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.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A game of moments: A post-script to Ateneo's win over Adamson and before their game vs NU

A game of moments
by rick olivares

Sometimes, games can hinge on a certain moment.

If Derek Jeter didn’t play the extra cut-off man in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS and executed the flip to catcher Jorge Posada who tagged a lumbering Jeremy Giambi at the home plate, the Oakland Athletics could have possibly swept the New York Yankees.

If referee Hugh Hollins didn’t call a late foul on Scottie Pippen during the 1984 NBA Eastern Conference semi-finals, it is possible the Chicago Bulls would have advanced to the finals and maybe even won an incredible fourth straight title. And if that happened then it is possible that Michael Jordan would have not returned to the Bulls as they won without him.

Games can hinge on certain moments. Sometimes, they even happen on certain intervals during a match.

With barely two minutes gone by during the Adamson-Ateneo match last October 14, Blue Eagle center Chibueze Ikeh was whistled for a foul. At that point, Ateneo had opportunities to score but missed them all. It was Adamson’s game plan to go hard inside and to pit the Falcons’ Papi Sarr against Ikeh.

Ikeh has been solid and efficient thus far. He has been tried and tested and will continue to be treated as such until the season is over. While he doesn’t put up a lot of points, his steadiness and presence has given Ateneo as close to a force inside the lane. The last time they had that Man in the Middle was when Greg Slaughter patrolled the lane with aplomb in leading the Blue Eagles to the fourth and fifth titles in its fabled five-peat.

Fouls are measured in increments of time. They can alter substitution patterns. One is enough for a quarter. Two in the first frame and more often than not, you do not return until the second half.

With Ikeh called so early, the coach has to make a decision – does he yank him or make him play a bit more? The latter clearly a gamble.

Incredibly, Ikeh plays the next six minutes while evading another crippling foul as Adamson and Sarr are unable to take advantage. When Ikeh exits the first quarter, Ateneo is up, 11-8. The moment has gone by with Ateneo unscathed.

Isaac Go comes in the second quarter and delivers. In that frame, he is whistled for two fouls this time with Ateneo up, 23-13.

The ball goes to Sarr who commits an offensive foul.

When Ikeh returns late in the second quarter, he is whistled for his second foul. Ateneo’s lead is cut to six, 29-23 but Jolo Mendoza hits a jumper to give the blue and white a bit more breathing space heading into the half time break.

In the third period, Ikeh once more gets the better of Sarr scoring five points including a triple. He is called for his third foul with a little over five to play in the period; 41-33, Ateneo. Isaac Go comes in and hit a jumper and a three-ball, and the lead swells to 49-34.

At the 2:23 mark, Kris Porter comes in for Go and Ateneo leading, 51-36. I have been puzzled by Porter who has changed his game in the past couple of years when he’d prefer to fire from the outside instead of battling inside the pit where he made a name for himself in high school. With Ikeh and Go on the bench, Ateneo needs him although he does have help with the quick-thinking Mike Nieto on court at the same time. Porter dribbles out of trouble and later scores a basket.


As good as Ateneo has been, the frontline – at least from the four and five spots have been a bit suspect. But others will argue that the individual stats do not matter; only the collective. Porter has done well in the brief moments he is on the floor. He might have only scored two points but he keeps his head in the game and only gets called for two fouls that he uses judiciously. And he has zero turnovers. That he did somewhat all right and limited the damage Adamson could do when Ikeh and Go were off the floor is massive. And it does go unnoticed.

And there was Thirdy Ravena taking on the task of guarding former teammate Jerie Pingoy who is now wearing the Adamson colors. Pingoy only scored three points off him. It was a move reminiscent of Rich Alvarez containing Mike Cortez in the 2002 UAAP Finals. Or Emman Monfort shutting down the league’s most valuable player in RR Garcia in the Season 73 championship series.

However, these moments – Ikeh staving off further foul trouble, Porter holding his ground, Ravena shutting down a dangerous man -- helped Ateneo to a 71-59 win; their eighth straight.

