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, October 31, 2011

Manchester City stays clear of United after slaying Wolves

Interesting weekend at the English Premier League. And it’s getting crowded at the top which is all good, yes? So unlike the Primera Liga that is a two-trick show. If you ask me, Barcelona and Real Madrid should just play a best-of-five season to determine who the win the trophy.

At the risk of offending Real Sociedad fans, onto the English Premier League.

Arsenal marches to London rival Chelsea’ grounds and stomps them 5-3 behind Rob van Persie’s three goals. What does that mean? Chelsea loses ground and Arsenal sets itself up again for massive disappointment if they fail to win this year. Yes, I know that Arsene Wenger says that the Gunners are back but that really remains to be seen.

United righted their ship with a 1-nil win over Everton after another finish by Javier Hernandez. Boo!

Tottenham crushes QPR 3-1 and me Liverpool lads choked West Brom 2-nil. Hey, there’s a Magpie sighting!!!

So we’re on to Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton.

The question for the Citizens is this – how do you follow a 6-1 thrashing of United at Old Trafford now that you’re home at Etihad?

Well, there’s frequent victim Wolverhampton that has not beaten City since 1999. And there was the recent 5-2 Carling Cup victory over this Midlands squad.

With five points ahead of United, it was imperative for Robert Mancini’s side to collect a win and keep distance. Who needs Carlos Tevez when you have Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, David Silva, and Mario Balotelli? I think Tevez is a gifted footballer but you cannot have to headcases in one squad (the other is Balotelli). Who will be the straw that stirs the drink here?

Balotelli’s off the bench and while Wolves are worried about Dzeko, Aguero, and Silva, Micah Richards raids them on the right for a bunch of crosses. Just as I am giving Wayne Hennessy some love he commits a defensive howler as Aguero pressures him into losing the ball. Edin Dzeko gets maybe the easiest goal all year. It’s Christmas in October.

City defender Aleksandar Kolarov poaches a goal and although Stephen Hunt equalizes with a penalty after a foul inside the box by Vincent Kompany that saw his given a red card by the referee (I figure Kompany said something in French that the referee understood) that was somewhat harsh.

But Adam Johnson, a late sub for Mancini’s side, finished off Mick McCathy’s side for a 3-1 Man City win.

Pasargad draws with Green Archers to enter knockout stages in style

This appears in

Pasargad draws with Green Archers to enter knockout stages in style
by rick olivares

October 29, 2011
University of Makati

Substitutions can either make or break a team.

When Kaya played Diliman it was the second half adjustments and entry of Anton del Rosario that changed the fortunes for the Juan Cutillas-mentored club that allowed them to win the match.

During the Sunday, October 23 clash between Pachanga and Global, the entry of Angel Guirado in the second half clearly changed the pace of the match for the latter and the two goals his side scored to draw level with Pachanga clearly had his imprint all over them.

And there was Pachanga-Queen City United match where Shirmar Felongco was lifted after 11 minutes due to an injury. Lagrimas scored a goal two minutes after that lifted the early pressure from Cebu that not only dominated possession but also kept attacking.

And there’s Green Archers United against Pasargad.

The alumni team of De La Salle University has had one of the top-rated defenses heading into the end of the group stage. Bracketed with Pasargad, Forza, and Dolphins United, the Green Archers made short work of Forza 5-nil and Dolphins 6-0. They were the sixth best goal scoring team with 11 heading into the match but perhaps more than the wins, it was an immense source of pride that the had kept two clean sheets. And in fact, were only one of three clubs not to have a ball go past the keeper (the other two are Nomads and Army).

On the other side of the pitch, Pasargad, the Iranian club that once featured a striker named Misagh Bahadoran, was in second place but in a tricky situation. They toted a 1-1 record after a 1-nil win over Dolphins and a 4-2 loss to Forza. They were tied with Forza at second but had the tie breaking owing to a better goal difference – negative one as opposed to the negative five of Forza. For them to advance they needed either a win, a draw, or if they lost to the group leaders, it should not be by more than four goals. Yet head coach Essi Sedigh remained optimistic of his team’s chances.

But once the game began, it was all Green Archers. With former national player Arnie Pasinabo and team captain Patrick Bocobo making run after run, it seemed that it was a matter of time before they scored.

