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, December 20, 2022

In Images & Words: An Ateneo Championship Run for the Ages


In Images & Words: An Ateneo Championship Run for the Ages

By Rick Olivares


There’s a song that goes this way… “memories…. Light the corner of my mind. Misty colored memories of the way we were.”


What memories or images come to mind? There are plenty that define these last few months.


You could begin with SJ Belangel saying that he will not forget Season 84’s heartbreak after UP toppled the four-peat ambition while an anguished Raffy Verano slumped by the baseline crying his heart out in what became his final season.


You could see second-year guard Chris Koon rubbing head coach Tab Baldwin’s head after the victory ride.


You could see Angelo Kouame swatting Henry Galinato’s under goal attempt like it was a volleyball.


You could hear a tearful Matthew Daves hugging Kai Ballungay on center court and saying, “I told you this feels great. This feels great.”


You could see assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga hugging back-up guard Jacob Lao and saying, “Thank you for being a part of this” to which the latter beamed, then hopped and skipped, “I got one. I got one” while referring to the chip.


You could see the great Norman Black on the court by the sidelines, next to his son and former Blue Eagle guard Aaron. He has not stepped on that UAAP court since the five-peat. And Black was smiling. Grinning from ear to ear. Happy to be a spectator.


And the Blacks weren’t the only ones. There was Anton Asistio, brothers Matt and Mike Nieto, Tyler Tio, Isaac Go, Gian Mamuyac. “I tell you it was tense,” related Matt Nieto. “It is more stressful being in the crowd than on the court. When I am on the court, I hear nothing. In the stands, you hear everything.”


You could see Matthew Daves giving Carl Tamayo a dose of his own medicine by twisting him into a pretzel on the post for an and-one. 


You could see Gio Chiu in motion nail a deadeye triple with an aghast Carl Tamayo looking on.


Oh Chiu. The much-maligned Chiu and Ateneo’s bench stepped up big time (28-27 in bench points). Although they have in recent games, this says something. 


And this was a rebuilding year…


For the second time in six years, the Ateneo Blue Eagles under head coach Tab Baldwin, have slayed a giant.


The first was in 2017 when they defeated a juggernaut of a La Salle team that had a Ben Mbala. And now, they took down a UP team that had some of the best position players in college basketball.


Granted that UP lost Zav Lucero to injury. But injuries are part of the game. And yet, there was that poignant and bittersweet moment when UP allowed him to take the free throw after Ateneo was whistled for a late technical foul after they rushed to the court with 0.7 seconds left. It was not the send-off he wanted, but it will be treated with respect.


Ateneo, perhaps taking a cue from Argentina during the FIFA World Cup Finals where the Albiceleste overwhelmed France for much of the first 80 minutes, the Blue Eagles jumped all over UP from the get-go and put up a sizeable lead, beat back rallies, and even posted higher leads.


Like France, the inevitable UP run came. 


However, Ateneo, like Argentina, found a higher gear and like they did for the first 25 minutes, played flat out suffocating defense to win, 75-68, to take back the title they lost in devastating fashion in Season 84. They blitzed UP right from the start and never allowed the Fighting Maroons to dictate the tempo.


You know what they say about payback.


Ateneo began to play much better in the second round after the loss to National University. 


What made this feat incredible is this was an Ateneo team that was significantly weaker and less experienced from the Season 84 squad. The Blue Eagles played the underdog role to the hilt. And it isn’t every day Ateneo is labelled as one.


Like the win against Mbala and company, this was a true One Big Fight.


This was the first Ateneo team to lose their defense of a championship and return the next season to win it all.  


Ateneo is the first team since National University to lose Game One of the finals series and comeback to win it all (the Bulldogs turned the trick in Season 77).


Like in 1988, when La Salle was making noises about snatching the crown atop Ateneo’s head, the season ended with the blue and white on top and a long banner unfurled that read; “Look who’s number one.”


Number one indeed.


This was for the faithful and the unbelievers like me. 


This is to reinforce that saying “Trust in Tab” and I never will question that hereafter. He has taken the team to six consecutive finals and won four. He repaid his losses to Aldin Ayo and now, Goldwyn Monteverde, in spades. 


