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.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Seven San Beda Red Lions hope to carry their school standard in the PBA Draft & new season

With Anthony Semerad, Sudan Daniel, and David Semerad at the Gatorade PBA Draft Combine.
This appears in the Monday, August 25, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.

The recent batch of San Beda Red Lions haven't done too well in the PBA. This new crop of hopefuls plan to reverse that trend.
by rick olivares

There was a time when San Beda Red Lions were among the top stars in the PBA.

There was Abe King who was a rock underneath the boards for Toyota and Great Taste, JB Yango who starred for Tanduay and Purefoods, Chito Loyzaga (and his younger brother Joey) who made a name for himself with Toyota and Ginebra, Elmer Reyes who ran the break for San Miguel and Swift, and Frankie Lim with Alaska. There were others who went on to have okay careers but not on the level of the aforementioned. There were also Macky De Joya, Boybits Victoria, and Merwin Castelo to name a few more Bedans to ply their trade in the pro loop.

However, since San Beda’s return to college basketball prominence in 2006, there have been seven Red Lions drafted into the PBA:

Yousif Aljamal 8th overall Air21 to TNT

Pong Escobal 11th overall TNT

Ogie Menor 7th overall Burger King Whoppers

Bam Gamalinda 11th overall Meralco
Borgie Hermida 17th overall Barako Energy Coffee Masters

Dave Marcelo 12th overall B-Meg Llamados

Anjo Caram 36th overall Meralco Bolts

As of the Governors’ Cup of the 2013-14 season, the only SBC alums on active rosters were Menor who was with Air21, Marcelo with Barako Bull Energy, and Caram with Meralco. And of the three it was Caram, perhaps the most unlikely of all the Mendiola grads, who logged the most minutes and best stats:

Caram – 22 games
13.6 mins
2.8 points
0.9 rebounds
1.5 assists

Marcelo – 27 games
10.7 mins
1.9 points
1.2 rebounds

Menor – 13 games
4.7 minutes
1.1 points

The situation is similar to former Duke University Blue Devils in the National Basketball Association. For a time, their alumni – with stellar US NCAA stars like Christian Laettner, Trajan Langdon, Bobby Hurley, Jay Williams, Danny Ferry, Cherokee Parks, and Alaa Abdelnaby to name a few -- didn’t do too well in the Association.

That changed with Grant Hill, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Elton Brand, and JJ Redick to also name a few who are carrying the Duke standard in the pros.

In this year’s Gatorade PBA Draft, there are six Bedan hopefuls: Rome dela Rosa, Jake Pascual, Kyle Pascual, Anthony and David Semerad, and Mar Villahermosa. There could have been a record seventh SBC players joining the draft in gunner Garvo Lanete but he opted to pass and try his luck for the 2015 draft.

“I’m aware of my former teammates’ situations,” lamented dela Rosa. “I hope to make my mark and would love to be able to represent my school proudly in the PBA. Hopefully, I will get that chance to do it.”

Current Red Lions team manager and former team assistant coach Jude Roque offered an explanation, “The PBA is so competitive nowadays with so many great talents occupying the one, two, and three positions. It’s also a question of height. A lot of our recent Red Lion forwards and centers a great for the college game but shorter for the pros. And that’s tough. As for our point guards, sometimes, hindi kasi nabibigyan ng break.”

A former Red Lions coach who requested anonymity concurred with Roque’s last statement. “You need to go to the right team, the right coach, and the right system. That goes for all players. Sometimes it’s a bad fit and the player is not given a break. And when any player sits, his confidence goes.”

Sports journalist and Mendiola product Mike Abasolo believes that if some had stayed in the amateurs a little longer they could have developed better. “A few of them could have sustained their careers in the pros if they didn’t jump too early,” opined the big boss of “It's not about their lack of size or skill. The PBA has a ton of individual talent. It's a hyper competitive basketball arena and coaches have a lot of choices. Competition maybe have diluted their stock as a good addition to a PBA team in need of character injection.  Timing and luck will also play a major role.”

“Hopefully, we can reverse that trend if you can call it such,” said Anthony Semerad during the Gatorade PBA Draft Combine. “That is why we try to improve on a lot of aspects on our game. There’s our shooting, rebounding, passing, and defense.”

“And it’s trying to get faster and physically bigger,” added Anthony’s twin brother David.

Nardy Madrasto, a SBC alum who among his many ventures occasionally helps the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas with various matters pointed out that it isn’t only the Mendiola-based school’s players that are experiencing a hard time cracking PBA starting lineups.” A lot of NCAA or UAAP stars have also struggled in the PBA as well. Pero yung height malaking factor yan. So ngayon, ang tanong, ‘paano mag-a-adjust yung player?’”

Veteran pro basketball player Dondon Hontiveros (who isn’t a San Beda alumnus but a University of Cebu Webmaster) advised the assembled draft hopefuls during the draft combine that in the PBA, more often than not, a player has to play a different position and learn new skills that go with the spot switch.

“Like they say,” summed up Anthony Semerad, “Any time you move up there are always new challenges. So you really have to adapt or nothing will happen. We just have to show the way now for our school, won’t we?”

With Nardy Madrasto and Rome dela Rosa at Teriyaki Boy.

 Additional reading: Rome dela Rosa's Court of Dreams

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