All that was keeping Pasargad in the match was the netminding of Abdollah Golkhah who had turned back numerous strikes against him. Jay-Ar Inventor and Friday Uche did their best to mount attacks for Sedigh’s team but the defensive line of Jun Mark Saraga, Arvin Soliman, Reynald Villareal, and Luis Miguel Celdran drove them back.

Needing a spark, Green Archers’ manager Monchu Garcia who had taken over Adolfo Alicante who was unavailable for the match, replaced midfielder Kix Romero-Salas with Gung Villa on the right midfield. Romero-Salas is a very good midfielder but if he is unable to get going early then he is off his game. While Villa, who had just graduated from DLSU, brought in fresh legs and pace off the right flank, it was the introduction of Gerald Pacquiao, normally a starter, in the late stages of the match that galvanized their team.

Pacquiao, who starred for the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod and the National Capital Region team in the recent Under-23 national championships, was found by midfielder Shapay Johnson off a free kick and he outran his defenders finally beat Golkhah to give his side a 1-nil lead in the 63rd minute. Pacquiao would cause more problems for Pasargad on the left freeing up Pasinabo and Bocobo for more chances but the Green Archers were still unable to add a second goal.

Not soon after Pacquiao’s goal, Sedigh sent in midfielder Navid Khorsani for Uche. But after conceding that goal, Pasargad kept most of their players on their side of the field to prevent any more additional goals leaving Ruben Bioumla up front in the event of a counter attack.

Four minutes added to the match, Pasargad had one chance to steal a goal for a draw when they were awarded a corner shot. For the first time since the early part of the second half, Pasargad sent almost their entire team forward. The ball found Kohorsani in the box and the Iranian quickly turned and fired away to the second post past a diving Martin Villaflor.

Seconds later, the final whistle blew for a 1-1 draw and Pasargad qualified for the knockout stages.

Said a disappointed Monchu Garcia, “I think it’s our curse to given up late goals. Last year we gave up one to Navy and other squads. But we’re in and we just have to learn from this and play until the final whistle ends.”

Added Khorsani, “We knew it’s our last chance to score because it’s good to advance because of what you do on the field. We earned that point and it’s a good chance for Pasargad to enter the next stage.”

Notes: Green Archers keeper played behind Bob Lacaya for DLSU then started. He later returned to #2 keeper status when Patrick Deyto moved up from DLSZ. Another backup keeper for DLSU playing well in this UFL Cup is Jay Avellana who is with Team Socceroo. He was with the Green Booters team that last made the UAAP Men's Football Finals in 2006.

Pachanga blanks Queen City United to top Group C

Pachanga blanks Queen City United to top Group C
by rick olivares

October 29, 2011
University of Makati

Norman Fegidero Jr. unflappable in his trademark sunglasses that will not betray the look in his eyes, wiped the sweat from his brow and asked Pachanga team manager Jojo Rodriguez, “Ito lang? Wala nang iba?

Rodriguez nodded.

Fegidero went into calculation mode. After all there was work to be done. The Red Phoenix was closing out their group play by facing the winless Queen City United.

The former national player and head coach of the Azkals knew his side could win the match and top Group C but it might not be easy as he did not have a full crew available for the match.

Defender Neckson Leonora was with the national team in Japan. Midfielder Boyet Cañedo was suspended on account of two yellow cards. Team captain and central back Yves Ashime and striker Chris Ojamire were both out with groin injuries. Central back Camelo Tacusalme could not make it as he had an exam the following day. Striker Alex Obiang asked to be released. Goalkeeper Kenneth Dolloso was still out with a hand injury. And Derek Ramsey was down with a fever.

“As long as we play our style,” Fegidero would later say during the final team briefing. “Then we can win this game.”

With several starters unavailable, he had to make some adjustments. However in the first half of play, those adjustments in the Red Phoenix’ 442 attack was stymied by the Cebuanos’ 451 play.

With attacking mid Alu Kigbu moved up the forward line alongside Jovin Bedic, Oussey Diop was the team’s central playmaker. Cebu smothered Diop and constantly tested Pachanga’s defense. With Ronald Batisla-Ong getting his first taste of action in the UFL Cup and Aldwyn Riedler taking Ashime’s spot in the middle, the defense was rather shaky. “Our best opportunity is to strike early,” said Queen City head coach Mario Ceniza. “Alam namin na hindi sila kumpleto.”

