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, June 27, 2017

Jeron Teng’s flu game

Jeron Teng’s flu game
by rick olivares

Jeron Teng had a flu game and a Willis Reed moment all rolled into one.

The Flying V Thunder were on the verge of being blown off the court by Marinerong Pilipino who led 33-15 in the second period. The Thunder’s Aris Dionisio first provided the stand with an and-one and two consecutive blocks – first on John Lopez and then on Julian Sargent. With the momentum shift, Teng entered the game with about five minutes left to play until the halftime break.

The former King La Salle Green Archer was not supposed to play. After returning from France where he was part of the Philippine team that placed 11th in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup, Teng battled jetlag and the flu. He stayed inside his car. Prior to the team briefing before tip-off, Jeron stayed inside his car out in the parking lot. The quiet, away from the crazy atmosphere inside the Ynares Centre in Pasig was more preferable. He could have stayed home but the professional that he is, he suited up. “Am not sure if I am going to play,” he said before the team briefing. “I feel weak.”

With the Thunder on the verge of taking in their first loss in four outings as they were down by 18 and Marinerong Pilipino seemingly scoring at will despite Dionisio’s best efforts, Teng took some medicine, drank some fluids, then began to stretch.

When he entered the match, his old college teammate Sargent was assigned to him. Teng took the ball some 18-feet out and hit a fade away shot.

“That was an important shot. A big one,” later noted Flying V head coach Eric Altamirano. “It forced Marinero to play a little more honest defense and it spread their players.”

Teng didn’t score the rest of the period but Dionisio and team co-captain Eric Salamat took charge as they cut the deficit to six, 40-34, as Salamat ended the half with a buzzer-beating triple. The had made a game of it. What looked to be a loss in the making looked winnable now.

The Thunder though, are a second half team. Salamat underscored that when he uncorked a triple to start the third period. That ignited a 30-point third canto burst against Marinerong Pilipino’s 19. By the end of the third, Flying V had a five-point lead 64-59.

Teng followed his teammates and contributed five third period points. However, with the game on the line, after Marinerong Pilipino’s Pao Javellona gave his team one last taste of the lead at 75-73 time down to 2:12 left, it was Teng’s time.

Just as he has done for La Salle in the past, Teng closed out the match, scoring eight consecutive points (Hans Thiele added one free throw for the match’s last point) in the last two minutes to the three of their opponent.

Flying V – incredulously – won, 83-78.

“I felt that the team needed help,” Teng later reflected of his decision to check himself into the game. “Honestly, that first basket felt good. But I felt tired out there. I didn’t want to show it though.”

“Perhaps if he missed it,” surmised Altamirano later on. “That might have not pumped him up because he didn’t do much again until later in the third and then in the fourth. But that is the kind of player that Jeron is – he is a winner; a game changer.”

Teng finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists in only 23 minutes of play. Not one of his better games stats-wise. But in terms of over-all impact, it will go down as one of his best. Just like that 104-point splurge in the Tiong Lian League when he was back in high school. Or his college swan song with La Salle when in Game One he had that game saving block against Ateneo’s Aaron Black to preserve La Salle’s win. 

“Me,” mused Teng over dinner after the game as he downplayed his Jordanesque effort (referring to Michael Jordan playing with the flu against the Utah jazz during the 1997 NBA Finals). “I’m just glad we got the win. And now, I want to rest.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Take a look at some of the pretty faces at the Fiba 3x3 World Cup in France!

From left to right: Nadia Mun, Jennifer Carmona, Maria Moline, and Claudia Brunet.

Jennifer Carmona and Rebecca Cole.

Noelia Zinna
Maria Moline

Monday, June 19, 2017

France takes down valiant RP team in Fiba 3x3 World Cup

France takes down valiant RP team in Fiba 3x3 World Cup

In one of the highly-anticipated matches of the Fiba 3x3 World Cup, France asserted its height, experience, and talent in dispatching a young Philippine team, 22-11, to go up 2-0 in Group B play.

