred meters from the Philsports Complex immediately after his removal. “I only worked for the best of football in this country but apparently, some people want my job because they are envious. Their move was unconstitutional. My lawyers will prepare a rebuttal and we will take this to the next level.”

Martinez conducted one last staff meeting at 8pm. As he closed out his meeting, he had one last pronouncement: “This is a sad day for Philippine football. But Mari Martinez will be back.”

Said Araneta of the whole affair, “There is such a thing as accountability. Obviously, there was none with the previous president.”

Araneta outlined some immediate concerns that the new administration of the PFF will put in effect. “First, we have to hire a lawyer to look into who is culpable in the missing funds and if we should file charges. Hopefully, we can recover them. Two, the BOG will meet every quarter to implement the programs that we want to put in place. We will get the chairman of each committee from the board so it is functioning. Third, we plan to revive the national tournaments maybe beginning with the Under-19. And fourth, we will look into the operations of the PFF and see how we can streamline the operations. Of course we will reach out to the AFC and to Mr. Hammam regarding the change in leadership and how this came about.”

Johnny Romualdez, Chairman Emeritus of the PFF and Martinez’ predecessor said that he expects Martinez to contest his ouster with the AFC and FIFA. “It might be bloody but what can we do? We have to do the right thing. This is to save football in our country.” 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Menk dials up vintage performance to lead Ginebra past B-Meg

Menk dials up vintage performance to lead Ginebra past B-Meg
Barangay Ginebra 89 vs. B-Meg Derby Ace 86
by rick olivares

November 28, 2010
Araneta Coliseum
The Barangay Ginebra Kings should have worn retro jerseys the way they were playing against B-Meg Derby Ace. Eric Menk and Mark Caguioa delivered vintage and stellar performances to lead Ginebra past the hottest team in the league, the B-Meg Derby Ace Llamados 89-86 in front of 14, 072 fans at the Big Dome.

Menk, despite being noticeably slower, used his smarts to ditch his defenders with a variety of moves down the post to score 20 points and pull down 7 rebounds in 19 minutes. Caguioa on the other hand shot 50% from the field (7-14) en route to scoring 18 points on his usual daredevil drives, pull-up and fadeaway jumpers. Finding some spring in his legs, the man known as “the Spark” pulled down eight boards (although Ginebra lost the rebounding battle 49-53.

Both Menk and Tubid scored 6 points each in the fourth period as Ginebra outscored B-Meg by three 27-24 which is ironically the margin of victory.

With both squads alternating with a run and a rally, the Kings bucked a 74-70 lead by the Llamados when Ronald Tubid hot consecutive three-pointers from a few feet beyond the arc to give Ginebra a two-lead at 81-79.

B-Meg’s Don Allado, in the midst of a superb game himself (10, points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists), hit a jumper from 15-feet to notch the count. But Menk hit four straight free throws to re-take the lead for good.

The Llamados tried to comeback on the individual brilliance of its trio of fearsome guards Peter June Simon, Roger Yap, and James Yap, but for Ginebra, it was all about execution as Rudy Hatfield (11 points and 12 rebounds) scored on a lay-up following a three-pass pick and roll for a 87-83 lead with 56 seconds left to play.

Roger Yap missed on lay-up but Ginebra failed to score on the end allowing Simon to hit a three-pointer over Caguioa to make it 86-87.

Miller hit two free throws with 9 seconds left for the final points as B-Meg missed a last gasp trey attempt to win the game. The 89-86 win put Ginebra one game up on closest pursuer Talk ‘N Text at 8-3 with three matches to play. As for the Llamados who saw their five-match win streak halted, they are now at .500 with a 6-6 record; two games behind the Tropang Texters. It also spoiled another fantastic performance by Simon who exploded for 26 points who shot a blistering 62% from the field.

“I was disappointed in my last game (ironically where he also played 19 minutes and scored 4 points to go with 2 rebounds 78-79 losing effort to San Miguel that stopped the Kings’ six-game win streak),” said Menk after the game. “And I think I started out slow as well tonight but I was just hoping for another chance to get in the game and help out. And I’m glad I did. It’s just a matter of compensating in certain areas. Now we’d really like to make sure we get one of those top two seats in the next round.”

