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, December 31, 2015

Climbing up the table... on to 2016, Liverpool!

Saying thanks to people who made 2015 eventful for me

The year 2015 was most eventful. It had some pretty good highs and some terrible lows. But the good  outweighs the bad by more than a country mile.

I just want to thank some people for the year that was. It was a great one.

FIRST OF ALL, THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO READS MY WORK. I so appreciate it and value you for that.

Want to thank the Dalupan family for giving me a chance to contribute mightily to the book about the Maestro.

To Hans and Manny Sy for being a part of the National University Men’s Basketball Team championship book.

And for the NU Cheerdance team book and the crew -- Gabby, Pat, Sir Pocholo, Mar, Philip, and Ed!

To Rhose Montreal for picking me to be editor-in-chief of PBA Life and Hardcourt. I appreciate it and treasure it.

My hardworking staff for PBA Life & Hardcourt: Ruey, Rikky, Maya, Jason, Naveen, Stu, Favian, Jay, Roxci, Jessica, Jasmine, Philip, Mon, Mandy, Alvin, Paul, Brosi, Arvin, Popoy, Mar, Francis, Randolph, Enzo, Nico, Claudia, and Richard. And Cathy P!

Chito Salud for giving me the chance to introduce the Philippine military into the PBA Finals. 

To the Philippine Army for that cool award. Thanks Colonel Arnulfo Burgos.

Jun Lomibao, Dino Maragay, Vlad Bunoan, and Ryan Songalia for giving me a platform to write. 

The people I worked with for the comics I published - Rey Asturias, Sandy Gonzaga, NiƱo Balita, JM Valenzuela, Ronzkie Pacho-Vidal, Bianca Lesaca, Mark Del Rosario, and Richie Ramos. 

To the Komikon organizers -- Sherry, Jon, Ariel, Lei and everyone else.

To my fellow Marvel Zombie podcasters — Jiggy Cruz (my younger bro from another mom who always looks out for me), Gerard Poa, Earl Maghirang, Tony Tuason, and Jeff Canoy. 

To Epok Quimpo, Arthur Lim, MG Ebro, Yeyey Yatco, Eddie Ching, Mikey Bengzon, Manny 
Pelaez, Art Sabong, Jet Nieto, Rod Onglatco, Mike Yu, Nonoy Chuatico, Joey Guillermo, Roger Gorayeb, and Louie Alas. My cousins Peter Olivares and Pia Caluag! Thanks for being there and being so supportive.

My bro, Bob Guerrero -- my eternal cheerleader and fount of optimism.

Mr. Jun Gaw, Pocholo and Pat Chunsim.

The Blue Eagle moms - Mozzy, Pam, Janet, Irene, Carol, and Bing. 

To Lannie Galvan, Felice Olondriz, Pam Nobles, Ning Arnaez, AR Ticzon, Ken Ti, and Francis Abad for being so supportive of my comics.

To Victor Cui.

To Liverpool Football Club and Standard Chartered for making me a part of the family.

My GroupM family — Pam, Gelo, Arnie, Ton, Anna, and Marcia. To my Pepsico peeps — Steve, Angel, Mikey, and Boss Tony!

To Tito Butch and Tita Connie Bonoan. Tito Jess dela Fuente. My dad's barkada since his Ateneo Grade School days for the rescue effort.

My parents and siblings, and my family. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Three Lions team as of December 29, 2015

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham) Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

Midfielders: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) Ross Barkley (Everton) Theo Walcott (Arsenal) Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Defenders: Aaron Cresswell (West Ham) John Terry (Chelsea) Chris Smalling (Manchester United) Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool)

Goalkeeper: Jack Butland (Stoke City)

Bench: Nathan Redmond (Norwich) Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)  John Stones (Everton) Troy Deeney (Watford) Matt Albrighton (Leicester) Phil Jones (Manchester United)
Joe Hart (Manchester City)

Manager: Alan Pardew

Fights I want to see in ONE FC for 2016

Shinya Aoki is ONE FC's Lightweight Champion. It would be a dream match to see him go up against tough Lowen Tynanes.
This appears on

Fights I want to see in ONE FC for 2016
by rick olivares

The ONE FC recently announced 24 events for 2016 with 10 of them taking place in China. While that is good news as Asian MMA is really taking off, I’d like to see some of their top guns get into some really tough matches.