France, earlier winners over El Salvador, 21-5, once more found its strength in Angelo Tsagarakis who finished with a team-high 14 points while teammate Charles-Henri Bronchard provided the best dunk of the day.

The Philippines looked to attack the taller Frenchmen in hopes of keeping them off balance. Paras, looking to reprise his earlier heroics in the Philippines first win of the tourney (21-15 winners over Romania) missed on a drive with pressure from his taller French defender.

France missed a three-pointer but secured the loose ball and missed another three.

The 6’6” Charles Bronchard foiled Jeron Teng’s first two attempts. But the Filipinos showed that they too can play defense as JR Quinahan stripped Tsagarakis off the post up.

But Angelo Tsagarakis found teammate Dominique Gentil for a jumper to open the scoring, 1-0 France

Teng once more found difficulty against Bronchard and was unable drive. Unable to get inside the lane, Kiefer Ravena found JR who swished a three for a 2-1 lead.

But France, as they would do all match long, replied immediately, with a Tsar long bomb, 3-2. Gentil and Bronchard hit their lay-ups for a 5-2 lead but Paras went to the long bomb the deficit to one, 5-4.
Going back inside, Charly Pontens drove up the middle for a lay-up, 6-4, forcing the Philippines to call time out at the 6:57.

With the Filipinos double-teaming inside, France’s marksmen found the range. When the Filipinos played one-on-one defense, the home side attacked the basket.

Pontens ended the match with a long two with 1:47 left in the game clock.

The Filipinos ended their June 18 matches with a 1-1 record.

BaliPure: The Story of a Volleyball Team Part 2: The Cavaliers Conundrum and going KD

The BaliPure Purest Water Defender post-Game 2 Finals win.

BaliPure: The Story of a Volleyball Team
Part 2: The Cavaliers Conundrum and going KD
by rick olivares

“Where can I watch the NBA Finals? It’s Game 2!”

Jennifer Keddy’s forehead was knotted in concern. There was no cable television in her condo room. Worse, no wifi.

“Ugh,” she sighed. “Where do I go?”

Not only was the former Cal Poly Mustang a huge fan of volleyball but she was also nuts about basketball. Although she hails from Missoula, Montana (her family now makes their home in California), she roots for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Some eight thousand miles away from home and after spending months overseas playing in Europe and now in Asia, there were some things that kept her sane and well, feeling that taste of home. Basketball was one of them.

In the midst of the NBA Finals, the BaliPure Purest Water Defenders were 1-1 in their semi-finals series with the Creamline Cool Smashers in their semi-finals series. They socked it to Creamline in Game One then fell in the next match stalling their march into the finals. BaliPure won the even numbered sets but lost all three odd-numbered sets that saw the series knotted at a game apiece.  

Game Two was a letdown. BaliPure started out well then stepped off the gas pedal allowing Creamline to snatch the first set. And it was the same in the third and fifth sets, take the lead then give up points due to errors in bunches, rally from a deficit but only to fall short.

In the biggest game of BaliPure’s two-year history and a chance to better the two third place finishes the previous season, Keddy was worried about the NBA Finals and her Cavs.

“Oh, we’ll bounce back in Game Three. I know it,” she said with a lot of conviction.

True enough, BaliPure bushwhacked Creamline to the tune of three sets. It was a clinic the purest Water Defenders put out there as they silenced the huge Creamline crowd. Keddy and Grethcel Soltones each scored 13 points while Jang Bualee and Risa Sato both added 10 each. They put back that wall that stymied the awesome Kuttika Kaewpin and Laura Schaudt and kept Alyssa Valdez mostly silent (she scattered her 13 points across three sets).

BaliPure was going to the finals against the defending champions, Pocari Sweat. As for Keddy’s Cavs, they were down, 3-0.

