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.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

FEU proud of its Gilas products

FEU proud of its Gilas products
by rick olivares

Far Eastern University Athletic Director Mark Molina brims with pride when he sees former Tamaraws excelling in both the national and international stage.

Following their 2015 UAAP Men’s Basketball Championship, the core of that title squad has gone on to the Philippine Basketball Association and the national team where they have proven to be vital cogs.

Suiting up for the Gilas squad seeing action in the ongoing FIBA Asia Cup are Roger Pogoy and Carl Bryan Cruz. And there of course, is Terrence Romeo who although wasn’t a part of that UAAP championship squad, played on two FEU teams that went to the UAAP finals.

For the other Gilas squad that will compete in the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, there’s Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia. Center Russel Escoto is part of the squad but isn’t fully recovered from a knee injury.

“We’re all very proud of them,” said Molina in an interview with ABS-CBN News. “We teach our players to ‘Be Brave’ and we constantly remind them to practice this in their lives. I am so glad this group of Tamaraws have shown this spirit on the international stage.”

The Athletic Director also pointed out that many of these former Tams came from nowhere to make a name for themselves. “Nothing beats the values of hard work, discipline, and sacrificing for the team. Maybe except for Terrence, none of them were high school stars and heavily recruited. But they all had the hunger and dedication to make their lives and families better and the discipline and commitment to put the team ahead of their interest.”

In an interview with Cruz on the day of Gilas’ departure for Beirut, Lebanon, he pointed out to the current program that was installed during the time of former head coach Nash Racela whose older brother Olsen is continuing. “Yung discipline at values na-push ni Coach Nash malaking tulong yun.”

Molina cited Cruz as an inspirational story. “Bryan was a walk-on and even spent some time on Team B. He just accompanied someone we were trying to recruit and asked if he could try out. He just improved every year. It’s even more impressive that he is doing this after tearing his ACL a few months after graduating from FEU.”

On his part, Olsen Racela pointed to one of their young stars on the current Tamaraws squad, Kenneth Tuffin, the Fil-Kiwi who during his freshman year last season was already named co-captain. “This is one kid who is not only coachable but is also is an achiever. He does very well in school and balances the duties of being a student-athlete very well.”

Pogoy also points to the basketball system in FEU. “Malaking tulong yun tinatakbo namin sa FEU ay yung sistema sa Talk ‘N Text at sa Gilas. Siyempre, binigyan ka ng pagkakataon at kumpiyansa ng mga coaches from Coach Nash to Coach Chot (Reyes). Malaking bagay yun.”

The success of the FEU players also goes beyond the basketball team. Molina pointed out Janelle Frayna. “Being the first Woman Grandmaster and one of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines reinforces that FEU produces winners. You cannot really say if these increase enrollment per se but is definitely adds value to the FEU name.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ganon Baker in Manila for 4-day basketball camp

Ganon Baker in Manila for 4-day basketball camp
by rick olivares

American basketball coach Ganon Baker who has trained and worked with many NBA and WNBA stars will be coming to Manila for a four-day camp this coming September.

Sponsored by Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals, the clinics will be held on September 2, 3, 9, and 10 at the Moro Lorenzo Sports center inside the Ateneo de Manila University in Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

Among the well-known cagers Baker has worked with include Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Maya Moore, Tamika Catchings, Skylar Diggins, and many more.

“I’ve been working out with kids and NBA players my entire professional basketball life,” said Baker in a video message. “I am coming to do a camp. You have the most passion of any community and I would love to see you there.”

Baker has taught the game across 36 countries working with coaches and players on their game. In an article written by Dave Fairbank in the Daily Press (in the United States), he described Baker as “Tony Robbins (a life coach) with a jump shot, Dr. Phil with a handle. Maybe more accurately, he is the Johnny Appleseed of roundball, spreading the gospel of hoops and nurturing the game in gyms large and small.”

According to Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitational’s Jay Adevoso, the camp is open to basketball players but also coaches and trainers.

Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals is a grassroots basketball program with over 40 schools in Metro Manila participating.

The first 30 male and female basketball players to register can avail of the free entrance. For coaches, trainers, and other players, there will be a minimal fee for the four-day camp.

For more details, check out the Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals Facebook page.

The Ganon Baker Basketball Schedule is as follows: September 2 from 1:30-3:30pm; and September 3, 9, and 10 from 4-6pm.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Metta World Peace’s encourages Fil-Am son to play for the Philippines

Metta World Peace’s encourages Fil-Am son to play for the Philippines
by rick olivares

Former NBA star Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest) is in town for 24 hours to promote his “The Panda’s Friend” brand (of shoes and clothing). The name also appears on the back of his jersey for the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association.

World Peace though talked to us in a one-on-one interview at Café Luna at Bonifacio High Street, Taguig, and he made no bones about his son eventually donning a Philippine national jersey one day.

“Jeron may play for the Philippine national team one day,” bared World Peace. “He is very excited and very motivated by this possibility. I myself am excited.”

The young Artest’s mother, Jennifer Palma, is of Filipino heritage although born in the United States. “I got to play for the US Under-18 national team but it was my dream to play for the senior team and possibly the Olympics,” related World Peace. “I am sure it is the dream of every basketball-playing kid to represent his country in the Olympics. Sadly, though, I was never invited to even try out because they do not want a player like me on the team. If my son gets that chance, I will be a happy man!”

Despite his personal rejection, World Peace wants his son to consider playing for either the US or Philippine national team. “He’s gotta earn it though,” said the father. “Whether he plays in the US or in the Philippines, he has to earn it. There are lots of kids playing the game.”

Offering more about his son’s game, World Peace bared, “Jeron is a right-handed player. He’s a defender like me but a much better shooter. He also plays the point guard position and is a passer.”

The son is either going to college at Yale or Stanford. Something that makes the father proud. “My son is very smart. To be considered for an Ivy League school is cool. Now Jeron, he has his own tech company that he started it when he was 13. He is a smart kid. He was an entrepreneur even before me. He does some trading too in the stock market. He also has a book club where he gives back to unfortunate kids. This he started out when he was 12. He is an unbelievable kid. So you know that he will be successful in whatever field he chooses.”

“Right now, I have yet to get in touch with the local federation (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) about my son,” said World Peace. “But that’s going to come down. If he comes over here, it will be through his mom, Jenny, who is his driving force.”

“I will say this though -- Jeron wants to go to school and graduate. He wants to accomplish a lot of things.”