Cebu’s Junard Aguilar was giving Pachanga left back Jalsor Soriano all sorts of fits while Ariel Cahilig was making frightening runs up the middle keeping Pachanga keeper Mark Sorongon quite busy.

With Shirmar Felongco hobbled by an injury, Fegidero replaced the youngster with veteran midfielder Ronnel Lagrimas in the 11th minute. Lagrimas, Felongco’s teammate in UST, immediately made his presence felt by scoring Pachanga’s first goal two minutes from entry.

After a failed sortie, Kigbu kept the pressure on Cebu defender Laurence Gerali who coughed up the ball. The Pachanga forward was on target with his cross and Lagrimas could only oblige.

Queen City, lit up for 11 goals heading into this match had begun to play better. Formed a mere eight days before the kick off of the UFL Cup, the team culled players from different clubs and had to look for a head coach. The club thought that after their 8-0 demolition by Stallion FC the previous week would put off their fellow Cebuanos but instead it did not. The support did not waver and they knew that this could lead to a renaissance of Cebuano football that had long taken a backseat to regional powers Iloilo and Bacolod.

In the match versus Stallion, Queen City was able to go on the attack and have several decent chances to score early against the Iloilo-based club. Had they found the back of the net in one or even a couple of those chances that might have completely changed the complexion of the match.

With Queen City stepping up on the pressure, the pressure was greatly eased on Pachanga when midfielder Gino Palomo beat the hapless Gerali and tacked on another goal in the 42nd minute. With Ceniza’s squad in shock from conceding a second goal, Kigbu made them pay for their tentativeness as he made it 3-0.

Cebu was deflated. With the halftime coming, Fegidero’s team had scored three goals and that was with a lineup that did not look solid. For sure Pachanga would make their adjustments.

True enough, the Red Phoenix solidified their defense and their midfield. And in the 64th minute, Diop sent a long ball right over the defense to Bedic whose one-touch volley sent Queen City goalkeeper Alex Buanghog flailing away helplessly.

Pachanga finished the match 4-0 and topped the Group of Death for a total of seven points. With all their players (save for Leonora) returning the following week, the team would be back to nearly full strength. “It’s always good to qualify on your own accomplishments kesyo naghihintay ka sa resulta ng ibang laban. Cebu was in fine form but we did not want to concede a goal. This was an important win for Pachanga because we are trying our best to get to Division One football.”

Notes: Jovin Bedic has now score in all three matches for Pachanga. Pachanga finished with seven points, Stallion FC with six, and Global FC with four yet all three will advance to the knockout stages. The television panel chose Mark Sorongon as the Man of the Match for his stellar play at goal that denied Cebu several decent chances.

People are wondering why I call Pachanga "the Red Phoenix". The team's logo is "the Red Phoenix". Pachanga is team owner Freddie Gonzalez' old club back in the day and they are bent on making a smashing return like a phoenix from the ashes." Check out my earlier stories on them and click the logo. When it was sent to me by team manager Jojo Rodriguez, the logo was labeled "Red Phoenix" logo.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bleachers' Brew #283 Thrill & agony in these games

This appears in the Monday October 31, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror.

Thrill & agony in these games
by rick olivares

Sporting events are supposed to be memorable because -- if I may borrow from the late great Jim McKay -- of thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. But they can also be memorable or forgettable due to controversial calls, the incompetence of tournament officials, or the light and funny moments.

Going to the 16th Philippine Sports Commission University Games (October 22-29) at Roxas City, Capiz, I went through the whole gamut of emotions of a sporting event.

As soon as I arrived, I proceeded to the media center to ask for information regarding teams, results, the history, and the works. I was told in return that I cannot be given all of that because I might out-scoop everyone else. Okay. Now I knew what I was up against. I tried a different tactic by requesting for the previous day’s updates and if it could be sent via email. I got a look like the word “email” has gone the way of the carrier pigeon. When they finally got around to sending the information via email, it arrived two day’s late.

When I went to the sports venues, practically almost all the games were delayed not by a few minutes but sometimes for as much as two and a half hours. That screwed up everyone’s schedules as teams were forced to miss meals and coaches had to worry about keeping their players’ focus a whole lot longer.