With the trophy back in Loyola Heights – the 12th UAAP trophy that goes with the 14 seniors crowns won in the NCAA – forevermore, Blue Eagle the King.



Sunday, November 6, 2022

Ateneo- La Salle Round 2 Season 85


                        One Big Fight is More Than A Cheer

By Rick Olivares


It is a huge win – this 68-54 triumph over La Salle. One of the biggest all season. This is the game and the favorable result that I hope – as an Ateneo alumnus and supporter – turns the season around.


At the start of the season I didn’t think that the Blue Eagles would win the title. Compete, yes. Winning it? That isn’t a given. It has to be earned. 


I didn’t think the line-up is good enough. The talent is there but they do not have experience. I essentially boiled it down to two things that could bring the team across the finish line despite the lack of experience --- hunger and heart. 

I would say it is a combination of talent and skill, experience, coaching and we have one of the best of the bestest coaches, as well as hunger and heart. Especially the last two – hunger and heart.


That was sorely missing against National University in the second round loss. That is what makes NU dangerous. They are willing to pound the ball inside and rebound like there is no tomorrow. Those guys are fearless. Bleeping throwback basketball. 


Against NU, it seemed as if it was only BJ Andrade willing to go toe-to-toe. 


Whatever happened to that One Big Fight?


Sure we are in rebuilding mode. Well, NU has been in rebuilding mode these last two seasons. Consider who they lost from top to bottom. And yet, here they are – pre-season champions and challenging for a title with a budget far less than Ateneo’s, La Salle’s, and UP’s. And with a foreign student-athlete who isn’t dominating. Chew on that.


It doesn’t help that Angelo Kouame is not 100%, but injuries are part of the game. And it is tough for La Salle to be without Schonny Winston and a less than 100% Philips brothers. 


I have been critical of the offense in the last several years for its penchant for bombing away from the outside and eschewing an inside attack. 


I have nothing against spreading the floor; the Blue Eagles wrote the book on that in college hoops. I have problems with it when they close to the basket then and yet, throw the ball out. I can understand it is a tall player meeting you in the lane, but when there is no challenge – and this happened several times against La Salle and lots of times this past and the previous season. 


I know that I am not as learned as the coaches but it doesn’t make sense to me to not go with the high percentage shot. 


That is why when say, Gio Chiu, goes out to meet the ball or to set a screen, I think it is a wasted opportunity when he isn’t a threat and opponents know he will pass the ball. 


Clumsy, awkward, or not, if Gio attacks he will prevent double teams on Angelo Kouame and open some space for the shooters. 


Provided he can find that confidence… 


Okay, onto the win over La Salle.


The reason why I say it is huge is this – La Salle led early on then coughed it up, Ateneo led then coughed it up, the Blue Eagles went on a tear, and then repulsed a scorching rally by the Green Archers to get the win.


That is what you hope to be a character building win whether Schonny Winston was present or not. 


And the other saving grace has been the half-time adjustment – an Ateneo patent since Norman Black was sheriff in these parts.


I am glad they fixed that over dribbling where they waste all these precious seconds and they take shots with the shot clock winding down.


The rotation was shorter and when others faltered, the starters went right back in. That’s good and bad, but it is winning time. Time to jockey for that favorable playoff position. 


So it is a win that gives hope. A win they should build on. 


Ateneo can very well not win it this season or even in the next few (well, we will be losing more players next year). I know that you cannot win them all. All you can ask is to fight to the last minute. 


That is why there is the cheer, “One Big Fight.” It is more than a clever cheer. The teams of yore were known for that. And the current Blue Eagles team could have it. They need to dig deep.        


Because more than ever, they will need it in this challenge of a season.




Sunday, October 9, 2022

My Thoughts About Ateneo’s 1st Round Loss to DLSU

               My Thoughts About Ateneo’s 1st Round Loss to DLSU

By Rick Olivares


When Ateneo’s guards – Forthsky Padrigao and Gab Gomez – faltered towards the end of the Ateneo-La Salle match, that saw the Green Archers snap a seven-match losing skid to the Blue Eagles for 83-78 win, I had this thought.


