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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

PFF Smart National Club Championship semis preview: Ceres vs Kaya

Semifinals Preview: Ceres vs. Kaya
by rick olivares

4pm Saturday
Rizal Memorial Football Stadium

Can Ceres continue its giant killing ways when it goes up against Kaya in their semifinals match up?

One wonders if any other club will allow themselves to be ambushed the way Stallion and Global fell to Ceres. The Bacolod-based club came out strong then parked the bus once they got their go-ahead goal. It’s hardly their fault as the defenses of Stallion and Global all but gobbled up their midfield making it impossible for Ceres to mount any build-up save for smash and grab tactics off the counter. Think of that Champions League match between Chelsea-Barcelona match then you’ll know what I am trying to say.

Nevertheless, one cannot underestimate Ceres because there is definite quality in their team. I like the toughness of Jason Panhay and Rolando Treyes. Along with J. Baguioro, coming off the bench, the three of them play no fuss football. Pass, run into space, and then look for an open teammate after which they’ll make another pass. When they lose the ball, they immediately chase after whoever pilfered it from them.

It has been the hallmark of their team for as long as I have watched Ceres football (from the Suzuki Under-23 National Cup to the Uni-Games to a local tournament). They’re like ghosts in the machine; silent operators who are proponents of possession-based football. And to think this isn’t their entire team just yet as quite a few are injured.

The pieces they’ve added to the puzzle are perfect for their offense. Englishmen Peter Long and Danny Claxton, playing with Ceres only for the Smart National Club Championship, add a huge dimension with their brilliant passing and good reads on offense and defense. If they were fully fit imagine what more they can do.

As for their Korean players, we’ve seen what they have done with Loyola, Stallion, and General Trias – tireless and talented workhorses with a good feel for the game.

I suspect that with all the new players, they have not exactly gotten their offense down pat, hence, their bogged down attack. It would be interesting to see them on a longer basis but for now we’ll have to be content to watch them in this Smart Club Championships.

If Ceres hasn’t completely jelled then I can make the same case for Kaya as they are under Maur Rozen, their fourth head coach in the last three years. They looked like a team not totally in sync against Loyola but it was their defense that bailed them out. And why is that so? They are missing Lexton Moy and Prince Boley who were staples of their midfield play. Chris Greatwich didn’t look so good in the first half against Loyola but the second half version reminded me of the Greatwich of old – a silent operator who would sneak up on you with booming shots or well-placed set-ups.

Kaya looked promising again with the return of OJ Porteria. This kid’s got a howitzer for a boot and the speed to match quicksilver wingers like Patrick Reichelt or those guys from General Trias. Kaya didn’t get too many shots inside against Loyola as they had difficulty making that final pass to their forwards; a problem I have pointed out time and again. Porteria got in several licks but save for his shot that scored, all were from the outside.

Porteria and Jonah Romero help out but their central mids have to create options in the middle to open the game up. Ceres tends to crowd the midfield. Kaya will have to be a lot faster with their decisions on the ball if they want to make things happen. And forwards Nate Burkey and Eric Dagroh will have to work a little harder to place pressure on Ceres’ defense.

Crucial match up? Kaya’s Kross Ubiam versus Ceres’ Peter Long. If Ubiam can stop Long then Ceres will be in for a long day.

I thought that Rozen’s substitutions in their quarterfinals against Loyola were brilliant and bold. From Onyema Ikechukwu to Vince Ocampo to Toshi Hosoe, they all made their presence felt.

Ceres head coach Freddie Lazarito also sent in an impact sub with Baguioro.

The defense will be the decider here but so will the midfield. Whoever scores first will have that massive advantage as both team’s defenses do not readily concede down the stretch.


  1. prediction: ceres 2-0 kaya! the last two games were a confidence build-up for ceres. pretty sure they're very comfortable now and will have a more fluent game.

  2. Kaya wont know what hit them.. CERES 1-0 Kaya!

  3. FT: 3-0 CERES v KAYA