The college ball season is so short that every win is huge and every loss even bigger. Just ask the Season 70 Blue Eagles who lost their heads in a moment and lost in a monumental upset to NU that eventually cost them a twice-to-beat advantage in the semi-finals.

And speaking of the Bulldogs. This pesky nemesis is at a point where a win will revive their final four push and a loss will sink them. The moments? They will be there. Someone just has to seize them.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Meralco Bolts need to raise the level of their game to get into this Governors' Cup series.

Meralco needs to raise the level of their game to get into this Governors' Cup series.
by rick olivares

Barangay Ginebra seized a 2-0 lead over the Meralco Bolts in the Governors' Cup Finals and this second game after an 86-76 Game Two win in this PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.

At times, Meralco led and beat back repeated fight backs by Ginebra but they faltered in the endgame as they were unable to withstand the withering attacks of the defending champions.

Before the start of the Governors’ Cup Finals, I felt that the odds were stacked up against the Meralco Bolts. I felt they didn’t have the bigs to match up with Barangay Ginebra.

At any given time, Barangay Ginebra can field three of their four tall players who can all hurt you in different ways – there’s the Best Player of the Conference Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Justin Brownlee who athleticism and energy will surely give Meralco fits, and Joe Devance.

Meralco can only counter with Allen Durham. Even if Kelly Nabong were around, they would still have it tough.

I felt that for the Bolts to have a chance of upending Ginebra, they need to run, attack them inside, and to shoot well from three-point range.

Let’s look at those three points:

Game 1 Fastbreaks
Ginebra 19
Meralco 10

Game 1 Points in the Paint
Ginebra 54
Meralco 44

Game 1 Three-Points
Ginebra 7-18 39%
Meralco 8-34 24%

Game 2 Fastbreaks
Ginebra 8
Meralco 19

Game 2 Points in the Paint
Ginebra 48
Meralco 32

Game 3 Three-Points
Ginebra 5-18 28%
Meralco 5-23 22%

As for the four-headed monster of Ginebra versus Durham, this is how it has played out:

Game 1
Greg Slaughter: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks
Japeth Aguilar: 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocked shots
Justin Brownlee: 32 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists
Joe Devance: 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists

Allen Durham: 27 points and 14 rebounds
Cliff Hodge: 8 points 5 rebounds

Game 2
Greg Slaughter: 3 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks
Japeth Aguilar: 16 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block
Justin Brownlee: 19 points and 13 rebounds
Joe Devance: 10 points and 5 rebounds

Allen Durham: 25 points, 22 rebounds, 7 assists
Ranidel De Ocampo: 10 points and 12 rebounds

Now the Bolts are in a 0-2 hole. Can they still come back? Of course, they can… but they will need to do more than defeat Ginebra in those points I mentioned. Meralco needs its locals to step up. They have virtually disappeared this series leaving Durham, De Ocampo, and Baser Amer to wage a lonely war.

In my opinion, if the others aren’t playing well, maybe it’s time to go to the bench? This is where you try and throw everyone at Ginebra and try to get something out of Joseph Yeo (who I am plenty sure can still play and score). Was Mike Tolomia forgotten? With Hodge ineffective, maybe Bryan Faundo can help some?

The Bolts need to come out and play the perfect game and to have all hands on deck if they want to make a series of this. If not, Ginebra will be staring at a sweep and unfinished business will take another season of stewing and planning. And definitely, re-loading.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Looking at Ateneo’s 2nd round win over Adamson

Looking at Ateneo’s 2nd round win over Adamson
by rick olivares

Much was made about this game as the unbelievers said that the first time the two teams met, Adamson’s Papi Sarr was unavailable. If these “analysts” were watching, Adamson hasn’t even beaten Ateneo in the pre-season the past two years with this line-up of theirs (much more in the UAAP) so I have no idea where they get these ideas.

Nevertheless, it is – was – a big game. And it took about four minutes before Ateneo found the target and its rhythm. While the Blue Eagles were missing wide open shots (and not because of the D mind you), they played good D. And they continued that until the final 1:47. The match ended in a 71-59 win for Ateneo to go to 8-0.

