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, December 30, 2018

The 2018 Brewskies: My Dubious Achievements in Sports Awards for 2018

The 2018 Brewskies
by rick olivares

It’s the end of the year and you know what that means (if you have been following my column in Business Mirror since 2006). Every end of the calendar year, we dish out our dubious achievements in the world of sports!

Let’s get on right with it.

The John McEnroe Award for Congeniality 
Goes to… envelope please… Serena Williams. During Williams’ two set loss (6-2, 6-4) to Japanese counterpart Naomi Osaka during the US Open, the American superstar constantly raged at umpire Carlos Ramos, who she called a “liar” and a “thief.” Williams was docked a game and had a point penalty for smashing a racquet and a code violation for coaching. Furthermore, she was fined by the US Tennis Association $17,000 for her “transgressions.”

Tennis presenter Sue Barker pointed out, “The umpire was following the rules, but Serena had a point.” 

The controversy took away the spotlight from Osaka who became the first Japanese tennis player to win a Grand Slam title. 

Pep Talk of the Year Award
This award goes to another tennis umpire! 

Tennis umpires remained in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons when veteran official Mohamed Lahyani went down from his chair to give an on-court pep talk to Nick Kyrgios also during the same US Open. 

Lahyani left his chair with Kyrgios trailing Frenchman by a set and a break. 

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) later said that Swede Lahyani left his chair to check on Kyrgios' condition because he could not hear him properly and was concerned the player might need medical attention. But Lahyani was also heard telling Kyrgios, "I want to help you. This isn't you. I know that."

Kyrgios turned the game around and won in four sets.

"Lahyani was advised to adhere to proper protocols in all matches that he officiates," pointed out US Open officials.Lahyani continued to officiate during the 2018 US Open. 

The Stand By Me Award
Goes to Nike. The athletic apparel maker made controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of its line causing controversy and reigniting all sorts of controversies and debates stemming from the latter’s taking a knee during the US national anthem before games. Nike has made a career of standing by controversial figures from Lance Armstrong, Andre Agassi, and Maria Sharapova. With their new campaign, consumers have burned Nike shoes and cut out the Swoosh logo from their socks as a sign of protest. 

Mud on that Teflon Award
Goes to football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo who was embroiled in a rape case with an American model (that allegedly happened in 2009). Then he left his club of nine years, Real Madrid, for Italian giants, Juventus, after a tense relationship with club president Florentino Perez. It is all about money (getting paid more bucks than Barcelona rival Lionel Messi) and a comment by Perez that for Neymar to win the Ballon d’Or Award, he might have to move (from Barcelona to Real Madrid but the Brazilian is now with Paris St. Germain). 

Hmm. Like how many people earn all those millions in a year? And that still isn’t enough? Oh, well. I guess enough is never enough.

Now, Ronaldo is acknowledged as a sports gentleman and right now, a lot of his corporate sponsors are closely monitoring the rape case which is ongoing (Ronaldo claims the sexual encounter was consensual). But it does throw some black on his carefully sculpted public figure. 

The Win At All Costs Award
Goes to Australian cricketer Cameron Bancroft who was caught stuffing sandpaper down his pants (after he unsuccessfully tried to scuff the ball during a test in Cape Town, South Africa. 

Bancroft later lied by saying he used tape exacerbating the situation. 

Australia captain Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner,and Bancroft all sent home. Smith and Warner were both banned for a year by Cricket Australia while Bancroft was given a nine-month ban.

The Fight of the Year Award
Goes to the Philippines-Australia Brawl during a Fiba World Cup Qualifying Match at the Philippine Arena in July this year. That trumps the UFC Ronaldo Souza vs. Chris Weidman and the Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje bout and the Canelo Alvarez versus Gennady Golovkin last September 2. 

That was a black eye not only for Fiba, but also for Philippines that has been battling for respect in the international arena after a series of stirring achievements in the past several years. After the brawl with multiple suspensions and fines (not to mention wholesale changes in the coaching staff), the Philippines lost three of its next four qualifying matches. 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Check out some of the Christmas wishes of the Bataan Risers!

Check out some of the Christmas wishes of the Bataan Risers!
by rick olivares

The Bataan Risers finished 2018 on a winning note – an 88-74 triumph over the Rizal Crusaders last December 20 at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City to go to 15-2.

