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.

Monday, January 6, 2020

A shift in tactics for UP?

A shift in tactics for UP?
By Rick Olivares

Have the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons changed their team tactics?

Looking at the past four years during head coach Bo Perasol’s tenure, at the most, they had three or four players (Diego Dario and the Gomez de LiaƱo brothers with Will Gozum coming in) coming up from the Junior Fighting Maroons to add to the recruits. For the longest time, UP has stuck to the players who came up from their first year. However, in the last three years, they have gone for transferees.

In Season 80, they picked up Jun Manzo from the University of Visayas and Rob Ricafort (who started out with De La Salle then transferred to the University of Santo Tomas before changing his zip codes to that of UP Diliman). 

In Season 81, It was Manzo, Bright Akhuetie (University of Perpetual Help System Dalta), and JD Tungcab (Adamson University).

This past Season 82, in addition to Manzo, Akhuetie, and Tungcab, they added Kobe Paras (Cal State Northridge), Ricci Rivero and Jayboy Gob (DLSU), and Jaybie Mantilla (University of San Jose Recoletos). 

In this off-UAAP season, they have brought in Centro Escolar’ University’s Malik Diouf and one player who cannot be named right now from another UAAP college team.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. Furthermore, some of these players left their previous schools of their own volition or were jettisoned for one reason or another. It is to UP’s advantage and fortune that they were able to scoop up all this talent.

Does this represent a shift in putting together a team that will bring home that elusive title back to Diliman? Possibly. They have spent a lot of money in making this team very competitive. I think this also signifies that Perasol has been very good at recruitment. He has shown this also during his three seasons in charge of the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

Many schools have resorted to acquiring transferees because you are getting players who are tried and tested.

Letran made good use of that this past season when they upset San Beda for the NCAA Season 95 title behind Larry Muyang (who transferred from DLSU) and Bonbon Batiller and Fran Yu (who were left out in the cold at the University of the East by their former coach). They were also able to pry away rookie Paolo Javillonar who gave a good account of himself during the summer leagues with College of St. Benilde.

The time is now for UP to win while La Salle is in the process of re-arming and while Ateneo has lost vital cogs in their three-peat charge. UST has soaked in a lot of experience, but they will need to find a couple of players to fill in the slots vacated by Renzo Subido and Zach Huang. FEU also is in a state of flux having lost the remnants of their last title team as they have completed their youth movement. 

There is nothing that says that one needs a homegrown program to win. Ideally. But it isn’t a prerequisite even for all of Ateneo’s success or to a certain extent, San Beda. 

National University has beefed up its high school team and have seen a number of them move up to the seniors ranks.

The Mapua Cardinals have gone that route in the last few years since they brought in local hero, Randy Alcantara, first to coach the juniors team, and now the seniors squad. The homegrown route though isn’t a standard. It is the exception.

Back to UP… the Fighting Maroons finished Season 82 with a 9-7 record. In Season 81, they were 9-8. In Season 80, they finished 6-8, and in Season 79, during Coach Bo’s first year at the helm, they ended with a 5-9 slate.

Yes, they have definitely gotten better over the years, and having accomplished that, I think Perasol deserves another shot at the opportunity to win his alma mater the big prize.

And UP – all schools in fact -- being competitive is good for college basketball. 

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