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.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

On Ateneo's elimination round sweep: Temper that exhilaration. It isn’t done yet.

Yet despite the giddiness that an Atenean can feel, it should be tempered. It isn’t done by a longshot. There are two more wins that need to be earned. A sweep doesn’t mean anything if one doesn’t bring home the trophy.

Temper that exhilaration. It isn’t done yet.
by rick olivares

There is a sense of exhilaration at seeing the Ateneo Blue Eagles sweep the elimination round for the first time in its UAAP history after that 86-64 win over the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons. They have come close on three occasions – 1987, 2011, 2012, and most recently in 2017. Each time though, they won the championship.

This is charting new ground more so since this awards the team an automatic finals slot. The downside though is there isn’t any thrice-to-beat advantage and there is the long lay-off. We have seen it affect the Blue Eaglets each time they have accomplished that feat. But while one must learn from those lessons, one does not place their faith in such things. At this point, how they come out is also within their control. 

Yet despite the giddiness that an Atenean can feel, it should be tempered. It isn’t done by a longshot. There are two more wins that need to be earned. A sweep doesn’t mean anything if one doesn’t bring back the trophy.

Having defeated every challenge this year, the fear aside from rust is a sense of complacency.

Ateneo cage history has shown that can be one’s downfall.

This 2019 is actually the 80th year Ateneo teams have gone out for athletic battle using the moniker “Blue Eagles.” In 1939, the Ateneo Blue Eagles swept the elimination round, 8-0, but lost in the finals to La Salle (for their first NCAA title).

Former Ateneo star, Primitivo Martinez was the coach that season and come the finals, he opted to start his second unit rather than his usual five. It was a huge mistake as the Green Archers rang up a huge lead. By the time Ateneo woke from its slumber, the rally fell short, losing 27-23. Ateneo averaged 35.5 points per game back then but were held to 23 points. 

In 1977, Ateneo was one win away from sweeping the elimination round and that meant back then an outright championship. There was one last game to play against San Beda. Three Blue Eagles were called up to the national team. While they were told they can release one, the other two opted to go abroad leaving an Ateneo team a bit depleted against a strong Red Lions team. San Beda won and now there was a best-of-three finals that Ateneo lost in Game Three. Yes, it was that infamous closed door match.

The coaching staff has enough veterans to know about not seizing the moment (anyone remember the second round loss to NU during the 2007 campaign). Hopefully, they will be ready come the finals.

But what can be taken from this win right now?

For one, it puts a huge damper on UP and everyone else’s designs. Fourteen times they tried to get that win, but 14 teams they were beat back; some in a most disparaging manner. 

Second, you have other players now finding their groove. Am talking about SJ Belangel, Isaac Go, and Angelo Kouame. 

Belangel has come a long way from his Blue Eaglet days when he said he couldn’t win one despite his talent. He did win a juniors title and now one seniors chip as well. He is gunning for a second in the collegiate ranks. 

Third, there is the seamless return of William Navarro to the team after getting knocked out by Nick Abanto. He finished with 13 points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals against one turnover. That is very good considering he was out for two games. 

Fourth, it is denying the UP coaching staff a win. You do not want a former coach and former players getting a win over you. Look reputations too are on the line here whether they admit it or not. Bragging rights as well. That is just how it is; unfair or not.

And fifth and last, it is how this team has dealt with adversity. During Tab Baldwin’s first year, he lost a bunch of players due to academics yet they still made the finals. That underscored what Baldwin has done for the team.

This season, in addition to losing Anton Asistio to graduation, Aaron Black opted out of his final playing year. Then Jolo Mendoza and Raffy Verano were knocked out as well due to academics. 

Talk about next man up.

I remember last season as saying that Will Navarro in the starting five was good. Someone remarked if I thought that was a better move than Raffy Verano in there. 

Each player brings something. Verano has his toughness and willingness to do the dirty work. Plus, he can pass. Will is more athletic, can shoot, and play multiple positions on both ends of the floor. 

If anything. It once more underscores the work that the coaching staff has done to mine the talents of their players despite others being star-studded. 

On that note, their biggest work will be done in the next two weeks or so as they prepare the team for its endgame.

Temper that celebration. This isn’t done yet.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

My Monday column October 28 in Business Mirror One last time, Blue.