We asked a few of the Risers what would be a nice Christmas gift for them – something not necessarily for them but also for loved ones -- and this is what these players had to say…

Gary David: A golden necklace (for the misis).

Vince Tolentino: An iPhone X Max

Robbie Celiz: A Louis Vuitton bag

Pamboy Raymundo: No specific item for me. I just want something na magagamit ko every day for myself.

Toto Villarias: A house and lot (for the entire family).

Mark Pangilinan: Hindi ako masyado mahilig sa material things. Just the necessary ones. But for this Christmas -- a trip to the beach or Baguio with the family okay na sa akin. Something na family-oriented.

Achie Iñigo: Simple lang pero kailangan i-trabaho – a championship for the Bataan Risers.

Mark Pangilinan (in reference to what Achie said): I lab et!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Looking at the 1st round of the 2018 PBA Draft

Looking at the 1st round of the 2018 PBA Draft
by rick olivares

The 2018 PBA Draft is done. There were the expected players and the surprise picks. As always, it is how these players integrate themselves into new roles that will determine their team’s success and well as personal advancement.

Here are my thoughts about the first round picks and how they will fight for a slot on loaded line-ups.

CJay Perez (1st overall Columbian Dyip)
When CJay came up with San Sebastian, it wasn’t difficult to see why the late Rolly Manlapaz dubbed him, “the Baby Beast” as in the second coming of Calvin Abueva. For sure, this swingman causes mayhem on the court but not of the physical kind.

When he transferred to Ateneo, he learned to be the Man on Team B. When he made his last stop at Lyceum, what he picked up was his leadership skills.

The sum of all his parts will be put to good use with Columbian who needs a dynamic force like Perez who plays both ends of the court and doesn’t need a play to be called his way. The question though is his size at 6’1”. So, it would be interesting to see how he adjusts to the pro game with the taller players.

I don’t think Columbian Dyip has a problem scoring. It is more of playing as a team so the success of this team depends too on their head coach on how he plays and manages his squad. Does he turn Perez loose? Can he be this team’s version of Kiefer Ravena – a game-changing guard?

I am sure that Perez will be up to the task just as he has been in all his stops.

Bobby Ray Parks (2nd overall BlackWater Elite)
A few years ago, he would have been the top pick of the draft. But that doesn’t mean the expectations are less. After all, he’s a two-time UAAP and ABL Most Valuable Player.

Parks is like Perez with his do-it-all skills. Plus, he’s taller at 6’4”. Strange as it may sound, the question is – what can Ray bring to this team? Players like Perez, and Robert Bolick Jr. need the ball to thrive. They weren’t their league’s respective MVPs for being role players.

But more to the question – how will Ray immerse and mesh with his team attitude-wise?
If head coach Bong Ramos can successfully integrate Parks while getting the best out of him, the Elite could really take off (but the loss of JP Erram can tell on this team).

Robert Bolick Jr. (3rd overall NorthPort Batang Pier)
I don’t think Bolick will be handed the ball right away as the Batang Pier have Stanley Pringle. But Bolick will be in a position to learn from one of the best in the game.

What I like about Bolick is the fierce pride that burns within him. He went from the bench to being demoted to La Salle’s Team B to a star; a Class A player with San Beda (where he is a part of the Gilas Cadets pool). So, he knows about biding his time then unleashing his talents.

If Bolick takes off then what a luxury it will be for NorthPort to have two dynamic and game-changing guards in Pringle and Bolick who has range, great court vision, and game intelligence.

Solid pick for this team.

Paul Desiderio (4th overall NLEX Road Warriors)
I don’t think that Paul Desiderio will have a problem integrating himself whether he is at NLEX or BlackWater. He went from being the Man in UP to being a part of their Big Three (with Bright Akhuetie and Juan Gomez De Liaño being the other two). In fact, De Liaño took over the team this season as Desiderio flourished in a supporting role.

He won’t be posting up though but he will like facing the basket. If he is with NLEX, I think he comes into a great situation. With BlackWater, it depends on how their roster will be built.