Who matches do I want to see booked in ONE FC events for 2016?

Shinya Aoki (38-6-0) vs Lowen Tynanes (8-0-0) Lightweight Match
Aoki has fought sparingly in the last two years. In 2012 and 2013, he had three fights each year. In 2014, two matches, and in 2015, one match. That isn’t much for the defending Lightweight Champion who has made only two title defenses. A match against up and coming Lowen Tynanes will be a bonanza fight. Both fighters are brutal and frightfully strong. This could be Aoki’s stiffest challenge in the ONE FC.

Eddie Ng (7-3-0) vs. Koji Ando (12-4-2) Lightweight Match
Ng is an all-action fighter who is one of the top submission grapplers in Asia. Ando is a tough customer whose fights tend to go the full route of three rounds. Striker who is also adept at taking it to the canvas. Both have similar styles. 

Gianni Subba (7-1-0) vs. Rey Docyogen (11-2-0) Flyweight Match
Both are exciting competitors who leave it all out in the ring. The winner to face 
Kairat Akhmetov (23-0-0), the reigning Flyweight Champion who is a submission specialist.

Shannon Wiratchai (4-1-0) vs. Jadamba Narantungalag (10-4-0) Featherweight Match
Eric Kelly (12-1-0) vs. Timofei Nastukhin (9-2-0) Featherweight Match
Both fights feature some tough guys taking on each other. Shannon has good moves but lacks a little more experience. But he has potential. Now against Jadamba, the bull-strong Mongolian, he will be tested. 
Eric Kelly is a more methodical fighter while the Russian likes to finish off fights in a hurry. 
The winners of both bouts will take each other on and face ONE FC Featherweight Champion Marat Gafurov who will be a handful as he is 13-0 and on a four-match win streak in the ONE FC.

ONE FC has to find some guys for Bibiano Fernandes and Ben Askren to fight. Ditto with Brandon Vera. The bantamweight, welterweight, and heavyweight divisions are rather thin. There are some welterweights but not in the class of Askren. If not, we want to see that Askren-Luis Santos match.

Another fighter I want to see in action is Singaporean Radeem Rahman.

And more women’s fights — Angela Lee, Irina Mazepa, Ann Osman, and Ana Julaton. 

The Ninth Annual Brewskies (or Dubious Achievements in sports for 2015)

This appears in the Monday, January 4, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

The Ninth Annual Brewskies
by rick olivares 

By year’s end, Bleachers Brew hands out awards to the news and controversy makers. Here are the winners for 2015.

The Latrell Sprewell Award goes to Jonathan Papelbon. The Washington Nationals’ closer got upset at teammate Bryce Harper after he popped out during a match against the Philadelphia Phillies. The two got into an argument in the Nats’ dugout with the tempestuous Papelbon choking his teammate before they got separated.

Knockout of the Year Award goes to Sepp Blatter. The longtime president of FIFA thought that he could get away scot free with all his shenanigans in world football. The funny thing is he accused Mohamad Bin Hamman, one of his erstwhile colleagues, of corruption in the Asian Football Confederation. But only a fool would believe that Blatter was clean as other long time colleagues of his such as Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner of CONCACAF and Juan Angel Napout of CONMEBOL to name a few were all arrested on corruption charges. Following the arrest of senior FIFA officials in Switzerland last May, the dominoes fell culminating in an eight-year ban for Blatter that will forever  tarnish whatever great legacy he thought he’d leave the game. 

Letdown of the Year Award goes to the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout. This is also a candidate for Heist of the Year as the fight of the century certainly it wasn’t. Floyd Mayweather Jr. jabbed and danced his way to victory sending Manny Pacquiao to another loss. Whether rightly or wrongly, Mayweather ended the year and his career with a 49-0 record tying the unbeaten record of the late Rocky Marciano. Pacquiao? He went from being one of the best of all time to a fighter who stayed longer than he should have taking his third loss in his last six outings.

It didn’t help that the post-fight talk centered on Pacquiao injuring his shoulder before the bout and Mayweather taking an illegal IV the day before he stepped into the ring. 