One last time, Blue.
by rick olivares

My father, Danny Olivares, is hoping to watch one more game of the Ateneo Blue Eagles. This one is this coming Wednesday, October 30 when the two-time defending champions take on the University of the Philippines.

However, at the Mall of Asia Arena is Pasay City? At his condition where he has been greatly slowed down by a series of strokes? It is possible, but it would be difficult. Getting there and back all the way to the house would wear him out.

Some 20 of his Ateneo batchmates (Grade School ’54, High School ’58, and College ’62) are going as part of their Diamond Jubilee celebration. 

That is quite a storied class. Actor and comedian Noel Trinidad, Mahar Mangahas of the Social Weather Station, Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, noted US immigration lawyer Ted Laguatan, former Secretary of Education DJ De Jesus, Butch Bonoan of Better Than Ice Cream, banker Vic Barrios, Jess dela Fuente of IBM, footballer, national team player and sports official Johnny Romualdez, basketball champ and coach Dodie Agcaoili, former Jesuit Ed Garcia who now works as a life coach, Tonito Quirino who was the son of President Quirino, my Tito Vlady Olivares who put up Our Lady of Fatima U but now calls NYC home, and others.

I even dated the daughter of one of his classmates. Hindi kami nagkatuluyan kasi na torpe ako.

His Ateneo classmates who have moved on into the great hereafter who I was good friends with include former Blue Eagle Boogie Pamintuan who was a NCAA champ -- teammates with Ed Ocampo and Paquito Diaz who went on to become an actor -- and my neighbour during my younger years, sportscaster Joe Cantada who was an amateur boxing champ for Ateneo and who would give me PBA tickets (he also mentored me as a young sportswriter for the Journal group and the Philippine Daily Inquirer), Ronnie Alejandro who made a name for himself in New York as a writer and who I did odd jobs for in Greenwich Village, actor and comedian Subas Herrero, comedian Gary Lising, broadcaster Manolo "Manok" Lopez who I worked with at Solar Sports, and others.

During my father’s batch’s time in school (both at the Padre Faura and Loyola Heights campuses), they experienced four NCAA championships – 1953-54, 57-58, and 1961.

“It was a smaller campus then with a smaller student population,” said my dad. “Aside from knowing each other, we all celebrating the championships. When I was in grade school, high school, and college. Those were the good old days as they call it.”

I used to sit and listen in amazement to his stories of cheering at the old Rizal Memorial Coliseum. My first taste of a NCAA title came when I was in the Ateneo grade school when the Blue Eagles won the 1975-76 titles. When I got to high school, my batch won a juniors championship during our senior year. Then in college came the school’s first UAAP crowns in 1987 and 1988.

I got to see some of those games by that 1970s team that featured future pros Steve Watson, Joy Carpio, Padim Israel, and Bambi Kabigting. My uncle Johnny Tañedo took me to some of those games. During those UAAP title years, I’d go with my dad.

While he was never an athlete (unlike his kids), he enjoyed watching the games. Even when he physically did not go to the games, he’d watch them on television.

My passion for sports (not just Ateneo sports) also comes from him (along with an uncle who fostered the love of baseball in me). During the launch of the Ateneo five-peat book (titled “Five”) that I wrote at the Ayala Museum, my father was so proud of a connection I had made to our alma mater. It was actually my second book about the Blue Eagles with The 18th Banner coincidentally being my first and the first of the vie-peat titles. So in a way, Five was like the perfect bookend. 

There’s 11 Days in August that is about Gilas Pilipinas’ successful 2013 Fiba Asia campaign, A NU Champion that recounts the 2015 NU Bulldogs’ UAAP title season, Rise which tells of the NU Pep Squad’s three-peat in the Cheer Dance Championships, and contributing to Philippine Football: It’s Past, Its Future and Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan The Maestro of Philippine Basketball. I am currently working on Golden, that is recount the stories of the Xavier School Golden Stallions.

Except for my unfinished book, my father has copies of everything I have written. And that bring s me back to the upcoming game.

Early this October, three of my father’s batchmates wrote current Ateneo University Athletics Director Emmanuel Fernandez inquiring about the possibility of getting block seating for the match. Personally, I think it is cool. Their batch is extremely close to one another. They regularly hold reunions and go out of their way to help other batchmates of theirs who aren’t well. 

