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, November 24, 2019

Torchlight and Bonfire: An Ateneo celebration

Torchlight and Bonfire: An Ateneo celebration
by rick olivares

Around 10:40 in the evening of the 23rd of November, 2019, several Ateneo student-athletes – all champions in their respective sports in the first semester of the year – made their way down from the stage at the Ateneo Grade School parking lot. They were all going to light the bonfire.

When the wood was set ablaze, a cheer rose up and the alma mater song was sung.

And thus continued an 82-year tradition of championship celebration by the school’s varsity teams.

Where did this is begin?

When a fire razed the Ateneo campus inside Intramuros on the night of August 13, 1932, a defiant and proud group of students, led by their American Jesuit professors, began singing school songs and hymns.

When it looked like the Ateneo seniors team was going to win the NCAA crown in 1937, Fr. John McCarron, S.J., the school’s varsity teams’ chaplain and later, athletic moderator, thought back to beach bonfires and how people talked and shared stories and experiences. And he also remembered the fateful night of the 13thof August 1932 when a fired razed the Ateneo campus inside intramuros. 

No one knows how it all started, but as the building were eaten up by the flames, students, faculty, and Jesuit mentors began singing school hymns. Whether it was in defiance or merely putting on a brave front, it was cathartic. 

Just like sports.

The score was 36-22 with two minutes left in the game when “Roll Up the Victory” erupted from the Ateneo side of the Rizal Memorial Coliseum. It might have been a lot of time left in the game for Jose Rizal College to catch up, but to the Ateneans in the gallery along with their cheerleaders – Raul Manglapus, Luke Paredes, and Frankie Romualdez – knew it was over.

True enough, the score ended in a 40-26 triumph for the Ateneo blue and whites. And on September 30, 1937, Ateneo was NCAA champion for the fifth time. They had played eight games and won seven of them.

After the match, the school’s Rector, Fr. Carroll I. Fasy, S.J., organized the student body. They patiently waited for their heroes led by head coach Totoy Bautista, Jess Arce who was a high school senior already playing for the college team, star guard Simon LaO, forwards Fermin “the Black Fury of Zamboanga” Fernando and James “Wonder Boy” Hampton, and Cesar Basa among others to file out. 

When the blue and whites (this was a good two years before Ateneo sports team formally adopted the Blue Eagle moniker) got out of the RMC, a raucous cheer greeted them as some 500-plus students yelled their hearts out.

With school officials and their cheerleaders leading them, the Ateneo throng with several dozen holding up torches turned left into Taft (and right in front of De La Salle College) then right into Herran (now Pedro Gil) then to Dakota along Mabini then all the way to Padre Faura. Normally, the walk from Vito Cruz to Ateneo’s new campus in Padre Faura would take 30 minutes. But with this route, it took them a little over an hour.

This was the first ever torchlight parade in the school’s history.

During the parade, the Ateneans erupted into their three new cheers that year – Halikinu, Swinging, and Jamming. The new cheers were created to inject life into the Ateneo crowd. School reporters criticized the lack of spirit by the Ateneo crowd – “the spirit-less cheers are like the fall of the Bastille,” decried one upset Guidon writer.

The new cheers and songs had literally lit a fire. And for the man known as “Rah-Hul” Manglapus, he wasn’t done penning cheers and songs for his school. Two years later, he would introduced “Fly High” as the first ever Ateneo Blue Eagles squad was introduced over KZRH (today known as Radyo Pilipinas).

Once inside the campus, those carrying their torches, one by one, threw them into the shrine of wood and literally lit a fire. That was how they lit the bonfires then.

Four years later, on a sunny Sunday, September 28, Ateneo’s college team defeated their counterparts from JRC. The school had to wait for five more days – on October 3rd -- the juniors team that lost to La Salle and needed one more game to dispatch their newfound nemesis, 17-16, to complete a double victory.

Noted Fr. McCarron, “We needed everything in our arsenal to win. Our team captain, Tony Montenegro played well as did Jess Coruna.”

