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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A chat with a UST alumnus about the concerns surrounding their former coaching situation

Photo/screen shot from 24 oras.

While writing about the current UST coaching situation, an alumnus of that school, who is also involved with some of their school programs approached me "to vent" to borrow his term. What follows is an actual conversation. I left out some zingers. But it does not change anything that he said. This was done on May 31, 2016 somewhere along España.

Rick: Kindly introduce yourself and tell people why you wanted to chat about UST basketball?

Tiger: Just call me “Tiger”. I went to school in UST for high school and college during the 80s to early 90s. I have many friends from the athletics program of the school so medyo in-the-know tayo.

Rick: Alright. 80s ha? That was a tough time as Ateneo and La Salle dominated the league then with UE making noises here and there.

Tiger: I know. But soon after that we won four straight.

Rick: Yep! Let’s move on. Are you frustrated at your team's inability to win a UAAP championship? The Tigers are 0-3 in their last three appearances.

Tiger: Yes but not as much as others. Mas malungkot ako para sa mga boys because I know talagang nagsumikap sila. And we don’t have the kind of program that teams like Ateneo, La Salle, and FEU have.

Rick: Unfortunately, for UST, the last two finals stints have been marked by controversy. How do you feel about that?

Tiger: I am blocking off all negative thoughts. (laughs) But as much as you’d like not to believe in hulog or what iba na ang panahon na ‘to. The proof is in the games. 

Rick: Hmm. So what are you saying?

Tiger: Iwan na natin diyan.

Rick: Okay. If you say so. To your knowledge, how do UST alumni feel about this unlucky streak?

Tiger: Masama loob. Nothing good.

Rick: Looks like you’re seething with anger. Sige, what do you think of the recent coaching problem that led to Bong dela Cruz being out? What do you know of it?

Tiger: First, I think he deserves to be punished if all the reported abuses are true... which i know are true. Pero, should he be fired? Yes. But that's getting ahead.. ang tanong diyan eh, was there a process involved before his contract was not renewed? Everything was left hanging. Parang the problem was swept under a rug and people wished it would all go away. I read an article that mentioned that Fr. Rector said yung kaso was under investigation pero may balita ba? Nothing came out of it. Pagkakataon ‘to to make a statement against bullying and other issues pero wala. No statement about the alleged abuses.

Which brings me back to the question... should Bong be fired? Were his transgressions big enough for him to be fired? Sa opinyon ko, yes. But not until the school admin went through a process that will determine his guilt, what should have been done, what needs to be done. Now meron nang bagong coach pero walang statement about what happened. This is not to embarrass anyone but this is a chance to clean house. I have a feeling that there wasn’t really an investigation. 

If you look at how everything unraveled... it all looks suspect to me. It has the feel that someone from within leaked information about whatever Bong was doing to the Varsitarian. 

Rick: Care to explain that?

Tiger: As far as I can recall, the Varsitarian has never written about controversies within the campus that easily. Very protective sila sa school. But this one, sans any real statements from any official, the details were out. Very detailed. I'm used to reading like "let's wait for further statements” or "it is under investigation.”

Rick: Devil’s advocate, baka naman directive yan ng editor-in-chief ng newspaper.

Tiger: Maybe. Maybigote. It smells like this was all planned.
Rick: Naku! 80s reference yan! But wow if true anyways! 

Tiger: Hindi natapos doon. Meron pa mga game fixing allegations at kung ano pa. Whether true or not, the school owes it to everyone to come clean on their findings. Like I said, they left it hanging. 

Rick: So you think someone leaked all this info? But if that happens there is a motive.

Tiger: Siguro it is to change the coach. But I suspect it is also to install someone.

Rick: How so?

Tiger: Feeling ko it must be somebody who wants to replace him. Review natin yung mga pangyayari. After news of the complaint versus Kevin (Ferrer) came out (regarding psychological abuse) on a teammate... it immediately led to Coach Bong. And then, immediately, there were rumours that he was suspended or fired. Days after rumours of Coach Bong's supposed dismissal, a few coaches applied… nothing unusual about that, right?

Except that, after a few days, there was a news that says Fr. Rector said there's no vacancy because Coach Bong wasn't fired. He was just asked to stay away from the team while an investigation was being conducted. How come there were applicants when there was no vacancy?

Rick: Hmm. Curiouser and curiouser. Baka opportunity yung tingin nila. Now, what does this mean to you as a die-hard Thomasian?

Tiger: According to some articles, Boy Sablan applied. Friends from within the team said (Estong) Ballesteros had yet to apply at the time the article came out. So, again, suspicious lang.

Rick: You seem unimpressed that Sablan is now the coach. 

Tiger: Kulang sa resume. During his time with Pido Jarencio, he was listed as "academic assistant.”

Rick: What the heck does academic assistant mean?

Tiger: Beats me. 

Rick: While of course, it is UST's decision on who they want, In your opinion who should be head coach?

Tiger: Ballesteros was one of Pido's main assistants. He coached UST in summer leagues. He was being groomed by Jarencio, as far as i know. Bal David's resume is also not as impressive as, let's say, Ballesteros. Other applicants like Bennet Palad have coaching experience. He was an assistant to John Flores in LSGH, he coached in Indonesia plus was one heck of a baller who played under great coaches and was okay in the pros.

Rick: Okay. Playing devil's advocate. Hindi kaya you're reacting na Boy isn't as known kasi Ateneo got Tab, La Salle got Aldin, and Adamson has Franz. But then again, not many Letran alumni knew Aldin either.

Tiger: As an alumnus, i am very disappointed that we will face these coaches who are somebody whereas we have someone who has little or no experience.

Okay naman sana whoever is appointed. Disappointing only because there doesn’t seem to be an extensive search for the next coach.

Rick: Devil’s advocate ulit. Pero si Pido wala rin experience when he came in 2006.

Tiger: But at least there was an honest to goodness coaching search.

Rick: Ah. So there! Maybe lightning will strike twice for UST with Sablan. Baka nga mas may experience siya kesyo kay Pido when he first arrived.

Tiger: Believe me, gusto ko mag-succeed si Sablan. Walang question diyan. But the circumstances behind his appointment is really disappointing. It's like he was hand-picked from the start.

Rick: Wow! That's heavy!

Tiger: The coaching staff looks all right naman. Coach Boy has an able assistant in Patrick Fran who played under great coaches and naging assistant din for a long time. If Coach Boy listens to him, he'll be okay. Coach Pido was a wily player who knew how to read situations. Even if he lacked experience when he came in, he had his extensive experience to draw from. 

Pero nandyan na. Suporta na lang kami. Gusto ko lang mag-vent.

Rick: Nandyan ka naman sa school mo why don’t you give them a piece of your mind.

Tiger: No comment.


  1. Rick, I'm surprised "Tiger" didn't include Aric Del Rosario, considering the latter has been vocal recently about wanting to retire as a Growling Tigers coach. Why do you think "Tiger" never mentioned him?

    1. Because he was never in the equation.

    2. Thanks for clearing that one up.

  2. I found this exchange hilarious:

    "Rick: Alright. 80s ha? That was a tough time as Ateneo and La Salle dominated the league then with UE making noises here and there.

    "Tiger: I know. But soon after that we won four straight.

    "Rick: Yep! Let’s move on..."