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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Air Force grounded and pounded by Stallion

Air Force grounded and pounded by Stallion
by rick olivares pic by brosi gonzales

January 24, 2012
University of Makati

The match between Air Force and Stallion was going to be a tough one. While many of the players from either side are from Iloilo, both sides expected no quarter to be given. As Sgt. Edzel Bracamonte of Air Force put it, “It is for bragging rights in our hometown of Barotac Nuevo.”

But Stallion came in with a magnificent game plan that thoroughly discombobulated Air Force. Stallion has always had a penchant for tough and rough play but since the Airmen were their “kuyas” and “idols” they came out with a more controlled approach. “It is a sign of respect,” said Stallion coach Ernie Nierras.

What was more crucial to their game plan was to relentlessly harass Air Force’s playmakers like Chieffy Caligdong while marking Yanti Barsales and Ian Araneta. They also wanted to force the other Air Force players to try and run their offense in order to beat them.

The high pressure worked and there was a period where the military team could not get the ball across their defensive half for about five minutes. That was how suffocating the defense was. Seldom did we see the build-up from the back as Air Force was forced to play the longball.

The western side of the UMak pitch where Air Force was playing was a disaster. You could see the ball take all sorts of weird bounces that also led to mistakes by Air Force keeper Tats Mercado. But not to take anything away from Stallion, they were very aggressive on the attack with Ruben Doctora and Joo Young Lee beating the defense time and again. They were quicker to the ball and if we all thought that the defending champs are fast the Stallion's acceleration was something else in this match. They sliced right through Air Force like a hot knife through butter. And Air Force could not run anything. In several instances, Caligdong had to go all the way to the back to help out in defending and to collect the ball. Before he could even get past the midfield line, he would have two or three defenders confront him to force him to release the ball.

The second half saw Air Force play a little more aggressive. Stallion in the meantime eased up on the gas pedal and Air Force was able to pull one back. But they had taken a hit when Ian Araneta was subbed out because of a (temporary thigh injury – he got kneed). With Raymark Palmes going in, Caligdong was moved to the forward position.

Air Force was unable to sustain its attack as Stallion found their second wind that led to Ruben Doctora’s second goal (he actually scored a hat trick but one of his shots that had already crossed the line was booted in by Lee that saw the referee credit the goal to the Korean) for a stunning 4-1 win. That was Stallion’s second win in as many matches and put them on top of the standings due to goal difference. Air Force plummeted to the unfamiliar position at the bottom with Green Archers and Pasargad. But the two aforementioned squads are above them due to goal difference.

After the match, I listened in to the post-match talks by both squads. Ernie Nierras pointed out that none of his players celebrated their goals. That was done deliberately because they respect the military teams. Credit must also go to Stallion right back Yong Jae Pi for repeatedly stopping Caligdong on the wing.

As for the beleaguered defending champions who have lost two in a row, General Oscar Rabena spoke to them after and asked his soldiers to redouble their efforts. They cannot sit on their laurels because every league competition is a different one. They must work extra hard because every team has stepped up their game (if not their recruitment).

Over the course of the 2011 UFL Cup, I have repeatedly said during the AKTV telecast that the military teams are under siege from the other teams that have gotten much better. And for a team like Air Force, they are the vanguard of the old guard of football club superiority. But how long can they hold off the winds of change?

With their backs against the wall and in a tough division one competition, Air Force will be playing Army on Saturday. And once more, no quarter will be given.

Air Force: Araneta, Ballo-Allo, Barsales, Bayona, Bermejo, Bulaquiña, Caligdong, Jaugan, Mercado, Soriano, Tonog.

Stallion: Albor, Braga, Doctora, Hugo, Italia, Lee, Muñoz, Nam, Park, Pi, Yoon.

Listen to the Back Four Bums' podcast of the match between Air Force and Stallion (Parts 1 & 2)


  1. It was a great match... I can't pick on one side... Like i said last Sunday they were more like relatives :)...That's why I called it a Derby... Park and Vince played well in the middle. Bervic and Pi made it hard for Chieffy.. While, Balot, Bulldog, Yoon and Lee played it fast up front...

  2. Are the UFL games free, Sir? Im looking forward for the Stallion-Sparks game on saturday!

  3. It's free. But even if it's not, fans should watch it live to help UFL grow.