Fr. Vincent O Beirne, S.J. declared no classes the next day for the entire high school and college beginning a tradition.

This time, there were five different parades that set off from five different points to converge at Plaza Lawton before making their way to the parade grounds of Luneta Park (as it was called before it was renamed Rizal Park) for the bonfire. After the bonfire the Blue Eagles and some key supporters were served a banquet at the Aristocrat Restaurant along Dewey Boulevard (now Roxas Boulevard). 

Both teams had their group pictures taken at the nearby Sun Studio. Each photo cost 30 centavos. 

Their reward for the senior squad for winning the title – a trip to the Summer Capital, Baguio, on October 9. 

Fr. O’ Beirne reflected about the win, “The bleachers were sardined with humanity, surprises, disappointments, cheer-mad rooters and the hush of defeat. These are all the matter of historians -- after the cheers and tears for some – to write about because we all know how it feels. For three years, we cooled our heels by the side of the road and cheered as the winner passed by. Now that we are tripping along the highway ourselves, that long rest will stand us in good stead, for we intend to stay on that road for a while.”

And it looked that way for a moment as a little over two months later, Ateneo defeated La Salle in the dying seconds of the NCAA football title game when Simon LaO fired the game winner past their goalkeeper, Louie Javellana (who later transferred to Ateneo). 

Reflected Fr. McCarron after the game, “Like it or not, Ateneo is not a football school. This is a fact. Basketball has ruined it.”

But another event would ruin the football celebrations. Scant hours after the title win, air raid sirens broke out as the Japanese began bombing the Philippines and the world truly plunged into a global conflagration. 

The torchlight parade continued until the celebrations for the 1976 NCAA Finals after which it ended.

When Ateneo bagged its historic first UAAP title in 1987, by word of mouth, the basketball players, students, and alumni gathered in front of the Loyola Center (today’s known as the Blue Eagle Gym). People searched for broken branches, twigs, and paper and tossed them into a heap while dousing it with lighter fluid. It was then set ablaze in an impromptu bonfire over smuggled beer, cigarettes, and the hearty laughs of newly-minted champions.

The bonfire celebrations are more organized today with performances by the school’s musical alumni and entertainers, fireworks, and well… beer and food. There are speeches, merriment, and well, thanking the Most High for the blessings received. 

And just as it was intended 82 years ago, it brings everyone together. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Ateneo's Three-Peat and the Pursuit of Perfection

The Pursuit of Perfection
by rick olivares

After UST Growling Tiger guard Renzo Subido threw up the last field goal attempt – that was short -- of Game Two of the 2019 UAAP Men’s Basketball Finals, Ateneo center Angelo Kouame grabbed the rebound and passed the ball to Gian Mamuyac who pitched it to Matt Nieto then back to Kouame and finally Thirdy Ravena. Adrian Wong ran up to the right side just in case they needed to pass the ball to him as Ateneo ran off the remaining seconds of the game. 

Ravena flung the ball high up with two Growling Tigers looking up. The final score read: 86-79. The Blue Eagles were champions. Three-peat champions in the perfect season; 16-0.

The year 2016 was the summer of discontent for Tab Baldwin and the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

In April of that year, the Blue Eagles lost CJ Perez, Arvin Tolentino, Hubert Cani, Jerie Pingoy, Kemark Cariño, Clint Doliguez, and John Apacible; all to academics. Tolentino and Pingoy were a part of the rotation, Doliguez and Apacible had potential while Perez led Ateneo Team B to two titles and in the two games he played for Ateneo during the summer tourney showed that he would be a force for the blue and white.

The storm wasn’t over. Three months later, the Philippine Men’s National Basketball Team suffered two painful defeats at the hands of France and New Zealand for the last of the Rio Olympic Men’s Basketball Qualifiers. And Baldwin was then removed as Gilas head coach. 

La Salle, behind ben Mbala and Jeron Teng, pulverized the competition. 

