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.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

NU Bulldogs: some bones to chew on

NU Bulldogs: some bones to chew on
by rick olivares

After nine games in Season 74, the National University Bulldogs toted a 3-6 record. With one more loss, they will have matched their number of loses from the previous campaign.

Last year’s Bulldogs finished 7-7 and nearly made it to the Final Four. Emmanuel Mbe was nearly named league MVP and lost by a shade in percentage points to eventual winner Ryan Roose Garcia of Far Eastern University.

This year’s Bulldogs have Bobby Ray Parks, Lee Villamor, Joel Alolino, Ced Labing-isa, Kyle Neypes, Robby Celiz, Spencer Eman, Reden Celda, and Robin Roño.

Nine new faces, some high profile ones, to shore up last year’s holdovers in Glenn Khobuntin, Jul-Ashri Ignacio, Joeffrey Javillionar, Joseph Terso, Ajeet Singh, and Marion Magat who played under Eric Gonzales. Of those names, only Javillionar, Terso, Singh, and Magat played three years ago under Manny Dandan. And of those names, it was Terso who had any sort of reputation when he arrived in the Sampaloc, Manila campus having played for the National Team alongside other ballyhooed names like Frank Golla, Norbert Torres, and Garcia to name a few.

But Terso who averaged 26 minutes, 7.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists last year is way off the mark this Season 74.

Largely benched, the second or at times now third-string point guard has played an average of 19 minutes while compiling 3.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. I thought that last year, Terso was prime time. Who do you guard – Kokoy Hermosisima or Terso? And as a third option (outside their frontline), there was Mervin Baloran.

Shan Mbe is not what he was last year. Maybe that can be chalked up to missing a lot of the pre-season that could have been used to attain match fitness. And the numbers speak volumes:
Season 73: 30.6 minutes, 13.4 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks.
Season 74: 28.4 minutes, 10.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks.

Last season’s Bulldogs were the third-best defensive team. This year they are sixth.

I wrote before that what made Jewel Ponferrada a better player was the presence of Edwin Asoro as he played clean up to whatever got past the Bulldogs' stud forward.

When Asoro graduated and looking at it in hindsight, Ponferrada made Mbe better too. Without that cleanup guy, Mbe has struggled too as he has had to shoulder the brunt of the interior D. He might have only one more foul at the end of this year’s first round as opposed to last year, but take note that he has no dependable back up. Marion Magat is more of a small forward in a center’s body.

Of course, people’s stats are going to suffer. Any time you get a weapon like a Ray Parks, you give him the ball. He is the most fouled player in the fourth quarter in the UAAP. That says something. He wants the ball in the clutch and when he attempts, he gets fouled and troops to the line for a deuce.

He shoots too much, criticize many? Parks, playing the three-spot, has 1.9 assists. That’s second behind Alolino who has 2.1

Why single out Parks? This is a team of known scorers including Khobuntin, Mbe, Villamor, and Terso. The only one with a lockdown mode is Singh. What they have is a bunch of guys who’d rather score than pass the rock around.

But this team that won last year’s Uni-Games and the Fr. Martin I Cup? So why have they struggled in the UAAP?

The weight of expectations?

Maybe. While I am happy to see that National U can no longer be considered the league doormat, they have to understand what schools like Ateneo and La Salle always harp about – tradition, history, and a lot of hard work. They do not hang championship banners outside the NCAA and the UAAP.

While asking Ray Parks what he thought was wrong, he said: “Man, it’s a different animal, this UAAP. People will just kill themselves to win.”

There you go.

I am also reminded of Norman Black’s first year with Ateneo; he struggled. Eric Altamirano is not only a good friend but I know him to be an excellent coach. He will adjust and this NU team will only get better. A year tucked under their belts will help. At least it should. And I know, it might be apples and oranges comparing the last two Bulldogs teams but without trying to put anyone down, maybe some recognition must be directed at Eric Gonzales’ way.

Because in his one year at NU, he did far more with much less.


  1. Agree, Rick! Eric Gonzales did a very good job with "much less" resources, less hype & perhaps with less "reputation". Isn't that being effective and efficient than Altamirano?

  2. Yes, but like I said, it's like a period of adjustment. They will get better. Trust me on this. And Coach E is a very good coach and a person. Don't count him out.

  3. i liked your last statement regarding coach Eric Gonzales. he was really impressive in his lone season in the UAAP. i expect other school to try and pry him from wherever he is right now to have them coach their own team.