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.

Monday, May 29, 2017

San Sebastian conquers NU in Filoil

San Sebastian conquers NU in Filoil
by rick olivares

The Filoil Flying V Premier Cup has an eerie feel to it if you’re the National University Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs started the summer tournament like a house on fire; winning three straight. Since then, they have gone 0-3; the latest an 86-82 setback at the hands of the San Sebastian Stags.

During the past UAAP Season 79, NU opened with two impressive wins over UE and Ateneo before losing two straight. They finished the first round with a 4-3 record before going on a tailspin in the second round where they won only one more match to end with a 5-9 record. That was good for fifth but way outside the Final Four.

The Stags and the Bulldogs battled through seven lead changes and one deadlock. NU looked good in the third period when they took a 10-point lead, 59-49, after a Dave Yu twinner. San Sebastian’s Regille Ilagan hit a triple that ignited an 11-2 run that saw them come within a point after three periods of play, 61-60.

San Sebastian started the fourth period with six straight points to seize the lead for good. Consecutive turnovers by the Bulldogs saw SSCR point guard Ryan Costelo drill two consecutive triples that ignited a killer 13-1 run to seize control of the match, 79-68, with 4:22 left in the game. NU mounted one last ditch rally but they ran out of time. 

Michael Calisaan led San Sebastian with 22 points and nine rebounds while Ryan Costelo, in his best game of the summer, scored 16 points to go with four assists. JJ Alejandro led NU with 20 points with Ghanaian center Issa Gaye adding 14 points and eight rebounds.

"It's good preparation that we're starting to win. Ibig sabihin maganda tinatakbo ng team. Hopefully lang ma-sustain, kasi pagod na rin yung mga bata," said San Sebastian head coach Egay Macaraya of his team’s strong pre-season showing.

On the other hand, the Bulldogs of new head coach Jamike Jarin this season are much like last year’s squad under Eric Altamirano – a young team bereft of many veterans. Some new faces on last year’s squad aren’t there – JV Gallego, Joshua Sinclair, Mohammad Salim, and Michael Pate aren’t there. Sinclair and Gallego are out with injuries. The only holdovers are Dave Yu, Matt Salem, Rev Diputado, JJ Alejandro, Chino Mosqueda, Reggie Morido, Tzaddy Rangel, Nico Abatayo, Kins Go, and Matt Aquino. Only that group, Yu, Diputado, and Alejandro are all that is left from the UAAP champions of three years ago.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Coaching Gold(wyn Monteverde)

Coaching Gold(wyn Monteverde)
by rick olivares

Goldwyn Monteverde bristled at the suggestion that he is like an architect. A builder of championship basketball teams.

“I am just a coach,” he says.

Sure he is. But a bemedalled one at that. He’s guided the Chiang Kai Shek Blue Dragons to a multitude of secondary school titles. He should have won one with the Adamson Baby Falcons last UAAP season too. “It is a shame because we were building something long term there,” he sighs. “Only to get knocked out by a technicality.”

What happened in Adamson also played a part in his not getting the job of Batang Gilas coach in the last Seaba U-16 tourney held in Manila this past month. He was a shoo-in. He had the cred and the trophies to prove it.

“Move on na lang,” he says. But he would definitely like another shot at it.

Monteverde admits that what happened played a large part in his decision to leave Adamson. “Yes,” he admits. “It played a huge part. It was disappointing. I do not like unfinished business. But it was time to go.”

Seeing the team that he put together scattered to the four winds of the UAAP landscape pains him. “Ako nagtanim, iba ang aani.”

He isn’t only an architect but he’s also like a farmer; one who plants championship seeds.

“I am just a coach,” he parries.

It’s easy to say that success is also due to a program. A program with money to fund the machine. If it were that easy then why doesn’t everyone do it? Why doesn’t everyone win?

He bristles at the suggestion that he is a top basketball mind.

