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.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Altamirano & Napa out of National University. Oh, the irony of it all.

The irony of it all
by rick olivares

Folks in college basketball are constantly getting a reminder that it’s just as ruthless as pro basketball.

This past season, National University jettisoned their seniors and juniors coaches after “failed” seasons. And both previously led their respective teams to championships.

I guess that’s the operational word – “former”. You’re only as good as your last win.

First, Eric Altamirano was not renewed as head coach of the Bulldogs after they played haphazardly the past season and missed the Final Four bus. They are two seasons removed from their last title. Then a few days ago, it was announced that the Bullpups Jeff Napa was out as juniors coach to make way for Goldwyn Monteverde. Napa is one year removed from his last title with the Bullpups; his third with them in six years.

In an ironic twist of fate, it was Napa who blew the whistle on Monteverde’s Adamson Baby Falcons when he got wind that the latter’s team had an “ineligible” player. And that can be contested in my opinion because that is only due to interpretation.

Napa and NU informed FEU who in turn filed the complaint. Adamson went from first place to last. And then FEU trumped NU in the finals.

Karma can sure haunt you in the worst way possible. Now Napa is out and the man he helped knock from the top, Monteverde, is in his cherished spot. And that I guess that effectively ends Napa’s stint with NU as well as his chances of becoming the Bulldogs’ coach.

Quite frankly, I am shocked at Napa’s removal; he being the loyal servant. However, if you look at the circumstances surrounding Altamirano’s removal, it’s par for the course. You don’t win, you’re out.

So NU replaced their previous coaches with two other ones who have won titles – Jamike Jarin in the seniors won with San Beda in the NCAA seniors and the UAAP Juniors while Monteverde won MMBL and Tiong Lian titles.

Now Napa can concentrate on Letran and try to do his best work with them. However, more than bringing the Knights back to the Final Four, the incoming second year coach of this NCAA power has to also win back a disgruntled alumni base who have been baying for his ouster even before the conclusion of the last NCAA season. This because of what they perceive to be poor coaching and even picking a fight with an alumnus who has been highly visible and supportive of the team for over a decade. And no, this isn’t hearsay. This is me hearing it straight from Letran alumni during actual matches and even off the court.

Look, the upcoming NCAA season is a foregone conclusion. There is no way anyone is un-seating San Beda. Their program and depth is just way too much for other NCAA teams. Occasionally, other squads can pull the rug from under the Red Lions as San Sebastian and Letran accomplished it with wholly all-Filipino crews before. However, that is few and too far in between. It will not happen much and it will not happen next season.

Sorry guys, but next season is all about who gets the honor of being the bridesmaid. Other teams expected to challenge for Final Four slot are Arellano University, Perpetual Help, Mapua, San Sebastian, and if Emilio Aguinaldo College and Lyceum can get their act together, they will crowd the picture too. But unless they can channel the spirit of those underdog Baste and Letran teams that struck gold, then it’s just for pride. Still have to play the game, you know?

Nevertheless, for Napa, if he can get Letran back into the Final Four picture that will be massive.

However, Letran can take heart that in a few years, the foreigners rule ban will be in effect, but that’s not going to really help them. With no real program in place, they will have to rely on walk-ins and the occasional recruit and call up from the juniors ranks. San Beda will continue to bring in tall Fil-foreigners and the opposition will get clobbered.

As for Adamson, you guys rolled the dice bringing in all those people who brought in a different mentality. In trying to win, you guys lost so much. But as I said, that’s par for the course in today’s college landscape. No one, and I mean no one is on any moral high ground. Let’s be clear about that.

Back to NU…. for years, they stuck with the late Sonny Paguia through decades-long droughts. They went with Manny Dandan who gave the school a measure of pride. Then Altamirano who took them to the Promised Land. The leash is much shorter. And I imagine it will be so with Jarin. This is their honeymoon period. But that won’t last long. After all, college ball – since the days when recruiting went into maximum overdrive and when winning became everything – have become as ruthless as pro sports.

Breakdown Basketball is breaking down doors

Gil Salandanan, Jay Adevoso, and Edwin Corral who organize Breakdown Basketball. 

Breakdown Basketball is breaking down doors
by rick olivares

I got to check out this exciting new league for high school hoopsters last Saturday, April 29. It was the Breakdown Basketball league that ironically is on its third year.

The brain child of Ateneo coach (and former player) Yuri Escueta and some parents of student-athletes Jay Adevoso, Edwin Corral, and Gil Salandanan, the Breakdown Basketball League started out as a means to provide the non-UAAP Juniors teams some meaningful playing experience.

In their inaugural league in October of 2015, they featured two divisions with 16 teams spread across. Now if you think that was a great start then consider where they are no – four divisions where they have the Under 17, Under-15, Under-14, and Under-12 with a total of 54 teams!

This July, the organizers will add an Under-19 division, and around the second semester of next school year, an Under-10 division. All the matches are incidentally played at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center’s court two every day.  

“I think schools have responded well to our league because of the parity,” said Adevoso. “Our member schools are Ateneo, La Salle Greenhills, San Sebastian College-Recoletos, San Beda, Xavier, Letran, UST, Malabon High, Marist, Notre Dame, and we also have opened our league to a record 5 club-teams playing in several divisions.”

Jolas Terso, the former National University Bulldog who is now coaching Notre Dame of Greater Manila Fighting Irish (based in Caloocan City), told us that he liked this league as opposed to other previous leagues they joined because the divisions are structured more along age lines. “In the other league we joined, lagi kaming bugbog. Ang hirap maghanap ng sasabihin sa mga bata kapag laging tambak at mababa morale. Now, although talo kami ng mga one-point nung last few games, at least alam ng mga bata, konting pukpok at tiyaga na lang ay may kaya kami.”

In the current Cup of the Breakdown Basketball League, LSGH is going for a fourth crown in the U-12 division. They also recently won the U-14 championship while Xavier won the U-15. Ateneo teams in the U-14 and U-12 divisions have consistently made the finals but have never won it yet.

Personally, I like the exposure given to the kids. And from what I know, values formation will become an integral part of its program. That will help kids gain a keen understanding of sportsmanship as well as the ethics of the game.

The major sponsor of the league is Smart. has naming rights to the current tournament while Got Deals Mobile, Honda, Mared Rubber, M+ vitamins, and Compass Holdings are the other sponsors.

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.