Ginebra 89Menk 20, Caguioa 18, Tubid 12, Miller 12, Hatfield 11, Cortez 9, Mamaril 4, Wilson 2, Aquino 1, Villanueva 0, Helterbrand 0

B-Meg Derby AceSimon 26, Yap James 14, Gaco 13, Yap Roger 10, Allado 10, Maierhofer 4, Villanueva 43, Salvador 2, Canaleta 2, Adducul 0

Elasto Painters shine in the endgame to send Alaska to loss #7

Elasto Painters shine in the endgame to send Alaska to loss #7
Rain or Shine 80 vs. Alaska 79
by rick olivares

November 28, 2010
Araneta Coliseum
Another game. Another loss. The fourth quarter meltdowns have been the culprit and they have become habitual that it’s difficult to put a finger on any one thing. How much more painful can it be as the Alaska Aces find new ways to lose?

The Aces held a 79-70 lead against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters with 5:51 left after Mark Borboran (19 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocks) hit for a deuce inside. The Aces would not score again.

The Elasto Painters were without Sol Mercado who suited up but wasn’t good with a bum foot, but they found scoring sock from rookie RJ Jazul who put up 16 points including four treys, Gabe Norwood, and Ryan Araña.

But it was the perplexing Jeff Chan who came up big. He missed all five of his attempts from the field and turned the ball over on a two-on-one fastbreak with his team behind 78-79 and 25 seconds left in the match. The former FEU Tamaraw made up for his error by forcing Alaska’s LA Tenorio into an eight-second backcourt violation that gave them back the ball.

Tenorio was in the midst of a dreadful game as he posted a similar stat line like Chan missing all five attempts. In 34 minutes, only had as many rebounds as he had turnovers – four. He also only chalked up two assists. To compound his woes, with time running down on a near broken play by Rain or Shine, the Aces’ point guard bumped Araña who drove in but apparently did not have control of the ball.

Araña canned his two free throws to make it 80-79 as Alaska missed three close range attempts in the final six seconds to slump to their seventh loss in their last nine outings.

Earlier, the Aces had another chance to add to their one-point lead with 1:07 left but Joe Devance stepped on the sideline for a turnover. Gabe Norwood (17 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals) hit a jumper to bring the Elasto Painters closer at 78-79. Then the Aces fell apart.

Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia credits the defense on Tenorio as a key to winning their fifth match in 10 outings. Aside from Chan, Jireh Ibañes, another taller defender was assigned to the shifty point guard. “That was Sol’s idea,” revealed Garcia.

Alaska’s continued downward spiral has seen two other teams that started the season poorly overtake them – B-Meg Derby Ace and Meralco. “We’re still searching for answers,” glumly said Alaska assistant Luigi Trillo after the game.

Rain or Shine 80Norwood 17, Jazul 16, Araña 13, Tang 9, Rodriguez 5, Reyes 5, Kramer 4, Ibañes 4, Vanlandingham 3, Cruz 2, Ferriols 2, Chan 0

Alaska 79Borboran 19, Devance 17, Thoss 16, Baguio 10, dela Cruz 8, Custodio 6, Eman 3, Tenorio 0

Sunday musings

It was nice to hear that the higher ups of FIFA go to Bleachers' Brew. I'm sorry you won't find everything to your liking here, Mr. Blatter. Thanks Cathy for the heads up on this.

I was surprised to find three uniformed policemen inside the premises of the PFF Congress at the Philsports Complex yesterday (November 27). Some football officials didn't like it because it seemed like the former president Mari Martinez was using scare tactics. I interviewed the cops on what they thought about the whole proceedings yesterday. I cannot post their answers but you can ask me when we meet up. But honestly, I didn't see the need for them. It's not it was a riot mob in there. Besides, I have an extremely low opinion on cops. Hate them. Never liked them. Never will.

What do I think of what happened yesterday?
I think the case will be elevated to the Asian Football Confederation where Mr. Martinez will try to get the backing of some of his friends. The facts of the case have already been forwarded to FIFA even before the Congress began. One local football official had a conversation with Mr. Sepp Blatter and from all indications, they are aware of what is going on. 

Mr. Martinez will take the matter to court where the PFF will be in for a fight but the proof and the unanimous decision to take out the former will bode well for them.

