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.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Two points to take from the Ateneo Blue Eaglets' 68-65 win over FEU

The second round for the Ateneo Blue Eaglets is getting harder with foes adjusting to what has made them successful thus far in this season.

Ateneo squeaked past FEU 68-65 for their 10th win in as many matches.

While FEU is never an easy opponent, in my opinion, I wondered why Ateneo never figured out the Tamaraws’ play. Maybe they did but they never showed it.

Perhaps among all the players on the floor that game, the quickest one was FEU guard LJ Gonzales. If he didn’t get a screen from Daniel Celso, he used his quickness to beat his guard (which was always). Gonzales’ ability to split his defenders and get inside the lane wreaked havoc on Ateneo’s defenses. More oft than not, he found the open man. And you’d see the Eaglets scrambling in a disorganized manner to cover the open man. Late in the game, Gonzales’ teammates began to miss while he himself committed some turnovers.

In the first half, FEU hit their shots. In many ways, Ateneo was lucky because the Tams also missed their shots in the end. Of course, the Blue Eaglets played good defense but they never really solved Gonzales’ penetration and kick outs. FEU got 48 points from the perimeter (to Ateneo's 9).

Now I do not know what the rules are on defense but for sure, if they don’t fix those rotations, FEU could pull off an upset next time around. Losing twice to the Eaglets in the eliminations means squat until the playoffs.

I think the Blue Eaglets are at their lethal best when going hard to the basket. Look at the discrepancy of inside points 40-14! During the second period, Ateneo scored 15 points with 14 coming from inside. That got them back in the game. I think they should do a better job of recognizing that better.

Let’s take a look at what Gonzales did against Ateneo.

Gonzales gets a screen from teammates Cedric Ona and Xyrus Torres. SJ Belangel is on him.

Gonzales beats Belangel with that first step and is off. Standing in his way are Amchel Angeles and Geo Chiu. At the left corner pocket is FEU guard Royce Alforque.

Angeles, Chiu, and Belangel scramble to cover the open man. Chiu would retreat realizing he has no chance to cover Alforque. Besides, Gonzales in now inside the lane. Ateneo dodged a bullet because Alforque missed and they pulled down the defensive rebound. 

Here's another one (and yes, there are lots).

Here, Gonzales is able to slither out of the trap by Daniel David and Joaqui Manuel. And he leaves the two of them in the dust with SJ Belangel also giving chase. SJ was trying to cover the outlet but LJ beat the trap.

Once more, Gonzales draws a crowd with Dave Ildefonso and Kai Sotto converging on him. Celso is able to seal Sotto.
Gonzales finds a cutting Rei Tolentico who inexplicably misses a point blank layup. Once more Ateneo is lucky. 

And here's another bit of luck. With 3.0 seconds left, Manuel is fouled by RJ Abarrientos sending him to the line. Manuel cans both freebies for a 68-65 lead. FEU quickly inbounds. I am surprised that Ateneo elected not to foul. The had three team fouls and could have given one more to eat up more time on the clock. As it is, they fouled with less than a second left but it was close as Gonzales attempted a trey. That was close to a foul in the act of shooting.

Sure it is a win. But there are lessons to learn as well.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Former BaliPure import Jennifer Keddy battling ovarian cancer

Former BaliPure import Jennifer Keddy battling ovarian cancer
by rick olivares

Former BaliPure import Jennifer Keddy flew back home to Montana from Wiesbaden, Germany in December of 2017 to get a medical checkup, she was a little worried. Before her second stint in Germany, she had played with BaliPure in the Premier Volleyball League and led the Purest Water Defenders to a second place finish. She also couldn’t wait to return home as she had been away from her family in the United States for about eight months.

Recharged from the short break, she flew back to play for VC Wiesbaden. Unfortunately, she prematurely terminated her contract after some medical issues. She had discovered a lump in her stomach. “There was no pain, but I looked pregnant and was very bloated. My body was a hard mass so I knew something wasn’t right,” she told this writer.

“I went to see a doctor and got an ultrasound. They told me I had a tumor and it was so big they couldn’t tell me where it started. After getting a MRI, I went straight to the doctor to look at the pictures and she wasn’t 100% sure but she told me that she was 98% sure it wasn’t cancerous. I had to make a decision – to stay in Germany which isn’t my home and where I have no family and friends save for my teammates. But everything is free. Or I fly home to have the surgery and post-operational things done with my family and friends by my side.”

After flying home to Montana, it was revealed that she had ovarian cancer. “This can’t be,” she added. “I’m only 26 years old.”

After college at California Polytechnic State University, Keddy went overseas to play professional volleyball. “It wasn’t an easy decision to make,” Jennifer told me last year a few weeks after she arrived in Manila to suit up for BaliPure where she tag teamed with Jang Bualee to back-stop the Purest Water Defenders.