Well, it’s from the NBA during Kobe Bryant’s rookie season when he threw up an airball against the San Antonio Spurs that subsequently gave the result the latter’s way.


The late Los Angeles Lakers’ color commentator Chick Hearn said, “That’s okay, young man, you will make many more of those in the future.”


Was he prescient? Because we all know what Bryant turned out to be.


We aren’t suggesting that Padrigao is the second coming of Bryant. Merely an analogy.


He was thrust into the starting role with the sudden departure of SJ Belangel and Tyler Tio. While he had always shown his basketball skills. With a bit more experience, Forthsky will figure things out. Remember, Matt Nieto was a junior when he turned his game around and led Ateneo to a three-peat. 


How you deal with results like this depends on how you look at the game. If you go into this thinking that we should win it then it smacks of disrespect to La Salle. After all, they did win the D-League. You just cannot say, “kaya natin.” They can say the same thing too. Learn to temper expectations. It will serve you better.


After all, this is a rebuilding year. The two ball handlers this year – Padrigao and Gab Gomez – did not see a lot of minutes in the previous season. And for all intents and purposes, Paul Garcia is a rookie.  


Having said that, La Salle showed the rest of the league how to play Ateneo by sending two defenders – Ben Philips and Penny Estacio -- towards Forthsky Padrigao. 


Yet, Padrigao was still able to beat them and get to the basket. It’s nice to see that one-man press breaker in the mold of LA Tenorio, Kiefer Ravena, Matt Nieto, and SJ Belangel. 


Once the Green Archers got into foul trouble they abandoned that. 


However, when Chris Koon handled the ball, they blitzed him again. Unfortunately, he is not a very good ball handler. Ditto with Joshua Lazaro. High dribble. Slow. Panics when the double team comes. 


Maybe have another be the primary press breaker then have Koon or Lazaro be the secondary. But asking them to bring up the ball for about 50 feet is inviting trouble. As a result, Koon was largely ineffective. With every turnover, it told of his confidence. 


I am sure he’ll get better at it. Am just not sure if it is this season. 


Since Gab Gomez is being used for that court general position, then go ahead. If not, give Jacob Lao a try. 


The execution down the stretch hurt. Turnovers, bad plays, bad shots (and not because of La Salle’s defense because the Blue Eagles were throwing up some bad shots). Thirty-seven attempts from LaLa Land? La Salle got killed inside the lane. The Blue Eagles should have kept at it. 


That play where Padrigao threw up a long one, why wasn’t there a screen? Unless BJ Andrade was injured, I thought that he should have been on the floor.  


Watching Gio Tiu is an exercise in patience. Let’s be honest about this, the lead shrinks when he is on the court. He once more got lost in the shuffle that even when he partnered with Angelo Kouame, they gave up an offensive rebound. People shouldn’t be applauding in relief when he scores. People should applaud him for a job well done. 


Am not sure if it's a skill. I think it is more mental. 


I’ve seen this before with Ford Arao, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, and Chibueze Ikeh who were all maddening to watch until a switch was flicked. 


Speaking of mental, if losing to La Salle in the first round is the price to see Paul Garcia snap out of his stupor, I will take it.


But he scored only three points off 1-4 shooting. Yes, he did. But you could see the way he played when he was left on the floor by Coach Tab Baldwin, he was into it. He was moving better. He will get better from this. 


Speaking of getting better, Kai Ballungay played his best game so far with his 19 points and 10 rebounds that complemented Kouame’s 22 points and 12 rebounds. 


Gab Gomez played well too (except for those two galling passes).


So there are pluses to take away. And besides, it is only a real loss if one does not learn from it.


If anything, I have learned to trust the process with Coach Tab. 





Saturday, May 14, 2022

History repeating... Learning from the finals loss and Ateneo bouncing back

History repeating.

By Rick Olivares


Let’s get this out of the way… much deserved championship and congratulations to the UP Fighting Maroons. They did it and how.


And as painful as it is to say, let’s give it that try again in Season 85, Ateneo Blue Eagles. I still remain proud but am hurting just like you.


