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 1, 2016

Reflecting on Coach E leaving NU

This appears on

With Alex Compton and Eric Altamirano who I have work with the past six years now at the NBTC.
Reflecting on Coach E leaving NU
by rick olivares

Minutes after the National University Bulldogs defeated the Far Eastern University Tamaraws for the UAAP Season 77 Men’s Basketball championship, the school’s owner, Hans Sy, who purchased the school several years before was asked about Coach Eric Altamirano who led the school to the Promised Land. “He can stay for as long as he likes,” said the business magnate.

Well, two years later, six years after he helped turn NU around, Altamirano stepped down. There are rumors that say he was pushed out and he just resigned to give him a graceful exit.

Whether true or not, all I can say is, he should have been asked to stay at least another year.

While some may say that the program has gone down and let’s take a look at the chart here.

Win-Loss Record
Final Four
Final Four
Final Four

After six years at the helm of National University, Altamirano finished with a 51-43 record in the UAAP. Every single basketball trophy inside their silverware cabinet was won during his watch.

Sure, NU finished in the same placing as Coach E’s first year – in fifth spot. But then as in now, that is a young team.

If they are looking to a program where every year the Bulldogs compete for a Final Four slot then that raises many eyebrows.

Even if NU has climbed out of the cellar keeping the team at a Final Four contender level needs constant work. Landing blue chippers still isn’t easy. Most would still opt to go to the top programs. Yes, school pride is there. But just because it’s there it doesn’t mean you stop working at it. School pride, spirit, or the quiet confidence in one’s gait -- now that takes decades to embody. The school is getting there but do not take it for granted. The day you do not require a student to watch a UAAP game and they go because they want to be there to support your team – now that is something else.

Now, let’s a look at their current line-up:
Freshmen: Joshua Sinclair, JV Gallego, Kins Go, Chino Mosqueda, Tzaddy Rangel, and Marc Diputado.
Sophomores: Reggie Morido, Nico Abatayo, and Matt Aquino.
Juniors: Matt Salem, Alfred Aroga, Rev Diputado, Meds Salim, Dave Yu, and Michael Pate.
Seniors: JJ Alejandro

Aquino, Salem, and Pate are transferees.

Of that line-up, five were on the title team of three years ago. And only two of them received significant playing time.

When I broke down NU’s problems before, I pointed out why I thought they ran into trouble.

One, they are obviously a young team. They have talent but the maturity isn’t there yet. The youth movement in the league is obvious. Adamson, Ateneo, FEU, UST, and NU.

The other teams like La Salle, UE, and UP have veteran line-ups.

When young teams lose a couple of consecutive games, the tendency is for them to fall into that rut rather than them finding a way out of that hole. Because they are young.

Two, did their pre-season showing where they finished 7-2 (losing to the Arellano University Chiefs in the semi-finals) get their hopes up? Did they pin their hopes on Alfred Aroga? If ever, this can be traced to the coaching staff. He did very well before because they had loaded teams. When it became his turn to carry the team, he was more of a complementary player than the star to lift them up.

So if Ateneo is in the same boat as them, why did the Blue Eagles go all the way to the finals?

I think there’s a lot of motivation for Ateneo. Who they lost, the adversity on and off the court, and a tremendous support system, the specter of last year’s failed final four drive….

As for the former question about their summer finish… as good as it sounds, the pre-season, is just the pre-season. It doesn’t mean one of going to finish at the top of the heap.

But it’s done. Altamirano and his staff resigned.

I thought that they lost a darn good coach who is known for turning teams around and leading them to a title (Mobiline, Purefoods, and NU). Furthermore, he is a good and principled man. I still think he merited one more year. But what do I know?

What is sure here as death and taxes is that “as long as he likes” actually means, “as long as he is winning.”

In this win-at-all-costs world… I guess that’s the true answer.

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