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, October 15, 2018

Meralco Bolts’ late power surge propels them past NLEX

Meralco Bolts’ late power surge propels them past NLEX
by rick olivares

Rage Against the Machine has this song titled, “Take the Power Back.”

While the song is political in nature, in a lateral way, it fits the Meralco Bolts after their stirring comeback win over sister team, NLEX, last Sunday, 108-105, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Facing elimination after making it to the finals of the season-ending Governors’ Cup in the previous two seasons, the Bolts summoned enough pride to restore a measure of luster to a difficult season. Behind Allen Durham and Baser Amer who combined for 58 points, Meralco found its clutch gene that was missing during the six-game slide; its longest in team history.

Amer scored on an and-one to notch the count one final time, 105-all, while sending NLEX import Aaron Fuller out of the game on account of six fouls.

The third year pro grabbed a huge offensive rebound and called for time as Meralco worked one final offensive thrust to win the game.

Amer wasn’t done with his late game heroics as he drilled a triple for the game’s marginal points, 108-105, with 15 seconds remaining.

Durham preserved the lead when he swatted Juami Tiongson's potential game-tying three-point attempt as time expired.

The tag team of Amer and Durham carried the Bolts in the fourth quarter as they respectively scored 17 and 16 points.

Durham, in his third stint with Meralco, scored a ton of points for the Bolts finishing with 36 points in addition to 18 rebounds and seven assists.

Amer who struggled mightily in the previous outing against Northport, tallied 22 point. Baser also had seven rebounds and four steals for good measure.

Chris Newsome was also big for the Bolts are he finished with a near double double of 14 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals while Reynel Hugnatan added 12 points, 5 caroms, and 4 assists in the win.

Fuller led NLEX with 31 points with Larry Fonacier (21 points, five assists, and four rebounds) and JR Quinahan (17 points and eight rebounds) contributing for the Road Warriors.

The win gave the Bolts a 2-6 record with three matches to play. NLEX suffered a third straight defeat to drop to a 4-5 slate.

Meralco 108 - Durham 36, Amer 22, Newsome 14, Hugnatan 12, Hodge 10, Caram 8, Lanete 2, Salva 2, Jamito 2, Faundo 0, Atkins 0, Tolomia 0.

NLEX 105 - Fuller 31, Fonacier 21, Quinahan 17, Ighalo 9, Galanza 6, Tallo 5, Marcelo 4, Taulava 3, Rios 3, Soyud 2, Baguio 2, Paniamogan 2, Tiongson 0, Monfort 0.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

My thoughts about Ateneo’s huge bounce back win vs UP

My thoughts about Ateneo’s huge bounce back win vs UP
by rick olivares

There are no easy games against the UP Fighting Maroons. More so when you are trying to bounce back from a loss.

The Maroons’ ascent in the past three years isn’t by happenstance, but by design. Bo Perasol has done a very good job with rebuilding UP from ground up. This team has shed that stigma of losing and are now highly motivated and dangerous. What they need to work on though is their consistency.

Having said that, the same also applies to the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Because of their preseason success, it looked like they were going to roll over everyone. But the UAAP is all together another animal. This is a different arena with all sorts of pressure.

And there was pressure coming into the match after that galling loss to FEU. It didn’t help that Matt and Mike Nieto were out with injuries. After a tough first three quarters, Ateneo finally seized control in the last few minutes of the third to build on that six-point lead for the 83-66 win.

Here are our thoughts about the match…

How Tyler Tio would respond to taking over the starting point guard slot.
In his UAAP debut two seasons ago, Tyler exploded for 20 points versus UP. Since then he has struggled to find his place in the offense. In the last game, when he came out of the halftime break, he didn’t respond well. But in this game against UP, with a few days to prepare for the game he did very well. And that should do wonders for his confidence.

He wasn’t tentative. He attacked and orchestrated well. His final stat line read: 12 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal against ZERO turnovers. How about that? He was very dependable that when he returned in the second half, the team settled down.

Overcoming those nervy moments
For the first time this season, Angelo Kouame had to deal with early foul trouble. The bench came in and the lead went down again. Then UP made a third quarter run to erase that deficit. But what I have to like is how the Blue Eagles posted a 12 point lead in the second half with Kouame on the bench.

Adrian Wong losses a tooth and is prematurely out of the game
He played well in the short moment he was on the floor. Then he throws himself to the court and chips a tooth sending him out. You have to feel for this kid. A few years ago, he played with this angas where he would drive to the basket and make big baskets. Since his return, he has had some good moments in between lots of moments of indecision and poor play. Here’s hoping he gets healthy and finds his resolve this second round.

Much better effort all around by all who entered the game

Okay, the team shot better from the outside and when that happens, it helps the overall scheme of things. Most of the Blue Eagles chipped in such as Jolo Mendoza who was locked in from the moment he came in, SJ Belangel who scored four points but at times, held on to the ball too long, and Gian Mamuyac who was explosive. But it was disappointing to see Will Navarro and Aaron Black struggle in their few minutes on the floor. Hopefully, these two fellows can find their consistent groove.