What do I think of the other Football Associations? I think the PFF seriously needs to review what the others are doing. I wonder if some of them are actually doing something.

Be back tonight (930pm) for the stories on what happened yesterday and my thoughts on everything.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The cover to the sixth issue of Rebound (Championship issue 2010)

Here's the cover to the championship issue of Rebound. It's a flip cover mag with the other cover being the San Beda Red Lions. Will post it when I get it. Hope you like the new issue that will out in a week or so.

Here are my articles for the new issue: The Cardinal Rule of Consistency (Mapua), Just Ballin' (Ryan Buenafe), Perfection (San Beda), Superfan: Anton Montinola, Stagfall (San Sebastian), and my regular column From the Parking Lot.

Cheer up! The Islanders just won a game!

Hey, Steve Gordon! No need to feel sad. Our woe-is-us New York Islanders snapped a 14-game slide by beating New Jersey 2-0. I woke up to this glorious bit of news and maybe this is just going to be a good day. Am an Islanders fan 'til the day I die. photo by Kathy Kmonicek.

SMB overcomes Al-Hussaini’s big game for 10th win

SMB overcomes Al-Hussaini’s big game for 10th win
San Miguel 96 vs. Air21 89
by rick olivares

November 26, 2010
Araneta Coliseum
When San Miguel met the Air21 Express last October 8, the match ended in a 100-86 victory for the former. If some went into the game expecting another blowout by the Beermen of another overmatched foe then they had another thought coming.

After three quarters, the Express were down by just a bucket 70-72. Now if they could find another player to complement the scoring explosion of rookie Rabeh Al-Hussaini then an upset could be in the making.

Ato Agustin, San Miguel’s first year head coach, drew out a simple game plan – stop Ronjay Buenafe, Wesley Gonzales, and Ronnie Matias and force Al-Hussaini to beat them by his lonesome.

For nearly a quarter of play, San Miguel did just that as they stopped all four as they posted a 29-19 lead with blood in the water for the championship-starved Beermen.

But the Express then switched defensive schemes and threw a box and one on San Miguel and the comeback began in earnest.

Digging deep into his bench, Air21 head coach put in Leo Najorda and Carlo Sharma who gamely battled Danny Seigle and Dorian Peña. As the two put their team back in the game at 28-29 still for San Miguel, Al-Hussaini scored on a putback for a 30-29 lead. The big man added eight more points and the Express went into the half down by four at 45-49 but feeling good about themselves.

At the start of the third, Al-Hussaini chased out Seigle far beyond the three-point arc then forced him to pass. The second overall draft pick deflected the pass and teammate Josh Urbiztondo picked up the loose ball and found Ronjay Buenafe on transition for a trey, 50-49 Air21.

Although the Beermen were finding points from just about everywhere, Al-Hussaini was keeping his team in the fight and within striking range. He scored on fadeaways, turnarounds, jump hooks, and drives on Danny Ildefonso, Mick Pennisi, and Peña.

With three quarters done, Air21 was down by a bucket 70-72 and Al-Hussaini had 21. With fellow rookie and longtime teammate Nonoy Baclao shutting down the inside lane with monster blocks on Jay Washington and Danny Seigle, the Beermen had to break the zone wideopen with their outside shooting. While SMB had Arwind Santos, Dondon Hontiveros, Joseph Yeo, and Washington who can all knock down shots from way beyond what is legal, they had to rebound some because Air21 grabbed 18 boards with eight coming from the offensive end. They also needed to minimize their turnovers after they committed four of which the Express converted into five points.

The Beermen cranked up the defense to open the fourth quarter while they dropped an 11-0 bomb courtesy of Danny Seigle and Washington to go up 83-70. Without Al-Hussaini on the floor, San Miguel continued to beat Buenafe and Gonzales to their sweet spots that prevented their drives. With Najorda now in lockdown, Air21 had zero offense.

Express’ coach Yeng Guiao sent back in Al-Hussaini whose five minutes rest did not cool his guns. The former Ateneo center went back to work by scoring eight straight points while Wynne Arboleda added a deuce off a layup to bring the deficit down to six at 89-95 with 30 seconds to play. Their defense held but a pair of misplays ended any hope of sending the match into overtime.