History repeated itself.


No, not the 13-0 team losing in the final game of the elimination round then in the first game of the finals. That is established.


Two months before Season 84 began, a player within the Blue Eagles asked with ominous foreboding… 


“What can we do to help Jolo, Gian, and BJ graduate with a championship,” I was asked.


The player referred to Season 77 of the juniors tournament in 2016. 


It isn’t like they haven’t won, but a title is always a nice graduation gift to one’s self and the Ateneo community.


Heading into Season 77, Ateneo lost three of their starting five in Matt and Mike Nieto, and Marc Salandanan. Enzo Joson could still play but was knocked out by academics.  


Left to hold the fort were Jolo Mendoza, BJ Andrade, Gian Mamuyac, and Sean Ildefonso. The young players in the squad included SJ Belangel, Jason Credo, RV Berjay, and Dave Ildefonso. 


The Ateneo Blue Eaglets, defending champions, were bounced by De La Salle Zobel, 75-68, in the step-ladder format. 


My answer to that inquiry was to make sure that everyone was on the same page and that everyone believed that they can win it all, that when players are not getting playing time, they should talk to their teammates and make everyone realize that whatever one does – big or small will help to the overall effort.


The cracks were there all right. 


As much as I believe in team play, you still need your stars to stand up and be counted when it is gut check time. 


Ateneo bushwhacked UP in the first game of the season. Since then, the Fighting Maroons had found their verve.


I didn’t expect an undefeated season but was pleasantly surprised when they were on the verge of doing so. 


I thought that NU and UE showed teams how to beat Ateneo… a fast moving team that beat them to the boards and in hustle plays, the physicality of their play. Furthermore, was the inconsistency of the players. 


In the first game of the season – the win over UP – six players did very well – Dave Ildefonso, Angelo Kouame, Raffy Verano, Belangel, Mamuyac, and Mendoza.


Against FEU, it was Dave and Tyler Tio.


Against Adamson, it was Angelo and Tyler. 


Against La Salle, it was Angelo, Dave, and Gian.


Against NU, it was Dave, Angelo, SJ, and Tyler.


Against UE, it was Dave, Angelo, SJ, and Gian. 


Against UST, Tyler and BJ carried the cudgels. 

In the second round against the Green Archers, it was SJ and Gian.


Against the Red Warriors, it was BJ, Angelo, and SJ.


Against the Growling Tigers in a monstrous blowout win, six players scored in double digits. 


Facing the Bulldogs, Dave and Angelo played well.


Against the Soaring Falcons, it was Angelo and Matthew Daves.


Against the Tamaraws, it was Verano and Tio. 


Against the Fighting Maroons to end the elimination round, it was Angelo, SJ, and Dave.


When Season 82 ended, I wrote back then, how Ateneo replaces Thirdy Ravena in the three-spot will spell the success of a four-peat.


Enter Dwight Ramos. Pandemic happens. Exit Dwight Ramos.


Dave Ildefonso returned to Ateneo after spending his first two years of college in NU and showed that he could be that man to spot Ravena. But he was largely inconsistent. And on the big stage, he wilted.


If you look at La Salle after Season 79, they lost Jeron Teng. And that vacancy in the three-spot was too glaring to fill even if they had MVP Ben Mbala. La Salle was also depowered by the loss of Jason Perkins and Julian Sargent. 


Ateneo, after Season 82 lost four-fifths of their starting five, their sixth man, and that guy supposed to replace Ravena. 


When you think about it, the only players left with significant exposure from previous seasons were Kouame, Belangel, and Verano. Everyone else is either new or didn’t get much playing time. So that meant they were on the level with UP.


But UP had more in terms of size and personnel. 


UP’s size, physicality, and defense gave Ateneo fits. But they had the studs who carried their previous teams like Ricci Rivero (La Salle), CJ Cansino (UST), Malik Diouf who was the anti-Kouame (CEU), Carl Tamayo (NU), and Joel Cagulangan (LSGH). 


They had built themselves with big recruit signings but also talented stud transferees like Cansino, Cagulangan, Rivero, and Diouf. Not to mention CJ Catapusan who played well for Adamson. 