The John McEnroe Award for Congeniality goes to Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios. During a match against Swiss tennis player Stan Wawrinka during the Rogers Cup at Montreal, Canada, Kyrgios made a lewd in-match comment about his opponent's girlfriend that was caught on camera (although Wawrinka initially missed hearing it until after the match). Kyrgios later apologized but Wawrinka and the ATP weren’t amused. Wawrinka confronted Kyrgios in the locker room although what happened there stayed there. The ATP fined the Aussie $10,000. 

The Feud of the Year Award is a tie between Tom Brady and the NFL and Bill Simmons and ESPN. After Deflategate where the NFL fined and suspended Brady for four matches for allegedly playing a role in deflating footballs in a match against the New York Jets, the New England Patriots Quarterback appealed and won. Furthermore, Brady’s Patriots have continued to win while Goodell’s NFL was battered in the public eye.

As for the latter, ESPN didn’t renew Simmons’ contract after it ran out. There are numerous theories why Simmons, who went from a mere blogger to a hotly-pursued sports pundit who put up the pop culture microsite Grantland on ESPN, was let go. One theory is Simmons’ projects weren’t doing too well financially and they ultimately didn’t justify costs and salaries; and second, he appeared on the Dan Patrick Show (a Sports Illustrated property that is a ESPN rival) where he lambasted the NFL’s Roger Goodell). During his time with ESPN, Simmons was suspended three times for taking shots at his own employer. Now with HBO, Simmons still cannot get over it and continues to take shots at his former employer.

MMA Fight of the Year Award goes to the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters and the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters. Both teams played a highly physical and contentious Commissioner’s Cup Finals during the PBA’s 40th season. At one point, RoS gunner Paul Lee lost a tooth after taking a nasty elbow from TNT import Ivan Johnson. Johnson even bumped Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao sending him to the bench that nearly caused a fracas between the two squads. The series was marked by its roughhousing more than its play.

The Dysfunctional Award goes to the Philippine Volleyball Scene. With the recent success and ascension to the spotlight of volleyball, different factions arose to seek the leadership of the growing sports. There was the incumbent PVF, the new LVP, and the warfare between the longtime volleyball organizer V-League and the Philippine Super Liga. The row reached the Asian Volleyball Confederation and when the dust settled the LVP remained standing yet was wracked by infighting as well. 

The Loose Lips Award is a tie between Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Rose, despite missing a large chunk of games the past few years sounded off about testing the free agency waters with the current season not yet even played. While his play on the court has been sterling his quotes have not. And he came off as someone without any sense of gratitude considering the Bulls stayed with him and surrounded him with good players. Harden on the other hand felt that he should have been NBA MVP last season and not Steph Curry. While the NBA Players Association gave him the nod as MVP over Curry, he should just leave his talking on the court as his Rockets have been underachievers.

The Last Word Award goes to Steph Curry. The 6’3” son of former Charlotte Hornets guard Dell Curry wasn’t recruited by the big schools, was rated poorly in a pre-NBA Draft scouting report, and was deemed too injury prone to make a name for himself in the Association. Well, Curry has turned himself not only into a better player but was named league MVP last year. He also led the Golden State Warriors to a six-game victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Curry has won almost every major award in pro basketball the past year and so while his Warriors are looking good to repeat as champs.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Premier League 2015-16: The Davids’ (small clubs) time to shine

This appears on

Premier League 2015-16: The Davids’ time to shine
by rick olivares 

No matter how your favorite Premier League team is faring at the moment, you have to admit that the current season is interesting and loaded with drama.

The two great stories are traditional powers floundering with the underachieving clubs turning out great results and the managers of top sides losing their jobs or seem to be on the verge of getting axed. Regarding the latter, that’s nothing unusual because of the pressure to win and their big wages.

Following the Boxing Day results, the results confirmed the nature of this most improbable season. Unlikely Leicester City atop the league with 38 points, two ahead of second place Arsenal (shocking 4-0 losers to Southampton and missing a huge chance to leap into first spot) despite its December 26 loss to inconsistent Liverpool, 1-nil.

Manchester City is third while Tottenham is fourth. Manchester United, the gold standard for Premier League squads is in sixth spot after absorbing a fourth straight loss, this one a 2-nil loss to Stoke City.

