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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Aljon Mariano’s UAAP career just ended. But the battle to regain his name is only not yet over.

This appears on

Aljon Mariano’s UAAP career just ended. But the battle to regain his name is only not yet over.
by rick olivares

With 52 seconds left to play, Aljon Mariano tried to swipe the ball off UE’s Mark Olayon who looked to have fumbled the ball. The whistle blew and an incredulous Mariano looked at the referee (the replay showed that Mariano never even grazed the Red Warrior).

Mariano was called for his fifth and last foul. He walked off towards the UST bench not knowing what to feel. The minutes seem to flash by as he gamely battled a UE team that was fighting for its Final Four life. Mariano’s Growling Tigers had already been eliminated thus preventing him from fulfilling a promise to make up for his finals meltdown last year by leading UST to the championship.

Then he heard the ovation from the UST gallery as teammate Louie Vigil went out to embrace him. Mariano topscored with 18 points while adding three rebounds, one assist, and two steals.

But it wasn’t enough as UE’s Roi Sumang scored on a drive to hike the lead to 77-69 with 38 seconds left. The Tigers would threaten one last time behind Karim Abdul and Ed Daquioag but time ran out on a 78-73 loss to end UST’s dismal and trying season at 5-9.

On the court, a banner was brought out thanking its graduating players – Mariano, guard Kim Lo, and forward-center Paolo Pe as well as courtside reporter, Kristelle Batchelor.

“Parang ayoko ko pa umalis sa court,” Mariano remembered thinking as his team made their way off the Smart Araneta Coliseum court. “Alam ko na na eliminated na kami pero hangga’t hindi mo narinig yung huling buzzer ay tuloy tuloy pa di ba?”

The team huddled for one last time inside the locker room before heading out into the night. As the Growling Tigers filed out one-by-one to hold court outside where there was a throng of awaiting journalists, Mariano lingered inside the dugout one last time with his fellow graduating seniors.

“Disappointing yung season,” said Mariano with a shake of his head. “Ang daming nangyari. Ang daming na-injure at hindi kami makakuha ng kumpiyansa. Gusto ko talaga makabawi pero kinapos ulit.”

“Inisip ko rin na dapat ma-enjoy ko yung huling laro ko sa UST at UAAP at para hindi ko rin masayang ‘tong sandali na ‘to. Yung last foul hindi ko ma-control yung tawag ng referee. Pero nung makita ko na pinalakpakan naman ako ng crowd ng UST ay okay na rin ako,” he reflected on those final seconds walking off the floor. “Pwede naman sila mag-boo pero nag-cheer sila at pumalakpak so at least na-recognize naman nila yung effort ko.”

When he finishes his schooling as well, Mariano hopes to take his talents to the D-League. “D-League muna tayo,” he noted. Kailangan ko pabanguhin yung pangalan ko.”

Mariano paused on that thought for a moment.

“Twice na nasa championship pero di namin na kuha. Bitin…”

He choked on his words. Groped before he managed to steel himself.

“Hindi ako sure kung mag-enter ako sa draft next year or two years from now. Sa PBA, tres (small forward) lang ang ilalaro ko so kailangan ma-polish yung outside shooting ko at maging consistent. Dapat ready ka sa PBA dahil maspisikal yung laro doon. Kuha muna tayo ng experience sa D-League. Kailangan ko pa maglaro.”

As he walked out of the UST locker room one last time, he waited for his teammates. They were all riding together for that return to their España campus.

Mariano nodded got up and didn’t say another word. He shook hands and left.

There aren’t any more words to say as he knows he just has to show it on the next stage.

No comments:

Post a Comment