Ateneo had come unglued after the Game 1 loss. The team that was so steady in the endgame found themselves in that unfamiliar situation.


One can even postulate that losing to UP at the end of the second round was a fluke. But when they took Game 1, no it wasn’t. They had gained the full measure of Ateneo and found that confidence. 


As for the Blue Eagles, the team that played unselfish ball was unable to mostly find someone who wanted that ball, who needed that ball, and more importantly, shoot that ball. That traditional UP killer in Tyler Tio was silent. 


UP had been knocking on the door to greatness over the last few years. Many would mock Bo Perasol when he moved back to his alma mater to coach and build UP’s program. While Goldwin Monteverde deserves a lot of credit for his outstanding coaching which has been on display since his days at Chiang Kai Shek, Adamson, NU, and now, UP, Perasol had his fingerprints on all the players who are in their current roster. And this victory also belongs to him. 


The Fighting Maroons ended Ateneo’s long win streak and their finals win streak. They are truly deserving champions.


Ateneo just ran into a hungrier and better team. 


And so history was made and history repeated itself sadly for Mendoza, Mamuyac, and Andrade along with graduating players Tio and Verano. 


Ateneo can look to learn the lessons of college basketball history.


Dave Ildefonso had a rough and tumble finals. Disappearing badly in both losses. 


Maybe, he can talk to Enrico Villanueva and how he bounced back from the 2001 finals when he wilted in Game 3 and La Salle had its four-peat. Villanueva came back the next year with a monstrous season and Ateneo ended the Green Archers’ march to a fifth straight title.


SJ Belangel had a trying first season as the lead point guard. 


In Season 78, sans Mamu, Jolo, and BJ, he played alongside Kai Sotto, Credo, Berjay, Joaqui Manuel, and Dave. They lost in the Final Four to FEU who had RJ Abarrientos, LJ Gonzales, Xyrus Torres, Daniel Celzo, and Royce Alforque.


If SJ wants to graduate with a championship (and he did in high school in Season 79), he must elevate his game and play with a manic consistency. 


Ateneo will be left with players who got good playing time in Chris Koon, Dave, Joshua Lazaro, and Daves (not to mention Angelo). How they elevate themselves is anyone’s guess. 


And here’s a shopping list…


They really need to work on those free throws and rebounding. They need to work on the quality of those passes. The search for a proper four spot player and a back-up to Angelo is sorely needed. They need to get taller, faster. I really wish they played faster. So much for playing small ball when you can’t really run. In the end, it was Ateneo chasing the well-spaced shooters of UP.


Ateneo must look to the lessons of 1988 when they were unable to defend their back-to-back titles, 2003 when they lost to FEU in the Finals, in 2013 the season after the five-peat. 


The common denominator is after being unable to defend a title, Ateneo is not able to return to the Big Dance. It took a few years until they had sufficient veterans to lay siege to the title. 


Maybe it is time to break that streak and make history once again.


But by God, what a run. At the end, all you can do is tip your hat to UP and Ateneo for a finals well and agonizingly played. It could have gone either way and that is all you ever ask.


Thanks, Ateneo. 


Thanks Coach Tab and the coaching staff. To all the players and those who are graduating in Tyler, Raffy, Gian, BJ, and Jolo. 








Sunday, May 8, 2022

UP sticks it to the champs as Ateneo self-destructs

 What should have been a win turned out to be a painful 81-74 loss for Ateneo. 


Give credit to UP for not giving up.


As for Ateneo.


There is a litany of bad play that can be summed up in three words – outplayed, outhustled, and outcoached. Out-everything'd if there is such a word. 


The Blue Eagles played like rookies while the Fighting Maroons played like veterans. UP guarded the pick and roll well and rotated out quickly. They made Ateneo pay for packing in the lane – and I don’t know why they do this (is it to protect Angelo Kouame from foul trouble). 


The bad signs were there early on when BJ Andrade gave up two quick boners that allowed UP into the game.


Even worse, SJ Belangel was mostly invisible. Yes, he scored 17 points but he was invisible when the game counted.