Where is Chelsea and Liverpool in the standings? The latter is at eighth place having just arrested a shocking skid after being bloodied in the nose by Watford, held to a 2-2 draw by West Brom and a loss to Newcastle, 2-0. 

West Brom is at 13th while Newcastle is in the relegation zone at 18th. Another Premier League fixture, Aston Villa, is dead last in the 20-team league with only eight points accrued from 20 fixtures. They look to be relegated should their free fall continue. 

Chelsea is at 15th spot and hovering above the relegation zone and 20 points adrift of first place in the standings. 

Watford, one of those less popular clubs is at seventh having drawn Chelsea and surviving a late penalty kick awarded to the Blues that they flubbed. The week before, they dealt Liverpool a crushing, 3-nil shellacking. Last November, they also defeated Aston Villa, 3-2. 

Stoke City, currently at 11th, dealt the two Manchester squads identical 2-0 defeats in the space of three weeks. 

West Brom’s best results this season were its 2-1 win over Arsenal and its draw against Liverpool.

Bournemouth, newly promoted to the Premier League for their first time in their 69-year history, fashioned some huge wins over Chelsea (1-0) and Manchester United (2-1) and a 3-3 draw against Everton. They are currently at 14th spot.

Taking at look at four clubs — Leicester, Stoke, Watford, and Bournemouth — they averaged L46.5 million in wages; half the amount paid by the top five big spending English clubs (Man City, Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool). Despite West Ham being a small club, they technically aren’t because they are one of the five London-based Premier League sides and have been in the Premier League for some time. The aforementioned four sides have been either in the top flight a few years ago or newly-promoted. 

Further to the funds available, the money the small clubs have on hand for the transfer window averages a paltry L12.7 million.

The success of the small clubs (and we haven’t even mentioned the upsets of Norwich City) has been due to several factors — smart football minds running the show, strong defensive midfielders and back fours, and underrated but incredible attacking threats. 

Smart football minds
Stoke has had two very good managers. Tony Pulis for several years before the even more shrewd Mark Hughes took over last season and rebuilt his reputation after a disastrous spell with Queens Park Rangers.

Leicester brought Italian Claudio Ranieri who had the smarts to keep some of the previous coaching staff’s assistants for some continuity. 

Bournemouth’s journey is even more incredible as twice in their history have they come back from bankruptcy to be promoted. The Cherries as they are known, have received a some money (a paltry L25 million in the last three years) from their new Russian owner Max Demin and some of these investments such as in their sports science and video support that is vastly underrated. Both have helped their players perform much better. The front office has managed the influx of money by bringing in smart and sound players some of who have come in as free transfers. One such is Polish goalkeeper Art Boruc. Midfielder Matt Ritchie from Swindon Town and South African Tokelo Rantie from small Italian side Malmo. 

Strong defense
The top two goalkeepers in the Premier League at the moment are Stoke’s Jack Butland and Watford’s Heurelho Gomes. 

Leicester feature a strong back four and a compact midfield. Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores builds his game behind a strong back four that likes to hit on counter attacks.

Both have eight clean sheets yet Butland has 73 saves to Gomes’ 52.  

New names for attacking threats
Leicester has the duo of Jamie Vardy (league-leading 15 goals) and Riyad Mahrez (tied at second with two others with 13 goals). Stoke has the trio of Marko Arnautovic, Bojan Krkic, and Xherdan Shaqiri. Watford has Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney. 

Bournemouth plays a pass-and-go offense yet will need an even bigger scoring stud upfront as they have only 22 goals against 32 conceded. Callum Wilson has only five goals; a poor ratio of a goal per 108 minutes played. 

Following Leicester’s 1-nil loss to Liverpool, their second of the season and their first shut out, there’s talk that they have lost steam and will fall by the wayside. Wherever they finish, the same goes to the small clubs, they will have given this season a memorable flavor. 

Oh, hey… all of a sudden that Leicester City shop in the heart of Bangkok (just outside the Siam Paragon mall along Rama I Road) is getting swamped with new fans. That’s pretty good too, right?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Is Steph Curry the best basketball player in the world today?