Prior to matches, when I inquired about team lineups, table officials would refer to me to the supervising officials who would direct me back to the table officials. But the record books only have their surnames,” I explained. “I need to get their full names.

“Doon sa media center meron silang mga kumpletong lineup,” replied one official who in all fairness said it rather nicely and tried to be helpful.

Forgetaboutit. Been there. Done that.

While at the Capiz Gym to watch some of the men’s basketball games, I went up to the john to take a leak. Not only were the urinals overflowing with urine but also there was no running water anywhere.

I went back to the bleachers and groaned about the poor facilities to no one in particular. One female athlete shared that in the school where they were quartered, you could smell the bathrooms from some 20 feet away. It was that overpowering. The bathrooms were so poorly maintained that the girls had to place tissue paper on the toilet seat. So much for comfort.

The games too had their own bit of comedy relief.

During the women’s volleyball match between the University of the Philippines (Diliman) and Ateneo de Davao University at the Colegio de la Purisima Concepcion last Tuesday, a dog wandered onto the court in the middle of the third set that saw some Davao players comically scampering away. The stray dog eventually left after about a minute perhaps unhappy about being the butt of jokes.

Last Thursday, during the semifinals women’s football match between De La Salle University and the University of Santo Tomas, the two teams went into penalties to decide who will advance to the finals. As both squads trooped to the far end for the shootout, another dog wandered onto the pitch and this one took a dump right on the touchline!

I guess with the success of the Azkals and the rise to prominence of local football, the beautiful game I should say is going to the dogs.

But ultimately, the games belonged to the athletes who put on a thrilling show despite the terrible organization.

There were spectacular upsets (Dipolog Memorial Medical Center thrashing UP 3-0 in men’s football and De La Salle University’s 89th minute goal and game winner against University of St. La Salle that thoroughly dominated the match) and there were tense matches such as the penalty shootout between the women’s squads of UST and DLSU that saw 12 players take spot kicks that the former won 10-9.

There was a story of revenge after the La Salle men’s football team abandoned a match against the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos following a controversial goal that saw the Rams collected a 1-0 win. The two squads faced each other once more in the finals with the Green Archers this time routing UNO-R 4-1 for the crown.

The volleyball matches were always packed with people who came out to watch the volleybelles they only saw on television during the V-League and UAAP season. The crowds were lined up three, four deep. Some even climbed up construction scaffoldings to get a better view.

And speaking of crowds, the quarterfinals match between Ateneo de Manila and local side Hercor College drew 7,000 people to a 3,000 capacity gym that police officials dispatched their SWAT team for additional security. The Blue Eagles were easily the most watched team of the games.

The Roxas City crowd was gracious with their applause and praise (for sure there was some heckling). Although they had their clear favorites, they cheered for all sides. They also made their displeasure known for bad basketball and were embarrassingly quiet when the referees made dubious calls that favored local sides.

It’s a great sports event. In fact, the PSC for the first time adopted the University Games as its official tertiary competition and a part of its grassroots program.

As I waited for my flight back home to Manila last Saturday and reflected on the week that was, I was thinking of how to write this column and what the lasting image of these games were for me. As I sat in my seat, typing on my laptop, across me was an athlete fast asleep after all the intense competition.

In her arms was the trophy that her team fought hard for.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Roxas City Diary Friday October 28

I had no idea what was in store for me in this University Games. I thought that all the sporting competitions will be held in one venue but instead they were scattered all over the city with the volleyball games being held in Panay. I tried to cover as much as I could but I realized that it was insane because I couldn't do it alone. It didn't help that the organizers and media center weren't exactly helpful. So there I was at the rotonda in Panay trying to figure out if I should stay there for volleyball or go to Villareal Stadium for football, basketball, track and field, and tennis. Tough, yeah?

With Trina and Ralph Aligada and Benjo Afuang while covering the Ateneo Blue Eagles at the Capiz Gym. I missed the Blue Eagles' first match (against Filamer Christian University) and will also miss the finals game against West Negros University as I am flying home to Manila on Saturday morning (am doing the UFL broadcast for AKTV). But I will try to get updates as they happen so I can -- "try" is the operative word here -- to write about it.

With Ateneo assistant volleyball coach Parley Tupas, a Capiz native, and Central Philippines University volleybelle Jovelyn Gonzaga at the Panay Civic Center.