Whatever Ateneo was doing to opposing point guards early in the tournament they were given a dose of in this game. SJ Belangel couldn’t get the ball. Tyler Tio was unable to get any daylight to shoot and he reverted to his old self of dribbling away the clock with nothing happening. 


Then Gio Chiu came in an UP got back into the game. Gio plays well against smaller players but against taller players. I do not know why they use him as a press breaker when he has bad hands and turns the ball over at the first sign of trouble. 


Dave Ildefonso clearly was a rookie in his first finals. He had no confidence going inside the basket and was oft indecisive and turn over prone. Having him and Chiu on the floor was hurting the team big time. And Chiu, not being able to spell Angelo is hurting the team. He cannot grab a rebound even if his life depended on it. 


And Angelo Kouame. I have no idea why he needs to put the ball on the floor. I have no idea why he cannot dunk the ball in traffic. This is what happens when they are asked to rebound and kick the ball out. Take the goddam ball to the rack. Have we been watching too many Golden State Warriors highlights?


In spite of their bad play, the Blue Eagles had a chance to win it when they posted a 12-point lead. But a bad one-footed shot by SJ, Chiu bottling it and some ticky tacky fouls saw UP gain life.


And this is the worst free throw shooting Ateneo team I have ever seen. The worst. At times, Ateneo is its own worst enemy. How about those last two plays in regulation? 


I question the defense out in the perimeter. Why are you staying on the side so that you can wait for the help defense then trap? Maybe closer to the basket, yes, but not too far out. SJ got killed by this. 


UP has figured out Ateneo. Someone like Ricci Rivero drives to the basket, bowls over players like ten pins then kicks the ball out to an open shooter. You can complain about lapses in officiating but sorry… that will not change the game. As the game wore on, the Blue Eagles shrunk from the challenge. No one wanted the ball. WTF, right?


The last team to make Ateneo shrink this way was FEU. 


You know how bad this was when you cannot get the once vaunted bench out because they do not have the height to deal with UP’s frontline. Yes, we’re good enough to play the FEUs and Adamsons of this world but struggle with tall athletic frontlines. Imagine if La Salle’s Bright Nwanko and Ben Phillips played well. 


UP has shown the rest of the league how to beat Ateneo. Field tall and athletic players who will swarm Angelo. 


Now, UP is poised to end their title-less streak and end Ateneo’s championship run. And how many came away thinking this one will be all over come Wednesday? 


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Raffy Verano: An Old Blood & Guts Comeback


Raffy Verano: An Old Blood & Guts Comeback

By Rick Olivares


During Season 80, La Salle Green Archer Andrei Caracut offered a low five to Raffy Verano who was then in his sophomore year. Verano ignored him.


It wasn’t that he was a bad sport. When the whistle blows, Verano is laser focused on playing the game and winning. In a team that had demonstrative players like the Nieto brothers and Thirdy Ravena, Verano learned well. 


Especially from Mike Nieto.


Undersized but plays much bigger than his height. All heart. All hustle. All about team.


In Season 82, when he missed the tournament owing to academics, Verano was in the Big dome to watch his teammates take another title at the expense of UST. During the halftime break, Verano was at the lobby grinning. But inside, he was flagellating himself for not being there.


“I gotta get back and help the team,” he said.


In a team with SJ Belangel, Angelo Kouame, and Dave Ildefonso, one can be overlooked. But Raffy cannot be overlooked with his heads up play. 


With the Far Eastern University Tamaraws making another run and hoping to stop Ateneo’s win streak for the season at 12, Verano came up huge. He drilled a step back three from the left corner pocket. He faked a pass then drove hard against Tamaraws center Emman Ojuola and a defender who came out to help.


Then Angelo Kouame found him with an entry pass which he used for an undergoal stab against FEU’s Daniel Celzo. 


Opponent’s run doused, Verano let out a yell. Mr. Old Blood and Guts had come out to play. 


He went on to finish with a team high 17 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block in a 70-53 Ateneo win; the squad's 13th straight for the year. He even took a charge from Patrick Sleat and swiped the ball away from a driving LJ Gonzales. 


