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.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A win of “firsts” for the Creamline Cool Smashers

A win of “firsts” for the Creamline Cool Smashers
by rick olivares

Anusorn “Tai” Bundit sat by the next to the people manning the registration booth of the Buffalo Wings restaurant at Capital Commons. Nearby, several dozen fans of the Creamline Cool Smashers queued to have their pictures taken with the players of the team; recent Philippine Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Champions. They swept the Pay Maya High Flyers in the best-of-three title series to claim their first ever league crown in their two year existence.

“Bad year. Good year,” summed up the Thai coach of the calendar year so far. In his final and most turbulent season with the Ateneo Lady Eagles, the team snuck under the radar to nearly top the league. Yet, they fell in the Final Four. And just like that, it was all over. Five years. Five Final Four appearances. Four Finals appearances. Two championships. And a whole lot of heartache.

It’s over now. He has a lot to say about the finality of it all, but in the here and now, this win is what matters. The PVL triumph was his first Philippine club title in several tries (with Ateneo in the collegiate conference). And it is satisfying. Very satisfying.

“First time for everything,” he smiled that toothy smile of his. “Hopefully, more.”

It isn’t only the first time for Bundit. For American Laura Schaudt, the championship is her first in her professional volleyball career.

After playing for Oregon State University where her team made the US NCAA tournament once in 2014, this title represents her first in her volleyball career. When she was initially tapped last season to play for Creamline, the American lass admitted that she struggled. “It was my first time outside the USA to play volleyball and when you do that, you need a certain mindset,” she admitted. “I struggled with the different style of play, environment, and weather and all these different circumstances that you don’t really think about but then they eventually matter. I went to play in France after that and coming back to the Philippines, I knew what I was getting into so that helped me adjust quickly away. It helped me connect to the team and contribute. Professionally, it’s about adapting and adjusting. And even if I didn’t play a lot of games this time, I am happy to help.”

Schaudt came in right before the semi-finals as a late replacement for original Serbian import Nina Asceric who went down with a knee injury. Creamline took a loss to defending champions Pocari Sweat-Philippine Air Force in the first game of the semi-finals after which the Cool Smashers came back to win the next two en route to the finals. “I was worried after my first game back and we took a loss,” added Laura. “You don’t want to be a jinx. But thankfully, we came back and I was able to help.”

And there are others too. For back-up setter Alex Cabanos, this too is her first club title. “I won a Uni-Games title with UST. While it was disappointing that we struggled in the UAAP, that was still a win for us. And you cherish what you have along the way. And to be able to win with some former opponents in college and to become close like sisters along the way is a blessing,” she shared.

For another first timer, Jema Galanza, winning is a great feeling. After her Adamson Lady Falcons squad languished at the bottom for years, this past UAAP season, they made their move. They were entertaining and sometimes frustrating. Through it all, Galanza played her finest season with Adamson. In an import-flavored PVL conference, the minutes have been hard to come by. With the next conference coming up in September, Galanza is looking forward to really help out.

“I hope I can play better and a bit more,” Galanza said.

Even for familiar faces like Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado, this title is their first in what seems ages. “Three years to be exact,” pointed out Valdez. Titles have been hard to come by. She won one with PLDT and before that her last was with Ateneo. “That’s why you savor them because they do not come by easily,” she pointed out.

As for the first in franchise history, this was a long time coming. Kenneth Yu, digital marketing manager for Rebisco, the parent company of Creamline, “There are so many learnings in this endeavor, as a company, I mean,” shared the executive. “But like in any business, it’s all part of the process. And you really remember your first time.”

No comments:

Post a Comment