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, March 18, 2018

A Golden Ending

A Golden Ending
by rick olivares

Martin Sadhwani leaped high in the air to corral a high forward pass. As he landed, he took one step then kissed the ball off the glass to give Xavier School its biggest lead of the match, 77-55, against Centerphil Montessori of Iloilo with time down to 1:24 in the Under-17 championship of the Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals Nationwide Battle of Champions.

The graduating Golden Stallion landed in a heap as cramps finally grounded him. It was his team’s second game of the day and like his other teammates, Sadhwani was tired, Earlier, his heroics saw Xavier squeak past tough Montessori De San Ildefonso of Bulacan in the semi-finals. Sadhwani, the son of entrepreneur and Ateneo Graduate School professor Rajan Sadhwani and fashion maven Apples Aberin, scored 13 points in the final period including the game-winning shot for Xavier that had to rally past the squad of head coach John Paul Magbitang.

As the seconds ticked away in the championship match against Iloilo, Sadhwani lay next to the Xavier bench and through gritted teeth, managed both a pained and joyous smile.

About three weeks ago, Sadhwani and his teammates stood in disbelief as they lost in the title game of the Breakdown Basketball Invitations U-17 championship to San Beda. Thrice they played the Red Cubs during the season. Three times they came away losers including two in title matches. San Beda was supposed to represent the National Capital Region in the BBI Nationwide Battle of Champions, but a scheduling conflict with the SM-NBTC National Finals saw them offer their slot to Xavier.

“It wasn’t easy for us to accept the spot because we didn’t earn it,” reflected Xavier head coach Carlo Tan. “But since San Beda wasn’t available, why not? The challenge was adjusting everyone’s mindset because they thought the season was over. Some were attending to retreats and graduation practice.”

For Sadhwani, it meant one more chance to go out a winner before college beckoned. This school year, the Golden Stallions had played in four championship games and came away with a winner’s medal once. “This would mean a lot to me if we win because this will be my last game in a Xavier uniform,” said Sadhwani before the match. He resisted moving to Ateneo a year before as he wanted to finish out his high school in the former’s brother Jesuit school. “It would make my last year in high school even more memorable.”

“I want to win this for the graduating seniors,” declared Xavier center Miguel Tan who still has a year left to play. “It would be a nice parting gift for them; for Martin, Steven Tiu, and Nathan Chan.”

During this end-of-the-season pocket tournament – the first nationwide championship series for BBI that involved six cities – Sadhwani missed two games; Tan, one, and Chan, the title match. For a while, Chan contemplated on missing one last school requirement to play, but school came first.

Yet when it was all said and done, the handsome trophy, medals as well as individual awards handed out, Tan had kept his promise. The Batang Gilas center scored 35 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and blocked four shots to lead Xavier to a 79-60 triumph. Sadhwani finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists including two nifty passes to Tan that led to buckets.

“Promise kept,” quipped Tan who pocketed the Most Valuable Player Award in addition to a Mythical Five selection.

Over by the Xavier bench, Lance Alandy Dy who played stellar in Nathan Chan’s absence, gave Steven Tiu a tearful hug. Sadhwani and Tan shook hands.

Golden ending, Martin?

“Yeah,” he smiled. “Definitely, golden.”

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