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, February 27, 2012

UAAP Football Finals: Maroon at the top

Maroon at the top
It was a difficult season for UP but the finals game was a cinch.
by rick olivares pic by brosi gonzales

February 26, 2012
Ateneo High School Football Field
The football season began as it started. With UP playing the first and last games and both, wins. More importantly, they were defending champions when the tournament kicked off and after two months of intense competition, they remain champions. And for good measure, for the third time in four years.

The Fighting Maroons dominated the championship game against punchless UST and they only needed one goal to confirm their mastery of their EspaƱa-based foe that has yet to beat them in two years. A simple through ball in the 61st minute by winger Jay Eusebio slipped past central backs Ronald Batisla-Ong and Dadam Regis and that put striker Jinggoy Valmayor in a one-on-one situation against keeper Mon Borigas that was almost too easy. Valmayor simply slotted it in for his fifth goal of the season.

At the start of the game, it looked like UST’s rookie left back, John Timothy Bolo was battling a case of nerves as he misplayed a series of first and second balls that UP was quick to exploit. Valmayor dashed forward with Bolo and Batisla-Ong trying to close him down. But the rock solid forward managed to get a shot off that Borigas parried away.

The Maroons forced the Tigers to make their runs from the flanks and the wingers were not successful in sending playable crosses for striker Ojay Clarino. Instead, they overshot their target or were picked off by UP keeper Tyrone Caballes.

UP ended the first half with Ghanaian midfielder Ayi Aryee volleying from some 25 yards out that was a little high above the crossbar. Another message that the Maroons were finding the range.

UST, making its third consecutive men’s football finals appearance (sadly all losing efforts), only found some life to their attack when Nigerian forward Uche Ememandu came in after Valmayor’s strike. But UP’s vaunted defense (that has surrendered only one goal all season including two last year) clamped down and left the Tigers with no shots on goal.

It wasn’t an easy season for the champions as they only had one win and four draws to show after five matches. While the team was clearly not in sync (with some flashes of infighting seen during or after games), their defense, as anchored by central back Deo Segunial, held them. They faced strong challenges from the other teams but in the second round, they rediscovered their winning form.

The Tigers on the other hand, started the tournament well but faded in the second round. Suspensions to starting midfielders Ronnel Lagrimas and Ken Parao didn’t help their cause one bit in the finals as their mids failed to feed Clarino a decent ball. They ended the season once more in heartbreak and with more questions. With Clarino graduating, there’s a hole up front that has to be filled. But perhaps, how can this team bounce back after three successive defeats in the finals (2010 to FEU and 2011 and 2012 to UP).

As for next year, “I’ll think about that in a few month’s time,” said UP co-head coach Anto Gonzales after the match. Gonzales won two titles as a player and three as head coach (with Frank Muescan). “I want to celebrate first and savor this.”

Season Awardees:
Most Valuable Player – Nathan Octavio (UP)
Best Striker – Jesus Melliza with seven goals (FEU)
Best Midfielder – Ayi Nii Aryee
Best Defender – Shirmar Felongco (UST)
Best Goalkeeper – Tyrone Caballes (UP)
Rookie of the Year – Michael Simms (UP)

With Ayi, Deo and Jay. 


  1. sir Rick, isn't it that Felongco is a midfielder?..

  2. Yep. You will have to ask the geniuses in the UAAP how that happened.

  3. UST is the new Netherlands. Haha. Hopefully they can emerge champions next season. Go USTe!

  4. What a Sad time to be a defender... Must have been hard for the UP back four to have the best defender award given to a midfielder... I mean anyone of them could have won the award but it was given to a UST midfielder

  5. kahit po kaming taga UST nagtaka

  6. about that best defender title thing, it was kinda weird that it didn't go to UP. or it should have at least given to someone who fits the title. :( now time for basketball. i hope our maroons pick up this coming season.