In a gathering of eagles, Ateneo tops USA to enter Unigames hoops finals

In a gathering of eagles, Ateneo tops USA to enter Unigames hoops finals
by rick olivares photo by brosi g.

October 28, 2011
Capiz Gym
You think baseball and tennis are the only sports delayed by rain?

Think again.

In the semifinals match between Ateneo de Manila University and the University of San Agustin at the Capiz Gym, the match was stopped twice as rain seeped through the roof and fell on several places on the court.

The first was at the 2:51 mark of the first quarter with Ateneo leading 13-6. With water seeping through on the shaded lane of USA’s goal, it took eight minutes before officials deemed the court wiped free of damp spots. Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga and San Agustin coach Rodolfo Benito Jr. both worried that their teams would cool off so they sent their players to shoot around to keep their rhythm going but the referees shooed them back.

Upon the resumption of the game, Benito’s fear was justified as the USA Golden Eagles committed a backcourt violation, gave up a layup to Ateneo’s Justin Chua, and failed to get a shot off in their next possession.

Then the rains dripped through again forcing another stoppage in play.

When the game continued, it was Ateneo’s turn to momentarily lose their focus. Twice at half court they were unable to get the ball across as the Golden Eagles’ swingman Joven Patizar stripped the Blue Eagles’ Joma Adornado of the ball. And each time USA scored to come within five, 10-15.

The momentary lapse in concentration was snapped when Ateneo’s Jeric Estrada scored on an and-one. Although Estrada missed the free throw, the Blue Eagles had arrested the short skid with an 8-0 run over the next three minutes that bridged the first and second quarters, 25-12 Ateneo.

Just as in their quarterfinals match with Hercor College, the blues were up against a home crowd that cheered on the Visayan teams. But their stellar play, teamwork, and defense always won over the audience that appreciated a well-played match of basketball.

Up against a very athletic USA team (both starting guards had excellent crossover moves) that also had a corps of excellent marksmen, the Blue Eagles had to send help to defend against the dribble penetration of the Golden Eagles.

Benito’s squad scored six straight points in the early minutes of the fourth period that necessitated a return of four starters in Tiongson, Gonzaga, Capacio, and Erram alongside Paul Siarot.

Ateneo’s 19 assists and selfless play not only stretched San Agustin’s defense but it opened the floor for some razzle dazzle basketball that saw both Juami Tiongson and Tonino Gonzaga score on a pair of acrobatic layups.

The fourth period saw USA score straight points behind Skyld Corillo (13 points) and Jan Rey Madulin (7 points) while Ateneo was whistled for four fouls in the same stretch. Once more the early first half blitz served up a huge lead that was a buffer against the impending rally and spotty officiating.

After Madulin scored on an and-one off a Chua foul to make it 50-65, the Blue Eagles answered every USA with a bucket of their own or a defensive stop. They restored a 22-point lead with 5:21 left after Gwynne Capacio (14 points) scored on an inside stab after a feed from Gonzaga.

From thereon, the Blue Eagles coasted to a 77-62 win to enter the finals of the men’s basketball competition of the 16th Unigames.

“We had some defensive lapses that allowed their (USA) shooters to hit some shots that got their confidence going,” said coach Sandy Arespacochaga after the match. “We will have to work on that when we face West Negros University (that defeated St. Francis of Assisi College 66-55 in their semis match up).”

The last time Ateneo won the Unigames basketball title was two years ago against St. Francis of Assisi College. The WNU Mustangs last won the Unigames championship was in 2006 when they had Nonoy Baclao playing for them.

“It’s going to be an interesting match-up,” said Arespacochaga.

Ateneo de Manila University 77Chua 17, Capacio 14, Gonzaga 10, Tiongson 8, Adornado 8, Pessumal 7, Siarot 4, Erram 3, Estrada 2, Cipriano 2, Golla 2, Mercado 0.

University of San Agustin 62Corillo 13, Sombrea 11, Agudo 10, Zate 9, Madulin 7, Alojipan 3, Alagaban 2, Quimsing 2, Griño 2.

Bustamante rescues DLSU in a 1-nil thriller over USLS

Caption: La Salle striker Al Bustamante (16) races towards the goal past the fallen USLS defender Jimmy Malaloan (3) and goal keeper David Aquino (1) as a helpless Paolo Mendoza (8) looks on.

