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.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Analysis on UAAP Season 76 Opening Day games

This appears on

A lesson or two learned
Looking at the Opening Day games of UAAP Season 76
by rick olivares

Opening Day of UAAP Season 76 served reminders to one and all about the league and what it takes to win a game. Of course, first game jitters aside.

UE vs. FEU
In the first two possessions, the Tams went hard at the basket. They went 1-2 on those attempts then inexplicably, they began to shoot from the outside where they missed a lot of shots.

FEU shot 23% from the field while UE took it inside for a 21-11 lead.

Perhaps the most crucial stat that would emerge in the first half were the three fouls called against UE center Charles Mammie.

At the 7:31 mark of the second quarter, Mammie was whistled for his third foul. He played only six minutes in the first half where he hauled down six rebounds with four coming off the offensive glass. The score was 23-15 at that point.

UE would hold off FEU for a bit more as Ralf Olivares exploded for seven second period points but the Tams hit two consecutive triples to close out the half (from Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia) to make it 37-32.

Roi Sumang opened the third period with a triple to push the lead to 40-32 but FEU went on a run behind Terrence Romeo who gave his team a 42-40 lead with a coast-to-coast lay-up.

Sumang answered with a triple to give UE a 43-42 lead. They looked to weather FEU’s onslaught when they added three more points with two from Lord Casajeros and one from Adrian Santos.

But FEU had gotten going behind Romeo. His three-point play at the 2:05 mark of the third quarter gave the Tamaraws the lead for good.

The Tamaraws did a couple of things well in that pivotal third period:
-       They shot the ball well 57.1% from the field
-       They outrebounded UE 17-9
-       And perhaps more importantly, Romeo was setting his teammates up particularly RR Garcia who he hasn’t has the best basketball relationship in their four years on the team. At one point, after drilling a wide open triple, Garcia, the UAAP Most Valuable Player in Season 73 pointed to Romeo as a sign of respect.

Romeo chalked up four huge assists in the third period. He would end up with a near triple double 23 points, 9 rebounds and 12 assists.

UE suffered greatly with Charles Mammie and Chris Javier on the bench. With no post presence, they resorted mostly to shooting from the outside. When the Red Warriors are clicking from the outside they are tough to stop. the problem was they couldn’t find the range.

Furthermore, for much of the game, they would only make one pass then shoot.

The most telling statistic of the game is Terrence Romeo out-assisted the entire UE 12-11.

In the pre-season, UE went to the foul line a lot indicating a willingness to take it in. In this game, they were awarded 33 attempts from the free throw line. They only made 22. That hurt as well.

By contrast, FEU made good on 14-19 FTs.

The UE Red Warriors flopped big time in their season debut. They sure looked well on their way to their first win as they led early in the game but lost it when Charles Mammie being in foul trouble upset their rotation. Furthermore, they opted to jack up shots from the outside instead of taking the ball to the rack.

Roi Sumang for all his prodigious scoring talents got served a lesson as well by opposite number Terrence Romeo. While Romeo is a noted gunner to the point of being selfish, the fourth year Tamaraw showed where FEU could go if he passes that ball.

FEU chalked up win #1 via 89-78 score.

It was also a lesson for Charles Mammie that his trash talking and physical play will not work in the UAAP. And for the entire UE team that the UAAP is altogether another animal as opposed to the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup that they ruled.

La Salle vs. UST
The Growling Tigers are the masters of uglyball (aside from the Ateneo Blue Eagles). In a game marked by 43 turnovers (that more than one turnover by either team per minute) and UST giving La Salle chances to come back with poor playmaking and turnovers, the Tigers still had enough in the tank for a 63-58 overtime win.

I was ready to concede that they do not need a point guard at this stage but UST clearly struggled. Case in point, LA Revilla stealing the ball from Clark Bautista with 1:38 left in the fourth period (although that was negated by an offensive foul by Jeron Teng one of three called against him in the match).

But a look at the overall picture shows that UST finished with 11 assists while La Salle, supposedly, still a security guard agency with their cadre of Almond Vosotros, LA Revilla, Thomas Torres, and Kib Montalbo all playing the one-spot finished with the heinous statistic of chalking up only seven assists. And two of those dishes came from power forward Jason Perkins.

Even as Revilla took away the ball from Bautista, the cramped up graduating shooting guard, managed to force the former into a backing violation in the final 15 seconds of OT to seal the win.

