BLEACHERS BREW EST. MAY 2006

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, July 19, 2017

June Mar Fajardo looks forward to FIBA Asia Cup campaign


June Mar Fajardo looks forward to FIBA Asia Cup campaign
by rick olivares

HONG KONG -- When Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner Chito Narvasa announced last Tuesday that PBA squads have agreed to release Gilas pool members to the national team that will compete for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon this August, San Miguel Beermen center June Mar Fajardo, on vacation in Hong Kong with girlfriend Aerieal Patnongon felt that familiar wave of excitement.

On short vacation before San Miguel kicks off its Governors’ Cup campaign, the veteran national player bared his thoughts while going for early evening coffee with us at Ocean Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui.

“Oo masaya ako na kasama ako sa Gilas,” he said between sips of his coffee. “Hindi lahat nakakasama rito and sino ba may ayaw nasa ganitong sitwasyon? Iba yung pakiramdam. Siyempre kaibigan mo na mga nandito at ang hirap minsan pag-kalaban mo sila sa PBA. Dito sa national team magkakampi na kami. At iba yung challenges.”

Fajardo paused. Even with the limelight on him greater than ever, he expressed that he isn’t really comfortable speaking. “Pasensya na, hindi ako masalita. More sa laro. Sa San Miguel sila Alex (Cabagnot) at Arwind (Santos) yung mga nagsasalita. Sa Gilas, nandun naman sila Jayson (Castro) at Japeth (Aguilar). At dati, si Jimmy (Alapag). Si Jayson naman ang captain ball ng Gilas at alam niya na mga dapat sabihin. Pero suporta ako sa ano ang dapat namin gawin.”

Aside from representing the country in international competition – and fighting for slots to the FIBA World Cup and the Olympics – Fajardo looks back very fondly for it was in the 2013 FIBA Asia where he showed his potential. “Yung mga training namin sa ibang bansa at nakalaban namin mga malalaki – yun ang nakatulong sa akin,” he recalled. “Kung hindi ako lalaban; kung hindi ko gagawin ang trabaho ko ay walang mangyayari sa amin. So nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon at kumpiyansa ng mga coach. Medyo nasanay at nahasa at nadala ko sa PBA.”

Speaking of the goals of making it back to the FIBA World Cup and a long overdue return to the Olympics which is like a Holy Grail for Philippine basketball, falling short is motivation for the slotman. “Siyempre, motivation din sa amin at sa akin personally na makaabot sa Olympics at World Cup. Hindi madali. Sana, next time makuha namin. So good news yung galing kay Commissioner Narvasa.”

While Fajardo is dominant in the PBA, when it comes to international basketball, he is working on his perimeter shooting and agility to cope with the power and faster game.


“Malaking bagay yung perimeter shooting,” he pointed out by way of summation. “Lalo na malalaki yung kalaban na meron mga tira sa labas at experienced pa. Hindi naman lagi makaka-poste. Kailangan din meron tira sa labas. Kaya effective si Ranidel (De Ocampo). Alam na namin kung ano yung dapat i-work on namin practice sa court. Ikaw na mag-add ng kailangan kung mag-swimming, mag-gym para improve yung fitness and conditioning mo. Malaking tulong yan sa bayan.”

At our hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui



Early evening coffee at Ocean Centre



Thursday, July 13, 2017

All rise!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mike Myers: From club to country


Mike Myers: From club to country
by rick olivares

Mike Myers flew into Manila as a possible replacement for injured Talk ‘N Text import Joshua King. Instead of leading the club to a PBA conference championship, he’s into something bigger than what he expected. The 6’8” Myers is now leading the Philippines in its gold medal bid in the upcoming 2017 William Jones Cup.

“I think helping the Philippine national team it’s a good opportunity,” said the Camden, New Jersey native. “In my life, you take all the opportunities that come your way. It’s simple – you do well and hope for even bigger ones.”

Myers went to college at Maryland Eastern Shore where he took up sociology. “Studying away from home prepares you for a life of a professional basketball player,” shared the man who says he is inspired by Kobe Bryant. “After he ended his college career in 2015, Myers played in Italy before hooking up with Talk ‘N Text and now the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas which recruited him to play for the nationals.

“It’s good and talented bunch,” said Myers of his teammates. “We’re just excited for this. It’s a new experience for me as well. I hope I can help.”

“When you’re young, you think of playing for the US national team. Now that’s not easy. Little did I know I’d be playing for another national team that is thousands of miles away. I just hope I can help.”


Russel Escoto: From Angeles, Pampanga’s playgrounds to the UAAP, PBA, and Gilas


Russel Escoto: From Angeles, Pampanga’s playgrounds to the UAAP, PBA, and Gilas
by rick olivares

As a youngster growing up in Angeles, Pampanga, Russel Escoto watched some the kings of the playground - Calvin Abueva and Arwind Santos to name a very few – work their magic as well as the crowd.

“Si Calvin kung tawagin nga sa amin, ‘kabayo’ kasi hindi napapagod,” related Escoto. “Grabe siya. Halimaw. Sa Angeles pa lang, crowd favorite na. Basta naglalaro si Calvin pinapanood ng mga tao. Ma-i-inspire ka talaga.”

Incredibly, basketball wasn’t Escoto’s first sport. “Nagsimula ako volleyball player (playing the open spiker position),” Russel revealed. “Sobrang enjoy din ako sa paglaro ng volleyball. Enjoy. Mabilis pa.”

It wasn’t even his family that pushed him to switch to hoops but his classmates. “Sabi ng iba kong teammate, ‘sayang daw height ko. Dapat daw ako mag-basketball’”.

It took a while for the six-foot-six lad to take to the game. It also took a trip to the playground to watch some of the local legends to strike Escoto’s fancy and inspire him. “Nung masubukan ko na maglaro, na-in love na ako sa sport. Yan – tuloy tuloy na.”

With his success in the high school and collegiate level, his younger brother, Richard was inspired and he (now playing for the Far Eastern University Tamaraws) followed suit.

“Nung mag-champion kami sa FEU nung last year ko – bonus na yun,” admitted the center who is the eldest of four children (Richard is the third). “Pinagpala kami sa hard work, dedication, at tiwala sa isa’t isa.”

“Ngayon nasa national team – sobra ako nagpapasalamat. Hind ko inisip mga ‘to. Simple lang. Laro lang sa halfcourt o whole court. Nung mabigyan ng scholarship sa FEU, nakakatuwa at nakakataba ng puso. Naisukli namin ng championship.”

With Russel’s achievements in his young career, he smiles at the thought that the world has turned. It’s the kids now in Pampanga watching him.


“Hopefully, maka-inspire ako ng ibang bata diyan sa amin na sumunod sa dinaanan namin – high school, college, national team, tapos PBA. Sipag at tiyaga lang yan.”