“It’s not like this is our last hurrah,” said Ed Garcia who now works with the student-athletes of FEU. “It is just reliving the days of our youth. It would be nice to watch again though not in the bleachers. Lower box, upper box is good where it isn’t too painful on the knees. While our reunions have bigger numbers I think for the Ateneo-UP game, we can only bring in 20 from our batch.”

My dad would like to watch with his classmates. Yell, cheer, and sing one more time. However, it doesn’t look possible given his health condition. As much as I want him to go (and be with him), it is best that he stay from home and watch on television. He grudgingly agreed.

“But I’ll be there in spirit,” he smiled. 

Masterclass: Ateneo’s win over NU to go to 13-0

Masterclass: Ateneo’s win over NU to go to 13-0
by rick olivares

The Ateneo Blue Eagles routed the hapless National University Bulldogs, 88-51, to go to 13-0 while dropping their victim to 2-11. Of their 13 wins, only two have come at seven points or less. The others have been routs. 

Ateneo seems to finally found its groove this second round. The only close game was against Adamson.

Here are some of my thoughts after this win.

That was some show put on by the Blue Eagles on both ends of the court. 

They have pulverized Jamike Jarin’s Bulldogs in all six meetings.

Season 80, 
NU lost 85-72 and 96-83 by an average of 13 points.

Season 81,
NU lost 72-46 and 79-64 by an average of 20.5 points.

This Season 82, the scores have been lopsided as well.
The scores were 71-50 and 88-51
and NU lost by an average of 29.0.

We haven’t even counted the preseason games that have also been massacres.

The Bulldogs aren’t the only ones feeling Ateneo’s wrath. The Blue Eagles have suffocated NU’s young stud star and former Ateneo Blue Eaglet Dave Ildefonso. 

In Ildefonso’s two season over at F. Jhocson Street, these are his numbers versus Ateneo.
4 points in a 72-46 loss. 2/8 25% FG
13 points in a 79-64 loss 5/16 31%
10 points in a 71-50 loss 2/9 22% shooting
2 points in 81-55 loss 1/5 20% shooting

Ildefonso averages 16.9 points per game. Against Ateneo, that number is dramatically down to 7.25 points average (10/38 from the field and 26% shooting). They will not say it, but this is a subtle way of getting at the young star.

His older brother Shaun continues to play well against Ateneo; no doubt, the result of extra motivation of playing against his former team.

Ateneo dominated NU in every category (including the efficiency ratings where every Atenean finished on the positive side while every Nationalian finished in the negative end).

3-point shots
Perimeter Points
Free throws
Second Chance Points
Inside Points
Fastbreak Points

NU averages about 88 points per game but against Ateneo, they managed only 55.5 points. Talk about being smothered.

The next players up are BJ Andrade and Troy Mallillin. BJ tallied four points, three rebounds, five assists, and one steal while Troy finished with four points as well as seven boards. The latter showed a lot of hustle and athleticism in and around the basket.

Early in the season, the bench struggled with holding leads put up by the starting unit. Now, they have been doing some serious heavy lifting themselves.

Angelo Kouame is finally back to his old reliable self. His play was maddening at certain times. In spite of his tall frame, he’d miss close stabs and be missing in action for a while. Luckily, his teammates have started to pick up the slack. Thirdy Ravena is now his old all-around and vicious self. Isaac Go is hitting big shots. 

Kouame finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds along with three blocks.

And this is the perfect way for the Blue Eagles to go into their upcoming meeting with the UP Fighting Maroons.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

UAAP S82: Finding consistency is the name of the game for UST and FEU

UAAP S82: Finding consistency is the name of the game for UST and FEU
by rick olivares

After 10 games, any coach would have worked out the kinks and inconsistencies in one’s game. UST followed their thrashing at the hands of Ateneo by dealing UE with their worst loss of this year. That should have been the game that turned things around for them yet they fell to FEU, 72-58.

If Ateneo checked Soulemane Chabi Yo, it was the Growling Tigers who held their center in check when they opted to fire away from beyond the arc as if the three-pointer was fast going out of style. Chabi Yo played all 10 minutes and had no attempts from the field or the free throw line. He did grab three rebounds and issued one assist, but that was it. In the meantime, UST jacked up 14 treys and made five. 