The Green Archers, just as they did last year, ruled the boards, 52-44, but they could not translate that into points.

During the second period, they managed only eight points with four coming from the free throw line. 

UST in the meantime also saw Aljon Mariano play the Invisible Man for most of the game before he came alive in the last 10 minutes of the game (including overtime) where he scored – ahem – five points. But they were crucial enough to keep La Salle at bay.

Jeric Teng and Karim Abdul kept UST in this game. Incredibly, six traveling infractions were called by game officials but there was a none call on Abdul at the 3:42 mark where he traveled not once but several times for a bucket.

I guess that evened out when a stoppage in play – there was a ballpen on the court in front of the La Salle bench (this one sounds not kosher and smacks of that faux challenge in the Final Four last year) – gave DLSU a chance to call time. UST coach Pido Jarencio said that there was no need to call time as the ref could have kicked the pen off the court. Perkins went on to hit a long jumper to send the game into extension.

Once in extension, UST found strength in Jeric Teng and Abdul (although Mariano hit some free throws) to pull out the 63-58 win. As Pido Jarencio told me, “Jeric Teng is our go-to guy. He is our first option and our second option.”

I say that along with Roi Sumang, Ray Parks, and Jericho Cruz, Teng will challenge for the scoring title this year. And he did it in the clutch -- see that great turn around jumper from just inside the three-point line over his brother Jeron? That was awesome.

My Top 10 overall number one NBA Draft Picks of all time

My Top 10 overall number one NBA Draft Picks of all time
by rick olivares

Anthony Bennett made history as Canada’s first ever number one overall pick in the NBA. While the 2013 NBA Draft is considered to be a lean one, it obviously remains to be seen how these rookies will perform with their respective teams.

Bennett, the Toronto, Canada native who played for the University of Nevada Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels will likewise have the distinction of following LeBron James and Kyrie Irving as the top pick to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But there is also cause for concern as Bennett is coming off a shoulder injury. And shoulder injuries are dicey. There’s no telling how it will heal. The Cavs’ brass nevertheless liked him a lot to select him in hopes that with Irving, they’ll form a nucleus that will compete for a NBA title in the near future.

We won’t be able to assess Bennett until the next season is over but in the meantime, we can make a case for the Top 10 number one overall draft picks in the Association (mind you, I didn’t list even a fraction of all their accomplishments). READ MORE

Saturday, June 29, 2013

UAAP Season 76 Men’s Basketball Preview Part Four: UP & UST

UAAP Season 76 Men’s Basketball Preview
Part Four: UP & UST
by rick olivares

University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons
Head coach: Ricky Dandan (third year)
Season 75 record: 1-13
Filoil record: 2-6
Key losses: Mike Silungan, Jett Manuel, Alinko Mbah, Paolo Romero (injury), Mike Gamboa, Robby Weirzba, Alvin Padilla, Diony Hipolito, Mark Lopez, Jelo Montecastro

Additions: Augustani Amar (West Negros University), Jason Ligad (St. Jude Catholic School), Kyles Lao (Xavier), Kyle Suarez (Ateneo High School), Andrew Harris (St. Clare), Tata Marata (transferred from DLSU), Andrei Paras (LSGH), and Mikee Reyes (returns to the lineup)

Projected starting five: Raul Soyud (center), Chris Ball (power forward), Tata Marata (small forward) Augustini Amar (shooting guard), Mikee Reyes (point guard)

Looks like this year, the UP Fighting Maroons will finally put it together and get out of the cellar. Their record in the summer leagues will show that they finished strong with two wins in the Filoil tourney and made the semis of the Fr. Martin’s Cup. Now if that doesn’t add to their confidence I do not know what else will.

You might ask why I have faith in this team.

This is a tall and athletic team with loads of new talent and potential and they’re out to prove something. One thing that is overlooked with them is they’re good defensively and can rebound some. More possessions means they have an opportunity to stay with opponents. So that means Raul Soyud should try to stay away from foul trouble.

Sure they struggled in the pre-season. That’s what losing eight players from last year will do. But as I wrote, they got it together by the summer’s end.

The return of Tata Marata (after several years in La Salle) to Diliman gives the Maroons a scorer who when is on can be dangerous. The problem is when he’s off. Julius Wong is being counted on not only for leadership but also for help.

