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.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Meralco Bolts' Rey Guevarra: staying positive

This appear on the PBA website

Rey Guevarra: staying positive
by rick olivares pic by nuki sabio

One hour before tip-off against the Alaska Aces, the Meralco Bolts’ forward Rey Guevarra was out on the court of the Smart Araneta Coliseum shooting baskets with some of his teammates.

Even when the other Bolts began to head back to the dugout, Guevarra stayed and continued to shoot some more.

The Bolts practically led the whole game and beat back several rallies by the Aces en route to a 85-76 win. Guevarra played a total of four minutes, all in the second quarter, scored two points on two attempts. His only other statistical number was a foul against an Alaska player.

In contrast, his former Letran teammate, RJ Jazul, logged 20 minutes but suffered a bad-shooting night (0-6 from the field) like many of his Alaska teammates. Jazul finished with four points all coming from the foul line.

After the match, Guevarra dutifully changed into civilian clothes and left the arena. Outside, injured teammate Mike Cortez, tipped his Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap to him and said, “Rey G!”

Guevarra smiled.

But then again, he always does. No matter what the circumstance, trying or even difficult, he makes it a point to maintain a positive attitude.

He moved up from the Letran Squires to the Knights and missed out on a championship that Jazul was able to get in the NCAA. Guevarra led the Knights to one more trip back to the finals but they lost to the San Beda Red Lions.

Along with Jazul, he was picked to play with the national team, Smart Gilas, and those days remain one of his fondest memories. “Syempre dream ng lahat ng atleta maglaro para sa national team,” he remarked. “Na-train kami ng one of the best coaches in the world. Nakalaro kami kung saan saan at naglaro ng exciting basketbol na nakapagdala ng karangalan para sa bansa natin.”

After he suffered a knee injury that prematurely ended his career with Letran, he watched as Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz on Smart Gilas filled his slot. He knew that it was time to move on and go to the PBA.

Guevarra was drafted third overall in 2010 by Air21 joining the number one and two picks in Nonoy Baclao and Rabeh Al-Hussaini, the latter also a teammate on Smart Gilas.

“Excited ako nung na draft ako,” recalled Guevarra. “Heto na yung pangarap ko nung bata ako. Naging totoo na.”

But just like that, barely a season in the pros, all three players were traded to San Miguel Beer.

“Syempre, nakakagulat yung pangyayari pero bakit hindi? Sino ba may ayaw na makalaro sa isang team di ba San Miguel o Ginebra ang kalibre,” reflected the 6’3” swingman. “Mga top clubs yan. Mga pinaka-sikat sa bayan.”

Again it didn’t last. Rey G moved again. And again. And again. In four years in the PBA, he’s played for five teams – Air21, San Miguel, Powerade, GlobalPort, and now Meralco.

Despite the moving around and the journeyman status, Guevarra has remained unshakeable in his positive demeanor. He wants to shed his image as a spectacular dunker (there are those famous dunks against San Beda’ Sam Ekwe and former Alaska import Jason Forte to name a few) and be known as well-rounded player who can be counted upon. Yet even if he’s known for his high-flying dunks, he’ll take it. “Okay din na meron highlights,” he said without any trace of boastfulness. “Maraming mga hindi pa rin nabigyan ng mga opportunity na meron ako. So lagi akong thankful na nandito pa rin ako na nakakapaglaro ng basketbol sa PBA.”

Guevarra is immensely proud of his former Letran and even national teammates. He takes note of Barroca who endured a nightmare ending to his college career but who also remained positive and has bounced back to become one of the better guards in the PBA. “Ngayon, Finals MVP si Baroks,” said his beaming former Smart Gilas teammate.

Despite the lack of playing time, Guevarra has many reasons to feel like a MVP. His long-time girlfriend, Nisa De Cataluna, is seven months on the way. The couple is just waiting for the girl’s parents to arrive before they tie the knot. “Marami naman joys ang buhay. Kailangan lang makita mo lang. At gawin inspiration sa paglalaro.”

During the shoot-around, his college coach, Louie Alas sat by courtside and watch him rain jump shot after shot. “Hindi ako worried sa kanya,” noted Alas, now an assistant coach with Alaska, of his former player. “Maganda attitude ni Rey. Mabait pa na tao. He will always be welcome by teams. At lalo na may-laro yan. Hindi lang nabibigyan ng chance.”

As Rey Guevarra filed out into the night, he shook hands with a few of the players from Alaska. He was smiling and telling them to go get a win in their next game.

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