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.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A dramatic turn of events for 2023 FIBA World Cup hosting

A dramatic turn of events for FIBA World Cup hosting
by rick olivares

A major tweak in the presentation bid. A change of scenery. A different kind of ending.

When the Philippines’ lost the bid for the hosting of the 2019 FIBA World Cup to China during a presentation in Tokyo last August 7, 2015, the Filipinos retreated to their hotel feeling sad and distraught. “We felt we had won the bid,” recounted Alfredo S. Panlilio; president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas of that day. “In fact, we still feel that way.”

The Philippine delegation returned to its hotel in Tokyo and the atmosphere was one of sadness. “At that time, we all thought that the next shot we could get at hosting was 2027,” added Panlilio. “MVP (SBP Chairman Emeritus Manuel V. Pangilinan) joked, ‘ang tatanda na natin niyan? Kaya pa ba natin?’”

 As the story goes, like a phoenix from the ashes…

The next opportunity to bid presented itself and the SBP leapt at the opportunity. “We just needed to learn from our mistakes,” added federation executive director Renauld “Sonny” Barrios. “We looked at how China won it and it was from a technical standpoint. So how do we adjust and compensate for that? We studied a lot of things and asked how to make everything better this second time around.”

The inspiration for the renewed bid came from the world’s most popular sport – football The 2002 FIFA World Cup in particular wherein Japan and South Korea jointly hosted the sport’s premier event.

“It was MVP who thought about the joint hosting,” revealed Panlilio. “We were in a meeting in Hong Kong and initially it was with Indonesia and Singapore. But we received some advice from FIBA to maybe look into including Japan. And they were only too happy to participate.”

The result was a bid that was infinitely more compelling – to make a mark in what is considered as a region dominated by football with the promise of growth for basketball, the potential to smash attendance records, the varying cultures, and the opportunity to put on the best show for the sport.

After Russia and Turkey pulled out of the bid due to other concerns, the bid came down to the Philippines-Indonesia-Japan bloc and the Argentina-Uruguay partnership.

The compelling bid?

Undoubtedly a winner.

“We liked our chances in 2015,” shared Panlilio of the presentation bid in Geneva last Saturday, December 9. “We liked it even better now. But we were optimistically cautious. Mahirap na.”

This time, when FIBA President Horacio Muratore announced that the winner was the Philippines-Indonesia-Japan bloc it was of elation. An understatement actually.

“We were very happy but within minutes, our minds began to work – what’s next?” added Panlilio. “In fact, Sonny Barrios immediately began to talk to FIBA’s technical person about what’s next. He told us to relax and enjoy our Christmas.”

“It was a good win,” added Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano who was represented by his sister, Congresswoman Pia Cayetano. “But the word that popped into my mind was ‘expensive’. This was going to be very expensive. But when this is too good an opportunity to pass up. With every peso that you spend is a peso for opportunity for our country.”

The Filipino delegation repaired to an Italian restaurant to celebrate along with their Japanese counterparts and Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Evan P. Garcia. “We had a simple Italian dinner and some wine to celebrate,” related the SBP president. “But the feeling was great. Just great. We were all smiles even days after. Winning the bid made the long flight back home even better.”

“By next year 2018, we are going to sit down with FIBA and begin to plan. And we do need to put together the local organizing committee (LOC). We would like to form a team to learn from what is going to happen in China. We need to send a team over to learn from hosting this event so we can apply that here.”

“Right now, yes, we’ll celebrate. Looking back at it – this is a great gift to the Filipino people.”

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Philippines (along with Indonesia and Japan) get to host the FIBA World Cup

The World is the Stage
by rick olivares

You must be positively giddy about the news….

The Philippines – along with Indonesia and Japan – will be hosting the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The bid, crafted after more than four months of planning, endless discussions and the wracking of one’s brains, has been given the nod. Thus, FIBA has spoken.

Thus, we rejoice.

After the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas lost the bid for the 2019 edition, the federation stayed in the game, undaunted, and came away winners for their perseverance and passion for the game.

This plan was certainly a lot more sound that saying welcome to the social media capital of the world.

Breaking attendance records. Check.
Spreading the gospel of hoops in football country (of Southeast Asia). Check.
Bringing three disparate cultures together. Check.

There are a couple of ways to look at this massive achievement by the SBP and its partner federations.