If Kyle Suarez develops that jumpshot, he’ll be of huge help to this team. Can’t keep slashing to the basket when the defense is set and you’re unable to get out on the break. Kyles Lao can shoot but we’ll see how he’ll adjust to UAAP defenses.

But the onus is on the point guards Mikee Reyes and Henry Asilum to get this team going. The problem with UP is that they have had no steady court general since Mike Gamboa’s first few years in the league. They usually grab players who like to shoot (read: Marvin Cruz and Joshua Saret) thus not getting their teammates involved.

If the coaching staff can get some consistency from their bench, UP will be a handful.

I believe that this season no team can walk in any venue and say that it is an automatic team with UP. The Maroons know they aren’t seeded even for the Final Four with all their key losses and their newbies so they’ll enter the season below the radar. You might be surprised they’ll knock you for a loop.

But do not think that they play without pressure. For a team that has been at the cellar for quite some time, they want to improve and not sit on mediocrity. It’s definitely not fun being down there.

University of Santo Tomas
Head coach: Pido Jarencio (eighth year)
Season 75 record: 11-6
Filoil record: 6-5
Key losses: Jeric Fortuna, Louie Vigil, Melo Afuang, Janrey Garrido,

Additions: Jeepy Faundo (Jose Rizal University), Jan Macasaet (San Sebastian College Recoletos), Edcor Marata (University of Visayas), Shaek Sherriff (returns to Team A lineup), Brian James So (Harvardian Pampanga)

Projected starting five: Karim Abdul (center), Aljon Mariano (power forward), Kevin Ferrer (small forward), Jeric Teng (shooting guard), Kim Lo (point guard)

The best thing to happen this summer was seeing Pido Jarencio return to the sidelines and coach this team. While Jarencio was attending to his PBA duties, assistant Estong Ballesteros took over.

While the latter was in charge, he gave his starters a lot of minutes. But with Jarencio’s return, he only started Jeric Teng and put the others on the bench. This was to give them the chance to develop and maybe provide some points and rebounding to their team.

If you ask me it helped.

Ed Daquioag is playing with a lot of confidence. Paulo Pe, Robert Hainga and Jeepy Faundo can contribute quality minutes. And if Kim Lo, Robin Tan and the rest of the bench can add a point or two, a rebound, assist, or block here and there, that’s the gravy Jarencio demands.

It is possible that Jarencio will go with that tactic of starting his former reserves while keeping his regular starters as shock troopers.

The one question asked all summer (actually since Jeric Fortuna played his final game for UST during the PCCL), who will take over at the point. UST has different players run the one-spot – Daquioag, Clark Bautista, Kim Lo, Robin Tan or even Jon Sherriff.

Truthfully, I don’t think this is a team that needs one. They also have Kevin Ferrer and Jeric Teng to bring down the ball. This is a half court that that can shoot or power their way inside.

Karim Abdul towards the end of the summer was finally focused on hoops and he was his old dominant self (after spending the summer playing goalkeeper for Dolphins United in the UFL’s Division Two).

This summer, the Growling Tigers won Millennium Basketball League over UPHDS and landed in the semis of Filoil where they lost to UE.

At the end of the day, the scoring for this team will come down to Abdul, Teng, Aljon Mariano, Ferrer, and Bautista. With them, Jarencio still has  some of the best at their positions in the league.

And these Tigers are hungry for a title.


Here are my other season previews

Part Two: La Salle and FEU

Part Three: NU and UE

The new FHM Philippines issue is out (with my Jerie Pingoy article)

Here's the cover to the new issue of FHM Philippines! Featuring cosplay sensation (and my fellow Atenean Alodia Gosiengfiao! Wooo!

Also included is a piece I wrote about Ateneo rookie Jerie Pingoy who will be unable to play because of the new (and prejudiced) residency rule that was put in place. I contribute every now and then to the FHM. I think this is my second piece in the last year. Hahaha. 

The mag should be out this weekend. So get a copy.

Check out also my UAAP Preview on my sports blog Bleachers Brew . Thanks and have a great weekend.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Doing more with Bianca Gonzalez & Phil Younghusband

Doing more with Bianca Gonzalez & Phil Younghusband
by rick olivares

“How do you find the time for this?”