When I first met Jennifer Keddy, it was at the tunnel entrance leading to the court of the Filoil Flying V Centre. Her new team, BaliPure had a match that day. It was her first game with her new team after arriving from Europe where she concluded a tournament.

A young girl, probably slightly older than Keddy’s then 25-years of age but who looked younger because she was like a foot smaller than the six-foot-four American, approached her. The volleyball fan asked for a photo to which Keddy obliged. “You’re so tall,” the girl enthused because Keddy seemed taller than her listed height. Keddy smiled.

Strength and conditioning coach Raymond Pili added, “Always in our prayers” to which Jennifer replied, “I should have eaten the balut.”

BaliPure team manager Paolo Turno also expressed words of support.

“People mistake loneliness and trying to adapt into a different environment for aloofness or not being interested,” she explained. “You try to take stock of a different climate, different culture, different situation, different language. You cannot process that overnight or within a week. And in the middle of everything you have to play volleyball.”

After struggling early on, Keddy and her new teammates turned on the jets and made a mad dash for the semi-finals and then the finals. Unfortunately, they came up short losing in a memorable three-game series to Pocari Sweat.

In the middle of that run, I frequently chatted with Jennifer about life in the Philippines, the NBA (she’s a Cleveland Cavaliers fan), food, and volleyball. It took a while to get into the swing of things but when she did, she began to enjoy her stint here. In one of her last few nights in Manila, the team closed the tournament with a dinner at a restaurant in San Juan where we spoke for about 15 minutes. “I really appreciate this team. They made me feel very much welcome and I appreciate that.”

Now back at home after an operation to remove the tumor, she is undergoing chemotherapy. Keddy’s family turned to “gofundme” to help with all the medical expenses. “It was actually my mom’s idea to start the ‘gofundme’ page. I had no idea what it was and didn’t expect much to come from it. Then all of a sudden there was so much support and so many donations I was amazed and touched so I am thankful for everyone.”

Keddy described the treatment routine: “I’m doing chemo and the acronym for my chemo is called BEP for Bleomysin, Etoposide, and Cysplatin. My chemo regimen is three rounds with each round lasting three weeks. One round looks like this; week one, chemo Monday through Friday, 4.5 hours each time. Week two, chemo on Tuesdays only and week three chemo Tuesday only.”

Her BaliPure coach, Roger Gorayeb posted a message of support on Keddy’s Facebook page, “Me and your teammates will always be here for you, Jen,” he wrote. Teammate Jorelle Singh added, “Love you, Ate Jenny. Keep on fighting.”

If anyone would like to offer words or even send donations, they can reach out to Jennifer Keddy’s Facebook page or the GoFundMe page: Help Jennifer Keddy Spike Cancer.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Second gen stars lead way for DLSZ in BBI hoops wins

Second gen stars lead way for DLSZ in BBI hoops wins
by rick olivares

Second-generation hoopsters stamped their class for different age-division teams of De La Salle Zobel last weekend in the Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals Cherifer Tangkad Sagad Tournament at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in Quezon City.

Dwyane James Miranda, son of pro player Dennis Miranda, top scored for DLSZ’s 12-Under team in a 73-39 demolition of Rich Golden Showers Montessori College. The younger Miranda led the way for the Junior Archers with 13 points.

Miranda has another 10-year old basketball playing son also for DLSZ, the eponymously-named Chris Paul Miranda.

In the 10-Under category, Kristoffer Favis scored 13 points while Daniel Sta. Maria, Dominic Joaquin Arejola, and Kiefer Alas each added nine points in a 53-41 win over Ateneo. Kristoffer is the son of former DLSZ and UST star Binky while Daniel is the son of former Green Archers forward Adonis Sta. Maria. Dominic Joaquin is the son of former DLSU guard Eric Arejola who is now with GlobalPort team management in the PBA. Kiefer is the son of former Adamson star and current Phoenix Petroleum coach Louie Alas.

Xavier School bounced back from a disappointing weekend the other week with a 12-Under clobbering of La Salle College Antipolo, 86-24, and a 17-Under triumph over Our Lady of Perpetual Succor College, 87-60, behind Batang Gilas’ Miguel Tan’s 21 points with Martin Sadhwani adding 12. The Golden Stallions held LSCA to below double digits in each of the first three quarters.

Agila, a club team of Ateneo players in the 10-under bracket laid waste to OLPSC, 82-33 behind Derek Domangcas’ 19 points and LeBron Nieto’s 12 markers. Nieto is the youngest son of former Ateneo Blue Eagles Jet Nieto whose other songs, Matt and Mike recently helped their seniors squad cop the UAAP title.

In 12-Under play, Disciples defeated Ateneo-Paya, 57-49.

The Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals are sponsored by Smart, Cherifer, San Marino corned tuna,, and Mared Rubber.