Bustamante rescues DLSU in a 1-nil thriller over USLS
by rick olivares with photo by brosi gonzales

October 28, 2011
Villareal Field, Roxas City
It’s been a strange tournament for De La Salle University. They drew their opening assignment and abandoned their second. They only made it to the quarterfinals because they were in the only group with three teams and so they advanced on goal difference. Then they beat the Cinderella team of the tournament Dipolog Memorial Medical Center (who defeated Ateneo de Manila 2-1 and the University of the Philippines 3-0) 2-1 to advance to the semifinals against University of St. La Salle.

The Stingers with their bevy of U-23 National Champions.

On the smelly and stinky Villareal Field that has been destroyed by incessant rain and trodden on by dozens of football boots in the last six days, the Stingers found a way to dominate with Joel Bedia and J Baguioro repeatedly making runs up the left flank. Time and again, they would find striker Joshua Beloya and midfielder Ralph Layumas for strikes but if they were not stopped by the Green Archers’ back four, then reserve keeper Josh Cruz found a way to block them.

With less than 10 minutes in the game, DLSU head coach Hans Smit sent in Al Bustamante to replace a limping Arturo Enriquez in the forward position alongside Don Rabaya. His freshness and pace injected new life in DLSU.

In the 89th minute, USLS defender Jimmy Malaloan passed the ball back to keeper Dave Aquino. To Aquino’s horror, Bustamante snuck up behind Malaloan. The Stingers’ keeper dove to snag the ball but Bustamante got a boot on the ball to send it through the goal.

With an attack borne of desperation (there were only four minutes of added time), USLS thought it had the equalizer when Baguioro scored except he was whistled for being offside. The USLS players protested vehemently and one was issued a yellow card for using profane language.

USLS had one last attack in them but La Salle’s defense held them off. As time expired, an exuberant La Salle team piled on Bustamante in the middle of the stinky and smelly field.

Even for only a minute, it was a good feeling.

Said the ever-loquacious Smit: “On a pitch like this, it’s all about using one’s head and being smart. You know that the pitch will not favor short passing so you adapt. You play aggressive and hope the defense makes a mistake. We worked hard for that goal and defending a very good team like Bacolod (USLS).”

The men’s football final featuring DLSU and University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (which beat the University of the Philippines 2-1 in stoppage time) will be held on Saturday at 2:30 pm at the stinky and smelly Villareal field in Roxas City, Capiz.

UNO-R scores injury time goal to knock out UP

UNO-R scores injury time goal to knock out UP
by rick olivares

October 28, 2011
Villareal Field
In the first semifinals men’s football match between the University of the Philippines and University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos at the Villareal Field in Roxas City, Capiz, the Rams scored a goal in stoppage time to send the Fighting Maroons out of the tournament, 2-1.

Midfielder Eron Jareño scored in the first minute of stoppage time to beat the defending UAAP champions 2-1 in a bitterly contested clash. UP head coach Andres Gonzales was sent off by referee Kent Gaboyan for excessive complaining after what he thought were a series of poor calls that went against his team.

Maroons’ rookie Gabe Mendoza scored in the ninth minute but UNO-R equalized in the second half after a 69th minute goal by Abelardo Solinas.

In injury time, the Rams had a corner kick that UP keeper Penn Custodio punched out of the way only to see it fall in front of UNO-R’s Jareño who scored the game winner.

The match was UP’s second loss of the tournament following a shock 3-0 defeat to Dipolog Medical Memorial Center to close out group play. The Maroons beat the College of St. Benilde Blazers 2-1 in their quarterfinals clash while UNO-R outshot Foundation University 7-6 in their own match up.

Ateneo smothers local heroes Hercor to gain semis

This appears in

Ateneo smothers local heroes Hercor to gain semis
by rick olivares photos by brosi gonzales

October 27, 2011
Capiz Gym
As several dozen onlookers gathered to watch the Ateneo Blue Eagles engage in their pre-game stretching drills and warm-ups, trainer Andre Tolentino calmly instructed: “Let’s give them a good show, guys.”

Barely an hour later, the Blue Eagles put on an incendiary performance in front of a packed Capiz Gym that roared with every three-pointer made, every crossover and acrobatic layup, and every JP Erram dunk.