It was obvious that Adamson wanted to pound Ateneo inside; hence, feeding the ball to Papi Sarr from the get-go – to attack Chibueze Ikeh. I recall a game back when Franz Pumaren was still coaching La Salle and he seemed to not think much of then-center Ford Arao. They went right at Arao for the game but Arao, who was in his last year for the Blue Eagles, more than held his own that game.

Ikeh managed Sarr all right
Ikeh of course, has been rock solid all season long and he more than held his ground. If you ask me, he outplayed Sarr despite the latter putting up better stats.

Sarr: 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 turnovers
Ikeh: 7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, and 2 turnovers

Okay, you might be wondering how Ikeh outplayed him. Simple, when they went at each other during the game, Sarr didn’t do much.

In the first 6:54 of the first quarter where both went at one another, both were scoreless and each one fished a foul from the other.

Here’s the difference:
1st Quarter – Ateneo 16 Adamson 10
Ikeh: 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 turnover
Sarr: 1 rebound and 2 turnovers
More than that, Ikeh prevented a couple of entry passes to his Adamson counterpart. 

2nd Quarter: Ateneo 31 Adamson 24
This is where Sarr did better.
Sarr: 5 points (three on Ikeh as the only bucket was when the Ateneo center was off the floor), 3 rebounds, and 2 turnovers (plus he fished another foul from Ikeh – questionable though)
Ikeh: 0 stat line

3rd quarter: Ateneo 54 Adamson 41
When Ateneo made their big run in the third canto, Ikeh once more was solid.
Ikeh: 5 points including one trey in front of Sarr plus 1 rebound
Sarr: 4 points, 2 rebounds, plus another foul from Ikeh

4th Quarter: Ateneo 71 Adamson 59
Ikeh: 2 points, 3 rebounds, plus the monster block on Sarr
Sarr: 6 points (including a three-point play against Ikeh although Sarr missed the free throw – he only scored 2 points on Ikeh), 3 rebounds, 1 turnover

If you look at the efficiency ratings, Ikeh was a plus-six while Sarr was a minus-17.

The defense was impressive for about 38 minutes.

The Blue Eagles did a great job of defending the Soaring Falcons’ guards.
Jerie Pingoy – 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 0 turnovers
Terence Mustre – 5 points (4 points during garbage time), 1 steal, and 1 TO
Rob Manalang – 1 point, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers

Jerie and well, Sarr were the two best performers for Adamson.

In contrast, Ateneo’s point guards performed better:
Matt Nieto: 2 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 TO
Tyler Tio: 3 points, 1 assist, 1 TO
Jolo Mendoza: 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
Gian Mamuyac: 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2 TOs

And Tyrus Hill and Sean Manganti were held quiet all match long.
Manganti before the Ateneo game: 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds
Hill before the Ateneo game: 4.7 points, 2.3 rebounds

Against Ateneo in the second round:
Manganti: 4 points and 5 boards
Hill: 6 points (3 points in the last 1:47 minutes of garbage time) and 4 rebounds

I was surprised that Adamson didn’t allow their wingmen to attack. The ball more oft than not was being dumped inside. But you have to also credit Ateneo’s defense on Manganti and Hill who never had a chance to get going.

The defense was darn good except in the last three minutes when Tab Baldwin emptied the bench.

Points of TOs
Ateneo 20
Adamson 7 (what all in the last 1:47 minutes)

Gotta admire the team play. The prettiest in the UAAP. And that has me thinking of – what if Ateneo and Lyceum played each other now?

One bit of concern. The last 1:47 weren’t pretty at all. Am referring to when the third stringers went in. They only got off one attempt and turned the ball over twice while Adamson had seven attempts from the field plus two free throws.

Maybe that unit should be made to pay together rather cobble them in the last minute because they looked befuddled out there – picking up the dribble when they shouldn’t. Making really bad passes and not looking any comfortable.

But other than that, massive win to start the second round.