All starters played well. We already pointed out to Tyler and Thirdy is coming up. We’d like to mention Raffy Verano who came up big and was more active (10 points, 7 boards, 2 steals, and 1 block). The only reason why UP’s bench outscored Ateneo’s was Bright Akhuetie came off the bench. Take away Bright’s 20 points and UP would only have 13 bench points (add Jerson Prado’s two points).

When Thirdy is on top of his game, there is no one better.
He scores, rebounds, finds teammates, and plays great defense. Is there any better all-around impact player in the league right now?

It is good to see him not chuck away a lot of shots from the outside as he attacked the rim with a lot of fire. In this game, he was his usual Tasmanian Devil self making things happen on many plays. Those defensive gems on Paul Desiderio and Javi Gomez De Liaño were incredible plays.

His stat line read: 21 points, 11 rebounds (4 from the offensive end), 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 1 assist against 3 turnovers.

And with this win, Ateneo took the top spot for the first time all season at 6-2 while Adamson (5-2) and FEU (5-3) both lost.

Was it me or did UP lack some fire?
I was a little surprised that UP came out with one, Bright Akhuetie off the bench, and two, a bit listless. While I think that it was a defensive and low scoring ball game, I was surprised that save for Paul Desiderio and Javi Gomez De Liaño, most of the Fighting Maroons seemed listless. I will not credit everything to the Ateneo defense.

This is the second game this season where I didn’t see Juan Gomez De Liaño play his usual game (the other was versus UST where he only caught fire late in the game). But this has to be a disappointing loss by UP as they drop to an even 3-5 with two consecutive losses (after they put together a three-game win streak).

I was also surprised to see David Murrell come off the bench. His uneven playing time, in my opinion, might be bugging his confidence. I cannot say though it is wrong as Javi Gomez De Liaño is playing so well.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

3 takeaways from UST & FEU’s wins

3 takeaways from UST & FEU’s wins
by rick olivares

This UAAP Season 81 us turning out to be a real unpredictable one. Most thought that the Ateneo Blue Eagles would be lording it over the field, but instead, they have succumbed to two losses. Adamson started well and fell in their last game of the first round. The UST Growling Tigers are responsible for two of the biggest upsets in the first round. UE had one of the biggest routs of the season for their only win. And UP flexes its muscles, crashes, gets back up with a streak, and gets knocked down again.

What a season!

And here are some takeaways from the men’s basketball games last October 10 that was upset day as UST felled UP and FEU chopped Ateneo down to size.

UST confirms it is headed in the right direction.
Remember when UST even with a small rotation would be so problematic for opposing teams because they arguably had some of the best players in their respective positions (under Pido Jarencio)? They aren’t at that just yet. But in terms of danger – this team isn’t lacking and in spite of the shellacking they got during the summer leagues, we thought that there were signs they would get better. And in the weeks leading up to the UAAP, our thoughts were confirmed. Now the rest of the league knows that you cannot take them lightly.

Without Steve Akomo, they blew the UP Fighting Maroons off the court from the near get-go with daring, terrific in-your-face defense, team play, and scalding hot shooting. I think aside from the top play of CJ Cansino and Renzo Subido, a major factor here was the desire of Zach Huang. I’d say he started it with his tough defense and willingness to sacrifice his body to stop the opposing player. He grabbed rebounds he had no business of hauling down and hit big shots. Then Enrique Caunan followed suit. Pretty soon everyone else was at it.

Say what you will about Aldin Ayo, but there is no denying he is a darn good coach.

With three wins in seven matches, they have bettered last year’s one-win finish and with one more, will match the win total of the previous seasons under the former head coach (four wins).

This win over Ateneo says you have to fear FEU
Without Arvin Tolentino, the Tamaraws looked to struggled and they did early on. After Tab Baldwin pulled out the starters to bring in the bench, they were not able to sustain the energy and defense and they allowed FEU back in the game. Now, they still managed a 10-point lead at the half, but come the second half, they left their game inside the locker room because the Tamaraws came out with renewed energy and played with a chip on their shoulder. 

The win is massive for FEU because that three-game win streak places them in second place (5-2) right behind Adamson (6-1). Ateneo drops to third even at 5-2 because of the win-over-the-other tie breaker.

The Tams got huge outside shots from Hubert Cani, Axel Iñigo, and Wendell Comboy and crucial steals to take this win.

It looks like that dressing room session of the players after taking it on the chin from UE righted their ship.

For UP and Ateneo, they have to look within at what went wrong.
Sure, you cannot win every game. But losses like this you have to wonder what happened and then forget it and move on. Either these losses make you better or plant seeds of doubt.

FEU came in with revenge on their mind to prove that they could beat Ateneo after last year’s semi-finals. They nearly buried FEU early on – yes, I know no one wins games in the first period, but you can certainly build on that lead – and they stepped off the gas pedal. Furthermore, some players have only provided cameo appearances, but have yet to really show up. First round is done, gents.

UST came in with a heart for ambush and they accomplished that. Whether UP thought that UST would capitulate they only know. But looking at Paul Desiderio’s face during the third period, there was this anger I have not seen. Unfortunately, they couldn’t put UST away.

This will only make for an exciting second round.