People tend to think that Desiderio is one-dimensional. He changed his game this season and became a better facilitator. Plus, in the last couple of years, he improved his face up game with a pull-up jumper which in my opinion, helps get you that playing time in the pros.

Trevis Jackson (5th overall Meralco Bolts)
To be honest, I was surprised by this pick. I thought the Bolts would select Abu Tratter or even Jeepy Faundo (since they really need a rim protector) since they need that ceiling.

The Bolts selected Jonathan Grey and Ed Daquioag the previous year – the same spot the 5’9” Jackson will play. Where does this leave Garvo Lanete?

If Jackson can provide the consistency from the backcourt he will get his playing time.

Jayvee Mocon (6th overall Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)
I think Mocon comes into a good situation where he can establish himself with the Elasto Painters needing a gunner (as Chris Tiu will in all likelihood retire) and James Yap in the twilight of his career.

A plus-side to Mocon is he doesn’t mind playing with others who hold on to the ball. He is always ready in and around the basket.

Abu Tratter (7th overall NLEX Road Warriors)
The former La Salle big man is moving to BlackWater. Abu reminds me of former San Miguel Beerman Dorian Peña; snarl included. I always thought of him as a complementary player. One who thrived with a solid center as Abu played the four. He played with Arnold Van Opstal and Ben Mbala at the slot. Like Peña, he’s good in scavenging, put backs, and playing tough D. But if they can get this big man to add a medium range jumper, he’ll be even more of a threat.

When I first saw him on La Salle’s Team B, he also ran the floor. When he moved up to the UAAP team, they ran a half-court offense and I thought that somewhat negated his athleticism and ability move up the floor. If they can get more out of what he does, he’ll bring what Peña brought to the Beermen.

Jayjay Alejandro (8th overall Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)
Two years ago, in his final year with the NU Bulldogs in the UAAP, he was an outstanding two guard who was so deadly. Played like Paul Desiderio for UP – a do-it-all player who got it done in the crunch.

Hasn’t set the world on fire since, but this guy is a pistolero. I do hope they do not use him exclusively as a spot up shooter because that is not getting the best out of Alejandro. This guy can slash towards the basket and create as well.

It will be interesting to see how his pro coach uses him.

Jesper Ayaay (9th overall Alaska Aces)
Hmm. The second coming of Merwin Castelo (who also played for the aces)? Like Castelo who was a fave of mine when he was with San Beda in the NCAA), a jack of all trades but a master of none. Hence, coming in as a role player.

The onus is on the former Lyceum Pirate to crack this veteran line-up of the Aces.

Michael Calisaan (10th overall Magnolia Hotshots)
I love Calisaan’s game. A rugged undersized do-it-all forward for San Sebastian. The question is – how does that translate into the pros? He cannot play the four or five spots as he did for the height-challenged Stags in the NCAA. At best – what – a three-spot guy?

But he enters the Hotshots with a chance to find a spot on the roster as they do not have anyone like him; a stretch player who does a lot of dirty work.

JP Calvo (11th overall Columbian Dyip)
His effectiveness will be determined if he is allowed to run an offense and how much latitude is given. He is a point guard, but do you hand him the ball or CJ Perez or the other holdover guards? His ability to hit the outside will also determine a spot on the roster.

I like Calvo because he is a tough competitor. His demeanor never changes. He is tough, crafty, and a total team player. But make no mistake, he will face challenges in the pros. I like his attitude because as long as I have watched him lead the Letran Squires, then play behind top guards like Kevin Alas and Mark Cruz with the Knights, he has done the job with quiet efficiency. Granted the pros are different, if given the chance to play, he will do well.

Jorey Napoles (12th overall Phoenix Fuel Masters)
A surprise pick. But Coach Louie Alas has always had an eye for those flying below the radar. Napoles could be a sleeper pick. Reminds me at times of Allein Maliksi (who was so below the radar as he had an unspectacular collegiate career) or even fellow draftee Michael Calisaan. Napoles played for TIP and Marinerong Pilipino and quietly became a steady contributor. Did Alas see another Kevin Racal in him?

No doubt as the saying goes – sugal pick – as he will fight for a slot behind Matthew Wright, Calvin Abueva, and JC Intal. I like his willingness to rebound and play defense. He will have to really shine to get a slot on this team on the upswing.