Television and media personality Bianca Gonzalez gets asked that question “maybe every other day” she says with a smile even if she got up at 3:30am and it’s about 3:30 in the afternoon.

“I know it’s terrible,” she confesses. “I have a morning show then I am off to shoots, interviews… Every day’s different. Like after this I am running off to interview Kiefer Ravena. There’s newspaper and magazine work. Meetings. Dinner with friends or with JC (Intal, her boyfriend). If I am lucky my day ends at 7 or 8pm. If it does I can go to bed at 10pm.”

So she has at least four and a half hours left in her workday for Thursday (June 27) after the press launch for the new Rexona campaign of “Do More”.

In the meantime, she’s fielding her twelfth and last interview for the day (that’s me). We talk abut the campaign that challenges people to be open to possibilities, to keep busy, to seek adventure, and to go the extra mile and to push one’s limits.

“When I first saw the campaign I was instantly sold,” reveals Gonzalez who despite being interviewed for like the twelfth time still is as joyous as when she accommodated the media. “It may be cool but being more than pa-trendy or cool or wanting to be in, this speaks to me. Dati ang konti ng multi-hyphenates na blogger-model, student-athletes and so on. Now everyone does something more. It’s not difficult if you love it. And of course, if you’re focused.”

Gonzalez isn’t the only one endorsing Rexona. There’s also football superstar Phil Younghusband, another workaholic. “Do More’ is about following your dreams and your passions. One thing I am lucky enough to do is my job is my passion. Everything I do whether coaching or playing gives me happiness. It doesn’t feel like work. I try to do a bit more to make myself better,” shares Phil.

But even the veteran football international is quick to accede that Gonzalez is on another level.

“I can’t even do half of what she does,” Younghusband says in amazement about Bianca who hosts Umagang Kay Ganda and Pinoy Big Brother among others. She is an editor-at-large for Meg magazine and is a columnist for the Philippine Star. She’s also a UNICEF Philippines Child Supporter and that in itself has it share of responsibilities. “In between there are endless shoots, interviews, and meetings,” she throws in while offering a smile.

Phil shakes his head.

But Gonzalez too learns a thing or two from the Fil-Briton who normally has 14-hour workdays. “Siguro like what Phil said, ‘If you enjoy every single thing you do because you love it - even if you aren’t that good at it – then it doesn’t feel as tiring. It’s a happy pagod in a way.”

Both were instantly sold on the new Rexona campaign because they felt it was something they could identify with. “

“I like it because it pushes everyone to be more something. Especially with the social media. Even an ordinary person can be a cyber celebrity. Sayang naman your life if you are not doing a lot of things.”

Younghusband’s day is no different. There are the two football roles of player for Loyola and as coach for the Chelsea Soccer School. In between he has all these interviews, shoots, and events to attend to.

“If I can sneak in a nap in between I am fine. But what keeps things in perspective is having great people around you to help.”

Being around positive people helps Younghusband go about his duties. The burden of being unable to lead Loyola to the promised land that is a UFL title is there. There’s also playing for the national team that is increasingly becoming the hunted by cautious and wary regionals rivals.

“It’s difficult but you have to just get up because tomorrow is another day.”

And at times, tomorrow cannot come soon enough. In a few weeks’ time, Phil and older brother James will have a reunion of sorts with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho in Thailand (for the Chelsea Soccer School). “I’m excited. I wasn’t able to say goodbye properly when we left. But now, it’s a reunion with one of the game’s best managers. And I’m excited.”

For the 30-year old Gonzalez, it’s also finding and treating oneself to life’s little rewards. “You have to look forward to life’s rewards. For me it’s a trip out of town. I love traveling. It doesn’t have to be out of the country. Like yesterday, it was a long and tiring day. There was a McDonald’s in the lobby of the building where I was. I got myself a burger and a drink and tama na yun. You just enjoy it. I did.”

I conclude the interview. And Gonzalez by her lonesome sits and enjoys a late lunch. For Younghusband, he has to sit in for a meeting for the upcoming Clear Dream Match II.

The day is far from done.

Chris Newsome & Kiefer Ravena shirts from Blue Crew

My thoughts on the POC/PSC not sending any football teams to the 2013 SEA Games (or the danger of potential)

My thoughts on the POC/PSC not sending any football teams to the 2013 SEA Games (or the danger of potential)
by rick olivares

When the news broke that there will be no Philippine football teams competing in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games, my first reaction was, ‘Not again.’

