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, October 11, 2015

Questions, answers, statements & thoughts post-FEU

Questions, answers, statements & thoughts post-FEU
by rick olivares

Instead of trying to write some analysis, I will instead answer the questions I received post-game via in person, text, chat, or phone call (siguro mga three dozen na tanong I swear).

Question: Bakit cool ka lang? Hindi ka galit?

Me: Well, lumaban naman di ba? That is all you can ever ask a team — to give it their best. We gave FEU a tough time and hung in there for pretty much the whole game. We killed ourselves with turnovers and poor execution. I thought that since the opening day blowout loss, we have been good. Closing out games though is the challenge.

Question: What was good about that game?

Me: I think defensively, the team was good. Not great yet as they didn’t get a win. In fact, we got beaten badly on the boards (51-38) but good. Check this out. 
FEU averages 10.6 points on fastbreaks. They were held to four points.
FEU turned the ball over 19 times and Ateneo scored 21 points off those turnovers.
Even if FEU grabbed 13 more rebounds, the Blue Eagles had the same number of field goals (62 each) and almost the same number of free throws (28-27). The game wasn’t decided until the final minute of play.
The Blue Eagles held Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, and Roger Pogoy down in their scoring. FEU’s big shots came from Alfrancis Tamsi, Achi IƱigo, and Russell Escoto.
Sure there were bad calls but FEU will say, meron din calls against them. Ateneo had its chances to equalize, get a lead or even put it away but they didn’t get the job done.

Defensively, we were fine. Offensively, we were not.

Question: What did you not like about the game?

Me: The turnovers late in the game and the shot clock management. Those back-to-back turnovers from Gwyne Capacio — from the exact spot with not much pressure. He picked up his dribble then passed off. They were slow -whether because of of slowness or defensive pressure — in bringing up the ball. It seemed obvious what they wanted to do. The tech foul on Ponso. The inbound turnover by Von. 

However, I used to be concerned that the second half adjustments weren’t there. In this game, we were neck and neck. The turnovers hurt. Yes, there were bad calls but we still had our chances. 

As I said, lumaban naman so I cannot feel bad.

Question: What about the bad calls?

Me: What about them? 

Question: What happened to Kiefer's free throw shooting?

Me: Ganito. Nagka-problema sa shooting so his dad, Bong, tweaked it. Lalong sumama. Kief thinks it's all mental at this point. Hope that clears it up.

Question: Why wasn’t Arvin Tolentino or Aaron Black put back in?
Me: I am not sure. I do know that the team is more into stats, scouting reports etc. What most people do not know is how prepared this staff is in terms of game plans etc. The problem sometimes is executing in on the court.

I know even during Norman Black’s time they had rules on defense. If someone wasn’t playing defense then he got yanked. I am merely surmising that it was a defensive concern regarding Arvin. 

As for Aaron, I have no idea. But man, that block against Belo — exquisite. 

I don’t think that the coaches thought that Gwyne wouldn’t get the job done. Not every bunot works. Some work; some don’t. That is not exclusive to our team.

I think it is even admirable that Bo tries to play as many players as he can. Kung kay Norman yan medyo mahirap as he doesn’t play his rookies too much. Sure, some players need more minutes. 

Speaking of Norman, hindi ba during the Five-peat years the fans got angry when he sent in Bacon Austria? How about during Season 70 with Emman Monfort and Ken Barracoso? Same with Ford Arao until Season 70. Now they call for Norman’s return. Memories sure are short.

Statement: Our coaching staff sucks!

Me: Let me tell you a parallel story. 

Before National University won the title last season, the knock and criticism levied at them was that Eric Altamirano didn’t have what it takes to coach a champion team. Even people in NU management had to look into that and their team manager told me personally, that he saw them almost on a daily basis. He saw the coaching staff work hard, teach, train, scout, and come up with great game plans. It was just taking the team a little longer to win -- one year late based on Hans Sy’s prognosis for a champion team. That is why after Season 76 when there were calls to replace Coach E (and he was there for a while now), management stood pat and allowed him to coach a bit more. And well, they won. They didn’t look great early last year and only turned on the jets late in the second round. But yes, I have been inside that NU locker room on many many an occasion. I see how they prep before, during, and after each game. They sure are thorough.

