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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

De-mystifying the Mythical Selection

De-mystifying the UAAP Mythical Selection
by rick olivares

With UAAP Season 70’s Men’s Basketball Tournament almost over here are a few things to consider when making the selections for the competition’s individual awards. At the end of the eliminations round, the top ten in the overall statistical points (the basis for the mythical selections) is as follows:
1. Jervy Cruz
2. Patrick Cabahug
3. Edwin Asoro
4. Jayvee Casio
5. Rico Maierhofer
6. Ford Arao
7. Mark Borboran
8. