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.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Asi Taulava & Greg Slaughter Rajko Toroman

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Looking at the Meralco Bolts’ win over Air21

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Looking at the Meralco Bolts’ win over Air21
by rick olivares
pic by mon rubio

Looking at the Meralco Bolts’ win over Air21
  • They shot extremely well – 51.9% from the field.
  • Their three-point shooting was on the money 13-26 for 50%. In that incandescent second period, they put up 38 points on the board. That’s the highest total of any quarter this Philippine Cup besting the 36 scored by GlobalPort in the third quarter of their 114-100 win over – gasp – Air21 as well as Alaska’s scorching third canto in an unfortunate 97-93 loss to Barako Bull.
  • They made the extra pass that lead to easier if not an uncontested shot.
  • They took command of the game in the second quarter through their bench and showed no let up in the third period when the starters returned.
  • The Bolts shared the scoring wealth. They had five players (John Wilson, Sunday Salvacion, Reynel Hugnatan, Jared Dillinger, and Rabeh Al-Hussaini) in double digits as opposed to the two of Air21 (Renren Ritualo and Joseph Yeo). Wilson was in a zone all game long. Even after he was rested, he still came back strong.
  • Air21 couldn’t solve Meralco’s small ball tactics and play #5.
In the second period, I was surprised with their small ball tactics: Don Allado at center, Salvacion at power forward, Dillinger at the three-spot, Wilson at shooting guard, and Anjo Caram running the show.

At that point, Air21 still had Asi Taulava who posted up Hugnatan and found Joseph Yeo on a pair of cuts inside for lay-ups. But it wasn’t enough.

The Bolts ran this play (Number #5) with multiple variations and ignited their offense when they began to make their shots.

1.    Allado sets a pick for Caram.
2.    Caram drives from his right side. If he can beat his man (Wynne Arboleda) off the dribble, he can go all the way for a layup. If there’s help on defense, he can throw it back to Allado who has the option to shoot from about 18-feet out.
3.    Or Allado can pass the ball out to Salvacion who is outside the three-point arc for a long bomb.
4.    If Salvacion elects to pass, he swings it over to Wilson who is at the left corner pocket for a three.
5.    Wilson fires.

Sometimes, they ran a reverse of this with Cortez or Rey Guevarra on the right side of the arc and not at the right corner. They hit several shots on the reverse with Cortez, Guevarra and David making those shots.

The Bolts’ willingness to move that ball around and find the open man was one reason why they racked up that huge lead.

Wilson scored a career high 26 points to top his previous best of 21 markers during a 99-98 overtime loss to Rain or Shine last October 12; ironically, when he suited up with Air21. Furthermore, he shot 6-6 from the three-point line equaling the all-time record for most triples in a match without a miss. The other players to accomplish that are Simon Atkins, Renren Ritualo, Dondon Hontiveros, Vic Pablo and current GlobalPort assistant coach Glenn Capacio who accomplished that feat twice while he was with Purefoods.

Meralco was 0-2 heading into their match up with Air21 that also toted the same slate. Obviously, something had to give.

Between the two teams, the Meralco Bolts were right in the game against Talk ‘N Text and Rain or Shine losing the plot only in the fourth period.

Here’s looking at their stats and their opponents in two matches (before Air21):


Looking at Meralco defensively:
Field Goal %
Defensive Rebounds
Opponents Turnovers

Not much, right? I still think the Bolts need some work defensively. They just shot the daylights out of this game. This is one game where their offense won it for them.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Champions for A Cause: Rekindling a rivalry (La Salle vs San Beda) and that bayanihan spirit

Champions for A Cause: Rekindling a rivalry and that bayanihan spirit
by rick olivares

Lim Eng Beng knows what hardship is all about. And he wasn’t referring to leading Chiang Kai Shek or La Salle or even U-Tex to a championship. He was referring to growing up in Tondo (in Moriones Street) with his family not having enough.

Lim never learned to play basketball from any NBA or MICAA idol. He learned the game by himself playing street ball. With the tambays and lasengeros and toughies who didn’t take to weak-ass fouls. He never complained. The best way to shut up an opponent wasn’t to undercut him or give him an elbow. But to score on him and win the game.

He parlayed his exceptional shooting skills to get an education first at Chiang Kai Shek and then at La Salle.

For all the success his game brought him, Lim never forgot where he came from. To this date, he helps out the poor and the needy. When he was invited by his old college teammate Virgil Villavicencio to attend the press conference for the Champions for A Cause, the benefit game between NCAA champion San Beda and UAAP title holder La Salle for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, he immediately said, “yes.”

“Basta to give back and to help,” he said.