As for Ateneo, what many people do not know is how hard Ateneo’s coaching staff works. They do their homework and come out with great game plans. Executing them on the court though is where the problem lies. Sometimes, the players are unable to execute for a variety of reasons. As I have said on previous occasions, I may not agree with everything (and I do not know everything). And I am not privy to decisions or scenarios that they make and come up with. I think they have made mistakes, some costly such as not participating in the summer tournaments (and that wasn’t the call of the head coach in case you want to know), or even personnel but sports is like that. Some things work; some don't.

After two years of not winning, the blue and white faithful are restless. Who doesn’t want to win? I don’t think the coaches and the players want to lose.

Conversely, you have to give FEU credit for shutting down Von Pessumal and Kiefer Ravena. Early in the game, Von was able to get away but when FEU starting going above and not below in chasing the shooters, when they adjusted in the pick and rolls and drop passes, it presented problems. FEU threw several defenders towards Von — Roger Pogoy, Alfrancis Tamsi, and Mac Belo. They were giving him different looks and different defenders so whatever adjustments were made were countered.

It seems that no Atenean is ever satisfied with the coaching. And no, it is not exclusive to this generation.

In 1986, Hall of Famer and former Blue Eagle and NCAA champion Chito Afable was the coach. There was pressure on the team to win because it was thought that season was the last chance to bag the school’s first UAAP title. Center Mike Facundo (the one guy to give UE center Jerry Codinera fits) and forward Rey Rances were back for one more go-around. We had sniper Nonoy Chuatico who could come back or not for the next season. My batch — Jun Reyes, Alex Araneta, Jet Nieto, and Sep Canlas with Eric Reyes (who was a frosh that year) was a year wiser. But the team floundered. In the midst of the tourney, a petition was started to remove Afable! And many of the players signed (I know who you are). Imagine that!

Afable finished the season and the next year, former Crispa player and JRC Heavy Bombers star Cris Calilan was brought in to coach the team and the Blue Eagles won the championship. Then in 1988, former Blue Eagle star Fritz Gaston became head coach and he too won the title. In the years after that it was like we had one coach every year.

At one point, one coach didn't even finish the season! For La Salle Green Archer Perry Ronquillo who coached the Blue Eagles in the late 1990s, he didn’t even last the first round if I am not mistaken. Current FEU Athletic Director Mark Molina stepped in to fill his shoes but he too was gone in a year's time. 

When Joe Lipa was brought in, he delivered ahead of schedule. He said by the second year, the Blue Eagles would make the Final Four, then in his third year, win it all. The team made the Final Four in his first year then crashed out. Made the Final Four again the next, then crashed out. In his third year, they made the finals but lost to La Salle. 

Remember the “I Love Joe” campaign started by the players? 

How about when Joel Banal was on board? The team went 4-5 and then there were calls for his removal. We all know what happened at the end of the season.

During Sandy Arespacochaga’s one and only year at the helm, Ateneo played one match in the Champions League that was also Larry Fonacier’s return to action and his last game in blue and white. Some alumni (yes, I know who you all are too), chanted, “Sandy resign!” at the FEU gym. When they did that, the entire coaching staff including Norman Black who was a consultant at that time, pointed angrily at the alumni. Norman Black wanted to go up and give them a piece of his mind. Assistant coach Gene Afable wanted to punch a few people. 

And might I remind you that up to the end of Season 70, there were calls for the replacement of Norman Black. In Norman’s debut, a 20-point loss to La Salle, one alumnus, a Hall-of-Famer, marched into the University Athletics Office, to demand Black’s removal. On one game? Seriously?

Let me add one more anecdote that is a confession as well. During Sandy’s year of coaching, I remember the team was playing a Bantay Bata match (post-UAAP) at the Makati Coliseum against the PCU Dolphins (pre-Gabby Espinas/Jayson Castro/Beau Belga). Sandy fielded an unusual lineup on the floor that didn’t work. I stood up from where I sat, some five rows away from the team. And I loudly questioned his strategy that everyone looked in my direction. I instantly felt terrible. After the match, I went up to him and apologized and swore I would not do anything of that sort again. And I have not. I may point out things that I don’t like but I will never call for someone’s ouster. 

