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, March 10, 2014

A different shade of blue: A look at the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles

The 2013-14 Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles.
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A different shade of blue:
The Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles' season comes to an end
story and pics by rick olivares

The scene is no different from any other where a team has just suffered a gnashing defeat. The Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles sat in silence. Disappointment and pain clearly etched in every face.

The National University Bulldogs just ousted them in the semifinals of the Seaoil NBTC League, 87-73. It was the second loss of the Magis Eagles in the tournament to NU. The two squads faced off on opening day with NU escaping with a four-point win after Hubert Cani hit huge a three-pointer with seconds left in the game.

They were fine with that loss because they knew that they could hang with the Bulldogs. They flew in from Cebu that morning and they didn’t get enough rest. “But no excuses,” said head coach Rommel Rasmo back then. “We lost.”

And there were still no excuses now. Only words of pride and encouragement.

Reed-thin forward Zach Huang wore the most agonizing look of the Magis Eagles. He flubbed a wide-open under goal stab that could have given them a fighting chance. Forward Arnie Padilla bit his lip. He carried the scoring cudgels for his team in the first half before Felix Jaboneta took over in the second half. But that was their problem. They never got going as a team in the semis instead relying on individual players to carry them against a super team that was loaded for bear.

Of all the provincial teams that made the annual hoops pilgrimage to Manila that is the Seaoil NBTC League, Sacred Heart School was a cut above the rest. After all, they were two-time back-to-back national champions from 2011-12. They were also Milo Best back-to-back champions from 2010-11. They were five-time Cebu champions as well as CESAFI titlists. Their program had become one of the most admired – a mix of homegrown and regional talent. They players have recently become coveted by Manila-based schools.

Center Julius Cadavis was now with the Arellano University Chiefs. Henry Asilum was with the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons. Dave Yu and Rendell Senining were ready to don the colors of the National University Bulldogs. And Dawn Ochea was with the Adamson Falcons.

“I think this shows that we are doing something right,” understated Rasmo.

University of San Carlos head coach Britt Reroma, who knows a thing or two about building high school basketball powers as he once called the shots for San Beda Red Cubs in the NCAA said that what Ateneo de Cebu had going for them was a solid program with the players getting loads of experience by playing in Manila. “That builds their confidence knowing they can play here in Manila.”

The team’s assistant coach Sai Bacalso concurred. “Excited ang mga bata pumunta ng Manila. They see it as an opportunity.”

This year’s Magis Eagles have two standout players in Padilla, the son of ex-San Miguel Beerman Ronilo “Onie” Padilla who played alongside Olsen Racela, Mike Mustre, Freddie Abuda, and Art dela Cruz; and Jaboneta.

Observed one Metro Manila coach who refused to be identified, “They (Rasmo and his coaching staff) have an eye for talent and they certainly know how to coach their players.”

And they certainly know how to look back from whence they came. During the semis game against NU, Asilum, Senining, Ochea, and Yu were on hand to support their former team.

“Atenista pa rin kami,” said Yu.

“We may have come up short but I have to tell you that you passed all my expectations,” enunciated Rasmo in that post-game huddle. “Taas noo tayo lumabas dito. We gave everyone a good fight. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”

The team then said a short prayer then huddled up for one last time. “Brothers!” they thundered.

Rasmo then looked at Senining who was grinning from ear to ear. “Meron kang gustong sabihin?”

The team fell quiet.

“Kain na tayo. Gutom na ako”

They all laughed. The gloom was somewhat lifted.

The Magis Eagles huddle up one more time with their season finally coming to an end.

Dave Yu, Henry Asilum, Coach Rommel Rasmo, Rendell Sinining, and Dawn Ochea. Reunion of Magis Eagles at the Seaoil NBTC League Championships.

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