From a basketball fan’s standpoint, more than the three host nations securing automatic slots to the World Cup, this means we will get to see the national squads of the United States, Spain, Argentina, and other world powers up close. The world’s top teams are stocked and loaded with NBA stars so this massive. We get to see the galaxy of stars.

The Greek Freak flying through the air with the greatest of ease? Who wants to see him posterize some unlucky fool?

Karl-Anthony Towns, CJ McCollum, Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons, Ricky Rubio, Anthony Davis… need we say more?

This is way better than getting a meaningless NBA pre-season game. This is for the big marbles. The US might not use the tag “Dream Team” any more and rightly so but even so. This is a dream for basketball-mad Filipinos.

From a nationalist’s standpoint, the hosting of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships and the 2015 Olympic Qualifying Tournament. As the Beatles once sang, “It’s getting better all the time.”

Now the FIBA World Cup. These are the first steps to bigger things to come. The Olympics is a different one but why can’t we dream? After all, did you ever think we’d get to host these events?

The country has increasingly become a sports tourism destination along with the efforts fort triathlon and football. This is good; way good and boy, is that still an understatement.

We must laud the efforts of the SBP. Clearly the most progressive and forward thinking of all the national sports federations. It takes vision and an iron-clad will to get these things done. You can say it is easier because that’s basketball and it gets all the funding and whatnot. Well, I didn’t see the previous leaders of the sport get anything done remotely with what the current hoops leaders have done.

They helped put us on the map. Correct that, the world’s stage and I like so many other Filipinos will have a front row seat.

Friday, December 8, 2017

LPU defeats UP for Got Skills championship

LPU defeats UP for Got Skills championship
by rick olivares

It isn’t the NCAA, but this will have to do… for now.

The Lyceum of the Philippines University bagged the Milcu Sports Basketball Got Skills Elite Showcase U25 championships at the Buddha Care Gym with a stirring come-from-behind 89-81 triumph over heavily favored University of the Philippines.

The no-name LPU Pirates sported a 10-3 record against UP’s 11-2 and their big names like Bright Akhuetie, UAAP veterans JD Tungcab and Pio Longa plus highly-touted recruit Filipino-American David Murrell. Yet with their swarming defense on Akhuetie and pedal-to-the-metal attack-oriented basketball the overcame the odds to bag this prestigious college cage crown.

Battling foul trouble to its mainstays Jerwyn Guinto, Gab Valencia, Carl Lumbao, and Casper Pericas, the Pirates were kept afloat by Grecco Magbuhos and Red Rubite.

Yet, they still found themselves down by 10 points, 81-71, with 2:02 left in the game after a Murrell spin lay-up. LPU head coach Jeffrey Perlas switch from man-to-man defense to a zone that stymied UP. With Lumbao finally catching fire and after a huge triple by Magbuhos to lift LPU to the lead 84-81, UP succumbed to the pressure as they were held scoreless the rest of the way.

“We didn’t stop playing even when we were down,” said Perlas of his boys’ effort. “We wanted to keep them off balance by constantly going at them. Bright got his blocks (he finished with four) but we didn’t allow him to catch his breath.

LPU got the bulk of their points inside off lay-ups and they also put a crimp on the Fighting Maroons on the defensive end as they pick-pocketed UP’s players for a 14-3 advantage in steals leading to a 37-11 advantage in points off turnovers.

Carl Lumbao led LPU with 14 points while Grecco Magbuhos added 13 markers off the bench.

For the Fighting Maroons, Murrell topscored for the game with 30 points while Akhuetie added 19 points and 24 rebounds. Tungcab finished with 11.

The championship was sweet revenge for LPU who took it on the chin against UP that blitzed them in the elimination round, 71-50, on the Pirates’ home court in Intramuros last August 19.

“It’s a big win for us,” summed up Perlas. “And it’s boost for our program and what we hope to achieve next NCAA season.”

LPU 89 – Lumbao 14, Magbuhos 13, Garing 8, Remulla 8, Guinto 8, Cecilio 7, Rubite 7, Pericas 7, Li 6, Dionson 5, Valencia 3, Japson 2, Pido 2, Soriano 0, Salo 0, Alamo 0.

UP 81 – Murrell 30, Akhuetie 19, Tungcab 11, Madrigal 5, Ong 5, Espanola 3, Longa 3, Santiago 3, Kamga 2, Gomez De LiaƱo 0, Ang 0, Ouano 0, Artez 0, Dela Cruz 0.