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, March 17, 2016

The Forgotten Blues: Former Blue Eaglet Enzo Joson finds a new home... in Thailand

The Forgotten Blues
Enzo Joson was supposed to help lead the Ateneo Blue Eaglets last season in defense of their hard won crown. But academic problems cast him by the wayside.
by rick olivares pic by brosi gonzales

There’s a buzz in the crown at the Mall of Asia Arena on opening day of the 2016 SM-NBTC National Finals. There’s the guest Fil-Canadian team who are in town to showcase their wares and maybe don some local jersey by next season. There are the top seeds like UAAP Juniors champion NU, NCAA Juniors titlists San Beda, and powerhouses like Chiang Kai Shek College and Ateneo de Cebu.

In the fourth match of Opening Day last Sunday, March 13, word filtered out that there’s a former Ateneo Blue Eaglet playing for Traill International School of Thailand. 

And true enough, there was Enzo Joson, albeit sporting longer hair, but with the same old derring-do. He wasn’t wearing his familiar #15 for Ateneo. He dropped the “1” and now wore #5; the traditional number for the point guard.

Former foes from NU and San Beda came over to watch. “Kung naglaro si Joson sa Ateneo sa UAAP,” postulated the Bullpups’ John Lloyd Clemente, “malaki yung maitutulong niya sa kanila.”

“Galeng pa rin,” added NU center Justine Baltazar.

It seemed strange that Joson was wearing green and white while facing a team that wore blue and white with the name “Ateneo” neatly heat-pressed in front. Although the team was its distant cousin from Cebu. 

Joson gave a glimpse of what he could have provided for Ateneo this past season. He scored 20 points on 50% shooting from the field. He grabbed nine rebounds and had one steal versus seven turnovers. Defensively, he was a pest helping put the clamps on his Ateneo de Cebu counterpart, Jed Colonia, CESAFI Juniors MVP, who was held to 13 points. But it wasn’t easy. Joson fouled out with a long ways to go leaving his team short-handed. Without Joson, Traill self-destructed in the final minute of play as the Magis Eagles held fast for a 76-72 win.

“It was good to be back,” said Joson after the game. “It was weird though playing against Ateneo even if it is Ateneo de Cebu.”

Of the 10 players Traill fielded in the match, six were Filipinos all who are based in Thailand. “This is an eye opener for our team,” bared Joson. “You know it’s Thailand and football is their biggest sport. While basketball is growing in popularity, the level of play isn’t that high. Even for the Filipinos, it was different. This is good exposure for us.”

His voice… trailed off. “Yes, I miss it (local hoops).”

Joson admitted to keeping in touch with his former teammates and regularly monitored their progress all the way to their eventual ouster at the hands of De La Salle Zobel in the Final Four. 

He doesn’t talk about what might have been. It took a while for him to get over being taken off the team for academic reasons. College ball or even a return to Loyola Heights isn’t on his mind just yet. “I haven’t really given it much thought. I have some things to do for now. When it comes to that time, I will think about it.”

During Traill’s second match of the tournament (their opening day loss sent them crashing out of the Final Four picture), the Thais faced Southern City Colleges from Zamboanga. Traill inflicted a massive beating on the Mindanao-based squad putting a 135-45 hurt on them. Joson topscored with 38 points in 22 minutes while adding three (offensive) rebounds, and two assists versus — lower this time — two turnovers.

Despite the record winning margin in the tournament, Joson’s team didn’t advance to the next stage of the tournament. They watched the remainder of the five-day competition from the stands. 

Did it hurt to miss out on something again?

“Am not sure. I don’t want to think about it. Am just moving forward."


Good luck, Enzo. Wherever that road leads, always give it that One Big Fight. And Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

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