This appears in the Monday, December 28, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

Is Steph Curry the best basketball player in the world today?
by rick olivares pic by noah graham

One of the many comments made post-Golden State's 89-83 win over Cleveland on Christmas Day was, “There goes the theory that the Cavaliers lost in last year’s NBA Finals because they missed Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.”

Another was, “Steph Curry has eclipsed LeBron James as the world’s best player.”

Let’s tackle the first. 

It’s hard to compare a regular season game and a finals series because of the circumstances and what is at stake. No one wins a championship with a good 60% of the season yet to be played. 

However, what that game counts for is home court advantage in the playoffs, bragging rights, and a mental edge in head-to-head match-ups. And further to the point, injuries, as are breaks are part of the game. 

The Cavs’ Irving was only in his third game back and couple that with the combined atrocious shooting with Kevin Love… they pretty much left LeBron James to his own devices in the end game. But to be fair, James missed three crucial free throws and four shots at point blank range while making two baskets; both dunks.

Steph Curry likewise made two baskets (from four attempts in the fourth period) with both crucial layups to see off the Warriors’ win.

Obviously, the Warriors are a better team than the Cavaliers. The word “team” is the optimal difference. Cleveland was built around one man, LeBron James, who was surrounded by other players to complement his game. That changed in his second stint in Ohio when he joined Irving who was then the team’s star. Hoping that lightning would strike like it did in Miami, Love was enticed to come over. Then they started adding pieces.

Golden State on the other hand was rebuilt somewhat differently. They built two very good "teams.” Their front court and coaching staff and the players. In 2012 when they brought on board Bob Myers initially as assistant general manager then promoted to general manager a year later. Myers was a former player agent who joined the Warriors’ front office and brought a different outlook from organization people. His shrewdness allowed the team to draft NOT the best players but ones who could fill roles on a team. They brought in Jerry West who has immensely helped the team and this past season. There was the coaching staff that began with Steve Kerr who played under two coaches who espoused a team-first policy in Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich. They brought in Alvin Gentry who was with Mike D’Antoni during the Phoenix Suns’ seven-seconds-or-less days and that explains their high scoring ways. There’s also Ron Adams who was also responsible for turning Boston into a good defensive team. They also brought in young guns in Luke Walton who has been acting as interim coach with Kerr out because of surgery and most recently, they hired Steve Nash to help out.

Talk about great basketball minds. 

Team-wise, they selected the unsexy picks in Steph Curry, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green. They brought in players who didn’t seem to make an impact as their best years were said to be behind in Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa. They brought in stars from their previous teams to play lesser roles. The stats of Andrew Bogut and Andre Igoudala have gone down with their time in Golden State the trade off is they are part of a championship machine.

They have a plethora of players — Curry, Klay Thompson, Igoudala, Livingston, and Green — who can play multiple positions and several players who very good ball handlers and who make very good decisions with the ball. 

Sure is hard to beat a team when many players can light it up. They are tops in offense and are ranked 18th on team defense. They pretty much overwhelm foes with superior firepower. 

That sure is a pretty good team on both sides of the court there.

And then there’s Curry.

In a video where the reigning NBA MVP reads from a draft scouting report that described his explosiveness and athleticism as "below standard." 

Added the report, "He needs to considerably improve as a ball-handler. He will have limited success at the next level. Do not rely on him to run your team. Stephen must develop as a point guard in order to make it in the league.”

Well…. last NBA season, Curry was named MVP, a berth on the All-NBA First Team, an All-Star, and Three-Point Champion (in contrast James was named to the All-Star and All-NBA First Team). He capped it all with a NBA championship. This season, he has led his team to a 28-1 record. The Warriors look to strong to repeat as champions while Curry looks to bag his second consecutive MVP award. Furthermore, he is leading the league in scoring (increasing his output by 9.2 points from his career numbers). Curry is also shooting at a career best .512 accuracy rate this season while leading the league in touches with 98 touches a game. He also has two FIBA World Cup gold medals and looks to add an Olympic Gold Medal to his trophy chest in the 2016 Rio Olympics.  
If this season wasn’t the Kobe Bryant farewell tour, Curry would lead the All-Star Game fan balloting (Mamba is so far the leading vote getter with 719,235 to the 510,202 of the latter) with James a far third with 357,937.
It doesn’t take any stretch of the imagination that even without an Olympic gold medal around his neck, Steph Curry is the best player in the game today.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

PBA Life and Hardcourt now available in bookstores!

