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 16, 2017

Young basketeers you should look out for

Young basketeers you should look out for
by rick olivares

With the SM-National Basketball Training Center National High School Championships in full swing, some 700 schools from all over the country are battling to make it to the finals in Manila this coming March.

In Olongapo City last Sunday, January 15, some of the city’s best battled in the quarterfinals.

Kalalake National High School defeated Old Cabanlan High School, 72-65, to open the knockout phase.

The Columban High School Knights piped their arch-rival and city defending champion, St. Joseph’s Crusaders, 71-69. The two schools, according to Territory Head Cesar Lobo, are Olongapo’s version of the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry with Columban wearing the blue color while St. Joseph’s donning the green and white jerseys.

One of the other matches saw Gordon College dumping AMA Computer University, 63-5. One more match was taking place as of press time.

Of the first two matches, some players who should merit watching my coaches from metro Manila’s top college programs include the following players.

Kalalake National High School
Menari Baturiano – 6’2” forward-center and is 17 years old. A growing big man who should he selected to play in Manila could play the four spot. He can bring down the ball meaning he has dribbling ability. Has an array of moves in the paint – can spin around the baseline, can drive towards the basket. Strong in putbacks. Needs to be more intimidating on defense though.

Gerald Manalo – 5’11” small forward and is 17 years old. A forward who likes to attack. Can sidestep oppose ng defenders and glide in for a lay-up. Needs to work on his perimeter shot though.

Joemari Manalastas – 5’3” point guard and is 16 years old. Will remind one of the University of the Philippines’ Diego Dario. Can shoot, drive, pass, has great vision and can hit that chest pass on the run from just past the half-court line. Plays defense too. Unlike Dario who has a terrific outside shot, this kid needs to work on it. But he has range.

Columban College
Aldrin Malonzo – 5’11” off-guard and 16 years old. A predator on defense. Makes good reads and raids the passing lanes. Can finish the break and likes to drive to the basket.

The city championships will end this January with the regionals taking place in February. The finals will be played in Manila at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

San Beda College is the defending national champion. The NBTC is the official grassroots program of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

A blue-green rivalry in Olongapo

A blue-green rivalry in Olongapo
by rick olivares

Last Sunday, I went to Olongapo City to watch the quarterfinals matches of the city’s national high school championships of the SM-National Basketball Training Center. This wonderful program is now on its 10th year and is an official grassroots program of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

The territory head, Cesar Lobos, told Coach Eric Altamirano and I that we were in for a treat because the city’s two arch-rival high schools – the Columban College Knights and St. Joseph’s College Crusaders – are their version of Ateneo-La Salle.

The latter, who incidentally wear green and white, are the defending Olongapo City champions. Their rivals, predictably, don the blue and white colors. When the two clash, the crowds come out. Although it does get intense, this quarterfinals clash between the two undefeated squads (both were at 4-0) brought out the crowd and well, some throwing of coins and bottle caps on the court after a foul was called late in the game on St. Joseph’s bull strong power forward center, Roland Basa; his fourth that put his side into penalty.

The Crusaders were without their center and one player. The former was nursing an injury while the latter arrived only during the second half of the match due to an unavoidable matter and wasn’t allowed to check into the match.

For two quarters, the manpower deficit didn’t seem to trouble St. Joseph’s as they raced to a pair of 14-point leads while repelling a pair of Columban uprisings. The Knights twice cut the deficit to four and three points respectively only for the Crusaders to respond with a salvo of their own that gave them more breathing room.

The Knights almost single-handedly came roaring back because of swingman Aldrin Malonzo who repeatedly picked the pockets of the Crusaders’ point guards – the eponymously named Ray Allen Calma and his 14-year old back-up Christian Nedrow – on five occasions. He also swiped the ball away from the Crusaders’ small forward Emarson Vinoya twice much to the dismay of St. Joseph’s coach, Randy Calma.

