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, August 31, 2017

Book on Philippine football tactics released

Book on Philippine football tactics released
by rick olivares

Former Kaya and Union Football club coach Maor Rozen has just published a Philippine edition of his football book, Tactics from the Roots (published by COC Foundation). Rozen, who is Uruguayan, coached for 10 years in the Philippines conducted football clinics for both players and coaches alike throughout the country.

After his brief spell with Kaya, he moved to Spain.

“I wrote Tactics from the Roots as a way of saying thank you for my time here in the Philippines,” said Rozen. “They were some of the best times of my life.”

“When I first came here, I could see the passion for the game but the level of football wasn’t as high. Coming back now, you can see how the game has grown not only in terms of popularity but also tactically. This book talks about tactics from what I have observed and maybe this can also be a tool for the Filipino coach.”

During the book launch held last Wednesday at Fullybooked at Bonifacio High Street in Taguig, the Uruguayan listed four reasons for the publication of the book. “First, it is to continue to the development of football in the Philippines,” underscored the coach. “Second, it’s to further develop coaches’ ability to analyze the game. Third it to optimize the understanding of the game at an early age and lastly, it is to help create and identify a new generation of local talents.”

Rozen also cautioned readers and football coaches about the book, “The tactics will change in a few years because the game evolves. But the fundamentals remain the same.”

Spotted in attendance at book launch were Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, Azkals team manager Dan Palami, former national player Alex Elnar, Makati Football Club boss Tomas Lozano, former Union Football Club team manager Jorge Muller, and Congressman Carlos Cojuangco who sponsored the publication of the Philippine version of the book.

This is the second book about Philippine football published in the last two years. In February of 2016, Philippine Football Its Past, Its Future was launched featuring writings about the history of the Beautiful Game’s origins and evolution in the country by various sports writers including the Philippine Star’s Bill Velasco and this author.

“I think it is good that there are books about Philippine football that are now being made available,” noted Araneta. “This is a demonstration that the passion for the game is there and that interest is growing.”

Tactics from the Roots available in Europe but the one released locally (through Fullybooked) is a Philippine derivative with chapters exclusive to his time here.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain goes to LFC!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Et tu, Kyrie Irving?

Et tu, Kyrie?
by rick olivares

It’s one thing for example for a Kevin Durant to leave his team (the Oklahoma City Thunder) to a championship contender (Golden State Warriors) and in the process break up a partnership (Russell Westbrook) that was such a great NBA tandem.

It’s another to see one (Kyrie Irving) leave the Cleveland cavaliers because he wants to breakout of a teammate’s (LeBron James) shadow.

The sudden departure of Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers is stunning and shocking. It blindsided virtually everyone. An NBA equivalent to a “Et tu, Brutus” moment sans the daggers. That is until those dagger of a jumpshot or dunk come game time.

I am not sure I will fault Kyrie. It is his right after all. But why leave a certified contender? It’s all about more shots and control; an opportunity to be… The Man. And in Boston (yes, I know there is a possibility that the trade will implode following Isaiah Thomas’ medical with Cleveland that has the Cavs brass worried), he has that.

We’ve seen this through the years.

Horace Grant left a strong Chicago team in the early 1990s because he didn’t like playing third fiddle or even fourth after the arrival of Toni Kukoc) in 1994. He went to the then up-and-coming Orlando Magic who went to the finals in his first year (they got swept by the Houston Rockets) and the Eastern finals the next (where they were swept away by the Chicago Bulls). That transfer of addresses was weird because if he thought he was getting more shots in a team that had a young Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, and Dennis Scott then he was sadly mistaken. As a result, Grant missed out on the Bulls’ next wave of three championships.

In Los Angeles, there wasn’t room big enough for Kobe Bryant and O’Neal (who left Orlando in 1996). The two won a three-peat together but feuded publicly. It culminated in an ugly finals loss to Detroit despite being the prohibitive favorite. Both won titles after that – Bryant two more in LA while O’Neal won a fourth ring with Miami.

These are but two examples.

When I said I wasn’t sure how to feel about Kyrie’s forcing a trade, I mean it. It is the anti-thesis of LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Dwyane Wade in Miami.

It is the antithesis of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen going to Boston to join forces with Paul Pierce.

It is good too because some guys want to do it the old school way and built a champion side with patience and built around certain players. Definitely not the pre-packaged title teams of Miami, Boston, and perhaps to a degree, Golden State of the past season.