There was a buzz about the game around town from the moment it was announced that Ateneo would be facing their hometown heroes, the undefeated Hercor College Jaguars in the quarterfinals. Even the local cops and tricycle drivers were aware of the game. If you wore an Ateneo shirt and took a trike the driver would mention the dust up to strike a conversation.

The Capiz Gym was packed to its capacity of over four thousand people with several thousand more waiting to get inside. The crowds got so thick that a police cordon (with a Philippine Army squad on hand for support) was needed just to get the Blue Eagles inside the venue. The only time this happens, according to a local, is when a top Philippine Basketball Association club or some celebrity act is in town. “Abi mo championship game ang game sang Jaguars versus the Ateneo Blue Eagles,” observed one policeman. The venue attendants got so nervous about the crowds pushing their way in that they – gasp – literally padlocked the main entrance until a policeman said that it was highly unadvisable.

The Hercor College Jaguars had some hot shot Cebuano recruits in their lineup (brought over by team consultant Elmer “Boy” Cabahug whose son plays for Ateneo Team B) and they had given this Roxas City school a boost in local caging.

As if the crowd wasn’t already buzzing with excitement, the round robin further whet their appetite as both teams put on a dunkathon. After one Jaguar tomahawked the ball that had everyone up in their seats, Ateneo’s JP Erram took to their, pumped once before throwing it down nearly blowing off the roof of the small gym.

But exactly four minutes after tip off, a disbelieving crowd (that cheered for both sides) had to rub their eyes to make sure the scoreline was correct – 22-2 for Ateneo.

The Blue Eagles countered the raw athleticism of the Jaguars by throwing at them their patented choking defense that saw them net four steals, three blocks, and force up three airballs in that span. On offense, Juami Tiongson continuing that sterling form he displayed in the UAAP finals for this Unigames hit a trey. Erram tipped in a Tiongson miss. Gwynne Capacio stole the ball drove in for an and-one. Justin Chua laid the ball in off a brilliant pass by Tiongson. Tonino Gonzaga broke some ankles for a crossover and a deuce.

When the reserves went in, their continued to run their sets while further blanketing the Jaguars that had the home crowd somewhat jeering their team.

After BJ Cipriano hit a trey from some 25 feet out to end the first quarter, 40-11 for Ateneo, many fans got up from their seats to leave (they were replaced by those waiting outside) shaking their heads in disappointment.

Cabahug grabbed his shellshocked Jaguars to point at the crowds leaving as if to say, “This is an embarrassment. And on your home floor no less!”

In the second period, the referees tightened their whistles and Ateneo was in foul trouble after only three minutes. After center Jeric Estrada was whistled for his second foul, the second year Blue Eagle center looked to Coach Sandy Arespacochaga and said, “Wala naman foul, coach.”

“Home court nila,” replied Arespacochaga. “Taas lang kamay and just play.”

Ateneo closed out the quarter strong with a Gonzaga drive following another crossover and a Tiongson layup to beat the buzzer, 56-26 Ateneo.

In the third quarter, after Chua fed Erram for a spectacular slam in traffic, a tournament official (not to be confused with the table officials that include the official scorer and the barker), perhaps unable to contain his anger and the embarrassment of the home side, called for time in the middle of play (and he wasn’t even a referee). He warned Erram for hanging on to the rim.

Two minutes later, Erram got the ball on the high post. Jaguar Joselito Equipolog gambled hoping for a steal but the Blue Eagle center corralled the ball then swooped in for another rim rocking jam that had the audience give a standing ovation.

The Blue Eagles capped their entry into the semifinals stage of the men’s basketball tournament with a Marky Mercado triple for an 88-68 lead with 2:16 left. Hercor’s Rene Locsin, one of the few bright spots for the Jaguars hit a triple for his game high 29 points (including seven triples) to end the game at 88-71 for Ateneo.

Said Cabahug who has played the Blue Eagles several times in the Champions League and other Visayan leagues, “It’s a painful but good lesson for the boys (the Jaguars). But they need to learn from the best. Kita mo naman ang Ateneo wala yung starting five pero grabe naman yung focus and depensa. And to think natapos yung UAAP early October. That’s the best basketball team out there.”