San Miguel’s 96-89 victory for a 10-2 record had given them a clear shot at any of the top two spots of the Philippine Cup for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. The loss was Air21’s seventh in 11 matches and left them in the danger zone where Powerade, behind by a game, could still sneak up on them and send them out of playoff contention.

Said Agustin after the match, “The team executed our game plan well. Buti na lang walang katulung si Al-Hussaini nung fourth quarter or di natin masabi kung anong mangyayari.” The former PBA MVP when he was playing for San Miguel also singled out point guard Olsen Racela’s solid playmaking in the fourth period where the Beermen were able to get that huge cushion that they rode out until the end.

“If we win the Philippine Cup, then we want to win this for Olsen (who is retiring after this conference after 17 years in the league).”

San Miguel 96 Washington 18, Santos 17, Seigle 15, Yeo 12, Hontiveros 8, Peña 8, Pennisi 5, Cabagnot 4, Artadi 4, Ildefonso 4, Racela 1, Miranda 0

Air21 89Al-Hussaini 31, Najorda 16, Buenafe 12, Quiñahan 10, Sharma 6, Gonzales 5, Arboleda 5, Baclao 4, Urbiztondo 0, Arellano 0, Matias 0  

Alapag’s 32 points tow TNT to a tough win over luckless Barako Bull

Alapag’s 32 points tow TNT to a tough win over luckless Barako Bull
Talk ‘N Text 105 vs. Barako Bull 100
by rick olivares

November 26, 2010
Araneta Coliseum
Talk ‘N Text bucked the tough Barako Bull behind Jimmy Alapag’s 32 points to tow the Tropang Texters to a hard-earned 106-102 win; their seventh in 10 matches.

It was hard earned in every sense of the word as it took a crucial defensive stop and consecutive three-pointers to repulse the Energy Boosters who have given TNT fits in their two matches this Philippine Cup.

When the two squads clashed last November 7, the match’s 84-83 outcome (in favor of TNT) came down to two Alapag free throws in the final 2.9 seconds that was sandwiched by a pair of triples by Barako’s Sunday Salvacion.

With Salvacion on the bench with a rolled ankle, it was Reed Juntilla’s remarkable shooting (11-21 for 52%) that gave the Pangilinan franchise fits. The former University of Visayas Green Lancer scored 28 points on three-pointers, fade aways, and pull up jumpers.

But with Mark Isip (17 points and 10 rebounds) fouling out, Energy Boosters’ coach Junel Baculi lost its dependable inside force.

While Chad Alonzo conducted himself well in relief with 11 points (nine in the fourth quarter), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals, Barako Bull found themselves threatening to level the count with TNT on top 97-95. Alonzo posted up Tropang Texter Larry Fonacier but when he spun around, the former Ateneo Blue Eagle ripped the ball away from his hands.

A minute later, Alapag and Fonacier hit back-to-back treys for a 103-96 lead. Instead of folding as they were without Isip and Salvacion, Barako threatened once more after Paolo Hubalde and Alonzo strung up two points each to make it 103-100.

After Fonacier short-armed a triple attempt, forward Harvey Carey, the only player currently averaging a double double in points and rebounds (13.1 ppg and 11.6 rpg) corralled the offensive board for a crucial possession. Alapag was fouled and he knocked down his two free throws once more to close out the scoring at 105-100. Carey scored 11 points and hauled down 15 huge boards.

Alapag, the former California State University-San Bernardino Coyote, scored 32 points, the second highest of his career after his 39-point eruption during a Christmas Day match with Ginebra in 2004 (that was for a loss). He also issued 10 assists (including the kickout to Fonacier for that wideopen dagger that gave them a seven-point lead late in the fourth) and one rebound.

For much of the game, the Energy Boosters gave the Tropang Texters fits with their dribble drive offense as Mark Isip, Ken Bono, Richard Yee, and Chad Alonzo were repeatedly the beneficiaries of drop passes by Paolo Hubalde, Borgie Hermida, and Reed Juntilla,

The Energy Boosters led 28-23 and 79-76 at the end of the first and third quarters respectively but the Tropang Texters took the even quarters behind Ryan Reyes’ 11 points in the second and Alapag’s 10 in the fourth. Barako had no double-digit scorer in the second or fourth periods to match up with the TNT’s guards’ explosion.