The remnants of the Blue Eagles soldiered on and ruined La Salle’s moment of perfection as the Green Archers finished the eliminations, 13-1; the only loss was to Ateneo. The Blue Eagles joined the Green Archers in the Finals but the latter was just too much to stop. The green and white celebrated and they figured they would at least get a three-peat for their efforts.

Baldwin said then that he needed to rebuild the team, not in personnel, but in the fundamentals and their approach to the game. 

Each and every player had something…

Matt and Mike Nieto were winners in high school. But the knock on Matt coming into the college ranks was he had no jumpshot. Yet, he has become a deadly shooter (aside from a backcourt general) since. And he, along with SJ Belangel, Thirdy Ravena, and Adrian Wong, knocked down crucial triples in Game Two.

Mike Nieto was said to be overweight and too small for his cherished power forward position. But he had reinvented himself into a hustle man and was the team’s leader. He scored on a tough layup and rejected Brent Paraiso’s reverse lay-up that preserved a 65-60 Ateneo lead. 

When Thirdy Ravena came out of high school, he was said to be light years away in terms of impact when compared to older brother Kiefer. Not a winner they said. He tugged the Blue Eaglets to the finals but lost to Cani and NU. When he moved up to the seniors division, the Nietos helped Ateneo win the juniors crown. Thirdy was even knocked out for a season due to grades. Yet, here he was at the final buzzer – a three-time seniors champion and three-time finals Most Valuable Player.

Isaac Go was said to be too slow and even clumsy. Just a big kid who happened to be playing basketball, said some. Yet he transformed under Baldwin, made the Gilas Cadets line-up, and had become a very good three-point shooter, a smart player (to complement his academic smarts), and a leader in that locker room.

Will Navarro was unhappy with his situation in his first year in San Beda. He transferred to Ateneo, battled confidence problems, and had become such an invaluable player in the absence of Raffy Verano. 

Years ago, I postulated that Navarro should be starting. A parent of one of the Blue Eagles asked why I thought that. I answered, “because he is tall enough and skilled enough to guard multiple positions. He can shoot and defend. All he needs is a confidence booster.”

Who from the blue side wasn’t proud when he was one of two Ateneans feted special awards (the AXA Know You Can Player of the Season).

In Season 78, Adrian Wong botched a potential game-winning lay-up in the Final Four game against FEU. Following that game, he sobbed on the bench and the two Tamaraws who denied him that basket – Roger Pogoy and Mac Belo – came over to consoled him. Worse, he was out because of a knee injury when Ateneo won its first title under Tab Baldwin in Season 80. He had come back and became a better defensive player, returned as a starter, and now finished his college career with two titles. 

Following the summer tourneys of 2017, Ateneo had become a thoroughly different team. They slipped under the radar and come the UAAP began destroying teams. Since Season 80, this team has won eight out of eight championships in all local tournaments they have participated in. Not even the five-peat teams of Norman Black – that won a total of 16 titles in that span – won many in consecutive fashion. 

For decades, Ateneo had come close to an undefeated season, but never attained it.

Eighty years ago, the Blue Eagle became the official mascot and moniker of the Ateneo sports teams. That was also the year where Raul Manglapus unveiled his song, “Blue Eagle the King” and that first ever team of Blue Eagles, coached by former player Primitivo Martinez, had swept the elimination round only to lose in the finals against La Salle. A rivalry was born that year and made white hot when La Salle supporters chucked fried chickens outside the Ateneo campus in Padre Faura.

Two years later, another former Ateneo hero in Bing Ouano led the Blue Eagles into the NCAA field. They were undefeated in the preseason and were 4-0 in the NCAA when Letran waylaid them. It was thought that it would down spiral for Ateneo, instead they went on a tear and won the championship.

In 1969, that great team of Ateneo that featured Francis Arnaiz, Joy Cleofas, Marte Samson, and Ricky Palou were nearing an undefeated season when Letran sent them crashing in the second round. They bounced back and won the championship. And in a moment that mirrored Baldwin’s 2016 team, lost eight players immediately after due to academics. 

