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.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

My All-Underrated UAAP Juniors Five

My All-Underrated UAAP Juniors Five
by rick olivares

News has broken out about UST’s CJ Cansino bagging the UAAP Juniors Most Valuable Player Award while the King Tiger Cub joins Ateneo’s Kai Sotto, SJ Belangel, and Dave Ildefonso, as well as FEU’s LJ Gonzales in the Mythical Five Selection.

While all are deserving, here are my players who should make the All-Underrated Five team in the UAAP’s high school division.

Just a word in before we get to the list. Adamson’s Joem Sabandal isn’t in the Mythical Selection talk in a star-studded division, but this kid from Cagayan De Oro has a high impact and is acknowledged as one of the Juniors Division’s top players. But we cannot place him on this list precisely because of that. Now these five? They are truly underrated.

Center: Bismarck Lina, UST
Lost in the shuffle of the Tiger Cubs’ offensive weaponry in Cansino and Kobe Palencia as well as the late season outburst of Rayjhun Baquial and Liam Manabat is their hardworking center, Bismarck Lina. How does a Batang Gilas player get overlooked? He rebounds, plays defense, passes the ball, and provides strong leadership for his team. Furthermore, he doesn’t complain, just plays hard, and is very coachable. He hardly even gets touches!

With few touches, Lina averages 8.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. And he is hitting 49% of his field goals; the highest among those in the regular rotation. Plus., he is the league’s top offensive rebounder. Opined some observers, if his teammates feed him the ball the way LJ Gonzales or even RJ Abarrientos feed Daniel Celzo, he’d ease the pressure on the perimeter players.

Forward: Michael Malonzo, NU
On a deep and loaded Bullpups team, Malonzo is like a super sub. In 15.9 minutes of game action, he averages 7.9 points and 7.2 rebounds. That’s close to adding something every minute. Plus, he is clutch having scored numerous game winning plays as he remains overlooked on a team that has Rhayyan Amsali, Terrence Fortea, and Miguel Oczon to name but a few. Plus, he scored on 57% of his field goal attempts.

Talk about an impact player. That three-point play after tipping the ball over seven-foot Kai Sotto should be one of the season’s top plays.

Forward: Jason Credo, Ateneo
If this were a rock band, Jason Credo would be the Fifth Beatle. Does anyone else have a bigger impact on both ends of the court? This former Batang Gilas player brings up the ball, serves the best passes for Kai Sotto, can score if he really wanted (but that is not his role in this team), can rebound (but his role keeps him away from the shaded lane), and plays top defense on the opposing team’s top scorer. If they kept stats on his stops you’d find out that the other team’s top gunners shoot very poorly against Credo who is a pest on defense.

Credo averages 9.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He shoots 49.1% from the field. Is the team’s best free throw shooter at 80%! If he got more touches and played in a more offensive manner, his stats would shoot up.

Guard: Rafael Labao, UPIS
The Labao brothers – Ralph and Rafael are like double trouble for foes. But I’d like to include Ralph in this list in a photo finish over his brother for his playmaking and ability to attack that rim despite being vertically challenged. Fearless inside.

Rafael averages 11.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists for UPIS.

Guard: Agem Miranda, UE
They may be at the bottom of the standings but this is a young UE team. And Agem Miranda stands out. He led the Junior Red Warriors with 17.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. 

He is second in the league in scoring, third in the league in both assists and steals, and 10th in rebounding! Talk about a two-way player.

We certainly look forward to see where these boys’ respective careers go. Good luck to them.

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