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, April 26, 2010

Bleachers' Brew #206 The Trainer

This appears in the Monday April 26, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror.

The Trainer

by rick olivares

With 5:38 left in the 3rd Quarter of the match between Al Riyadi Lebanon and Smart Gilas Pilipinas in the 2009 FIBA Champions Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia, then-import CJ Giles went down with a knee injury. The American was brought near one of the exit areas of the Britama Arena where Gilas trainer Jim Saret probed the player’s knee. As a crowd of coaches and trainers from several countries gathered around, Saret began a patch-up job on Giles using tape and makeshift splints to keep his knee in place. Showing character and determination, Giles reentered the fray and helped the nationals to a pulsating 91-86 win.

“What did you do?” asked the other coaches and Saret gamely obliged.

It wasn’t just the opposing teams’ trainers who were amazed by Saret and his pre-match training with the team that others had been secretly scouting. Gilas’ Serbian coach Rajko Toroman was also amazed by Saret when he first came on board the national program as a substitute for a day. “Jim knows what to do to make the players fit and better,” said the coach who gave two thumbs up on the former tennis star. Saret never left the team since that day and has become an integral part of the Gilas program while becoming a close confidant of the coach.

When I first met Saret, it was right before Smart Gilas was leaving for the FIBA Champions Cup in Jakarta. He made me feel welcome right away with the team as I began to earnestly cover them. As the final line-up of 12 was being decided among its pool of players, I asked Jim who was going to man the 4-spot, and he said that it was former FEU Tamaraw Mac Baracael.

I had seen Baracael play for Far Eastern University and for the Burger King Whoppers in the Philippine Basketball League and I thought that he was just an ordinary but serviceable player. I always thought that what made the Tamaraws dangerous was swingman Benedict Fernandez and guard Mark Barroca. Even after the few Gilas matches I saw with Baracael, I thought that he had somewhat improved yet the jury was still out for me. Said Saret, “It is not just about the size of the player but the quality of the player.”

Saret had been prophetic. In Jakarta, Baracael was something else. I thought that he had been transformed into a really powerful and terrific player and began to rave about his development as a basketball player. Had he played like that for FEU, they would have won a title before he exited the college ranks. Baracael has since grown as a player easily standing out during Gilas’ stints in the PBA and their tournaments in Doha and Dubai. In the latter tournaments, many a Middle Eastern squad became interested in signing him up.

But wasn’t just Baracael who made huge strides with his game but also noticeable in their improvement were other players like Jayvee Casio, Dylan Ababou, Jason Ballesteros, Aldrech Ramos, Greg Slaughter, and Barroca.

Their improvement isn’t solely the system of head coach Rajko Toroman but also the training they’ve gotten from Saret, who was a part of the golden age of Philippine tennis alongside Felix Barrientos, Rolando So and others.

After a stellar stint with the University of the Philippines Tennis Team in the UAAP, Saret was recruited by Brigham Young University to play for its tennis team. However, there was a US NCAA rule that forbade players who had played for colleges abroad from suiting up in an American school. That left Saret out in the cold. While disappointed about being unable to play, he instead turned his attention to become a trainer as well as a strength and conditioning coach. It was something that was still new at that time yet was fast gaining acceptance and recognition thanks to the endorsement of many a pro athlete that included Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan. After almost a decade of work in Utah, he decided to go back to the Philippines. “I always knew I was coming back.” recounted Saret who is a certified Athletic Performance Enhancement Specialist. “I went to the US was just to learn as much as I could so I could share it back here at home.”

Since he returned, Saret’s worked with a number of Philippine Basketball Association, college, and national teams such as track and field and swimming. Gilas and his being a sports training and fitness consultant with the Philippine Olympic Committee are his most high profile jobs at the moment. And now he’s making that program he uses for Gilas available to everyone.

It has long been Saret’s dream to open his own training camp and recently, he opened his first Strength, Agility & Quickness camp in Ateneo with over 40 which varsity athletes (including some parents who wanted to participate). He was assisted in the eight-session mini-camp by several Beijing track Olympian Henry Dagmil, SEA and Asian Games medalists Ernie Candelario and Julius Nieras, Elma Muros-Posadas, and his sibling, tennis star Jennifer Saret.

The camp was a rousing success with the athletes asking on how they can continue with or integrate the program into their varsity training.

“The dream of opening a camp has been a long time coming,” said Saret. “Hopefully, it could be the start of something where I can help our athletes attain their athletic goals and dreams.”

* * *

Train like the pros. Jim Saret’s second Speed, Agility & Quickness Camp (sponsored by Milo and APEX – Athletic Performance Enhancement Training) improves agility, hand-eye coordination, explosiveness, reaction time, conditioning and power development. The next camps will be held from May 12-20 at the Ateneo football field 8am-930am and the Philsports Arena, in Pasig City from May 12-20 430-6pm. Interested parties my text Cookie at 0906-387-5058 or Jen at 0920-952-1979.

* * *

Soccer Fiesta. You can win an all-expenses paid trip to watch the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa by joining the Castrol Skills Challenge at the Soccer Fiesta at The Block at the SM City North EDSA. It entails simple juggling, dribbling, passing, a shuttle run, and kicking the ball into the goal in the fastest possible time. A participant must be at least 18 years old with a valid passport and he/she must purchase at least 2 liters of selected Castrol products at any Ace Hardware store. The Qualifying Round will be held on Saturday May 1 at while the finals will be held on the following day, Sunday, May 2. For a demonstration on the skills challenge, look up “Soccer Fiesta 2010 Castrol Skills Challenge” on YouTube. This an opportunity of a lifetime, folks!

* * *

Is it in you? It was only recently that I learned of the story of Gatorade and how it began as a simple science project that helped the University of Florida win a football game. The fallacy about Gatorade is that drinking it during games will help replace those lost electrolytes. The truth is, one has to hydrate or drink it before, during, and after games. The sports energy drink giant has embarked on its sweat test program where they will monitor a few UAAP and NCAA teams. They’ve prepared a hydration program for the squads that should provide very interesting information about the teams and their progress especially after the college basketball season is done.

No comments:

Post a Comment