This is the third time in the last four stagings of the regional games that we will not have a men’s football team – unless things change in the next few weeks.

I remember in 2007 when the POC/PSC officials informed then PFF-president Johnny Romualdez that they can only send a women’s team and not a men’s team, I was shocked. I even wrote about that in Business Mirror questioning the decision. That team was not included for the same current reasons the POC/PSC is giving us.

During the 2005 SEA Games (with football matches played at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod), the men’s team never got out of the group stage with a 1-2 record. The Azkals lost to Thailand 1-0, defeated Cambodia 4-2, and bowed out after losing to Malaysia 4-2.

The women’s team on the other hand finished 1-0-3.

Two years later, in 2007, Romualdez and the PFF were informed that the men’s team did not meet the criteria as a medal sport. Yet, the women’s team got the nod (although to their credit, they bettered their finish with a 1-0-2 slate). That year, the Younghusband brothers were ready to suit up for the men’s team. Imagine the impact they would have made on the team’s performance.

Then in the 2009 games, not a single team was sent to Laos.

Once more today, the decision not to send any football team to the upcoming biennial meet is because POC/PSC strictly follows the criteria that allows only the inclusion of gold medalists and potential gold performers.

Looking at the 2011 SEA Games in Jakarta, the Philippines came away with at least one medal in each sport for a haul of 36 gold, 56 silver, and 77 bronze medals.

The U-23 football team that played in Singapore during the 2011 games finished last in Group B with a 1-0-4 record. There were high hopes for this team especially after the late resurgence of football in 2010.

If you look at that finish very coldly, you can say that they do not stand a chance. But that discounts the sport’s potential. It is already one of the fastest growing sports in the country. The national team is performing well. The domestic league is finally flourishing alongside its collegiate counterpart, the UAAP.

The non-inclusion of the U-23 team also spoils the dream of homegrown players of donning the national colors. Already nearly extinct in the senior team because of the predilection of the national coach for foreign-based players, it is a shame if they will not be allowed to compete.

I understand that the funds are in short supply but this is still wrong. The experience will benefit many an athlete.

Potential is such a dangerous word. If one lives up to it then good for him or her. If not, do we hurl them down a cliff? Does every athlete who goes to the SEA Games or Asian Games win a medal?

Let me throw you a curve ball right here -- we have not won an Olympic medal in a while maybe we should stop sending delegations to the world’s biggest sporting event.

What does this potential and medal-hopefuls tag mean -- that we only celebrate winners? Yes, so typically Pinoy. You only love a winner (and jumping on the bandwagon).

Let me tell you a similar story.

The Greek national football team only participated in the UEFA Europeans Championship once in their history – 1980.

They made it back to the 2004 tournament where bookmakers gave them a 150-1 chance of winning the competition. And they did. In the two succeeding Euros, they were bounced in the first round and the quarterfinals respectively. And to think that the European tournament is a world class competition and is miles away when compared to the SEA Games football games.

For years, the Philippine Men’s Basketball Team would only win in the SEA Games and not anywhere else. But yet, we continue to fight for that Olympic Dream and more.

The national basketball team has not qualified to the FIBA World Championship since 1978. But yet they compete in the FIBA Asia (to qualify for the world championship) and elsewhere.

Potential is such a dangerous word. Manny Pacquiao lost his last two fights. Do we count him out in his next outing?

How about our Dragonboat team? They were winning even before they were suddenly ‘discovered’ by the mainstream media and the general public.

I remember too when Michael Jordan donned the Washington Wizards’ colors where many said that by doing so, he would ruin the perfect ending he had with the Chicago Bulls. Foolhardy or not, MJ said something to this effect, ‘That is for sportswriters and historians to debate and write later on.”

And that is for all of us to find out – the fate of our athletes’ campaigns for glory.

If we follow the logic that there is room only for potential, then we would have missed out on the Philippine Men’s Football National Team’s incredible run in the last few years. Should they have stopped competing? Even after the early months of 2011 where they faltered, they bounced back.

I do not think that the team that the PFF is sending is going there to lose. The footballers have a mindset to win and not be a foil for other teams.

If there are people who can help bankroll the U-23 team’s stint in the SEA Games, why not?

That’s why there’s the saying, ‘bilog ang bola.’