Snapped this pic of PBA Life and Hardcourt at Fullybooked Promenade, Greenhills. 

Proud of these three publications that I oversaw as Editor-in-Chief (and I wrote some of the articles too).

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Got a Manny Pacquiao bobble-head from Funko!

Finally! Got myself the Manny Pacquiao bobblehead from Funko. This was released before the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight but it's only now I was able to get one. 

There's another one with Manny in basketball gear but am not interested in that. 

On a Philippine-related bobblehead note, also saw boobleheads of the Aswang and White Lady! 

Amazing to see Filipino culture spread across the world.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

As of Dec. 22, 2015 this is my Top XI in the Premier League

Thus far this Premier League season (as of December 22, 2015 with the season not even halfway done), this is my best XI:

Goalkeeper: Heurelho Gomes (Watford)

Defenders: Simon Francis (Bournemouth), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Aleksandar Kolarov (Man City)

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Phillipe Coutinho (Liverpool)

Forwards: Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Romelu Lukalu (Everton)

Bench: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester), Odion Ighalo (Watford), Jack Butland (Stoke), Daley Blind (Manchester United), and Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Kobe Bryant to China? Why not?

This appears in the Monday, December 21, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

Kobe in China
by rick olivares pic from

That column by Marc J. Spears in Yahoo Sports just set the basketball world on fire. Spears asked Stephon Marbury about his fellow NBA 1996 batchmate (ouch, that sounds like a lifetime ago) playing pro ball if his swan song should be in China. And Marbury, who has found a second lease in his basketball life playing for the Beijing Ducks in the Chinese Basketball Association, said a mouthful to Spears: “They love him here. It is a little past love. It would be like the biggest thing ever in basketball here. It would be beyond huge. Beyond big. I would definitely encourage it. They love basketball here. You can’t control the excitement.”

And you know… why not?

It will be good for the world game. Kobe can still play as he is averaging 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 23 games while logging 30 minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers. While he isn’t as dominant as before, he can still contribute in a huge capacity.

While it is expected that Bryant will try to seek a slot on the US National Team for the Rio Olympics, I am not so sure that he should even bother with that. The face of the US game is changing and it’s time to let the younger players earn that chance. If they can give us a new cast and a new direction with Star Wars then so should the American team. As for China… that’s something else.

Aside from the mega-bucks that will be paid, he will cast a spotlight on the Asian game. It will help improve the level of play in the CBA as Chinese players will learn from Bryant’s legendary work ethic as well as his style. 

For the second straight season, there are over 100 foreign players playing their trade in the NBA. That means over a quarter of the players in the world’s best pro league were born outside the United States (although a few come from the US Commonwealth). There hasn’t been a Chinese player in the NBA since Yi Jianlian returned to the CBA in 2012. 

Chinese fans reportedly now root for Jeremy Lin and Emmanuel Mudiay. Lin, of Taiwanese heritage has had a downhill career after Linsanity took root with the New York Knicks. Mudiay, the Congo native, played high school ball in Texas but opted not to go to college but to play in China. After a year with the Guangdong Southern Tigers, Mudiay was drafted seventh overall by the Denver Nuggets during the first round of the 2015 Draft.

For the longest time, NBA basketball has fed and inspired the world until foreign players began taking their game Stateside. Over the years, many NBA veterans have gone on to play in China not necessarily to extend their careers but also because they felt more comfortable playing abroad. Aside from Marbury, Steve Francis, Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady, Al Harrington, Metta World Peace, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Aaron Brooks, and Shavlik Randolph to name a few have gone over. 

But there hasn’t been anyone of Bryant’s pedigree; someone who is a certified star and Hall-of-Famer. 

You can look at how Major League Soccer has become a huge pro sports league in the United States. While many misguidedly view the MLS as where ageing European stars go to collect one last pay check, the quality of the game has vastly improved. The are the fifth major sports league in North America and they have been playing to packed houses.

