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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Ateneo to skip pre-season tournaments for training abroad

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Ateneo to skip pre-season tournaments for training abroad
by rick olivares

If you want to catch Ateneo’s new rookies in action you’ll have to either go to their tune up matches at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center or wait for Season 77 of the UAAP to tip off. The Blue Eagles won’t be participating in any of the pre-season tournaments such as the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup or even the Fr. Martin’s Cup that have been staple of every summer’s tournaments for the past decade or so.

According to team manager Chris Quimpo, the team will be undergoing a lot of training and teaching under second year head coach Bo Perasol and his new coaching staff. The Blue Eagles will be holding training camps in the United States, Japan, and Korea this off-season.

The Blue Eagles with an impressive haul of blue chip rookies will be concentrating on training especially with a new slew of coaches brought to the blue end of Katipunan. That includes former UP Maroons Ricky Dandan, Ronnie Magsanoc, and Xavier Nunag.

Don’t think for one minute that there are too many cooks in the kitchen as the former assistants of Joe Lipa, Joel Banal, and Norman Black – Sandy Arespacochaga, Gene Afable, Gabby Severino, and Jon Jacinto -- are still around. They have blended very well.

Ateneo have reloaded mightily with a top notch rookie haul that includes former Blue Eaglets Thirdy Ravena and Jay Javelosa (who played for Reedley International School the past two seasons), former San Beda Red Cub Arvin Tolentino, Hope Christian High School’s frontline of Clint Doliguez and John Apacible, and NU Bullpups’ point guard Hubert Cani.

This rookie class has more awards and championships that the 2008 batch of Ryan Buenafe, Nico Salva, Justin Chua, and Vince Burke.

Let’s take a look at their rookies.

John Apacible, power forward-center
Not since Greg Slaughter will the Blue Eagles have a post-up player. Gee. That wasn’t too long ago. Well, Ryan Buenafe was a very good post-up player. Nevertheless, Apacible has good post-up moves. He just has to be consistent on the kick out. John’s got good athleticism and a good nose for the ball that he uses for a plethora of putbacks.

Hubert Cani, point guard
The Iceman cometh. Unflappable and clutch. Excellent range with his jump shot. Has a pull up jumper that in my opinion makes him difficult to guard. Deceptively slow but if you misread him, he’ll burn you by blowing past you for a lay-up or a drop pass to a cutting teammate. Great vision that allows him to make terrific passes. Will make Ateneo history as the first ever NU alum to move to Katipunan and play for the Blue Eagles.

Clint Doliguez, small forward
You will love his fighting heart as he plays both ends of the floor. Can be a big time player as he can put points on the board in a hurry. Has a three-point shot. A medium range jumper. Can drive and finish. Plays hellacious defense.

Jay Javelosa, forward-center
Started out in his Ateneo Grade School days running the point before coaches because of their traditional way of thinking moved him to center due to a growth spurt. Good range on his jumper and good post moves. Can pass that ball very well. Good defensive instincts too. But not the fastest player. Was a man playing among boys in high school so it will be revealing how he does against taller and more physical players in college.

Thirdy Ravena, small forward
Not as assertive as Kiefer was during his age but blessed with incredible potential. A do-it-all player who if he gains massive confidence will help Perasol’s team.

Arvin Tolentino, forward-center
Not your typical center. Is more of a small forward as he’s got good range on his outside shot and he likes to drive inside. One of the more talented players coming out this year.

If the rookies do not play like rookies in the next UAAP season then they will be of huge help to the veteran core of Kiefer Ravena, Von Pessumal, Gwyne Capacio, Nico Elorde, and Chris Newsome.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mark Barroca has taken center stage

This appears on the PBA's website.

Mark Barroca has taken center stage
by rick olivares pic by mon rubio

When San Mig Coffee rookie Justin Melton committed two crucial miscues in Game One of the best-of-seven semifinals series of the ongoing Philippine Cup against Barangay Ginebra, there was teammate Mark Barroca to save the day.

Mark Barroca. It wasn’t too long ago when I was defending him in an article in Rebound magazine after he was cut from Far Eastern University for allegedly committing some shenanigans. Those in the middle felt that he was too reckless. Too much of a razzle-dazzle player. But that was Mark. The turnovers, like it or not, were a part of his game because of the way he played.

