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.

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