By Season 81, his junior year, Raffy was on the starting five taking over from Vince Tolentino and he manned the slot with aplomb. 


When asked if he would like to score a lot of points, he admitted, “Yes, but it’s more fun winning.”


“Sitting a year out was an ugly feeling,” Raffy said during an interview in October 2021 when the league seemed unsure and uncertain, “I was determined not to go through that again. I worked on what I needed to and got myself back in shape. Season 84 will be my comeback year.”







Season 79





Season 80





Season 81





Season 84






Since Mike Nieto left, no one has more skid and burn marks, and taken charges. 


Promise kept.


“My dad,” Raffy added then, “taught me not to make promises I cannot keep.”


Earlier in the season, he looked to have hurt his leg. He skipped a game but came back strong. 


“It’s my comeback year,” he reminded me. 


How’s that being in a team of tough guys?


“We’re a team. We all like winning.”






Chicco Briones commits to UP

Chicco Briones commits to UP

By Rick Olivares


Chicco Briones, the 19-year old 6’6” son of former PBA player Lowell Briones is transferring from Carroll College in Montana, USA to the University of Philippines.


The younger Briones, who played one year for Carroll College, will be serving his residency next year and be eligible to play for UP in Season 86.


The elder Briones played for Mobiline, Sta. Lucia, Red Bull, and Coca Cola in the PBA from 1997-2022.


“This is four years in the making,” bared UP Basketball Program Head Bo Perasol. Chicco was able to join UP during their training in Las Vegas several years ago.


Despite many Philippine college teams vying for his services, Briones chose UP.


“Why not?” said Chicco about joining Goldwin Monteverde’s talented squad. “I am privileged to play for the best team in the UAAP. UP has a great program in basketball and academics. To be called a scholar ng bayan and be in a great environment is important. I am excited to play for the Fighting Maroons.”


Chicco was born in Cebu and went to Ateneo de Cebu until seventh grade after which the family migrated to the United States. 


The shooting guard played for Sierra Vista High School in California where he averaged 18 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. He was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player.  


In 11 matches played for the Carroll College Saints in US NAIA competition, Briones averaged 2.0 points. 


Monteverde is excited about the prospect of seeing Briones team up with the 6’7” Carl Tamayo. 


“He can play the guard position and create mismatches for us,” noted Monteverde. “He is a very good shooter plus dito siya nag start ng basketball and he will not be surprised by the pace and physicality we play in the Philippines. He will be a great addition in terms of height (to our team).”


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Ateneo-Adamson: A Deeper Rivalry Than You Think

         Ateneo-Adamson: A Deeper Rivalry Than You Think

By Rick Olivares


When the Ateneo de Manila entered the UAAP in 1978 (Season 40 if you want to be precise), the defending champion at that time was Adamson. 


The Blue Eagles saw many key players not come back after the ill-fated finish of the final NCAA drive of 1977 that culminated in a loss in the championship game to San Beda.


Among those who bowed out because they didn’t want to play in the UAAP were star forward Steve Watson who went to Australia and guard Jojo Gamboa who decided to coach Ateneo’s PAYA team among others. There was unhappiness in the way their NCAA tenure ended and they certainly weren’t happy going to what was deemed a “lesser league” in the UAAP.


That 1978, the Falcons (sans the adjective “Soaring”) looked like a juggernaut under head coach Moises “Barok” Urbiztondo as they looked to annex their second consecutive title. 


Obviously, the Blue Eagles were waylaid in their maiden year in college basketball’s junior circuit and they finished with a 0-12 record.


However, Coach Barok would make one indirect contribution to Ateneo that would lead to its current dominance. But we’ll get to that later. 


Adamson returned to the finals of Season 41 where unfortunately, they lost by a whisker, 86-84, to the UE Warriors led by Rudy Distrito and Alex Tan – who both went to the PBA -- and a young point guard named Derrick Pumaren who has gone on to make a name for himself in coaching.