CBA and Asian hoops? It can only benefit for the attention and game that Bryant will bring.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Check out my new Mizuno Ascend 8!

The Wave Ascend 8 is my third pair of Mizunos after the Wave Rider 14 and 17. Between the previous two, it was the Wave Rider 14 that I liked best as I found 17 a little to rigid. Nevertheless, I am excited about the Wave Ascend 8. It's an off-road shoe that is said to be durable and can take a lot of punishment. I got an off-road shoe because I pretty much walk everywhere. I think the design and the color scheme -- looks perfect for the off-road -- makes it look classy enough to even wear to some event that isn't too formal.

Trying it on now, I love that the width is just right since I have wide feet. The padding feels good so far and am eager to try this on rocky terrain. There's enough toe room so my toes don't feel cramped or bunched up. It also is said to have good ventilation so we gotta check that out.

Take a look at the sole gives a good grip on different types of surfaces! 

I will be giving the shoe a road test and will see how it scores on the following criteria: forefoot cushioning, stability, weight, heel cushioning, and stiffness. 

Wish me luck!

Grazi, Mizuno!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chelsea sings the blues: The Fall of the Special One

This appears on

The Fall of the Special One
by rick olivares

The Special One is suddenly not special anymore.

Jose Mourinho's grovelling on television post-Chelsea loss to Leicester City, 2-1, over the weekend, where he said, "I want to stay. I hope Mr. Abramovic and the board want me to stay because I want to stay” is far from the man who left Chelsea at the height of its glory for Italy.

Whether Mourinho will be sacked or not as manager with Chelsea one point above the relegation zone will surely not diminish his status as one of football’s all-time great managers. His legacy is already assured after having won titles in Portugal, England, Italy, and Spain. In fact, he is the only manager to have won a domestic title, the league championship, cup, super cup, and league cup in four European leagues! Not many coaches can claim to be a “galactico" - a term usually reserved for players — but he was labeled as such and rightfully so when he arrived in Madrid.

He further added to his legend two years after his return to England by taking the Premiership last season. How it has unraveled so quickly for both club and its Portuguese coach this season is both spectacular and karmic. 

In truth, the unraveling began in Madrid even as Barcelona took the majority of the silverware available during his time there. Yet when Mourinho joined the scrum during a Barcelona-Real Madrid match years ago was disappointing. As painful as it was for him to see his Los Blancos squad fall late in the match, 3-2, to Pep Guardiola’s side, when he poked Barca assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye, it was so unbecoming of someone of his stature let alone a manager. Furthermore, during his time in Madrid, Barcelona won the lion’s share of the trophies as Pep Guardiola’s outdueled the Special One.

All his years, he has called attention to himself to deflect the harsh glare of the spotlight on his players. Yet this year, the script has flipped as he has repeatedly thrown his players under the bus after one disappointing loss after another. Furthermore, in the loss to Leicester over the weekend, he even included the ball boys! Mourinho has even gone on to say that he is responsible for whatever points his team has accrued while the missing points from a win are because of his players.

If he had some players on his side before the weekend, it is an even more toxic locker room that he will face when they get back to work after the debacle against Leicester. 

And now he is begging for his job.

For sure, the fall of defending champion Chelsea isn’t only Mourinho’s fault. A lot of it can also be levelled towards the players  especially seeing how this club has treated previous managers (see Avram Grant, Andre Villas-Boas, and Rafa Benitez). After all, they are the ones on the pitch. Yet, I do not know one club more infamous for its dumping of its managers than Chelsea even if they have won championships. It’s one thing not to win and it’s another to let them go even if them win some titles here and there.

Between Mourinho’s departure from Chelsea in 2007 right up to his return in 2013, the blues have brought in eight managers! Eight! Some won some silverware; some were world-class managers, yet none of them lasted under the weight of expectations.

Speaking of the fall of the Blues, this is where they stand: four wins, three draws, and nine losses in 16 fixtures. They are 16th in the 20-team Premier League. Aston Villa, Sunderland, Norwich City, and Swansea are right below them in the relegation zone. 

