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.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Come fly with (dunk champ) David Carlos

Come fly with (dunk champ) David Carlos
by rick olivares

San Sebastian has had some spectacular dunkers in its ranks – John Cardel was one during his high school days. There of course is Paul Alvarez and Nap Hatton in the 80s. Rommel Adducul occasionally rocked the rim as did Rodney Santos in the 90s. And for the new millennium, there was Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, and CJ Perez (before he decamped to Ateneo and Lyceum).

There is one former Staglet who is making waves on the big stage…. The international stage, that is. Pro dunker David Carlos.

Carlos won the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Chengdu Masters 2017 besting Dunk World Champ Rafal 'Lipek' Lipinski from Poland in the dunk contest. It was his first time to enter a FIBA event and he came out literally over the top.

“I was nervous, man! Am just happy to be able to accomplish something like this and to represent the Philippines in a way I couldn’t as a baller.”

You see, the 28-year old Mañileno played on those fabled San Sebastian Stags teams of the early years of the new millennium alongside Ryan Buenafe and Arvie Bringas that won a bunch the 2006 NCAA Juniors championship.

“Third-stringer si David at that time,” recalled then-Staglets head coach Raymond Valenzona. “Pero siya ang pang-depensa ko. Go hard player talaga. Nagda-dunk siya noon pa lang. Matapang maglaro. Buo loob.”

David Carlos #6 celebrates the 2006 NCAA Juniors title with the San Sebastian Staglets that included Ryan Buenafe, Arvie Bringas, and Kenneth Mamaril. 

“Sobrang proud ako sa mga narating niya ngayon kasi sariling sikap lang ang training niya,” added the proud coach. “Sabo ko nga, sana minsan mapuntahan niya yung team ko sa Letran (where he now coaches) para maturuan din niya.”

Stardom in college wasn’t meant to be as Carlos moved on to UST where he – in his words – “played in some unspectacular Team Bs”.  

“I guess when any chance to be a pro basketball didn’t happen, I didn’t give up,” related Carlos. “I didn’t want to give up on my basketball dream. I thought, ‘let me see what I can do with my dunking’”.

If you’ll pardon the pun, Carlos’ career took off. His dunking skills saw him not only travel the country but also abroad.

“I hope to use every event I take in as a stepping stone to something bigger, better,” he said during the early part of 2017 when he received an invitation to participate in the All-Star Game Dunk Contest of the National Basketball Training Center at the MOA Arena. The event features the best high school teams in the country vying for the national title. One keenly awaited event is the All-Star Game and its dunk contest. Carlos bested some accomplished dunkers that had former all-pro greats Jerry Codinera, Danny Ildefonso, and Kerby Raymundo cheering. Even La Salle great Ben Mbala who is another ferocious dunker got off his seat to cheer.

The NBTC title caught the attention of Dunk Elite that offered a spot on the FIBA 3x3 World Tour.

“I watch a lot of dunkers,” admitted Carlos. “I like watching Europeans – Lipek, Kroha, Miller, but the dunker who helped me a lot from the start and still does is (Canadian) Jordan Kilganon.”

Kilganon offered Carlos crucial advice right before the start of the tourney; one he took to heart: “Regardless of what you throw down, be sure you hit it.” And he did while Lipek missed a crucial stuff.

En route, he jammed home the “Tetris” dunk that Lipek himself invented. Then he rattled off some mean flushes. “I was going for a 360 pump but I missed both attempts so I ended up doing a one-hand tomahawk just to get the points up. I jumped over four cheerleaders. I did a double up over a 6’3” guy then a hand-off windmill.”

And now... Carlos is on top of the world. “I am happy to be able to do something. I guess if someone wants to take something from my journey is that when your dream doesn’t work out, keep trying or do something else. Who knows where it will take you?”

And it did for Carlos. Right up the stratosphere.

If you recall that seminal Michael Jordan video “Come Fly with Me”, it is said that for a brief moment, His Airness will make you believe that man can fly. I asked Carlos about his aerial abilities and he had a different take on it. “I can’t describe the feeling, man. But one thing I know is when you are up there – there is total silence. Then when I hit the crown then I will hear something.”

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