Was Irving looking to reprise Charles Barkley who demanded a trade after the 1991-92 NBA season (ending the Bump and Thump partnership with Rick Mahorn that brought excitement back to Philly)? Barkley went to Phoenix (after a trade to the Lakers was scuttled) and he was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player that year after leading Phoenix to the best record that year including a finals berth versus the Bulls of whom they lost to).

In a way off tangent, it had me thinking of former Cavs forward-center Anderson Varejao who was a valuable player for the Cavs but was oft injured. On October 31, 2014, the Brazilian signed a multi-contract extension to say with the Cavs. Yet two seasons later, he was traded to Portland in a move he didn’t see coming. He was waived by the Blazers but latched on to the Warriors. His goal of winning a championship was unfulfilled after the Warriors lost to Cleveland in the finals of two years ago. So much for loyalty and poor fortune.

The player who wanted to stay got dumped. The player the organization wants to stay opted out.

Whatever the reason for Irving, change is good too. Besides, it’s good to see more drama for the league when Boston plays Cleveland in the season. That’s a great story in addition to the rivalry between Cleveland and Golden State. Irving goes to rival and up-and-coming Boston. Fireworks. The league sure needs it. Nothing like some bad blood in this G (for general audiences)-league that the league espouses. Sorry, am old school that wait and kind of fall asleep in an otherwise staid and long regular season save for the rivalry matches.

Besides, Irving learned from the master himself when he took his talents to South Beach.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Analysis: The Philippines' blowout win over Malaysia in SEA Games hoops

Looking at the Gilas Cadets’ blowout of Malaysia
by rick olivares

The Philippines booted out hosts Malaysia, 98-66, from the Men’s Basketball competition of the Southeast Asian Games.

What I liked about the match is the challenges presented to the young Philippine side.

First of all, it was losing the lead early and Malaysia taking a five-point lead at 20-15 with 2:03 left in the first quarter. The Filipinos responded with a teaser of what was to come.

Kobe Paras hit a free throw then Mike Tolomia, perhaps the smallest man on the floor at the closing seconds of that frame, tipped the ball in to slice the deficit to two.

After both sides traded baskets to start the second period, Troy Rosario backed up his man and nailed a turn-around jumper, 27-25. The Philippines never surrendered the lead after that.

The second thing I liked was how the team pulled together after the shocking ejections of Carl Bryan Cruz and Baser Amer during a third period altercation between Kevin Ferrer and Malaysia’s Kuek Tian Yuan. The Filipinos led, 57-41, at that point and the unfair disqualification of the two players – more so for Cruz who didn’t do anything at all.

The Philippines responded with a 26-3 run that effectively put the fight out of the home time who bowed out of the competition. They didn’t lose their cool. They just went about clinically dismantling their foes who got the benefit of a hometown call.

And lastly, I like how Kobe Paras is gaining confidence with every game. His 16 points backed up Christian Standhardinger who is perhaps the most impressive of all the nationals dating back to the William Jones Cup and to the recent FIBA Asia Cup. He gets my vote as the national player of the year if there is ever one.

The Fil-German finished with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Not bad at all. He could have gotten more but he missed some gimmes and mostly sat around with the game beyond reproach.

If you watch Mike Tolomia, you have to admire his game. You are going to see a lot of Johnny Abarrientos in his shiftiness. He sure learned from the FEU great during their time at Morayta and their title run of two years ago in the UAAP. The way he carves out defenses with his shiftiness and ball handling control – impressive.

With regards to Malaysia, this blowout loss pretty much tells them that whatever preparation they did isn’t enough at all. And that was against the B-Team of the Philippines.

They got blown out by 55 during the Seaba to the senior Philippine squad. Sure that was their Team B but the results wouldn’t have been any different -- another laugher by a mile.

You simply cannot be shooting like that. Well, if that is all you can do then do it. The point is – you aren’t Korea or even Japan when it comes to outside shooting so what were you thinking of?

The problem remains technical. The Malaysians lack “diskarte”. As I hypothesized before, “when you grow up loving and playing the game the same way Filipinos do, you’ll beat them.” Conversely, that is true with football. The Beautiful Game is the national sport of all of Southeast Asia and much of the world. To fastrack the game, the Philippines has heavily relied on Filipinos of foreign lineage. There has been some success but it remains a work in progress.

Playing in the D-League helps but one conference isn’t enough. They should get a Filipino coach for a long-term program.