He was built for the uptempo game where he threw caution to the wind. And that was why he thrived in Rajko Toroman’s Smart Gilas where he set Asia on fire with his blazing speed and ankle-breaking crossovers. Think Jason Castro during the last FIBA Asia.

He drove on seven-footers. Danced around opponents like they were slalom cones. In those days, he played like an import. Foreign teams wanted his services.

When Mark was drafted by Shopinas in 2011 and subsequently traded (on draft day) to B-Meg (for Brian Ilad), it was like the former got fleeced. Ilad is not in the league anymore and Barroca has established himself as one of the premier point guards in the PBA.

Initially, I wondered how he’d fit with the walk it up offense of Tim Cone. Playing initially behind Jonas Villanueva and Josh Urbiztondo (and brought in as a replacement for Roger Yap), Barroca is now the only one left from that guard rotation. He’s been handed the keys to run Cone’s offense. And to take big shots.

You might argue that in the triangle there’s no real need for a point guard per se. Hence, PJ Simon and James Yap at times starting in the backcourt. But that’s beside the point. Barroca, whether running the show or raining jumpers; whether starting or coming off the bench, he can get the job done.

He’s been an All-Star twice. He’s been named Player of the Week two weeks running. Then he drills the game winning jumper against Barangay Ginebra. Oh, and he’s a part of two PBA championship teams.

The titles that eluded him in Far Eastern University and the UAAP have come in the pros. And finally, he is getting some deserved recognition.

Truthfully… this couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Here’s a dude who before he exits the locker room would spend time to pray before every game. Here’s a player who would cry at the end of a loss or even a campaign where his team fell short. Here’s a player who we haven’t even seen the best of just yet.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Unnamed player: regretting moving to another school

He used to play for another school where he would start. And he starred too. Scoring in double digits, he was a loud and brash player. Then he transferred. Lured with promises of being on a contending team to go with a better allowance, he fell for it. However, not only was he benched but also he lost his game, his confidence, and his swagger. His dreams of playing in the PBA were greatly dashed. He now regrets about moving.

In his last game for his second school last season, he was an afterthought. His team was comfortably ahead in a blowout and he was only brought in because the trainer reminded the coach. In those last five minutes, maybe it was better if he didn’t get off the bench. He just stood at one corner not really doing anything. Not exerting effort. His face emotionless but still full of pain.

In that last game, his teammates tore at the stat sheet to see how they did. He didn’t bother. After all there were a series of zeros in the columns next to his name.

It’s hard when you went from being the man to being the fourth option on offense. That eventually sunk down to where he would just be a role player in a finely tuned machine.

He feels sad. Real sad. His best hope is to latch on to a D-League team and show them that he can ball. Put points on the board. Reject weak-ass shots. But he asks himself, “Can I show them?” Even that statement is riddled with doubt.


Good luck with it, bro. I did my best to help. You know that.

Manchester United and Clear announce a search for the top 32 footballers in the country.

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Manchester United and Clear announce a search for the top 32 footballers in the country.
by rick olivares

Clear, the world’s number one shampoo for men, announced a partnership with the world’s biggest football club, Manchester United, for a development program that will culminate in a three-day Clear-Manchester United Football Camp facilitated by the Clear-Manchester United Soccer Schools.

Thirty-two young footballers from around the country will be given the opportunity to be tutored by UEFA accredited coaches who will utilize the club’s prestigious training program that has worked with world-class players such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, and Clear global endorser and 2014 FIFA Ballon D’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Manchester United has over 10 million followers in the Philippines and I am delighted with this opportunity to bring our soccer schools to the country through our partnership with Clear,” announced Jamie Reigle, Managing Director of Manchester United Asia Pacific. Clear and Manchester United share a common philosophy in football development, and I am excited by the extensive program of activity that we will be delivering together. There is a full curriculum in terms of skills, tactics, preparations and diet. The curriculum is set by the Manchester United (first team) coaches, and the official coaches coming to the Philippines have been trained in that philosophy.”

“This is a step closer to Clear’s goal of inspiring the next generation of young footballers in the country,” said Gina Lorenzana, Unilever Vice President for Personal Care.