Following the finals loss, the Falcons did not return to the championship game but continued to have a good team; one that often had Ateneo’s number. In fact, during the 1986 season, Ateneo was on course for a championship seat when the Louie Alas and Nandy Garcia-led Adamson five tripped them in back-to-back games (to close the first round and to open the second round; costly losses that derailed the team’s ambitions). That is until 1987 when the pendulum finally swung the Blue Eagles’ way.


It would be another seven years before the San Marcelino squad reasserted itself as the dominant bird in the UAAP. This time, they had Marlou Aquino, EJ Fiehl, and Kenneth Duremdes in tow.


Over at the juniors level, Adamson were back-to-back champions in 1976-77 but come Season 41, Ateneo stopped them cold and bagged a three-peat from 1978-81 and a four-peat from Season 46-49 (1983-87).


Adamson wasn’t done and they broke Ateneo’s four-peat with a six-peat in juniors competition from 1988-94. When the Blue Eaglets regained the upper hand in 1995, Ateneo went on to cart home 12 championship trophies; the most in that span and in league history. 


Towards the end of the 1990s, Coach Barok made one last return to Adamson. He also recommended that a colleague of his take over from Charlie Dy who was coaching the Baby Falcons at that time. 


Dy, who is a sports super agent today, didn’t like the back room wheeling and dealing so he resigned. His sudden departure forced Lumeng Tenorio to seek Dy’s help in moving her son, one Lewis Alfred “LA” Tenorio who was then playing for the Baby Falcons, to another school. Dy sent him over to Ato Badolato’s San Beda Red Cubs. 


Had LA Tenorio stayed and possibly moved up to the senior Falcons, Ateneo Blue Eagle history might be different. That is because Tenorio’s San Beda teammate, Magnum Membrere, was also instrumental in convincing LA to go to Ateneo for college. 


And by the time Tenorio was ready for the seniors division, Ateneo’s basketball program was in place. And by 1999, Ateneo seized the advantage not only versus Adamson but the entire league. Since then, Ateneo went to win nine league championships and are chasing a 10th this Season 84. And at one point, the Falcons suffered a 29-match losing streak to Ateneo. 


After snapping the skid, Ateneo went on another pair of runs. The current Blue Eagles win streak versus the Soaring Falcons is seven. 


Now, if you look at the list of coaches during the 79th season of the UAAP, only one head tactician is still with his original team – Tab Baldwin with Ateneo.


Nash Racela was the coach of FEU and is now with Adamson; his first season in San Marcelino. Racela, incidentally, is a product of Ateneo. 


Derrick Pumaren was with the University of the East Red Warriors but is now in his first year of his second stint with La Salle.


The question entering that Season 79 was, “Can anyone stop the Ben Mbala led La Salle Green Archers?”


Not for tournament. However, the next season, it was all Baldwin and the Blue Eagles.


The question four years later is, “Can anyone stop Ateneo?”


Adamson, on the crest of a four-match win streak, is one of the last three teams to stop Ateneo from grabbing an outright final seat. 


These Soaring Falcons of Racela have the makings of another talented team sans Filipinos born overseas. One not seen since Alex Nuyles, Eric Camson, Rodney Brondial, Lester Alvarez, and Jerick CaƱada.


Perhaps even more satisfying for Adamson alumni and fans is the team is homegrown and there is continuity. Mike Fermin, the architect of those talented Baby Falcons teams is with the seniors staff. 


His presence ensures he learns from a top coach like Racela and that he is able to funnel their talent to the college squad.


Unfortunately for Adamson, after a calm and composed first period, Ateneo ratcheted up the defense and held the Soaring Falcons to a measly seven points in the second period while dropping 20 of their own. The game had been blown wide open and there would be no spirited rallies for Adamson.


And there was a little run in between two former Blue Eaglets teammates in Dave Ildefonso and Joaquin Jaymalin who is now with Adamson. 


Jaymalin is the third former Blue Eaglet to don the Adamson colors after Roy Literal and Chris Eusebio. 


Ateneo won, 91-57, to go to 12-0 while Adamson fell to 5-7; their first loss in five matches this second round. 


Despite the loss, the stage is set for another long and arduous rivalry with the squad from San Marcelino. 


And college basketball will be better for it.