From 1975-77, the Blue Eagles were chasing immortality when each time the San Beda Red Lions beat them in the final game of the second round. Ateneo did win the 1975 and 1976 crowns. But there would be no third time in 1977 as the Blue Eagles following its championship loss to the Red Lions, packed up and left the NCAA for the UAAP.

And that leads us back to this year’s champions. 

They are a perfect eight-for-eight in local tournaments since Season 80. But how big was this title? It has to hurt UST in more ways than one.

During the five-peat, they overtook the four-peat feats of UST and La Salle. Sorry but that seven-peat of UE doesn’t count because they shared on title with UST (what kind of crap is that). This team also went two games better than UST’s 14-0 record of 1993 to finish 16-0.

And thus far, Baldwin with three UAAP crowns to his already gleaming resume, gained a 2-1 edge over nemesis Aldin Ayo in head-to-head championship meetings. Furthermore, he's back overseeing the Philippines' preparations for the 2023 Fiba World Cup.

This Season 82 crown is Ateneo’s 11th in the UAAP and together with the 14 won in the NCAA, that makes it 25 overall. No local college team has as many. And... since Season 80, they are a perfect 8-8 in local tournaments. Now that is something that is going to be just as tough to overcome.

The numbers are huge and maybe for some to celebrate and even gloat over.

But what best illustrates this feat was in the post-game press conference where all five graduating Blue Eagles – Matt and Mike Nieto, Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, and Adrian Wong – spoke about the achievement. Baldwin got emotional as he spoke at great length of coaching these players and how it changed him as a coach, as a father figure, and a friend. 

Mike Nieto spoke of how their father, Jet, himself a former Ateneo champion in both the high school and college ranks, continuously pushed them and motivated them to match what he had won. With the three-peat, they had done one better than their dad. “But we love him Jet Nieto) even more,” quipped Mike.

The journey... had been quite something. They all had their challenges and together, hurled them.

Waiting in the wings just outside the media room with mischief in their eyes were SJ Belangel and Gian Mamuyac; both eager to douse water and whatnot on the six. In essence, it was the now the past, yet also the present, and the future.

It is the perfect moment.


For Primitivo Martinez and the 1939 Ateneo Blue Eagles.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

My thoughts about Ateneo’s Game One win over UST

My thoughts about Ateneo’s Game One win over UST
by rick olivares

Any concerns of court rust were quickly dispelled by not only Ateneo’s blistering start and second wind in a 91-77 win over UST in Game One of the 2019 UAAP Finals. That leaves the Blue Eagles with one more win to snatch the trophy and complete its quest for a three-peat.

The Blue Eagles presented another near masterpiece on their hardcourt canvass with their teamwork, defense, and countering what UST gave them.

To wit, Renzo Subido ended the first period with a long bomb. It would be the only thing of significance he would contribute all game long.

At the 7:15 mark of the second period, the score was 38-22, Ateneo. UST answered with a 14-0 run behind two triples by Mark Nonoy. The lead was cut to five, 38-33, at the 4:54. It took UST four minutes to make a game of it while Ateneo misfired on six attempts to go with one turnover. 

Thirdy Ravena scored on an and-one to give Ateneo a breather, 41-33, but Nonoy cancelled it out with a triple, 41-38.

Sophomore Blue Eagle SJ Belangel answered with three triples; the last one a turnaround shot coming from about 25-feet out to beat the buzzer. 54-39.  Run answered. Subido’s dramatics cancelled out.

Come the third period, Ateneo saw its biggest lead of the game at 23 points, 66-43, after a Ravena drive. UST would whittle it down but it hardly mattered as following a Matt Nieto lay-up at the 2:45 mark of the final period, 88-69. All that had to be settled was the final score.

And for the third straight finals, Thirdy Ravena has elevated the level of his game. He is simply amazing.

Take a look at how Ateneo defense (switching, their defense on and off the screens, not giving much daylight to UST’s shooters) worked on the Growling Tigers.