In the third quarter, sparked by some big shots by Malonzo and their court general, Kyle Cavinta, Columban finally took the lead with an undergoal and-one by Kenneth Dimalanta, 46-44. As they did in the first half, St. Joseph’s answered with a run that gave them 59-52 lead by third period’s end.

In the fourth, St. Joseph’s poor transition defense and inability to stop the drives of Malonzo and Cavinta and the medium range shots by Dimalanta and Mark Daza saw Columban wrest the lead for good. Columban held off the defending champions for a 71-69 win to go to 5-0 while their victims absorbed their first loss in five matches. They still advance where they will face opponents in the crossover semi-finals this time against undefeated Kalalake National High School (5-0) while Columban faces the 4-1 Gordon College.

Although the match was intense, the only physicality was an inadvertent elbow by Cavinta that merited a technical foul. And of course, there was that momentary game stoppage where supporters of the Crusaders threw some coins and bottle caps on the court following a foul called on Basa that put St. Joseph’s into early penalty situation in the fourth period.

Other than that, the game I’d say was marked by great sportsmanship by both squads where they helped up fallen opponents and even a few back taps after a foe nailed a huge shot.

After the match, both squads, all with genuine smiles, posed for pictures then headed out separately through the Main Gate into town for lunch. Maybe it’s also because they know they could still meet each other in the finals…. assuming they hurdle their semi-finals assignments.

Not bad for a rivalry in this northern town.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Looking at Mahindra’s win over Meralco

Looking at Mahindra’s win over Meralco
by rick olivares

Following last Wednesday night’s 105-92 setback to Mahindra Floodbuster, I am hard-pressed to figure out what’s wrong with the Meralco Bolts.

New players in the mix. Yeah.

Inconsistency. For sure.

Lack of a strong inside presence. Definitely.

But here’s where there is something wrong with that postulate.

If you look at the statistics, the Bolts scored more inside points, 36-22; slightly less second chance points, 14-15; more fastbreak points, 11-3; more points off turnovers, 24-12; finished with more assists 26-21; had more steals, 9-1; and finished with fewer fouls, 20-23.

So what happened?

Mahindra shot better. Let me correct that – way much better. They hit at 61% accuracy clip from two-point range, and drilled 14 more triples than Meralco. Yes, 14 more. The Floodbuster hit 21 three-pointers to the mere seven of the Bolts. Nine of Mahindra’s players hit triples. No one was hotter than Zam Paniamogan who found the bottom of the net seven of nine tries for a total of 25 points.

The pistolero of Jose Rizal University seems to have found not only a team but a spot in the PBA after nothing happening in his rookie year.

It’s really difficult to win when one side is shooting the daylights out of the gym despite your best efforts to stop them.

Look here… Paniamogan was an insane 82% from the field. Russel Escoto scored 10 points and was a perfect 100% from the field. And Nico Salva who seems to have found a home with Mahindra, hit 71% of his shots!

On the Bolts’ part, Cliff Hodge played one of his worst games. In 34-plus minutes, he only tallied one point, but added six assists and four rebounds and a blocked shot.

The rookies -- Ed Daquioag and Jonathan Grey --- had sup-par games. With six Mahindra in double digits, Meralco had a tough time with the evergreen Reynel Hugnatan and sophomores Chris Newsome and Baser Amer chipping in double digits. Hugnatan since his Governors’ Cup renaissance has been on a tear doing it all on both ends of the court and from three-point range and inside the lane. Consistently if I might add.

Four Meralco players (actually five if you include Grey but he was only 1-2) hit 50% or better from the field! That includes Hugnatan, Newsome, and Amer. The fourth player is actually Bryan Faundo who played well but finished with only nine points.

With some guys missing and Mahindra hitting most of their shots, it was lights out for Meralco that fell to 2-6.

But for now, I guess it is safe to say that their imports the previous year made a massive difference.

So I am thinking that it’s one step backward and hopefully, for Meralco, two steps forward as their younger players soak in more experience and get better.

And when their imports return.