I heard that during deliberations last week, it was decided to keep Bo Perasol until the end of the season in spite of the clamor to remove him.

If we listened to the clamor to remove Joel Banal and Norman Black, I don’t think we would have won. 

So, can we win it this year? 

Sure. It won’t be easy though.

Hindi ba sayang, last year ni Phenom? Won’t we have wasted his final year?

I can think of so many Blue Eagle stars who didn’t win. There’s Richie Ticzon, John Verayo, Ryan Pamintuan, Rainier Sison, Magnum Membrere, Ford Arao…. You want to go back to the NCAA? There was Moro Lorenzo, Baby Dalupan, and Jimmy Alabanza to name a few. In case you didn't know, you cannot win them all. 

Fr. Ben Nebres said back then that it is important to show continuity and not change year after year. It was important to give programs a chance to bloom. If after a few years it doesn’t then it is time to part ways. As Norman Black once said, “Coaches get hired to get fired.” Furthermore, we are in a collegiate league and not the PBA. While the lines has somewhat blurred for college ball or even for the Ateneo Blue Eagles, our team isn’t a PRO BASKETBALL TEAM.

I am not exonerating Perasol of anything. As I said, I like some things and I do not agree with everything. But I have learned to accept things and try and move forward. If by season’s end, it doesn’t work, then if moving on is the right thing then move on.

I am also not saying that support should be blind; in fact, I despise blind faith. That is the worst kind. Let me say that I think that if people are willing to hear praise then they must and should hear the bad as well. You cannot have it one way without the other. Besides, weren’t we taught to be critical thinkers? 

Do they alumni have a right to get upset? Of course. No one is saying they cannot. It is a free country. And last I checked, Martial Law was lifted in January of 1981. There are valid points after all. 

Having said that, here are a couple of bones to chew on. 

With all of this, whoever takes on that coaching baton will be under a short leash too. Who would want the hell to coach a team with not much margin for error? If Norman Black comes back he will be held to that five-peat standard? He will compete with old ghosts. Will you be gracious enough to allow him at least four years to win another title? Or do you want to win as soon as he is back? What if he doesn't win?

It is sad that Fr. Jett Villarin had to write a memo affirming support to Bo Perasol. Imagine that! IT IS THAT BAD. The team is so down now where every move, mistake, and non-call is magnified rightly or wrongly. 

It is sad when FEU Coach Nash Racela, himself an Atenean, and star player Mac Belo, have to openly throw a lifeline to Coach Bo and Kiefer because they too feel bad about the pressure and hating going on. Buti pa yung nasa kabilang kampo eh, marunong magbigay ng pugay. And no, this is not speculation. Nash told me that on the side yesterday, "Kawawa naman..." he said.

Right now, the team feels like there is no one to pick them up. Nope. Not even the vaunted Sixth Man. They are going into the next game relying on themselves. 

Now that’s a bloody shame.


  1. Bring back the SIXTH MAN!!!
    Thanks for writing this Rick!

  2. Sana more playing time kay Aaron (pangbantay kay Belo, Teng, and Ferrer). Wong is our next Gec Chia :)

  3. Via Rappler: This is Coach Bo's final year with the Eagles.

  4. Last time I checked, it was "Win or lose, it's the school we choose"... c'mon, Ateneo Faithful, show some faith.

  5. Thanks, Rick, for your usual level-headedness. Very much appreciated in this shrill and angry climate.

  6. just my 2 cents worth: if opposing coaches do actually feel "sorry" for the coach and/or his staff, then maybe, just maybe isn't it a possibility that there is something amiss with the way the team is being run? furthermore if most of these coaches would rather have him retained, doesn't it raise an eyebrow why? some thoughts to ponder i suppose...

