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.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Jeremiah Gray: Playing US Div 2 ball or for Ateneo

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Jeremiah Gray: Playing  US Div 2 ball or for Ateneo
by rick olivares

There was a curious onlooker in the audience during the Ateneo-Mapua match at the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup yesterday. He did stand out though as he stood 6’4” with a lean frame that some said belied his explosiveness.

Jeremiah Gray sat behind the Ateneo Blue Eagles bench with his parents, James and Maria. The 19-year old from Thousand Oaks, California took in the game and exchanged observations with his parents. He clapped and his eyes lit up at great plays by either side.

By halftime, the Filipino-American basketball player was ready to talk.

His dreams of sports glory first took form inside the baseball diamond. “I loved baseball and I tried to play as much of it as I could,” Jeremiah shared. He played every field position. “That’s how you start learning the game until you figure out where you stand out the best.” 

Gray was a Los Angeles Dodgers fan who swore by its slugging outfielder Matt Kemp. “I was a big fan and I wanted to be like him. Although Kemp has moved to cross-state rivals the San Diego Padres, Gray has maintained his allegiance to the Dodgers. But instead of being the next Matt Kemp, Gray’s dreams shifted over to the basketball court. “It was a gradual shift,” he recalled. “I began playing hoops in the third grade and after a while, I felt that the game was my calling and that I’d make more of an impact in the sport.”

And he did while playing at Westlake High School where he initially drew the interest of San Beda. “I didn’t know anything about the Philippines until the time that I was being recruited,” Jeremiah stated. “At home, my mother would occasionally talk about the Philippines. I learned a few words here and there but not much. I didn’t even know about basketball here until I was being recruited.”

Gray has good range on his jumpshot and has an explosive move to the basket. On the fastbreak, he is devastating. “It’s not easy to take about my game. Truthfully, I’d rather not. I don’t want to be boastful about those things and would prefer to talk about my team or just let my game do the talking."

Since Jeremiah’s exposure to Philippine hoop, he would every now and then try to catch hoops in this basketball-crazy republic. The national team, the pros, and the college game. “I’d sit down with my folks to watch it. Yeah, it does get crazy all right,” he noted. 

“Eventually, Ateneo came out to try and get me,” he shared of what started as a three-year courtship by Manila-based schools for his talents. And this past week was his first time in the Philippines.

“It’s totally different from what I expected,” he nodded. “I’ve been to a few places. I’ve also visited Las Piñas where my mom grew up. And I was able to go to the Ateneo campus where they gave me a tour. The campus is really nice. I felt at home. And there were lots of trees and greens. Just like the States."

Right now, Gray is choosing between playing Division II ball in the US (either for Dominican College in New York or Hawaii State University in Honolulu) or Ateneo. “It’s 50-50 at this point,” admitted Gray of where he is going for college. “I’ll make my decision very soon."

“Getting a good education is important to me,” Gray summed up. “My older sister, Jamie, is a journalism major who recently graduated from New York University (he also has an older brother named Josh). It would be also nice to move to New York. So I have a lot of thinking to do."

“But playing for Ateneo is definitely intriguing, interesting."

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