Barako fell to its seventh straight loss in the current PBA Philippine Cup while Talk ‘N Text tied idle Barangay Ginebra at 7-3.

Talk ‘N Text 105Alapag 32, Reyes 17, Dillinger 11, Carey 11, Fonacier 10, Peek 9, Alvarez 6, Castro 5, Aban 4, Oreta 0, Lao 0, Telan 0

Barako Bull 100Juntilla 28, Isip 17, Hubalde 13, Alonzo 11, Yee 10, Viray 9, Daa 5, Bono 4, Hermida 3, Dimaunahan 2, Cruz 0, Salvacion 0, Misolas 0

Friday, November 26, 2010

PBA Friday notes

Who do you think is faster -- Jason Castro or Paul Artadi? Looks like it's the SMB backup guard.

Great game by Rabeh Al-Hussaini who scored 31 points to go with 13 rebounds! I always knew the big guy would do well in the PBA. When he played with Smart Gilas during their PBA stint he showed that he could score some. And well, he's been getting better by the game.

I noticed today that from the beginning of the first game, League Supervisor of Officials Ramil Cruz sat in the stands. By halftime of the second game, I went up to Commissioner Chito Salud and asked him about it. Turned out that at least from hereon, Ramil will stay in the stands to take down notes. He will speak with the referees before the game, halftime, and post-game but not during the game. Was this a result of the last match between Alaska and B-Meg? I can't say. But according to the Commish, he noticed that during timeouts they discuss plays that had transpired when nothing could be done. In his opinion, the constant communication can mess up the officiating. So best to do it during the pre-game, halftime, and post-game. Make no mistake! This is no suspension. Knowing Ramil, the perspective from an elevated position will help.

Speaking of the officiating, the way it was officiated in the match between Barako Bull and Talk 'N Text  leaves much to be desired. 

Kirk Long watched his former Ateneo teammates Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao play tonight by Tata Garcia. Noy Baclao with four blocks? I counted five. Anyways, the heir to Jerry Codinera as the Tapal King is here! 

Mark Andaya placed on reserve for Jason Misolas? Seriously? Bring back the big guy!

Joel Banal is a consultant for the FEU Tamaraws. For now. Let's wait 'til the summer if there are any further developments. But my man inside Morayta tells me to wait 'til January.

Asked Ato Agustin after SMB's win over Air21 about the situation in San Sebastian. No truth to the rumor that Calvin Abueva is leaving the Stags. There are three different rumors floating on why he didn't play against Adamson in the PCCL. He had no uniform. He was in Pampanga. And he followed the footsteps of Ray Maconocido. So choose your pick (as a weird person used to say).

Game recaps tomorrow!

Words of wisdom from the real #23

Ateneo Blue Eagles PCCL Quarterfinals: A devastating momentum shift

A devastating momentum shift
Ateneo 65 vs. Mapua 56
by rick olivares with pic by brosi gonzales

November 25, 2010
San Juan Arena
A basketball game is played in spurts with key moments that are capped with a turning point that decides the match.

In the quarterfinals match between old-time NCAA rivals Ateneo and Mapua, the key moment was at the start of the third quarter when an elbow was thrown by Cardinal Erwin Cornejo that hit Blue Eagle Kirk Long in the jaw. That begat a vociferous protest from Ateneo’s bench that was followed by a warning for “improper bench decorum” by the referees.

It took a minute for Long to gather his wits. When the Blue Eagles trooped over to their side of the court, Eric Salamat slapped his hands and said, “Let’s go!”

The battle – the game – had been joined. The elbow had woken a still off form Ateneo team out of their lethargy. Although the Blue Eagles held a 32-30 lead at the half for a while there, it seemed that the Cardinals would send them packing for the rest of the year.

With their shooting off and the defense slow to react to a double high post screen for Mangahas, the Blue Eagles found themselves down by 15-points 12-27 after the latter dropped two free throws with six and change left in the second canto.

Then Long, arguably the team MVP of the last UAAP season got untracked. In one of his best offensive games of the year, the senior forward scored (for a game high total of 23 markers, 5 assists, 2 assists, and 2 steals) on a variety of kamikaze drives, offensive putbacks, and a couple of those patented three-pointers where he pulls the ball back as if he were cocking the trigger before bang – game barker Rolly Manlapaz goes ballistic.