    1. They feel sorry kasi sobra daw yung alumni.

    2. fair enough i suppose. yet it does leave the door open for them to continue winning against us given how seemingly the team has been figured out.

      i do agree with most of the points you raised (circa black and banal eras). however correct me if i'm mistaken, compared to the ouster calls against black, banal and even lipa then, i would say that the clamor for bo's head is more intense, is it not? i'm aware people questioned bo's selection as early as 2013, and were frustrated once more the next year. but 2014 showed improvement in terms of overall play and performance. now, after 3 years even with a number of blue chip recruits, it does look like the team's regressing instead of further honing (or addressing the lack of) whatever skill sets and systems may be needed. yes, black chose seniority in terms of minutes yet i truly believe he also trained and developed each and every individual so that they were prepared when their time came. i see none of that on the court (well at least with what i'm privy to and allowed to see). i believe this is the primary reason for all the complaints, especially from die-hard supporters such as myself ( i was there during the dark ages when we were losing. and fine, i'll include those fair weather fans too :-) ).

      i understand that creating a championship team and culture does takes time. banal won with the talent reared by lipa and black had to wait a few years as well with the help of 2008's recruiting class. but for me, bo has yet to show anything that resembles a sound system of the college game and player development. i would like to be proven wrong but that's how i see it.

      i love my alma mater and i will continue to support anyone who represents it. i would love for our team to raise that trophy at the end of the season once again but i'm also grounded in the reality that its extremely tough. nonetheless, bo was right - he was chosen to lead the team. so it is on him.

    3. Why is the clamor louder? Social media. If FB and Twitter was big during Norman or Joel's time it would have been just as loud. And no. Norman had more seniors than rookies.

    4. who? tiu, escueta in 2008? baclao, rabeh and jai in 2009? salamat in 2010? monfort, bacon and long in 2011? and most of the heralded 2008 class including in 2012? with the exception of 2012, thats an average of 3 graduating players per year, same after this. yes on his first year, even as head coach bo was practically a greenhorn given the circumstances. he had the next year to prove himself capable, well to a certain extent he was able to.

      i give you the social media factor, but forums and online exchanges were already present during norman's time. besides, i doubt if the actual influencers even course their initiatives on twitter and fb today. "fans" who voice out their opinions online are merely incidental. but i respect your opinion, and mine's, well its only mine anyway. thing is, if it wasn't of any value along with the several whatsoever, why the meeting then? why the need? methinks its to address why the team is under performing and finally draw the line as to whom is accountable. the rest is just pr.

    5. Let me amend the seniors to veterans. In 2008, the only new players were buenafe, salva, chua, burke. gonzaga played on team b. there were a few sophs, others were either juniors, seniors or super seniors. of the rooks, only buenafe got serious playing time. in 2009, only juami and frank joined the team. in 2010, carlo balmaceda and chris de chavez moved up from team b. erram came in as a transferee. in 2011, gwyne, kief, von, and jeric came in. Greg was by no means a rookie having played 3 years in cesafi. 2012.GBoy, Isaac, and Kris came on board. So not many rookies. this year -- new players the nieto twins, then a smattering of team b players 00 aaron, hubert, jerie, chib, and adrian. the other vets like gboy and soph apacible didn't get too much playing time.

      there was always a huge corps of veterans on board to carry the load and rear the newbies -- legit rooks and team b players included. this year, not much.

      i am not blind to the problems. there are problems. i have pointed them out in almost every game except the past two. at the end of the day, the buck stops with the coach. yes, the development is slow and not as fast as you'd like. the problems aren't just the coaching staff per se, but even the players. this team is exactly where the post-2002 team is. underachieving.

      as for the meeting...

      i'd appreciate it the next time you post if you could say who you are instead of answering anonymously. thanks.

  7. Mr. Olivares, i do agree with some of your points including short leashes given to coaches. But in your narrative I did not any hear any comments made by the players themselves. Of course, win or loose, the team, coach & staff, will hear commentaries, which is the nature of the game. I urge you to sit down with a few player, past and present and get their reaction, and get them first hand. Getting them from third parties is hearsay. This is the only true way to find out how they feel about the coach, staff and admin, to include your benefactor. More power, thank you.

    1. Yes, I have heard also from the players' both past and present. I think it will be wrong for me not to listen. However, have you noticed that many former players do not comment about the current situation? Not even during their time.

  8. Heto nakakatawa.... walang gusto mag-on the record sa mga dating players.

  9. Adam Smith's invisible hand...applies not just in economics but in sports and competition as well. Throw in a bunch of skilled and accomplished players (in their own rights, that is hs) with little regards for role players (lock down d, anyone?) and in the absence of orchestration, that will only benefit the opposing teams. The deeper roster will only find ways to outdo, not their opponents, but one another.