The problem is, FEU made five triples too – all in the crunch.

UST lived by the three… and well, died by the three.

Luckily for them, La Salle was dealt a crippling loss by Ateneo last Sunday that dropped the Green Archers down a notch from fourth to fifth.

Now, they face a must-win situation against UP on Wednesday.

A word on UP. I think it is great that the league commissioner decided to waive the final game suspension of Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol. I do not believe that he should be left off the hook as this is the second consecutive year that he has been tossed for complaining. And both times against Ateneo and both non-calls were correct. 

This is actually the second time that the length of suspension was commuted. Back in 2010, Feu women’s football coach Kim Chul-Su was banned. Yes, banned, by then UAAP football commissioner Jojo Rodriguez for attacking a referee following a contentious loss. The Korean and three of his players physically ganged up on the referee. Mysteriously, within a few games, Kim was back on the bench. 

Intramurals on the court and in the boardroom. That is also what the UAAP is known for.

Earlier during the first round, the Growling Tigers looked really good. Even in their loss to Ateneo in the first round, they still looked good. Their losses to Adamson (in the first round) and their blowout losses to Ateneo and FEU in the second round have certainly take shine off that luster. 

Speaking of consistency, the poster team for that in this Season 82 are the FEU Tamaraws. The Jekyll and Hyde Tamaraws looked lost to UP in the first round then rallied only to fall short. They looked really bad against Ateneo then defeated La Salle. They lost to cellar dweller, NU, but won against streaking Adamson. They defeated UP in overtime to start the second round then lost to last place NU again. 

To further illustrate their predicament – FEU is second in team defense but dead last on offense. It has been an up and down season also for their veterans Wendell Comboy,  Barley Eboña, Alec Stockton, Ken Tuffin, Rey Bienes, and Hubert Cani. 

Three of their four scoring leaders are young players in LJ Gonzales (who doesn’t do well in the clutch), Xyrus Torres, and Pat Tchuente.

Imagine that – FEU won with Tchuente scoring only one point (although he did grab 11 boards but was mostly ineffective). 

The question facing them when they take on La Salle this Saturday is… what Tamaraws team will show up?

They were in fifth spot before the last weekend’s matches. That win coupled with the losses of UST and La Salle saw them jump to third spot. A win will see them hold on to that spot. But they have to be at their absolute best if they want to fulfill their semi-finals ambitions in this most trying of seasons.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Ateneo-La Salle 2nd round 77-69 The Art of War Wong

The Art of War Wong
by rick olivares

I’m going to point out three reasons why the win over La Salle is a big deal.

Having said that, we’re going to jump to reason #3.

And that’s Adrian Wong.

When Adrian came up from Team B, he was this strong finisher. He was fearless and didn’t mind taking it to the fir trees of college basketball. Those images were replaced by the Adrian Wong who sobbed on the bench when he bungled a lay-up that could have sent Ateneo to the finals but instead fell to FEU that eventually won the title. Then there he was lost to a knee injury before the next season could start.

Wong watched from the sidelines as Ateneo overcame a Ben Mbala-powered La Salle team. How ironic for the team to win when he went down. He did return for the back-to-back title run, but wasn’t himself yet as he was still on the mend and finding his way through Tab Baldwin’s system. During the back-to-back celebrations, I watched as Tab Baldwin gave him a huge and thanked him for his contributions. Wong was happy. Buoyant even to have finally won a title. But the competitor deep inside wanted to show more.

Virtually everyone in the starting five has had their moment. Against La Salle this second round, it was Wong’s turn to take the spotlight as well as embody Ateneo’s “Next Man Up” philosophy.

And this season, he has. His old daring self has been replaced with a silent but deadlier model. Opponents tend to forget him in place of the big name others. Like Will Navarro… it is a colossal mistake. Along with Navarro, they have given the Blue Eagles a lift offensively and defensively. 

In his return during Season 81, Adrian averaged 1.7 points and 1.0 rebounds per game. This year, he has slid into Anton Asistio’s slot and supplied the exact points per game that the former did – 7.2 points per game. Assists and rebounds are also the same (1.0 something for both plyers). On defense, Wong has three blocks this season while Asistio only had one in his final playing year. Three-points-wise, Asistio finished with 31 treys while Adrian has rifled in 14 in 10 games. 