1st Half shots
2nd Half shots
Mark Nonoy
Brent Paraiso
Soulemane Chabi Yo
Renzo Subido
CJ Cansino
Rhenz Abando
Sherwin Concepcion
Dave Ando
No attempts
Zach Huang
No attempts

1st Half Points
2nd Half Points
Mark Nonoy
Brent Paraiso
Soulemane Chabi Yo
Renzo Subido
CJ Cansino
Rhenz Abando
Sherwin Concepcion
Dave Ando
Zach Huang

Ateneo raised the level of its game. From the time they played UST in the D-League where the lost, 112-98, Ateneo has marked them as a dangerous opponent. The Blue Eagles piped them, 71-70, in the first round of Season 82, then blitzed them 66-52 in the second round. Have they gotten UST’s full measure? So far, yes. But they do need to close it out.

Everyone thinks that UST jacks up a lot of triples (and they really have in the last two years). But since Tab Baldwin took over four years ago, it is Ateneo that has really gone to that long range bomb as a major weapon. However, UST has simply blown out that number out of the water this season.

Next team w/most triple attempts
Season 79
109-388 (28%)
DLSU 85-306 (28%) Aldin Ayo-coached team
Season 80
158-473 (33.4%)
DLSU 131-449 (29%) Aldin Ayo-coached team
Season 81
142-500 (28.4%)
121-426 (28.4%) Aldin Ayo-coached team
Season 82
114-438 (26%)
197-659 (30%) Aldin Ayo-coached team

In UST’s last four matches, this is how they how shot from three-point range:

14-45 against FEU
11-36 in Game One versus UP
7-39 in Game Two versus UP
14-41 in Game One versus Ateneo

Speaking of shooting, Ateneo shot 52% in Game One. Their season high is 53% that they garnered in their second round, 86-64 win over UP.

The season high in terms of accuracy rate belongs to FEU in their 81-60 win over DLSU where they knocked down 54% of their attempts. 

We’ve always asked the Blue Eagles to pound the ball inside and they did so versus the Growling Tigers with a 58-29 advantage; double UST’s output. All UST really had going for themselves are their three-point shots where they dropped 14 of 41. Ateneo was 9-26 from downtown so they somewhat blunted UST’s shots.

Now they will attempt to close it out in Game Two.

Should Ateneo rest on its laurels?

Not at all.

How crucial was Game One?

Since the UAAP went into a Final Four format in 1994, the team that has won the first match of the series went on to win it 19 out of 25 times.

In the Final Four era, UST has risen from the grave (after losing game one of the finals to win) three times. They accomplished that in 1994 and 1995 against La Salle and in 2006 against Ateneo. Conversely, they were also on the losing end after taking game one but falling in the next two matches against La Salle in 1999 and 2013 while NU also turned the trick in 2014 versus FEU.

Then again, the league has never seen anything like Tab Baldwin’s Blue Eagles.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

UST’s Chabi Yo is UAAP MVP; Ateneo with no players in Mythical 5

UST’s Chabi Yo is UAAP MVP; Ateneo with no players in Mythical 5
by rick olivares

Prior the do-or-die match between Far Eastern University and the University of Santo Tomas last Wednesday, November 6, the individual awards were handed out. UST’s Soulemane Chabi Yo was named the league’s Most Valuable Player while La Salle’s Justine Baltazar and Jamie Malonzo, the University of the East’s Rey Suerte, and the University of the Philippines’ Kobe Paras joined him in the Mythical Five selection. The Growling Tigers’ Mark Nonoy was feted the Rookie of the Year Ward.

Chabi Yo is the eighth UST player to win a MVP plum. Previous winners include Valentino Rosabal (1963), Gary Artajos (1969), Dennis Espino (1993-94), Chris Cantonjos (1995), Jervy Cruz (2007), and Dylan Ababou (2009).

UST’s previous Rookie of the Year awardees include Rosabal (1961), Gerard Francisco (1995), and Jeric Teng (2009).

