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.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reminiscing with San Beda’s Baser Amer and Xavier U coach Arvin Martinez

Reminiscing with San Beda’s Baser Amer and Xavier U coach Arvin Martinez
Interviews by rick olivares

Baser Amer: I am Baser Amer and I hail from Davao City. I lived in a place called Gem Village that is in Davao City. I lived a simple life there. I played basketball whenever I could. In my younger days, my dad prepared me to be a basketball player. That’s what he wanted for me and said I should be dribbling and shooting a basketball all the time. The sport wasn’t difficult to like. I enjoyed what we were doing. It seemed like every day there was something “basketball” to do whether we played or watched games live or on television. One player I watched a lot is Talk ‘N Text’s Jimmy Alapag.

I played for Holy Child of Davao. The team was called “The Reds.”

One time, coach Eric Altamirano put up the National basketball Training Center and there were open tryouts. I asked my father if I should go because it was somewhat far from where I lived. At first he said no but he eventually told me to go ahead and try out. Imagine my thrill when I was ranked Top 20 out of a field of 150 players. That led to a stint in the Nike Elite Camp where I was named to the Mythical Five and the Most Valuable Player.

Coach Ato Badolato discovered me there and the rest is history.

The NBTC really helped me improve a lot of my skills. Ball handling is one aspect of the game that was honed through the NBTC. I dribbled a lot including two balls at the same time. In Davao, I could only dribble one ball and with one hand. The NBTC taught me how to dribble with both hands and using two balls at the same time as well. That helps me in bringing up the ball and in moving around the court even while being defended.

Aside from dribbling, my defense and shooting improved as well. I became more disciplined and smarter. But perhaps the best teaching in the camp was brotherhood. I was really happy because through the camp, I made a lot of new friends. It didn’t matter whether they were from Manila or the province. We were a brotherhood. One close friend I made was Kiefer Ravena.

I will always look back at my days in the NBTC very fondly because it helped me become a better basketball player. It exposed me to better competition and an opportunity to play in Manila. And it made me a better person.

Coach Arvin Martinez
Arvin Martinez: I am Arvin Martinez, Athletic Coordinator of Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan. I also coach the school’s basketball team, “the Crusaders.”

I played basketball during my college days for Pilgrim Christian College where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education while majoring in Physical Education, Health, and Music. That is the same school that produced John Paul Erram who now plays for Ateneo de Manila. During my college days, I was able to play against the likes of James Yap and Arwind Santos among many others.

When I was 14 years old, schools in Cebu and Manila scouted me but my parents did not give their consent to my leaving. It’s just as good because I would have been homesick.

Coaching is something I started doing since I was 17 years old. I started out informally. Barangay league coaching. Then from 1998-2008, I coached Pilgrim Christian College.  But during my college days, I was not only a student, but I was also a player and the head coach.

As for our involvement with the National Basketball Training Center, it was in 1998 when the Pilgrim College Green Voyagers competed in the program. We were the Cagayan de Oro City and Region X-Northern Mindanao champions at that time. I had both Erram and Paul Siarot who is also with Ateneo. We played in the championship game where we lost to a NCR team by three points.

 One of my high school players, Edward Cielo, was invited to join the Nike Elite camp in Brent International School, Laguna. The camp was under the leadership of coaches Eric Altamirano and Alex Compton. Because of the invitation to Cielo, I was also able to participate in the Nike Elite Camp.

One time, I asked Coach Eric is he could put up a NBTC camp in CDO to help the young talents in our area. Cagayan has produced players like Jojo Lastimosa, Eric dela Cuesta, Bitoy Omolon, Ramil Tagupa, Jeff Bombeo, and JR Cawaling among others. I had the opportunity to help those talents before but did not do so.

When Coach Eric said that the NBTC was coming to CDO and asked me to help out, I said, ‘yes’ immediately. This is my second chance to help the kids from here fulfill their basketball dreams.

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