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, July 12, 2016

5 reasons why the Manila FIBA OQT was the best

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5 reasons why the Manila FIBA OQT was the best
by rick olivares

The five-day 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament is Manila is done. While the Philippine national team wasn’t able to break through, the tournament was still memorable and very eventful and will go down as one of the best international sporting events to be hosted on our country’s soil.

Here’s why.

Seeing NBA players for their national teams.
The tournament in Manila had serious star power.
France - Tony Parker (San Antonio), Boris Diaw (Utah), Joffrey Lauvergne Denver), Mickael Gelabale (who played on the Seattle Supersonics last two teams before they relocated to Oklahoma City) and Nando De Colo (who used to play for the San Antonio Spurs)
Turkey - Omer Asik (New Orleans)
Canada - Cory Joseph (Toronto), Tyler Ennis (Milwaukee), Joel Anthony (Detroit), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland), and Anthony Bennett (who used to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves).
Philippines - Andray Blatche (who once suited up for the Brooklyn Nets).

The OQT at Belgrade had:
Japan - Yuta Tabuse (who used to play for the Phoenix Suns)
Puerto Rico - JJ Barea (Dallas) and Peter Ramos (who once played for Washington)

And the OQT at Turin had:
Croatia - Mario Hezonja (Orlando) and Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn)
Greece - Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Kostas Koufos (Sacramento), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (New York)
Iran - Hamed Haddadi (Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns)
Italy - Marco Belinelli (Charlotte), Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn), Danilo Gallinari (Denver), 
Mexico - Jorge Ivan Gutierrez (Charlotte)

The NBA contingent featured three NBA champions in Parker, Diaw, and Thompson and Canada also brought in general manager, Steve Nash; a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player! Furthermore, Canada’s coach, Jay Triano, was a two-time Olympian who was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers!

And Nando De Colo is with the reigning Euroleague champions, CSKA Moscow and is also the reigning Euroleague Most Valuable Player! That made for serious star power.

Speaking of Euroleague vets, De Colo’s CSKA Moscow defeated Turkish side, Fenerbahce, 101-96, for the championship that featured some players who took part in the OQT in Manila. Turkey’s national team also saw Feners Bobby Lee Dixon, Baris Hersek, and Melih Mahmutoglu taking part. 

Furthermore, all the NBA vets put on strong shows especially in their final matches making all the games all the more memorable to fans. 

The close games.
Among the three OQTs (including Belgrade and Turin), the Manila tournament was the best. No blowouts. All games were very competitive with almost all decided in the last two minutes of play.
At the OQT in Belgrade, Serbia, the average margin of victory was 19.8
At the OQT in Turin, Italy, the average margin of victory was 14.8
At the OQT in Manila, Philippines, the average margin of victory was 7.6

France’s 75-63 win over Turkey was the only match that ended up with a double digit margin of victory. However, that was because Turkey began fouling at the end hoping France would miss from the line.

Teams like New Zealand and Senegal winning fans over.
New Zealand and Senegal won the fans over with their style of play — hard work, beautiful basketball, and a highly-disciplined team that was fun to watch.

The Haka
Most people see the Haka performed during New Zealand’s rugby matches (it is of course also performed in weddings, funerals, or state receptions). Their basketball counterpart, the Tall Blacks, have been performing that too. If Philippine crowds first saw that it was during the 2014 FIBA World Championships when the NZ performed that in front of the American team. The Manila crowd got to see it up close thrice! And the Haka became one of the eagerly awaited sights during the Kiwis’ matches.

The crowds that packed the MOA Arena.
Even with the Philippines not advancing to the knockout rounds, the crowds still came to watch. They cheered, booed, cheered some more, and asked for selfies with everyone from the coaches and players right down to FIBA’s staff. Fandom indeed!

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