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, May 1, 2014

Sean Anthony: Has the Nowhere Man found a home?

This appears on the PBA website.

Has the Nowhere Man found a home?
by rick olivares pic by nuki sabio

Sean Anthony’s got that boy-next-door look. Let me amend that. Boy-next-door look in America or Canada for obvious reasons. But when Sean smiles, there’s a wisp of mischief in it. And truth to tell and depending on which side of the spectrum you’re at, he’s either the PBA’s equivalent of the NBA’s Tyler Hansbrough, Bill Laimbeer, or Scott Hastings (bad boys) or Chandler Parsons or Josh McRoberts (yep, those boys-next-door who’ve got game). His haircut reminds one of WWE wrestler John Cena. And if you follow pro wrestling you will know that there is no grey area when it comes to Cena -- you either love his game or not. Sean Anthony can sympathize.

Next to Calvin Abueva, no other player seems to get under the skin of opposing teams more than Sean Anthony. He doesn’t have that baller look say like Mark Caguioa or even Arwind Santos and looks so unassuming like Mike Burtscher (no disrespect meant, buddy) but when unleashed on the court – he knocks down triples just as much as opposing guards (I am laughing now). And he’s a pest on defense! It can be infuriating for opposing players that he sneaks in for those offensive rebounds and undergoal stabs for an and-one.

However, for all of Sean’s talents, he’s bounced around four teams. I was afraid that he might have had that one great and highly memorable conference before settling into mediocrity. But no.

It isn’t a Sean Anthony sighting but a Sean Anthony revival. And it is no coincidence that Air21 is in the midst of an exciting and breakthrough run reminiscent of the Powerade Tigers’ storybook run of two years ago when they made the Philippine Cup Finals only to lose to Talk ‘N Text.

Said his former Powerade coach Bo Perasol when I asked him what he thought of Sean’s revival, “The teams which are having a hard time against Sean are the teams which do not give him the right attention or those who do not respect his ability as a player. It is easy to overlook him – bingo! – in the scouting reports. However, he has the capacity to hurt the chances of his opponents. As of now, Sean is the best energy player the PBA has.”

High praise indeed.

When he moved from Talk ‘N Text to Air21 following a trade for KG Canaleta, Sean wasn’t even on the bench after he broke his hand one week before the opening of the Commissioner’s Cup. He missed his team’s first six games then boom.

Vs. San Mig Coffee April 9
19 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals

Vs. Rain or Shine April 14
9 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal

Vs. San Miguel April 16
9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal

Vs. San Miguel Beer April 22
25 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals

Vs. San Miguel Beer April 25
18 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals

Vs. San Mig Coffee April 29
29 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals

Good numbers as he has given Air21 coach Franz Pumaren another weapon or x-factor in their battle for respect and their first ever PBA crown.

I first met Sean Anthony during a practice match between the original Smart Gilas and Alaska (back when they had Tim Cone as head coach) at the Reyes Gym. He didn’t suit up then but he was just dying inside to get in that match in which the Aces won.

The following day, there was a team meeting at the SBP’s offices before the national team left for Indonesia to participate in the Fiba Asia Champions Challenge Cup. As soon as the meeting ended, Anthony was called into one of the conference rooms where he was told that he wasn’t joining Smart Gilas. Whether he didn’t impress the coaching staff or something else, the Fil-Canadian was out.

The look of dejection on his face was evident. Just as everyone left, he climbed onto the van that was ferrying Greg Slaughter and a few others to their quarters. I looked at him and he had this look like he had lost everything. According to Sean, he was informed that he’d be reimbursed for his expenses in coming over to the Philippines and he could join the team. Now there he was… no Smart Gilas and no reimbursement.

The next time I saw Sean was when a good friend of mine, Robin Tong, was looking to help him out in time for the PBA Draft. I remember asking him then, “Where ya at, Sean?”

“Nowhere trying to get somewhere, anywhere,” he answered with that mischievous smile of his. Anywheresville was with the Powerade Tigers after which he made the All-Rookie Team. Sean was also the co-MVP of the Rookie-Sophomore Game (with Rob Labagala) that season.

When he made that All-Rookie Team, we talked at great length about the challenges of his rookie season and looking ahead. His first year stats weren’t that great and he promised to work harder. “We’re getting there,” grinned Sean during one of our many conversations.

He sure did with Powerade alongside Marcio Lassiter, JV Casio, and Gary David. When the Tigers were disbanded, Anthony went to Barako Bull where he had a “reunion” with the coach who didn’t want him on Smart Gilas, Rajko Toroman. He didn’t play well at all there and he soon found himself with the Tropang Texters. Sean sounded happy to be with the team but didn’t do well either. And now, the Man Who Comes From Out of Nowhere is a force on a team that is on a mission. And he's everywhere on the court -- drawing charges, grabbing rebounds, hustling for loose balls, scoring, and pissing off foes.

Oh, and that run? That story is nowhere done quite yet.

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