During one final tune up match before the UAAP tipped off, Wong drilled a number of huge shots against another college team. Post-game, he deflected the praise and offered it instead to his teammates for finding him at the right time.

His barrage of shots (including his strong start to match the Green Archers of which Tab Baldwin later acknowledged) including the killer trey at the end of the second round match against La Salle is proof (he finished with 18 points and one assist) as Ateneo improved to 10-0 with the 77-69 victory.

As for that victory… the last time Ateneo had a five-game win streak against La Salle was from Season 74-75 where the Blue Eagles won all four elimination round games and the final four of the tail-end of the five-peat. 

How big a deal was this win?

For one, at 10-0, Ateneo assured itself of a Final Four seat and the twice-to-beat advantage that comes with it. Only second running UP can catch them as they have a game at hand at 6-3. How they finish will tell who takes the top seed. If Ateneo wins its next assignment on Wednesday against FEU, they would have wrapped up the number one seed. 

Second, the win over La Salle – coupled with FEU’s 72-58 win over UST – throws a huge monkey wrench into the middle of the pack.

UP is at 6-3.
FEU vaulted to third at 5-5. 
UST is at fourth also with a 5-5 record. 
La Salle fell to fifth with a 4-5 record.
Adamson has a ghost of a chance after their 72-53 win over National University as they are 4-6. At this point, all they can hope for is a play-off for the fourth and last slot (and that other teams lose as well). Hell of a way to try and continue their streak of three consecutive semis appearances under Franz Pumaren.

Only UE and NU are out of it. At this stage, all they can do is better their finishes.

UP looks to get back at first round tormentor UST on Wednesday (October 16) then Adamson on the 20th. They face NU on the 23rd, La Salle on the 27th, and Ateneo on the 30th

FEU’s final games – in order – include Ateneo (October 16), La Salle (October 19), Adamson (October 23), and UE (October 27). That is a murderer’s row right there. Three big games and the last one, the Battle of Recto.

UST plays UP (October 16), NU (October 19), La Salle (October 23), and Adamson (October 26). The Bulldogs nearly beat them last time around and they will be playing without pressure. Adamson’s fate won’t be known until they play on the 20th against UP. They could still be in or out by the time they face UST.

La Salle looks to go back to fourth spot when they take on UE on Wednesday (October 16). Except, the Red Warriors defeated them last time around. There is double motivation for them to get this W. The Green Archers then face FEU on the 19th. Except you don’t know what Tamaraws team will show up. UST is on the 23rd and UP on the 27th

The onus on these three teams is to catch UP. 

Adamson’s next assignment is UP on the 20th. They take on FEU on the 23rd, UST on the 26th, and La Salle on the 30th

And third, you have to go back to the top which is where Ateneo is right now.

That spot has been won through superior defense, superb coaching, and a team that knows what it needs to do. They kept Jamie Malonzo silent for one half. That sequence where La Salle needed a basket and Aljun Melecio and Andrei Caracut did not have daylight to shoot – that is as close to art you will see on the hardcourt. The art of defense. 

And not calling time late in the game if not the entire fourth period? Brilliant.

It’s a good win, but right now, that doesn’t mean anything… without that ‘chip.

Onto next.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Fil-Am wrestler TJ Perkins on his homecoming

Fil-Am wrestler TJ Perkins on his homecoming
by rick olivares

Philippine Wrestling Revolution: Homecoming was done. The roster of professional wrestlers had gone to the back to shower or to grab some food. One wrestler stayed behind. It was Filipino-American wrestler Theodore James “TJ” Perkins who headlined perhaps the greatest non-World Wrestling Entertainment pro wrestling event in Philippine history.

The 35-year old Perkins, acknowledged as one of the world’s best technical wrestlers and a cruiserweight star, hung out with the fans who hoped for a selfie, an autograph, or to chat some. He just figured in a grueling match against “Mr. Philippine Wrestling” Jake de Leon that ended when he reversed a submission hold to defeat the homegrown hero, and yet, here he was... spending time with the fans.

“Remember, I was a fan once upon a time” Perkins made sure to underscore. “So, this means a lot to these fans. It isn’t like I am always here so the fans spent money and took the time to watch me so I can do no less.”

