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.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Former Adamson star Jan Colina finds a different calling with the Philippine Army

Former Adamson star Jan Colina finds a different calling with the Philippine Army
by rick olivares

When Jan Colina joined the Flying V Thunder for the last D-League conference, he was one of the few big men expected to hold their own against the behemoths of the other battle-tested squads. Yet he struggled not only with his game but also playing time.

For those who do not know of what has been going on with the former Adamson Falcons star, he was already two years into service with the Philippine Army. He had been granted permission to play.

“I had not played competitive ball for more than eight months and while I was in shape, my timing and game sense was really off,” admitted Colina.

At 6’3”, despite being undersized, he was a solid four-spot man for the Soaring Falcons of then-coach Leo Austria. He worked hard underneath the boards, scored on putbacks, spin moves, and a medium range jumper.

Selected sixth by GlobalPort during the 2012 Rookie Draft, Colina was cut. More than not making the PBA roster, it left a big hole in his heart. His dream was dashed. He played a bit more in the D-League but he came to a decision that would not only change his life but that of his family as well.

Colina previously married colleague and sportswriter Celest Flores. And their union brought a daughter, Elle. “I also knew that a basketball career isn’t forever,” he thought. “My struggles to make it made me more practical.”

He entertained the idea of entering the military. He consulted those close and dear to him. There was trepidation on his family part because at the time he entered, the debacle at Mamasapano had just ended. There was a crucial conversation with basketball coach Joel Dualan that helped make the final decision.

Dualan had served in the army. Aside from the benefits, he could make use of his talents to serve the Army. They placed a high value on athletes who could represent their branch of the military. While they weren’t sent to the frontline, they did carry out other missions such as safeguarding and transporting much needed materiel and equipment to the combat troops throughout the archipelago. Plus, they still got to compete not only in the AFP Olympics but also in the commercial leagues representing their branch of the service.

“The training we did was anything like we did in Adamson or in the D-League,” shared Colina. “Basic training lasted for eight months. We’d wake up at 4am then begin training and exercises. I’d feel so tired that even by the hot noontime sun, I’d fall asleep. We had five counts to eat and 20 to take a bath. We jog with combat boots on. The adjustment was tough because there were so many things we could not do or were not allowed to do.”

Even if Colina adjusted, life still hasn’t been easy. His family lives in Quezon City while he is based in Fort Bonifacio. “It is difficult but we have to bear it for now,” Colina said. “It is for my family.”

However, basketball isn’t far from Colina’s mind. He wishes he could have really contributed to Flying V’s aborted run to a championship.

When he thinks back at it, it was also the same for his Adamson teams – supremely talented, they too, fell short. Maybe there aren’t meant to be because there is something else. It does make one tough though. Just like life in the Philippine Army.

“My life has always been about challenges,” he summed up. Yet like his college days, it wasn’t about him but his brothers on those Falcons teams. And now, it’s all about his family waiting for him.

To provide for them… that’s his championship.

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