Before he can speak, I cut him off, “Yes, you’re just a basketball coach.”

Monteverde smiles. You understand, he seems to say without any words.

When I asked if he found it ironic that he is now with National University, the team that filed a complaint about a supposedly ineligible player – who wasn’t really – he smiled. “That’s basketball. It takes you to places where you least expect to go. The important thing is to look forward and not dwell on the past.”

After his NU Bullpups – in his second game with NU – lost to the Ateneo Blue Eaglets in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup – he knows that his team is still young. Besides, Rhayyan Amsali wasn’t available.

“The goal is the UAAP,” he points out.

Looking forward. Right, coach?

He isn’t a seer.

“I’m just a coach.”

Friday, May 26, 2017

Jerrili Malabanan: California sunshine in BaliPure

Jerrili Malabanan: California sunshine in BaliPure
by rick olivares

During the first set of BaliPure’s match with Creamline was Tuesday, the former’s head coach Roger Gorayeb sent in Jerrili Malabanan late in the first set for struggling Aiko Urdas.

“Jer Jer” as her teammates call her, didn’t do too well either. Except she wasn’t yanked even if Creamline took the first set, 25-20. She started the second set where she eventually settled down. Malabanan finished only with seven points – her conference average for BaliPure – but she did contribute in other aspects such as defense.

The Purest Water Defenders won in five sets with Thai import Jang Bualee and outside hitter Grethcel Soltones coming alive late in the match with American import Jennifer Keddy providing steady offense and defense. Yet, during the post-match press conference, Gorayeb made sure to point out how Malabanan stabilized the team with her play in the second set.

The vote of confidence wasn’t lost on Malabanan, “It’s feels good that he trusts me and that he knows that I can contribute. It’s such a nice feeling.”

Transitions aren’t normally easy as one moves from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Malabanan has first-hand experience in that as well. After graduation from high school in California where she was born and spent her first 18 years of her life, Malabanan moved to the Philippines.

“I lived in the US my whole life,” recalled the soft-spoken lady. “I would come here every few years for family reunions but that’s different. Changing addresses and lifestyles was a tough adjustment for me especially because I wasn’t able to see my family and friends. You don’t really know anyone and you’re starting from scratch.”

Her first choice for her college schooling was the University of Santo Tomas but she was late for her enrollment. “I ended up going to FEU because an uncle of mine is a good friend of FEU’s athletic director.”

With the Lady Tamaraws, she has become a key component in their return to competitiveness. Yet this past season, Malabanan sat mostly on the bench. “My sitting on the bench – it was a little bit of struggling with my game and the coach’s decision. It’s hard when you sit. You want to help the team but you can’t. And when you want, the confidence isn’t there. It went really down.”

Signed to BaliPure, her first volleyball team outside FEU, it was quite a smooth transition for Malabanan: “I think I started off well because I wanted to show very badly that what happened last UAAP season wasn’t really me or my game. Coming into this tournament, I wanted to show that I am better than that. When I first trained with BaliPure, I didn’t know any of my new teammates personally. The first day of training, they all made me feel welcome. They were very nice. We’ve all become good friends since.”

For the Purest Water Defenders, she was moved from her middle position – where she was played in FEU – to a utility spot where she forms a tag team with Urdas. And she has shined. “Actually, Jer Jer is very soft spoken. But she is eager to learn.”

Added Bualee who is no stranger to the Philippines volleyball scene having served as an import time and again for Gorayeb’s teams, “Jer Jer is a big help to our team. Ako kasi matanda na.”

Like a ray of sunshine?

Bualee laughed. “Sunshine.”

Now the Purest Water Defenders are in the semi-finals. Following the end of their preliminary round matches, the team is given three days off before returning to practice next Monday. “I think we’re fortunate to be able to top the elimination round,” said Malabanan before their last outing against the Power Smashers. It feels to be able to contribute to the team.”

The girl from California has her confidence back.