Conspicuously missing from any award were any Ateneo Blue Eagles. And truthfully, they do not mind. They are after all, aspiring for the bigger prize which is a third straight UAAP championship.

For the Ateneo squad, there is an element of déjà vu.

In 2010, when the Blue Eagles were gunning for their first ever UAAP three-peat (they accomplished that once in the NCAA), they finished second in the elimination round with a 10-4 record and had no player in the Mythical Five team. Named to the five were league MVP RR Garcia along with his teammate Aldrech Ramos including UE’s Paul Lee and Ken Acibar and NU’s Jean Mbe.

En route to the finals, Ateneo waylaid FEU with pint-sized point guard Emman Monfort putting the clamps on Garcia.

Last season, Ateneo which went 12-2 (15-2 overall) in the elimination round did not place a single player in the Mythical Team. Listed about the season’s best five were UP’s Bright Akhuetie and Juan Gomez de Liaño, UE’s Alvin Pasaol, La Salle’s Baltazar, and Adamson’s Jerrick Ahanmisi. Ateneo’s Angelo Kouame though was named as the UAAP’s Rookie of the Year.

Interestingly, each time this happened, a UE Red Warrior was in the five with their team finishing at the tier. In Season 73, they finished sixth with a 6-8 record. Last season, UE was in last place with a 1-13 slate. This season, they finished seventh with a 4-10 record.

It must be stressed that every play deserved to be named to those teams while receiving accolades. It just so happens that Ateneo did not bag any individual awards then but did so in other years. 

Furthermore, it remains to be seen if Ateneo will bag their third straight tile and 11th UAAP crown (to go with the 14 they won in the NCAA) to go with the third three-peat in school history.

UST advances, FEU falters in a season true to form

UST advances, FEU falters in a season true to form
by rick olivares

The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers eliminated the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 81-71, from the march to the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball championship.

The game for all intents and purposes mirrored exactly the two teams’ seasons. UST won by the long ball while FEU started off the wrong foot, rallied, then fell short.

The Tamaraws looked the same during the summer. There is talent on that team no doubt. But some played well while others didn’t. I thought the fact that they didn’t have their team complete for the summer onwards didn’t help as there were injuries. Others like Hubert Cani never got into the groove of the season. Barkley Eboña wasn’t consistent and Tuffin only found his range in the second round. Rey Bienes and Alec Stockton were huge in the preseason and struggled come the UAAP. 

As I have postulated time and again, you need the veterans to pull through because it is too much to ask the newbies to carry you and as good as Royce Alforque and Xyrus Torres were, at the end, their game had gone south.

That third quarter rally by FEU when they put up 28 points on the board was incandescent. What a fightback from 26 points down. But their rally fizzled out when they misfired on their remaining possessions of the quarter while UST hit two big triples. That blunted their momentum and they reverted to struggling come the fourth.

I like Patrick Tchuente and think that he will only get better. He has surprised me with some of his moves that I previously didn’t see. Assuming he returns, in my opinion, he will be better. However, those missed closed stabs and missed defensive boards also hurt the team. Had he made one or two of them, it could have been a different ballgame.

They stopped UST’s Soulemane Chabi Yo, the league Most Valuable Player by holding him to six second half points after he scored 19 in the first half. At the end of it all, that 26-point balloon was too huge a balloon to overcome. FEU owned the second half although UST made the timely stops and shots.

Some might disagree with me here, but I must point out that as difficult as this year was for Feu, their head coach Olsen Racela did a great job. Imagine losing the quality of players they had, but they still made the Final Four. Had they gotten into a rhythm early on, they might have done much differently. And this second round, they were a tough nut to crack.

Tough nuts can only take so much bombardment from the outside.

It was UST’s three-point shooting – I must stress timely marksmanship -- and the superb play by Renzo Subido that also allowed the Growling Tigers to win this.

You also have to give a lot of credit to UST head coach Aldin Ayo. Watching him on the sidelines, even amidst that furious rally by FEU, he remained calm. I think what the coach radiates will feed off on the players. If the coach is the panicked sort, his players will be on the edge. I thought that UST was calm and composed. 

