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, September 14, 2017

FEU's Jasper Parker adjusting to the UAAP. And it's a matter of time before he hits his stride.

Jasper Parker first came to the attention of Philippine basketball watchers when he suited up for Southwestern University in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup after which he led the Cobras to the 2014 CESAFI crown. He was initially recruited by FEU but Parker decided to go to Cebu where he have to sit out a year in order to play. Furthermore, his mother hails from Cebu and he had relatives there making it an easy decision to go to the Queen City of the South.

However, after a year, Parker opted to take a leave of absence and move to Manila.

“I was just glad that FEU still took me in,” he said of his eventual move which is more of a career-based decision.

While playing for SWU, he ran the backcourt alongside former La Salle cager Mark Tallo. He displayed incredible playmaking and shooting that I dubbed him back then as the second coming of Jimmy Alapag.

Based on his rough first two games for FEU, the comparison with the PBA great might seem far-fetched. “Still had a rough game yesterday but it was a better game so I’ll take it. Slowly adjusting,” he told me.

In two matches thus far – a loss to La Salle and a win over UE -- Parker averaged 5.5 points 2.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists versus 2.0 turnovers while seeing 13 minutes of action. The CESAFI is clearly different from the UAAP; a wholly different level. Not even seeing action in the pre-season tourneys prepared him for the UAAP.

Against, La Salle, he couldn’t get it going and was eventually sent to the bench.

In a foul-plagued match against UE, Parker had his best series in the third period where he scored a bucket and grabbed three boards while dishing off three assists.

It was during that stretch where he showed his potential and worth. In fact, when UE made its fourth quarter run, he was sent back in for an ineffective Wendell Comboy who is probably bothered by the cumbersome face mask he’s had to wear after suffering an injury to his nose.

It was there where I saw the Parker I first observed with SWU – superb court vision and the ability to move the ball up quickly and to attack the pressing defense of the Red Warriors.

At the 6:37 mark of the third period, Parker was slapped a technical foul for resentment to a call; an incredulous one considering the calls seemed to be one-sided and in favor of UE. FEU was leading at that point, 59-48.

The Red Warriors’ Philip Manalang hit the technical free throw to cut the lead to 10. After UE regained possession, Manalang missed a jumper that Parker hauled down. He took a dribble on the left and saw RJ Ramirez scooting ahead. In one motion, the ball found its way to Ramirez who was a step ahead of UE’s Mark Olayon. Yet the red Warrior foolishly fouled him. And-one.

One botched possession later, Parker found Richard Escoto with a drop pass and the lead was now 64-59.

Moving the ball around a few possessions later, Parker found an open Jojo Trinidad for a triple, 72-56 for FEU.

You have to appreciate Parker’s great reads on the floor.  

He has a different role with FEU as opposed to SWU where he was a high scoring guard. Like Mike Tolomia and Wendell Comboy before, the Tamaraws’ court general was asked to pass first, pass second, and shoot as a last resort.

This is one of the adjustments that in my opinion, Parker has to make. I’ll give him a few more games before he feels a little more comfortable.

The Fil-American has one more playing year and for sure he’ll only get better.

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