When the Cavaliers took Game Three from the Golden State Warriors on the 10th of June, it was the same day as BaliPure lost the Reinforced Conference Finals to Pocari in four sets.

BaliPure took the first set then fell apart in the next three.

Although they took the first set, the body language of the players was bad. And conspicuously absent was middle hitter Risa Sato.

The team managers and coaching staff were worried about Sato. Since she was approached by officials from two other squads who played in the semi-finals to sign with them after the end of the first conference, she wasn’t the same player. The pretty Fil-Japanese player seemed bothered and confused. Every player save for Sato had re-signed with the club for the next conference. This left the coaches and team managers angry.

During game one, she sulked in one corner and covered her head in a towel after her poor play. Her general malaise infected everyone and the team looked nothing like the juggernaut that assaulted teams during the preliminaries ad the semi-finals.

Sure they were playing the defending champions. Sure Krystal Rivers was as good as advertised. But the team’s dip in play was shocking.

The Lady Warriors, in addition to their championship pedigree, was made up of mostly seasoned veterans many of who have been out of college for a while now. Only Jeanette Panaga was still in school. For the Purest Water Defenders, aside from their imports, it was only Lizlee Ann Pantone who was done with school. However, that wasn’t an excuse. “We had our chances,” lamented head coach Roger Gorayeb. “It still isn’t over. There is still Game Two. If you play the way you should then we can win the championship.”

“Maybe it’s best that Cleveland lost,” quipped Keddy. “when they lose we play well. I know it’s an awkward thing for me to say but it is what it is.”

Then Keddy paused, “Time to go into KD (Kevin Durant or a play on her surname) mode.”

Like Cleveland or Golden State, one player wasn’t going to win it. If the Purest Water Defenders were to bring home the trophy, they needed more than Keddy or “KD” as she called herself on game day. They needed BaliPure’s version of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Steph Curry to step up. And that meant Grethcel Soltones, Risa Sato, and Jang Bualee.

Bualee is the longest serving import in Philippine club volleyball. Since she made her debut with Gorayeb’s San Sebastian Lady Stags all those years ago. The Thai player has romped away with two Most Valuable Player awards, six scoring titles, and a few titles here and there.

At 34, Bualee looks lean and in shape. Yet a shoulder injury during Game Two in the Creamline series hampered her effectivity. Just hitting the ball hurt. “Matanda na ako,” she said in Filipino which she speaks reasonably well. “Pero I want to play and win pa while I can.”

Bualee has served as this team’s mother hen. She spices up team practices with her concoctions for mango dips and other foods. She looks out for the younger players and dispenses advice. “Matagal na ako kay coach Roger,” she puts it. “Responsible lang tayo.”

Now if BaliPure wanted to extend the series, they needed a very good response from Bualee.

Come game time, Keddy pointed to her heart and then her temple. “KD mode,” she paused. “Is in here.”

Keddy and Bualee delivered as promised with each scoring 20 points. So did Soltones, Jerrili Malabanan, and Sato who was her usual buoyant and smiling self. Keddy and Sato registered 10 block points between themselves.

After the game, team manager Gil Cortez patted Sato on the shoulder. “See what happens when you play well,” he said as the middle hitter beamed back.

However, the win revealed BaliPure’s flaw. The Purest Water Defenders won in five sets. They lost sets two and three despite going up by two each time, 24-22. They failed to close it out. Yet in set four and five, in the same position needing only a point to win it, they managed to do so.

Whether they turned a corner was anyone guess. But inside the locker room, I made sure to mention the predilection to give up leads and not close sets or games out. “We cannot afford to step off the gas pedal,” I said to the team.

“I’d like Cleveland to win, you know,” said a happy and relieved Keddy as the team made its way out of the Philsports Arena. “But I’d like to win too.”

Even if the Cavs don’t win the championship?

“Yep. This is for the team (BaliPure) and for myself.”


READ PART 1 here