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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

JeRon Artest: On having a NBA great for a father; playing in the Philippines

JeRon Artest: On having a NBA great for a father; playing in the Philippines
by rick olivares

FilAm Sports USA is always the team that basketball fans, local coaches, and players look out for in the Chooks to Go NBTC National Finals.

Always teeming with talent – two years ago Kamaka Hepa wowed everyone with his big man skiils and last year, the high-flying Jalen Green and crafty point guard Kihei Clark set local social media on fire with their hard-court exploits – they are almost single-handedly the best draw.

This year, FilAmSports USA, with Green making his second appearance and newcomer Kai Ballungay coming on strong with his solid play on the ground and in the air, 18-year old JeRon Artest is making a case to be seen and heard.

JeRon is the son of NBA great, Ron Artest.

During FilAm Sports USA’s 78-45 win over AusPinoy Australia in Day One of the National Finals, Artest, running the point guard position, quietly but solidly backed up Green and Ballungay’s tremendous output with four points, five rebounds, and one assist in 25 minutes of play.

“It is also a feeling out period for me and my teammates,” said the 6’3” Artest who was accompanied by his mother, Jennifer Palma, and her mother and aunts who hail from New York City. Although Jennifer was born in the United States, her mother, Connie, hails from Mindoro.

Artest transferred from Hillcrest Prep to neighboring Bella Vista Prep in Scottsdale, Arizona where they won the championship with JeRon was named Defensive Player of the Year.

“When he was seven years old, he said that he wanted to play basketball. So, we looked for a team for him to play,” related Jennifer. “I entered JeRon but used my last name and not his father’s because I didn’t want him attracting extra attention. And I wanted to see if he would get in without any favors (he did).”

“It is tough to follow his dad because the pressure is double,” added the mother. “I can imagine that it is tough trying to live up to his dad’s accomplishments so I don’t add to the pressure.”

“The cool thing is my dad only offers advice and pointers when he needs to,” chimed in JeRon. “He allows me to play my game and really supports what I do. He was fun to watch too."

The Artests first came over to Manila in 2014 for a vacation and young JeRon worked out with the De La Salle team. “But playing in the US was our goal more so since JeRon was doing very well. Even the people we spoke to in La Salle were telling us, ‘Be sure your son goes to the US NCAAs.’”

Right now, with high school done, the young Artest is evaluating his options. Regarding his first game NBTC experience, “It’s tons of fun to play on a pro court and play against tough competition. I think as a team, we’re coming on pretty strong and building our chemistry.”

“My family is looking at all our options for my future,” said JeRon. “I am not closing any door to any opportunity. My dad says, ‘an opportunity is an opportunity’ and I believe that. We’ll finish the (NBTC) tournament then see what is best for us. But I am excited to be here. I hope it will be a rewarding trip for my team and myself. And the basketball fans too.”

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