Ateneo 88Tiongson 16, Cipriano 15, Erram 12, Gonzaga 11, Adornado 9, Pessumal 6, Capacio 5, Chua 4, Siarot 3, Mercado 3, Golla 2, Estrada 2.

Hercor College 71Locsin 29, Bonite 13, Arruebo 10, Alocillo 8, Amigable 4, Arruebo 7, Almedo 2, Solon 1.

Notes: Juami Tiongson and Tonino Gonzaga lead the Ateneo Blue Eagles with four assists each. Hercor College has seven Cebuano players in their fold (as recruited by Elmer Cabahug).

Orendain powers USLS past NU

University of St. La Salle's Patty Orendain spikes one against National University's Maricar Nepomuceno.

Orendain powers USLS past NU
by rick olivares with photos by brosi gonzales

October 27, 2011
Panay Civic Center
If you love power volleyball and a game of can you top this then the Unigames quarterfinals matchup between University of St. La Salle and National University is to your liking.

Regional power USLS’ Patty Orendain dueled with NU’s Maricar Nepomuceno all match long with each one strapping their teams on their respective backs. However it was the Lady Bulldog who towed her side to a 26-24 first set win.

In the second set, NU setter Precious May Salibad had a tough time setting up her teammates as a result, the Lady Bulldogs’ offense floundered. Myla Pablo and Lucelle Bayron got NU back within two, 15-13, but Orendain dashed their hopes with a pair of devastating spikes to go with two service aces to put La Salle Bacolod up 21-14. The Lady Stingers equalized the match with a 25-15 win.

Orendain continued her onslaught in the third set as NU had no answer at the net. After falling into an 11-18 hole, Nepomuceno scored four straight points to get her side back 21-17. Orendain blocked Rialen Sante then scored on a spike in front of a lunging Nepomuceno to close out the crucial third set 25-21.

NU had an opportunity to send the match to a fifth and deciding set after Salibad served an ace for a 22-21 lead Orendain once more rose up to the challenge to dispatch the Lady Bulldogs 25-22.

USLS will face CPU in their semifinals match Friday.

NU celebrates their short-lived one set lead.

CPU sends depleted Ateneo out of women’s volleyball tournament

Ateneo's Mona Bagatsing is blocked by CPU's Jovelyn Gonzaga during a three-set sweep in their quarterfinals match-up.

CPU sends depleted Ateneo out of women’s volleyball tournament
by rick olivares

October 27, 2011
Panay Civic Center
The depleted Ateneo Lady Eagles bowed out of the quarterfinals competition of the women’s volleyball tournament to the Central Philippine University Centralians in three sets in heartbreaking fashion yesterday at the Panay Civic Center.

Without their starting six that left early Thursday morning for Manila to compete in the V-League Southeast Asian Club Invitationals, the remaining Lady Eagles had to compete without a libero against a team that took the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses to five sets in their group play.

The Lady Eagles battled nerves and being forced to play unfamiliar positions and roles. And it told heavily on their game as their spikes lacked power and their defense was spotty. However, they Ateneans stayed within striking distance of the Centralians 8-10 in the first set behind Ella de Jesus and Bea Tan. A spate of errors gave CPU some distance that allowed them to take the first set 25-18.

Seeing that the CPU team wasn’t as strong as they though it would be, the Lady Eagles made a game of it in the second set. Sarah Cruz blocked CPU’s national player and team captain Juvelyn Gonzaga to notch the count at 20-all. Aillysse Nacachi put Ateneo ahead 21-20 as she found a crease in CPU’s defense. But Tan had her shot blocked for the last deadlock of the set as CPU once more exploited the inexperience of the Lady Eagles’ reserves. After CPU’s Jeannie de los Reyes hammered home a spike, CPU had the all-important second set that broke Ateneo’s back. Jeffrey Alcarde’s cruised to an easy 25-11 third set for a sweep.

Assistant coach Parley Tupaz, who took over as head coach Roger Gorayeb joined the first team in Manila, lamented the great opportunity for the reserves to snag the first two sets. “Kaya naman nila. Nabigyan sila ng pagkakataon pero kinabahan,” said the Panay, Capiz native. “At least meron silang matutunan dito.”

Note: Ateneo's beach volleyball duo of Mona Bagatsing and Bea Tan likewise crashed out of the quarterfinals yesterday.