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, February 26, 2018

Japan’s Makoto Hiejima talks about the loss to Gilas

Japan’s Hiejima talks about the loss to Gilas
by rick olivares

It was a disappointed Makoto Hiejima who faced the Japanese media yesterday after Japan’s 89-85 loss to host Philippines in the FIBA Asian Qualifiers. Hiejima, Japan’s starting point guard, tallied 23 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists for the match.

The Japanese rallied late in the match with their naturalized player and former PBA import Ira Brown drilling a three-pointer from the left corner and Daiki Tanaka scoring two lay-ups to come within two points, 86-84, with 31 seconds left.

However, Jayson Castro eased the pressure when he scored on a runner with 12-seconds left to give the Philippines a four-point cushion.

With Tanaka the hot hand, Japan’s Argentine head coach Julio Lamas gave the ball to him, but he missed a three-pointer. Andray Blatche tacked on a free throw for the game’s final points.

“I think we had a chance,” said Hiejima some 40 minutes after the game was done. “But we missed many free throws.” The Akatsuki Five, as Japan’s national team is now called, only hit 24 of 39 free throw attempts.

“What also hurt us was their offensive rebounding,” added the 6’3” Hiejima who is leading the team in scoring with 18.5 points and assists with 3.0.

The home side had a huge 19-5 advantage in offensive rebounding that translated into a 21-2 difference in second chance points.

“We started well and it seemed unbelievable that we got a big lead against them. We knew that the Filipinos were going to make their run and they did.”

The Japanese opened the contest by taking an early 20-4 lead. Gilas responded with a 12-0 burst behind Kiefer Ravena who scored eight points including two triples.

“Their bench responded and we committed turnover and I was called for an unsportsmanlike foul and that helped their momentum.”

“It seemed like we kept chasing them after they got the lead. When you play the Philippines and teams like Australia or Iran, you have to bring your best game if you want to beat them.”

“Right now, it is difficult at 0-4, but we cannot be negative about this situation. We have to be positive. But it is disappointing because three of our four losses have been close games. The loss to Chinese Taipei hurt but this one does too because we are now in a very difficult situation. But we have to quickly forget this because we have two more matches to play (against Australia on June 29 and Chinese Taipei on July 2). We have to win both if we want a chance. But it is tough.”

SBC Red Cubs bag BBI cage title over Xavier

SBC Red Cubs bag BBI cage title over Xavier
by rick olivares

The San Beda Red Cubs ruled the 17-Under Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals Cherifer Sagad Tangkad tournament with a masterful 65-52 win over hard luck Xavier yesterday at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center.

The Red Cubs, undefeated throughout the tournament, weathered an early deficit against the Golden Stallions, 20-14, in the first period before dropping a 12-0 bomb to seize the lead for good.

SBC head coach Manu Iñigo’s troops forged ahead behind a barrage of three pointers by Joshua Alcantara and Cyrus Llarena while Jade Talampas was unstoppable in his daring drives to the hoop.

Xavier remained within striking distance after a free throw by Xavier center Miguel Tan, 55-50, with time down to 5:56. Iñigo sent in gunner Kent Pelipel and he responded with two three-pointers that sandwiched a lay-up by Kai Oliva that broke the backs of the Golden Stallions, 63-50, time down to 3:18.

San Beda coasted from that point as both sides traded only two points to close out the scoring.

“We knew that we were in for a tough game against Xavier,” said a victorious Iñigo after the match. “They scouted us well and played us tough. We also got some good breaks.”

San Beda topped almost every statistical category. They scored more points from turnovers, 16-11, and compiled more second chance points, 17-12. However, it was in fastbreak points where San Beda aced Xavier, 12-2.

“I told the boys to run at every chance,” noted Iñigo.

“That was some finish they dropped on us,” noted Xavier coach Carlo Tan of San Beda’s wind up that took the wind of the Golden Stallions’ sails. “I asked the team to be tougher but this is a young team we have. Hopefully, it will be a good learning experience for us as we lose only two players (Nathan Chan and Sadhwani).