“The reception was everything I expected and more,” said a tuckered out Perkins whose body was covered in the confetti that rained down at the close of the event. “When I started out wrestling, I used the nick name ‘Pinoy Boy’ which is something another Filipino-American friend of mine used between ourselves. But as I climbed the ladder of pro wrestling, I had to play different personas including Japanese and Mexican wrestlers. But every chance I got, I used ‘Pinoy Boy’. I know in pro wrestling, the characters and storylines are big, but I try to push my Filipino ethnicity as much as I can.”

Even while Perkins was with the WWE, he always took the time to follow the nascent PWR. “I think between that old Pinoy wrestling Federation in the 1980s and the PWR, there was nothing so you can imagine the excitement that PWR was generating,” observed Perkins. “From afar, I have been proud of their efforts. After my release from WWE earlier this year (February 2019), this homecoming was firmly in my radar. I had to do this not only for my family but for Filipino wrestling, if my presence here along with Jeff Cobb helps ignite the local wrestling scene then this trip is a winner in many ways.”

Even before the main event against Jake de Leon, Perkins would steal peeks at the ring action and listened to the crowd’s roar. “The scene here is definitely growing and it is fun being a part of this I felt like a kid all over again when I first got into wrestling around the time I was 18 or 19 years of age.”

For now, Perkins is back with New Japan Pro-Wrestling which is where he first started out in 2001. Said the 5’10” wrestler, “I think the one thing I have learned since I began wrestling professionally is you will never know where you will go. I am just grateful for the opportunity to do something I loved as a kid for a living.”

Is there going to be a repeat performance in a PWR event?

“I sure hope so,” smiled Perkins. “We’ve got a revolution to continue.”

Thursday, October 10, 2019

TJ Perkins, Jeff Cobb graces PWR: Homecoming this Saturday, Oct. 12

TJ Perkins, Jeff Cobb graces PWR: Homecoming this Saturday, Oct. 12
by rick olivares, photo by hub pacheco

Filipino-American professional wrestler Theodore James “TJ” Perkins and Ring of Honor star Jeff Cobb will headline Philippine Wrestling Revolution’s Homecoming event this Saturday, October 12, at the ABS-CBN Vertis Tent in Quezon City.

With top international talent headlining the event, PWR Homecoming is projected to be the biggest non-WWE wrestling spectacle in the country to date.

Perkins, who made a name for himself wrestling in TNA (Total Non-Stop Action), WWE, and New Japan Pro-Wrestling and is currently working the independent circuit matches skills with ex-PWR and Philippine Excellence Champion Jake “The Senyorito” de Leon. Cobb on the other hand will figure in a three-way match for the PWR Championship with Quatro and former two-time champion, Chris Panzer involved. 

The appearance of Perkins and Cobb will be a high water mark for local professional wrestling promotions. Something PWR has been very keen about.

“That has been the mantra of PWR,” said Jan Imbat, vice president for the promotion, “Put up action-packed shows filled with athletic feats, comedic shows, compelling storylines, and engaging characters that all fit to the taste of the Filipino market.”

How big of an impact has PWR had?

PWR has built a loyal fanbase who regularly attend the 11 shows they put up annually (they have organized a total of 52 heading into PWR Homecoming). “We have been blessed to have a loyal fanbase of 300-350 person who attend every show from the Bayanihan center in Mandaluyong to the Power Mac Center Spotlight in Taguig. The real challenge lies in finding the balance in bringing in new eyes while keeping our current fans.”

Three of their wrestlers -- Crystal, Jake de Leon, and Ken Warren -- were invited to a WWE tryout last July 2019 in Shanghai, China. 

Professional wrestling has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years. Promotions in Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand have all been put up and are growing. 

Elucidated Imbat, “Through good working relationships with promotions with our Asian neighbors, everyone has built fanbases in our respective countries.”

The result is PWR Homecoming, an event five years in the making. Perkins who has never been shy in displaying or talking about his Filipino heritage, is an exciting high-flyer. Jeff Cobb is a legitimate Olympian having represented Guam in the 2004 Olympics. Their presence on fight night adds a lot of star power to PWR and Filipino professional wrestling.

“This,” pointed out Imbat, “Will be the culmination of what we have been building over the past five years. And we hope that this helps bring more awareness to the local scene and turn Filipino wrestling casuals into becoming (dedicated) wrestling fans with PWR.”