Long had as many points – 12 -- as the entire Mapua team in the second quarter. And his teammates chipped in eight of their own to take the lead on a huge spurt. Some members of the television production crew were so awed by the almost effortless comeback where the Blue Eagles flashed their championship mettle. “Tinambakan sila tapos ganun lang hinabol nila. Ngayon lamang pa.” remarked a disbelieving cameraman.

At the half, Ateneo head coach Norman Black made known his displeasure about some players’ tendency to look for their own shot or be slow on their defense assignments. “I don’t care how many championships we’ve won but I want to win,” he enunciated. “We’re not going to win with the way we’re shooting so let’s play defense.”

That wasn’t going to be easy. Last summer, the Blue Eagles played the Mapua Cardinals for the Fr. Martin Cup title. It was a bruising affair at the St. Placid Gym in San Beda’s grounds. In fact, the Philippine Collegiate Champions League match was a carbon copy of that game that Ateneo won – an early Cardinals lead, Ateneo roars back, get gets rough, technical fouls here and there, and an Ateneo sprint to the finish line for the win.

But if the Blue Eagles want to defend their national championship, then they had to get their heads together.

Nine minutes after Cornejo’s elbow decked Long, it was Cardinal center Mike Parala’s turn to introduce JP Erram to his joint. The Ateneo back up center was hit in the face and his retaliation was the one caught by the officials.

A minute later, Long was hit again in the face this time by Jonathan Banal and this time the benches stood up. Salamat shoved Banal* and the luckily, officials and cooler heads prevailed.

Ateneo had a chance to make a statement but Salamat missed a triple. On the other end, it was Mangahas who stroked a triple. And at the end of three quarters, the Cardinals had regained the lead 46-42. But if they thought they had the Blue Eagles on the ropes they had another thought coming. The near fisticuffs and the salvo from Mangahas lit a fire underneath the mostly lethargic boys from Katipunan.

Not soon after, the Blue Eagles forged the sixth and last deadlock of the game at 49-all following a layup by Long off a bounce pass by Emman Monfort. Nico Salva got another layup off a terrific forward pass by Monfort and the pint-sized point guard scored on a floater in the lane.

And just like that the momentum and the game had clearly swung Ateneo’s way.

On the defensive end, the shut down the high pick-and-roll game of Mapua as the Blue Eagles adjusted “like a rubber band” to borrow Black’s term. Mangahas who torched them for nine points on that play alone in the first 30 minutes now had zero.

The shaded lane where Mapua made their living with the putbacks and post plays of Mark Sarangay and Macky Acosta was shut down (22 points in the first half and 6 in the final 20 minutes) and the Cardinals had to find their business from the stripe.

From the 8:38 mark of the fourth, the Cardinals scored only seven points to Ateneo’s 16. Of the seven Mapua points, five came from the free throw line. Their last field goal came a minute and then some after Sarangay made an awkward putback for their last points in a 65-56 Ateneo win.

Following Monfort’s floater, the team received a buffer of points following a technical foul on Mangahas who cussed out an officials. They scored four points in that crucial call (Nico Salva was fouled at that time with Mapua in penalty). After all the free throws, Ateneo was up 57-49.
Just as it was in the Fr. Martin Cup title game where Frank Golla knocked down a triple that was a blow to the gut of the Cardinals, Monfort hit one of his own for a 63-54 lead with 2:33 left that knocked the wind out of their dogged foe’s sails.

And the Blue Eagles were moving on.

Ateneo 65Long 23, Salva 12, Monfort 11, Tiongson 7, Golla 6, Chua 2, Gonzaga 2, Salamat 2, Escueta 0, Erram o, Austria 0 dela Cruz 0

Mapua 56Mangahas 11, Sarangay 9, Parala 8, Banal 7, Acosta 6, Ranises 5, Pascual 3, Cornejo 3, Ighalo 2, Guillermo 2

* After Salamat shoved Banal, the Blue Eagle pointed to the Cardinal as if to show the officials that the latter started the near-mêlée. That incident got both teams off their benches. While there were no free throws attempted after the respective technical fouls were called, the episode clearly lit a fire under the Ateneans. Said the Blue Eagle captain afterwards, “Wala na nga akong ginawa muntik pa nagsimula ng away.” Of course he chipped in with 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.