Club owner Roman Abramovic must weigh all of this very well. Just as it did when Chelsea let go of Mourinho in 2007 for L16 million, this time it will come at a higher price — L40 (as per contractual stipulations)! Chelsea’s Russian owner must know that they have not generally lucked out with any manager after Mourinho (although there’s Roberto Di Matteo who gave a good account of himself and Guss Hiddink won 73% of his matches which is better than Mourinho’s 67%) but keeping Mourinho will mean losing the players all the more. More often than not, it is the manager who must go and in this case of a poisoned atmosphere, all the bad eggs should be made to pay or else the inmates will be running the asylum. 

No other football club has been more controversial than Chelsea: the John Terry racism incident and his affair with the girlfriend of a former teammate, Eden Hazard kicking a ball boy, Ashley Cole’s shooting a student, the fight between a Stamford Bridge groundsman and Man United’s Patrice Evra, Jose Mourinho’s alleged hiding inside a laundry cart to enter the Blues’ locker room while serving a suspension, the “firing” of popular team doctor Eva Carneiro after an in-match disagreement with the manager, Diego Costa throwing a training bib in his manager’s direction when he wasn’t going to be sent into a match, and more. All that is in the last eight years and that doesn’t even begin to complete the list.

It is shocking to see this turn for one of the more successful football clubs of the past decade or so. At the end of the day, you reap what you sow.

During his plea to keep his job post-Leicester, Mourinho said that he looks forward to helping Chelsea out of its current rut and said, "I am not afraid of a big challenge.”

Somehow, that seems out of his hands right now.

Who can coach the Letran Knights?

Who can coach the Letran Knights?
by rick olivares

A little over a month after the NCAA champions Letran lost their head coach to La Salle, the Knights are still without a head coach. In a conversation with Letran Athletics Director Fr. Vic Calvo O.P., he bared that they have yet to find a replacement. “Kausap ko mga bata and they said na huwag magmadali maghanap ng replacement,” said Fr. Calvo in a conversation outside the San Juan Arena during the NCAA Volleyball tournament last Monday, December 14. “We should take our time in deciding until we get the right coach. But syempre, hindi rin naman natin puwedeng patagalin ‘to.”

We will take the occasion to recommend a few people who could take the job. 

There’s the Letran connection:

First off, there’s Louie Alas. 
He has been itching to get back to the college game that he dearly loves. Coached Letran for 14 years. After he won the title in 1999 with CSJL, he received an offer from the Manila Metrostars that was way bigger than his college contract. Here is the difference, boys and girls — he asked if he could be released from his contract except the Letran priests said no. Alas said he’d honor his Letran contract yet a week later, the Dominicans released him amicably. After leading the Metrostars to a title and a stint with Talk ’N Text in the PBA, Alas returned and led the Knights to two more titles.

Alas is used to working with not much. With the graduation of key players, there’s the tough task of seeing them defend the title. What coach has done more with less?

Kerby Raymundo. 
Former Letran Knight who won a championship under Louie Alas. NCAA MVP. PBA champion and All-Star. A thinking player. Good work ethic. Lacks experience but you have to start somewhere. How he translates his traits as a very good player into coach is anyone’s guess. Was offered the job before Aldin Ayo. Now seems to be all right with coaching his alma mater. Should he take it, he will need an experienced first assistant to guide him.
And there are those with a non-Letran pedigree:

Allan Caidic. Just coming off a stint as an assistant with La Salle. Previously coached Ginebra in the pros. Has also served as team manager so he also knows how to deal with players. High profile coach who could attract recruits. Has played for some great minds — Baby Dalupan and Norman Black. Reads the game very well. Can spot things coming even before it unfolds. It would be interesting to see him transfer that knowledge to young players. Tantalizing choice.

Mon Jose. Former La Salle Green Archer. Currently an assistant to Jason Webb in the Star Hotshots and Eric Altamirano with the NU Bulldogs. Hard worker as a player. An even harder worker as a coach. Disciplined and has bright ideas. 

Josh Reyes. Currently an assistant to Nash Racela with FEU and Jong Uichico with Talk ’N Text. One of the best young coaching minds. Has worked his way up from the video coordinator to scout to teaching the dribble drive offense to Talk ’N Text, Gilas, and FEU. Let me tell you a story about Reyes when he first arrived in FEU along with Racela. Good in team psychology and is able to look at the big picture.