My thoughts about Ateneo's 2nd round win vs Adamson

When I think of the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ 80-74 win over the Adamson Soaring Falcons last Wednesday at the Big Dome, it is good. 

Now with all due respect to the vanquished, this should have been by a bigger margin.

A part of that final margin can be attributed to the determination by Val Chauca and Jerrick Ahanmisi to rally their side. On the flip side, had Angelo Kouame played better, this would have been another spanking.

Granted he is young and not having fully reached his potential so you can somewhat let him off the hook Still it is surprising to see him indecisive at times and in being so, missing a lot of point blank stabs. And that’s two consecutive matches where he submitted a sub-par game. 

As I said, it has its good and bad.

Good because Isaac Go, Will Navarro, and Matthew Daves rose to the occasion.

Bad because, La Salle is up next and you know they are more than taking down notes. During the first round game, Kouame had a difficult time with the double-teaming and repeated attacks inside by the Green Archers. The onus is on him to break out and help his team against the streaking Green Archers. 

Ateneo’s defense was brilliant for the most part.

None the better when they forced successive violations late in the first quarter. 

At the 7:30 mark, the Blue Eagles forced an eight-second backcourt violation. Matt Nieto made them pay with a triple in the opposite end. In the next possession, they forced Adamson into a five-second inbound violation. 

The score at that point was 12-4. But two missed shots by Kouame that sandwiched a turnover by the Ivorian saw Adamson claw back, 12-8.

Late in the fourth period, Ateneo once more flashed its defensive fangs as Navarro blocked Chauca and converted on the other end to make it, 71-61. Ateneo then forced a 24-second shot clock violation. 

As for Adamson forward Simon Camacho… he isn’t the same after Kouame rejected all his love letters. It was Will Navarro this time who rejected two of his shots (he also fumbled a few others due to nerves).

With the score, 75-66 after a Kouame bucket, Ange turned the ball over that led to a Matt Nieto foul that was assessed an unsportsmanlike foul. Jerrick Ahanmisi hit both free throws. 

The defense on Chauca was very good. They limited the Fil-Peruvian to six points on 2-3 shooting. He didn’t have any daylight. There was that spotty foul called on Adrian Wong late in the game that saw Chauca troop to the line for a pair of free throws.

Ateneo then fumbled their way into a 24-second shot clock violation because of overpassing. Shockingly, Ateneo left an unmarked Ahanmisi open and the Adamson sniper drilled a triple to make it 75-71. Matt Nieto then hit two free throws as Adamson missed a bad shot. Adrian Wong tacked on one free throw to end the game. 

As good a win as it was, it was a bit annoying to allow Adamson an opportunity to steal it. 

It was also just annoying to see an Ateneo supporter become a side show when he refused to give the ball back to the referee (he was almost sent out for his trouble (wrongly though I must say). We do not need to be obnoxious. Teams are already trying to knock us off and the last thing we need is an ugly Atenean. The crowd was correct in telling off the refs and security but did this need to happen?

Back to the game.

I like how Thirdy was attacking that rack. If he plays like this, he is close to unstoppable. 

I’d like to ponder Mr. BIG -- Big Isaac Go as well as Will and Chew.

This was Isaac’s best effort this year. He was solid on defense and he hit some big shots. 

Will is finally fulfilling his promise as a big time player. He plays both ends of the court and I am just waiting for him to posterize someone. No, not that kind of dunk that he threw down against UST in Season 81 (over Zach Huang), but the one during Filoil Preseason Cup where he swooped in from a difficult angle then dunked on a couple of guys. They weren’t expecting it and it was a highlight play all right. 

Navarro finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 1 steal.

And there is Daves. Five years ago when I first saw him in the NBTC National Finals, I gave Joe Silva and Epok Quimpo a call (I was then working for the group as its media officer). I said they have to see this kid who was like a tank. He attacked the basket, could hit the trey, and would dunk on people. Then I helped arrange for that meeting inside the MOA Arena. I said this kid is going to be our power forward of the future. And Chew has been getting minutes (as I expected) and is starting to make an impact. Ateneo will need him versus La Salle that could possibly be a preview of the finals. 

It was a tough but good win. But you have to like it. As poor as the offense has been at times, the defense has been soli