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.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Iloilo United Royals: A love for the game and the region

The Iloilo United Royals: A love for the game and the region
by rick olivares

The streaking Iloilo United Royals are gunning for their sixth consecutive win when they take on the Rizal Xentro Mall Golden Coolers on the 16th of December at the Imus City Sports Complex. The Royals, at 14-8, are just as flush with confidence as they are with the Holiday cheer.

Why not? They are the hottest expansion team in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.

Although an Iloilo team is always a possibility, how this current team was put together is a story onto itself.

The germ of the idea for the Royals was hatched on the golf course with current team owner JJ Javelosa and current team assistant coach Nash Racela. The plan proceeded when Racela’s longtime coaching assistant Eric Gonzales was invited to join them at the golf clubhouse a week later. 

Racela and Gonzales had a pool from which to tap players (Far Eastern University) while Javelosa would bring in his son, Jay Javelosa who played for Ateneo. Basketball was in the elder Javelosa’s blood. His father was a teammate of Moro Lorenzo in the post-World War II Ateneo Blue Eagles squads. Jay won a juniors title with Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal and later played for Ateneo Team B in college. 

JJ was disappointed that his son was unable to suit up for the UAAP team. The Iloilo MPBL team would give his son a chance to showcase his wares (Jay also played for the youth national teams). 

The idea was broached to Manny Pacquiao who greenlit the plan. Except that it hit a snag when the initial sponsor backed out. Luckily for Javelosa, he was able to secure some other help to make the Iloilo team a reality.

“The reason why we added ‘United’ to our team name is because we want all Illongos to get behind the Royals,” explained JJ who is from Jaro.  In fact, the majority of the Royals hail from Iloilo making each game more personal. 

The word “Royals” was a reference to the city’s being known as the former ‘queen city of the south” before it was accorded to Cebu.

Filipino-American Jasper Parker’s parents hail from the area. John Mahari’s mother is also from Iloilo. Ditto with Boy Sinco, Aaron Jeruta, Andrei Pantin, Jesery Pedrosa, Jason Li, Gerry Abadiano, and Leo Guion. 

The team has been a hit with the Illongos which says something as football is the local sport. 

Furthermore, the team runs on the tightest of budgets yet makes everything work from payments to operations. They aren’t the most moneyed team, but the Iloilo United Royals play like it has something to prove and a people to represent.

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