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 8, 2017

The EAC Generals Sidney Onwubere is pushing forward

With Sidney Onwubere. Sid was still in high school when I befriended him. have been mentoring him since. Hope this kid reaches the success he dreams about.

Pushing forward with Sidney Onwubere
by rick olivares

Hey Sid.

His teammates with the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals asked Onwubere to come over to one of the dorm rooms for the players. There Onwubere learned that his long-time roommate, Hamadou Laminou – the team’s center -- would be out for the season due to a knee injury.

Sidney’s first thought was his teammate who was in tears. “This is so cruel”, thought Onwubere. “And Laminou was looking forward to the season and to help EAC take the next step.”

That night lying in bed, Onwubere couldn’t hold back the tears. During the pre-season, the Generals showed a stinginess; a willingness to compete. They chalked up some big wins and lost by a whisker. Now they finally could challenge for a Final Four slot and it somewhat seemed a little farther now.

“I thought, that why is it only the San Bedas of this world keep winning year in and out? Why can I not have a chance even to compete?”

Sid finally experienced what it feels like to go to the Big Dance when he played with Racal Motors in the D-League and made the finals (where they lost to a Cignal team that listed mostly San Beda players). “But I was able to hit a game-winning shot,” he added. “Ganyan kasarap pala yung feeling.”

He was also asked to be a part of the team that helped the Philippines team prepare for the FIBA 3x3 World Cup in France. Although he was a practice player alongside former Perpetual Help center Bright Akhuetie and former UE Red Warrior Moustapha Arafat, he was happy to be invited. “A few feet away from a national team,” is how he put it. “I wish I could be a part of that.”

Sidney Onwubere knows all about tough challenges and being a part of the have nots. As a half-African kid growing up in Valenzuela, Bulacan, he turned deaf to any racist jokes. “I know that black is beautiful and so I didn’t mind anything people said or say,” he recalled of his youthful days. Because of inter-racial marriages and globalization, it is more prevalent nowadays especially in Philippine society. So it doesn’t bother Onwubere one bit.

“Me? I am focused on finishing school and trying to go to the PBA,” he pointed out. “If I get that chance, I can help my family. I cannot get caught up in what I do not have or not getting a fair shake. I just need to push forward and work my butt off.”

Sidney, now at 24 years old, is the third of five children. His father, Vincent Onwubere is Nigerian while his mother Lisa is Filipina. After losing his job recently, the father does odd jobs to help keep the family afloat.

However, the hopes of school and family rest on Onwubere’s shoulders. “We feel we have a chance this year to compete.”

Last season, EAC finished with a 6-12 record. “That was our best record in – I don’t know?” he said.

Ture enough, the Generals won two matches in Season 91, four in Season 90, and 10 in his rookie year of Season 90. But that team of Generals were on the outside looking in; finishing fifth – a game and percentage points behind San Sebastian and Perpetual Help.

At the end of the first round of play, EAC stood at 4-5. Once more on the outside looking in. They have a chance despite the loss of Hamadou. Former Adamson Soaring Falcon Jerome Garcia (another player with a lot of motivation and something to prove) has stepped into the line-up and given the team another scoring threat. Along with tough-as-nails point guard Francis Munsayac (and Hamadou before his injury), they are all averaging in double digit scoring.

Thus far, Sidney is averaging 14.9 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game. That makes him seventh in scoring and third in rebounding. The only other player in the NCAA who is averaging a double double is Perpetual Help’s Prince Eze (15.4 points and 17.4 rebounds).

Juju Bautista and Jeric Diego have also provided relief. But right now, the Generals need to work on their defense.

“We have an opportunity to go to the Final Four. It is still in our hands,” said Onwubere. That would be nice for the school. Give something to everyone from the administrators and the students. The alumni too. Something to celebrate. Hopefully, it can happen and we can lay the foundation for something good.”

“Me? I think I am blessed because not many people get a chance. I have one. I hope to make the most of it.”

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