Yes, nerves were touched and the game got chippy somewhere along the way. But that is the nature of a do-or-die game. It will not even be remembered for that. It is a mere footnote. At the end of it all, one can point to UST’s shooting and FEU’s late rally as the defining moments of the game.

It was also tough to see FEU players like Kimlee Bayquin and Hubert Cani tearing up by match’s end. The season never went the way it should have for them as individuals. Bayquin and also graduating player Wendell Comboy may have a title to be remembered by, but it is tough for Cani who had such a bright future but had so many missteps along the way after coming out of high school. 

On the other hand, UST veteran Zach Huang and Renzo Subido get to play another day. And that is all they and their supporters ever asked for.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Jordan and Lauren Heading: A tag team couple for Philippine sports

Jordan and Lauren Heading: A tag team couple for Philippine sports
by rick olivares

At first glance, you’d think that Jordan and Lauren Heading look out of place inside the quiet confines of a coffee shop along Katipunan Avenue. 

Both stand at 6’2” so they stand out. Jordan with his long hair and Jamaican reggae-themed shirt looks like he’d be quite at home on the beach or in a reggae dance hall. His wife, Lauren (they have been married for a bit over four months now), looks like she’s ready to jump out a gym.

“Actually, I love the beach,” bared Jordan with a huge smile. “And I can play a ukulele too.”

“Jordan’s mother (Salvacion, who was in Manila for a few weeks) played the tour guide for us and had us riding jeepneys, tricycles, and tasting the local fare,” shared Lauren. “We can’t wait to see more.”

Filipino sports fans will be seeing more of this couple soon. 

Jordan recently signed up for Jimmy Alapag’s Alab Pilipinas squad while Lauren, is in the process of deciding which Premier Volleyball League squad she should sign up with (there are three vying for the services of this Division II All-American volleyball player. In the midst of all these, they are getting acclimated to the sights and sounds of their new home.

Jordan was born in Adelaide to an Australian father, Tim, and a Filipino mother. He played for Batang Gilas under Olsen Racela in the 2011 Fiba Under-16 Championships in Vietnam that finished fourth. Among his teammates then were Isaac Go, Andrei Caracut, and Hubert Cani who are all in their final playing year in college basketball. 

Lauren hails from Seattle, Washington, USA. Both went to school at California Baptist University in Riverside, California, where they met. Jordan took up Kinesiology while Lauren took up Graphic Design. They both starred for their respective teams with Jordan, the CBU Lancers’ starting point guard -- also named as a member of the Academic All-Pacific West five team – while Lauren played outside hitter and was a beast on both ends of the court.

Lauren most recently played her first stint of professional volleyball with German side, ProWin Volleys TV Holz. “It was a learning experience. I had no expectations because you don’t hear a lot. You don’t get feedback about playing pro volleyball or the lifestyle.
It was lower level volleyball that placed a lot of pressure on me. In the US we play like 35-40 games in three months. In Europe, we played 28 games in nine months. The plus side, is I got to travel to Paris, Amsterdam, and places like that. It was a great experience. Now here in the Philippines, it will be another.”

After Jordan’s Batang Gilas stint, he always knew that he would return to the Philippines someday. 

“When I played for Batang Gilas in 2011, I enjoyed my time here so much and I wanted to come back and play. I wasn’t sure when but it was always in the cards. Some doors closed and others opened, so here I am.”

In Alab, he will rejoin his old Batang Gilas teammate, Caracut. “I am really looking forward this new phase in my career.”

Lauren as well could possibly don the Philippine colors as she could possibly receive a Philippine passport (by virtue of marriage to Jordan who got his Philippine passport before the age of 16). “That would be nice, but first of all, I have to prove myself out here as well,” she said.

“We both do,” chimed in Jordan.

The two then walked out into the hot and humid Friday morning along traffic-ridden Katipunan Avenue. 

It’s all part of getting acclimated to their new home.