Talampas was the only player to score in double figures for the game as he finished with 23 points. Sadhwani led Xavier with nine points.

Named to the Mythical Five Selection were San Beda’s Jade Talampas and Justine Sanchez. Xavier had three playing also named with Sadhwani, Tan, and Nathan Chan named to the division’s best. Tan, as a consolation, took home MVP honors.

Summed up Iñigo after the match, “This might be the last for some of my players as they will move up to the NCAA team next year. At least that is what I hope.”

Sunday, February 25, 2018

How about them Adamson Lady Falcons?

How about them Lady Falcons?
by rick olivares

It has been an up and down season for the Adamson Lady Falcons of head coach Airess Padda. They opened the season with a four-set loss to NU where new acquisition Eli Soyud didn’t perform the way she was expected to play. And as off this writing, they chalked up their biggest win of this season and in the Airess Padda era – a four-set win over defending champion La Salle.

The Lady Falcons played better against FEU and won a five-setter despite Soyud once more a non-factor. In her place, Jema Galanza stepped up and middle hitter Joy Dacoron giving a good account of herself. It seemed Adamson found their groove as they swept UP in three sets but they fell flat on their faces after UST used Padda’s rather innocent comments as motivation in a three-set win.

A skid seemed threatened to send them into a free fall with a five-set loss to Ateneo. The upside was Soyud played much better. Or has she?

Soyud, in her first season with Adamson after leaving La Salle, played huge in dealing her former team its second setback in their past three matches (25-18, 15-25, 25-19, 25-22).

That win gave Padda’s side an even 3-3 record with one more to play this first round against winless UE. They have a chance to go above .500 but given the way their season has gone, I don’t think anyone should bet against anything.

If there is any team that should wear the “comeback” tag it is the Lady Falcons. May Roque, although she seems to have lost her starting spot after a knee injury, is hardly a factor now but at least is in the line-up. Middle blocker and setter Fen Emnas are back after skipping a year after unhappiness about the coaching change of two years ago. Like Soyud, Ciara Permentilla is another refugee from another team who has found her home and groove with this team. And there’s Galanza who has battled all sorts of health ailments that could have permanently or temporarily sidelined her career. And she is the sixth best scorer in the league thus far.

Ironically, it is the team’s two middle hitters – Paat and Dacoron – are second and third in scoring as of Saturday, February 24. Mylene is currently at eighth spot while Joy is 14th in the Best Scorer’s ledger. Soyud who seems to have bucked her early season slump has picked it up and is at 17th with Permentilla not far behind.

Paat is the third best blocker and check this out – third best server! I guess, the time away from the team has served her in good stead.

Yet as good as this team has gotten, they know they have their work cut out for them. There are positives. Emnas set perhaps the best match of her career and played much better than her young but talented La Salle counterpart, Michelle Cobb. As I have written elsewhere, this team will live and die with Emnas setting which can best be described as living dangerously. In the vernacular, medyo alanganin. But Fen has learned so much in the past year or so playing club and school-based volleyball. While playing with the Bureau of Customs Transformers in the final season of the Shakey’s V-League, at times she steadied the ship in place of their Thai setter, Natthanicha Jaisaen. If she can steady her setting and feed her hitters, this team will take off.

I thought that last year, Padda was a refreshing change of pace for Adamson. Sure, she got upset a lot at her team. In English, her thoughts about her team were biting. But you cannot sugarcoat this. Yet when she delivered her thoughts, it was in the same tone and unlike others who tend to be harsh or even sarcastic.

Right now, the Adamson Lady Falcons are one of the most fun teams to watch. But I am sure it’s not simply about having fun but fulfilling the team’s promise. How they attack their next few matches will greatly tell where they end up because the middle of the pack of this unpredictable UAAP volleyball season – well, it’s packed. And that makes it truly a joy to watch.