The benefit match has already brought out memories of playing San Beda. Good ones and bad ones. “The NCAA,” he said as his mind raced back to those days. Beng paused to measure his words, “was wild. There were always fights.”

He had many memorable games (scoring 50 points or more in back-to-back games) and not so memorable ones. “The one I remember a lot was Chito Bugia (the father of former Ateneo Blue Eagle and current Alaska Ace Paolo Bugia). He was tough. I also remember driving to the basket. It was a fastbreak. Then someone undercut me. I don’t remember anything because I was unconscious and was brought to the hospital. The NCAA was wild.”

Frankie Lim remembers watching Lim and Villavicencio. The former San Beda Red Lion point guard joked about his La Sallian counterparts as being ahead of him. “When you are a basketball fan, you watch everyone,” he would later say. “But this is a good endeavor.”

Emmanuel Calanog, Director of DLSU’s Office of Sports Development said that the pictures that spread on the internet showing Filipinos playing basketball amidst the destruction in the Visayas speaks volumes of what the game means to the country. “It helps bring a sense of normalcy to our lives.”

The coaches, players, and school officials in attendance all acknowledge the history and rivalry between the two schools. While it is a charity game, there will be no quarter. Each side wants to win. But everyone cautions the media on why they are participating in this benefit game. They all have sons and players with families who were affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

La Salle rookie guard Robert Bolick’s family is from Ormoc. While they were hit their family is all right.

San Beda guard Richie Villaruz’ family is from Iloilo. The family business was hurt by the typhoon but like Bolick’s kin, they too were spared of any casualties.

“I think we have an opportunity to help our countrymen,” said Filoil Vice President for Sales and Marketing Mandy Ochoa. “The rehabilitation process of the Visayas will not end in a week or even in a few months. We are talking about years. The two schools have their own efforts. What the charity game will accomplish is bring more attention to what is needed. We will see to that.”

When the two sides were pressed on who would win the game, they all mentioned their respective schools. But Filoil executive David Dualan expressly pointed out here that the ultimate winner here are not only the victims of Yolanda but also the Filipino people. “In a time like this, it has rekindled our bayanihan spirit.”


Champions for A Cause: For the Victims of Typhoon Yolanda will be played on December 7, 2013 at 12 noon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Tickets will be available at Ticketnet beginning this Thursday.

Champions for A Cause: The La Salle vs. San Beda benefit basketball game

It is a basketball fan’s dream to see champion teams settle the argument of which team is the best in the land. However, when newly crowned National Collegiate Athletic Association champions San Beda College Red Lions and University Athletic Association of the Philippines champions De La Salle University Green Archers take to the Smart Araneta Coliseum court on Saturday, December 7, 2013, it will be for a bigger cause.

Typhoon Yolanda wreaked unprecedented damage and destruction upon the Visayas a few weeks ago leaving thousands dead and even more homeless and in despair. The international community, along with Filipinos from all corners of globe and the country, have come together to provide aid in different forms to the stricken local populace. It doesn’t end there though as it will take years to physically rebuild towns and cities and for physical and internal scars to heal.

San Beda and La Salle will come together for as Champions for A Cause to ensure that the help continues well into the holiday season. Both schools will donate all their proceeds from the charity game to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. In addition to that, the alumni of the both schools will likewise donate P1,000 for every point scored by their respective team to the cause.

Not only will basketball fans be treated to a quality basketball game that will reunite two rivals who used to do battle on the hard court in the NCAA but in doing so they will help and call more attention to the tasks at hand.

Champions for A Cause is a joint effort by the MVP Sports Foundation and Filoil Flying V Sports with the match being televised live by TV5. Tickets to Champions for A Cause can be purchased at Ticketnet and at both schools and are priced as follows: Patron – P1,000, Lower Box P500, Upper A P300, Upper B P150 and Bleachers – P20.

Tip off between San Beda and La Salle is at 12noon.

We invite all to attend Champions for A Cause: For the Yolanda Victims this coming December 7, 2013 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. It’s all about basketball with a heart.

Monday, November 25, 2013

One FC champ AJ Mansor gives to the Typhoon Yolanda victims) and doesn't count the cost

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Malaysian MMA champ AJ Mansor gives (to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda) and doesn’t count the cost
by rick olivares

It was a little past noon last Friday, November 22, when the chartered Air Asia descended into Tacloban airport. From his airplane window, AJ Mansor spied the destruction below.

He was in Manila when Typhoon Yolanda made landfall. Although the Philippine capital was spared the super typhoon’s wrath, Mansor had seen the disturbing and harrowing images emanating from the Visayas. The images haunted him even as he flew back to his native Malaysia for One FC 12: Warrior Spirit.

