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, January 11, 2014

Rocket’s re-entry: A JC Intal revival at Barako Bull

This appears in the PBA website

Rocket’s re-entry: A JC Intal revival at Barako Bull
by rick olivares

JC Intal has learned to take nothing for granted.

He has seen his seven-year PBA career oft curtailed by injuries. If that isn’t worrisome, Intal is with his fourth PBA club. “That gives you a feeling that you are not needed,” he admits. “I understand it’s a business, but when you are let go it is like you are not needed or wanted.”

After one particularly bad game, he saw a Tweet that said, “JC Potential Intal”. Although he isn’t one to check out what the world says of him on social media, it was by happenstance when he saw the Tweet and it stuck in the high flyer’s craw.

After a sterling career in Ateneo where he won UAAP championship and lost another, the 6’5” Intal looked like he was ready to raid the PBA lanes with his above the ground game. He was drafted fourth overall in the 2007 PBA Draft by Air21 and followed by good friend and longtime Ateneo teammate, Doug Kramer as the next pick also by the same club. However, minutes were hard to come by.

When he was traded to Ginebra a couple of years later, it seemed that JC was ready to show Filipino audiences what he could do as he was stuffing the ball with stunning ferocity and putting up some numbers. Then he went down again with some malady.

Before he knew it, he was traded away along with teammate Ronald Tubid. The two nearly cried when they left the country’s most popular ball club. “Playing for Ginebra is like playing for Ateneo,” compared Intal. “You never get tired because the crowd gives you that extra adrenaline boost. Whatever happens, the Ginebra crowd loves you. They reward you for your hard work with their cheers and love.”

Moving over to B-Meg, Intal was mostly used for defensive purposes by head coach Tim Cone. Sacrificing his scoring for stops, Intal also relished the role. But in a league and perhaps an industry that equates numbers with worth and salary, JC didn’t have it. He was like the new millennium’s Samboy Lim – a high flyer of terrific talent but who never played a complete season because of injuries.

But Lim, who also played for Letran, was on quite a few title squads with San Miguel.

Intal, in his seven years, has one championship.

“I am grateful to be a part of that champion team of B-Meg,” admits JC. “Any time you win one, it’s memorable.

The problem however was Intal was in and out of the injury list. He feels he was let go because Cone needed healthy bodies.

“I understand,” he says. “Being in the league for seven years, you understand how it works. I am not upset at my coaches. In fact, I am thankful to all of them lalo na with Coach Tim because I was a part of a championship team. He emphasized the defensive part of my game. That was more of my role there with B-Meg kasi marami kaming mga scorer.”

So far, I’ve had this list of puro minor injuries,” recites Intal. “I broke my nose. I’ve had this hairline fracture. Meron meniscal tear kung saan ang tagal bago ako gumaling. You think you’re okay na tapos biglang namamaga yung tuhod mo at sumisikip. So naging careful ako. I don’t know if its obvious pero for a while there, parang takot ako mag-drive ulit.”

His vagabond career has forced him to assess what has transpired. “Seeing my draft batchmates -- Joe Devance, Ryan Reyes, JR Quiñahan – at kung anon a yung mga na-accomplish nila nagkaroon ako ng doubt sa sarili ko. Nasaan ba ako ngayon?

With his family and girlfriend, Bianca Gonzalez, squarely behind him, JC has ditched his injury woes and taken a mind shift in his attitude towards his PBA career.

“You learn not to take things for granted. For example, nung rookie year ko, kahit ano kinakain ko. Ang thinking ko, ‘hindi naman ako tumataba.’ So when we went for a check up ang taas ng uric acid and cholesterol levels ko. Now, I pay more attention to what I eat. And that is one step to becoming healthier.”

“Even now kahit nasa bagong team ako, I relish the opportunity to show what I can do. I am thankful that coach asks me to guard the scorer of the other team – James Yap and Marcio Lassiter for example.”

Now the seven-year forward has experienced a rebirth at Barako Bull where he has become one of the team's top scorers. He has also displayed that all around game where he plays both ends of the floor. The defensive stops are there and so are those death-defying slams.

“Sobrang blessed kami to learn Coach Rajko Toroman’s system,” he relates. “People say that he worked us to death sa practice. Pero the truth is, it was a valuable lesson that there is no time to relax. We have to stay fit and conditioned and we have to read the game very well. No BS basketball yung kay Coach Rajko. What you reap is what you sow. Nasuklian yung pagod at hard work under Coach Rajko. Lalo na now under Coach Bong (Ramos) who is a talented and gifted coach.”

Right now with Barako, Intal is enjoying basketball for the first time in a very long time. “It’s pressure free basketball,” he confides. “Just work hard every time then go play your heart out.”

“If you do that the game will be good to you.”

No comments:

Post a Comment