To kick off the search, Clear, in partnership with the United Football League (UFL), will hold try-outs in Davao, Bacolod, Cebu and Metro Manila.

Interested applicants can apply by going to starting February 1 or by calling 0999-768-4551. Tryouts will take place in the following dates March 22 (Cebu), March 23 (Iloilo), March 29 (Davao), March 30 (Metro Manila), April 25-27 (Camp).

Hope Christian defeats NU to go to Seaoil MMBL finals vs CKSC

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Hope Christian defeats NU to go to Seaoil MMBL finals vs CKSC
by rick olivares

The Tiong Lian Basketball Association might not be pushing through with its 44th season due to internal squabbles but two of its powers, Chiang Kai Shek College and Hope Christian High School will meet each other in the Division One championship of the Seaoil Metro Manila Basketball League.

Hope Christian vanquished UAAP Juniors champion National University with a 93-89 victory in the semifinals last Sunday at the CKSC court. Both squads were missing several key players but it hardly seemed to matter as their stars came out to play.

Bullpups point guard and UAAP Juniors Finals MVP Hubert Cani kept his side on top with some expert marksmanship in the first half. Cani scored 23 points on 10-12 shooting from the field and one of two from the line. NU’s zone defense was packed tight preventing the entry passes to big men John Apacible and Tzaddy Rangel who coach Steve Uy used at the same time instead of making them come in for each other.

In the third period, Apacible and Rangel began to assert themselves as they pounded NU’s interior that was missing injured forward-center Mark Dyke but Bullpups Lorenzo Miguel Battad, Jose Carlos Lopeña, and John Paul Cauilan held Hope Christian at bay with timely responses. But the lead had been cut 69-65 after 30 minutes of play.

Even with Cani helplessly watching from the bench due to foul trouble, NU continued to keep their heads above water as Manuel Mosqueda drove in against Hope’s big men for a lay-up to start the final canto. But foul trouble to their NU’s bigs gave their Hope counterparts an expressway inside the lane. Apacible and Rangel combined for six points in the first half but poured in 28 points in the second half.

By the time Cani returned to the fray he was ice cold and his opposite number on Hope, Mark Nuñez picked his pockets for a lay-up and a 84-83 lead with 2:41 to play. Lopeña gave NU one last taste of the lead with two free throws but Hope’s Kirk Trangia drove in for a lay-up and a lead they would not surrender. Kenneth Sumalacay hit a free throw to close out the scoring in a 93-89 win.

Junior guard Jollo Go led Hope Christian with 21 points while Apacible added 20 points. Rangel added 12 points.

Hubert Cani led NU with 26 points while Battad added 20.

In the other semifinals match, Chiang Kai Shek College crushed Malayan Institute of Technology, 66-50, to arrange the finals duel with Hope Christian High School.

In other matches, Faith Academy pummeled Diliman Preparatory School 91-45 behind a relentless assault on the basket as led by shooting guard TJ Hardeman (27 points) and forward-center Mark Lovatt (24 points). The Faith Academy Vanguards, defending Seaoil MMBL Division Two champions, will face NU Team B for the title. The Bullpups earlier crushed UST-Team B, 81-60.

For the right to play for the Division Three championship, Trinity upset Reedley International School with a 71-57 win while Colegio de San Benildo-Rizal squeaked past Escuela 70-64.

In Division Four, San Beda College-Alabang Team B walked over Colegio de San Agustin-Biñan when the latter arrived later to their match. SBCA will play Jubillee Christian High School that dispatched hard fighting Rich Golden Shower Montessori School 79-60.

In the Girls’ Division, Chiang Kai Shek College had no trouble putting away UNO High School, 77-36, while La Salle College of Antipolo stood tall in the endgame to outlast De La Salle Zobel, 71-65.

Finals schedule of 31st Seaoil MMBL:

Saturday, February 1, San Beda Gym
915am Division Two: Faith Academy vs. NU-B

Sunday, February 2, 2014
8am Girls Division: Chiang Kai Shek College vs. La Salle College of Antipolo
930am Division Four: San Beda College-Alabang vs. Jubilee Christian High School
11am Division Three: Trinity University of Asia vs. Colegio de San Benildo-Rizal
1230pm Division One: Hope Christian High School vs. Chiang Kai Shek College