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.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Looking at the newcomers to Gilas

Looking at the newcomers to Gilas
by rick olivares

It is a great honor for Jio Jalalon, Roger Pogoy, and Matthew Wright, all playing in their rookie year in the PBA, to be named to the national team that will compete in the 2017 Seaba tournament from May 12-18 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The winner of the single round robin affair among eight nations will automatically go to the FIBA Asia Cup later this year.

What exactly do these three players bring to the national team?

Let’s take a look.

Jiovani Jalalon (PBA team: Star Hotshots)
The 24-year old quicksilver quick point guard of the Star Hotshots first came to prominence with the Arellano University Chiefs who he helped guide to a pair of NCAA finals berths. A two-time veteran of the Southeast Asian Games where he pocketed a gold medal.

The Cagayan de Oro City born point guard who stands at five feet and nine inches tall, can drive to the basket, finish strong, or if confronted by a taller player launch those teardrops or sneak in scoopers for a twinner. He has good range – a three, a medium range shot, or even a turn-around jumper. Can post up smaller players too.  Great court vision as he can find his open teammates on the run or when he is attacking the defense.

Easily one of the more exciting players in the league. The heir to Jayson Castro’s as the player who will make Gilas’ offense go.

Roger Pogoy (PBA team: TNT KaTropa)
The 24-year old Cebuano really came of age in his final season with Far Eastern University where he was an integral part of a championship team. Stands 6’2” and plays the two and three-spots. Good range with his shot and plays terrific defense individually and even helping out. Can finish the break too when needed.

What he adds to Gilas is his two-way game. Makes good decisions and reads. Hardly commits errors. Terrific attitude towards the game and a team player.

Could spell Terrence Romeo on the team. Not a high scorer but he can when he’s on a roll.

Matthew Wright (PBA team: Phoenix Fuel Masters)
The 6’4” Fil-Canadian stepped into the Phoenix Fuel Masters line-up and made an immediate impact. Plays like a veteran even in his rookie year.

The 26-year old from Toronto, Canada, first played professionally in France with Union d’Arc Phalange Quimper before joining the Westsports Malaysia Dragons in the Asean basketball League where his Phoenix head coach, Ariel Vanguardia, brought him. Theirs was an obvious reunion in the PBA. “It’s easy to tab him because I know what he could do,” said Vanguardia on the PBA Draft night last year.

He has previous national team experience having player for the Under-18 team of Franz Pumaren in the four-team Nokia Youth Basketball Invitational and the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championship, both in 2008.

Wright has size on the wing, and the speed to match players in the two and three-spots. He also has good range on his shot and can also stick the medium range jumper. But what has been most impressive about him is his headiness.

Adamson Falcons looking to make a lot of noise starting with 2017 FilOil Flying V Premier Cup

Adamson Falcons looking to make a lot of noise
by rick olivares

When the FilOil Flying V Premier Cup tips off this coming Monday, May 1 at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan, all eyes will also be on the Adamson University Soaring Falcons.

Head coach Franz Pumaren, now in his second season at the helm of the San Marcelino-based squad, made waves for the sterling program that was put in place and made an immediate impact in the last UAAP season.

The Soaring Falcons finished with an 8-6 record and made the semi-finals where they were ousted by eventual champion, La Salle. Now a year older and with more experience, a return trip to the UAAP Final Four isn’t only in the cards. They plan on actually challenging for the much coveted college basketball title.

Pumaren listed 21 players for the summer cage tournament. Of that list, only 16 will be lined up for the UAAP tournament that follows a little over two months after the end of the Premier Cup.

Yet from last year’s squad, gone are JD Tungcab, Jonathan Pasturan who is now with the College of St. Benilde Blazers, Harold Ng, and Jonathan Ballon who were all cut from the team.

The prominent holdovers are shooting guard Jerrick Ahanmisi; forward centers Kristian Bernardo, Simon Camacho, Dawn Ochea, and Papi Sarr; point guards Robbi Manalang, Jonathan Espeleta, and Terrence Mustre; and forward Sean Manganti.

Looking to make the squad are point guard Jerie Pingoy who looks to continue his college career after a difficult time at Ateneo. Other newcomers include the David brothers Japeth and Jopeth, Leo Frias, Tyrus Hill, Alex Noble, and the mysteriously named Kobe Bryan Vizcarra.

Should Pingoy make the squad, we wonder who will be cut unless someone slides to the two-spot to back-up Ahanmisi.

Adamson was the third-ranked defensive team in the UAAP last season; right behind leader Far Eastern University and Ateneo. Yet even with Sarr and Camacho among the best shot blockers in the league, Adamson surrendered the most points inside the paint with 13.3 points per game.

Offensively, they were even better behind the dynamic shooting of Ahanmisi, the clutch points of Manalang, and the inside presence of Papi Sarr. They were second only to La Salle in offensive output.

With a year of learning the Pumaren system, according to team assistant Awoo Lacson during the last Premier Cup coaches meeting, “The goal is to improve defensively and to be better in every aspect. That is what we aim to do this summer and see how we adjust and perform come the UAAP.”

The Falcons play the Jiovani Jalalon-less Arellano University Chiefs this May 1 at 5:15pm.

Tickets to the FilOil Flying V Premier Cup can be purchased at all Ticketnet branches as well as the gate of the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ateneo Blue Eagles look to build on last year’s success beginning with the 2017 FilOil Flying V premier Cup

Blue Eagles look to build on last year’s success
by rick olivares

Several months after their UAAP Finals stint, the Ateneo Blue Eagles return for the new college basketball season, hopefully, better if not a year wiser from the experience gained.

The veterans include Vince Tolentino, Kris Porter, Chibueze Ikeh, Anton Asistio, Aaron Black, Thirdy Ravena Isaac Go, and brothers Matt and Mike Nieto. Entering their sophomore years are Jolo Mendoza, Jawuan White, Shaun Ildefonso, and Raffy Verano while making their debut are former youth player Gian Mamuyac and Bryan Andrade who both sat out last season while playing on Team B. Tyler Tio who also played in last year’s summer league but not the UAAP is also in the line-up. With Adrian Wong out with a knee injury, his younger brother, Dan, is suiting up for the upcoming FilOil Flying V Premier Cup that tips off this coming Monday, May 1, 2017.

The Blue Eagles, who made the semi-finals of last year’s summer league, will play on Opening Day against Lyceum of the Philippines University at 3:15pm at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Curiously, the Blue Eagles did not shore up their frontline. Although Ateneo was ranked second in team defense, they were fourth in both rebounding and inside points. Many of their points inside came from the wing players and the guards who in the second round began to attack the interior with more determination and ferocity.

One bright spot inside was the play of 6’7” center Isaac Go who began to become a force in the middle. In one stretch, he scored 15 points for three consecutive matches. He finished the season with an average of 6.1 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Ateneo was also known for its gritty team play and were second only to the University of the East in assists.

Second year head coach Tab Baldwin will have to look for someone to replace Wong’s 8.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per match as well as his penchant for being clutch on both ends of the court.

The team has a more home grown look with 10 players coming up from their juniors ranks in Porter, Asistio, Black, Ravena, the Nieto brothers, Mendoza, Ildefonso, Mamuyac, and Andrade.