AJ “Pyro” Mansor was staring at retirement. At age 39, he certainly wasn’t getting any younger in a demanding sport like Mixed Martial Arts. Furthermore, he had lost three consecutive fights to drop to 1-3. So much for setting the MMA world on fire.

Then he went up against Melvin Yeoh, another Malaysian although seven years his junior. Yeoh sported a 6-1 record (including a five match win streak) and was a heavy favorite against Mansor heading into their November 15 match in Kuala Lumpur. Yeoh talked a lot of pre-fight smack at Mansor but when the bell rang to open their fight, he had the crap beaten out of him as he lost via unanimous decision. Mansor was the Malaysia National Featherweight champion.

It was a highly emotional Mansor who was interviewed by One FC anchor Jason Chambers moments after referee Yuji Shimada declared him the winner. The victory he so craved had happened. In the ensuing interview, Mansor publicly begged One FC CEO Victor Cui to give him some one other than a fellow Malaysian to fight. Just as Chambers was about to end the interview, Mansor declared, “I was in the Philippines last week. I was in the storm and typhoon. I will donate my win money to all the Philippines typhoon (victims). My prize money I donate to the Philippines.”

And thus One FC and ABS-CBN arranged for his trip to Tacloban where he could help out in the relief effort. He not only gave his prize earnings from the fight but he further added an undisclosed amount.

As soon as he disembarked from the plane, Mansor saw the devastated airport. He began to shake uncontrollably from sadness and seemingly hopeless situation. “And this was just the airport,” he recalled later.

He was with a group of doctors and nurses that was headed for Tanauan, one of the worst hit areas in Leyte. He was the only one with no background in medicine but that didn’t stop Mansor from helping out. “I have never seen anything like this in all my life,” related the Malaysian. “I have seen other typhoons or even the effects of the tsunami in Japan. That was terrible too. But this is my first time to go to ground zero.”

Ground zero left an indelible impression on the MMA fighter more than any of the blows he’s received in his entire career. He flew in with a broken bone in his hand and his ankle hurting bad from his fight with Yeoh. But that wasn’t going to stop him from helping.

After all, Mansor had known a lifetime of hardship.

He grew up in Sabah and was later raised in the Kota Kinabalu area of Malaysia. He was the youngest of nine children and his mother, Nuriah Awang, worked three, four, sometimes even five jobs to feed her large brood (their father had passed away). How they got by he doesn’t know to this day. “It was difficult,” he winced at the memory. “It’s a miracle how we all survived.”

When Mansor was 10 years old, he accompanied his mother to market to buy vegetables, fish, and fruit. He was hungry and couldn’t wait to savor the rewards of a long day’s work. To his surprise, his mother gave some of their money to a poor and homeless person. “Ma,” he protested. “Why are you giving him our money? What about us?”

Replied his mother, “No matter how poor we are we can always help other people.”

Mansor admitted that he didn’t quite understand it but it stuck in his mind. But years later, he finally did understand.

His donations to the victims of Yolanda aren’t the first. He’s always given some of his earnings to the poor and the needy. When pressed about why he does so considering his MMA career hasn’t exactly brought him riches and fame, Mansor answered, “I have only what I need.”

And so in Tanauan, he helped the needy. Mansor pitched in the distribution of food pack. He also joined a teacher in reading for some children and helping them draw while their parents lined up for relief goods. Despite his injuries, he carried his share of heavy equipment.

His group was quartered in a home that was partially destroyed; one of the few left standing. Only there wasn’t much of a roof to protect them from the elements. During his first night, a light rain fell as he lay on a sleeping bag. Mansor shivered in the rain and remembered his younger days in Sabah where he experienced the same. “It’s funny how some times you feel like you’ve come full circle.”

“Every where we went there was devastation. There was no running water or electricity. People feel helpless. But we arrived not only with food, water, and medicine but also hope. That’s a powerful weapon,” related Mansor who finds a parallelism with his career that seemed to be on a downward spiral. “Hope gives you the ability to get up.”

People were surprised to find out that not only was he Malaysian and a MMA fighter but he had largely come on his own. “I remembered what my mother said about helping other people. You do what you can,” he said a day after his return to Manila yet still highly emotional.

Mansor was on ground for three days and two nights. But they will be some of his most memorable of days. “Even when I close my eyes, I cannot forget what I saw? I can never forget the smell of the dead.”

Mansor is on his way back to Malaysia to recover from his injuries and see to his ill mother (she is now 83 years old). When he returns to his three-month old MMA gym where he has a few students, he will communicate what he has seen and learned. Not only from his Philippine experience but also from his mother.

He’ll be defending his championship some time next year but he knows his career is winding down. “Hope after all,” he said as we parted with a manly embrace, “is a powerful weapon.”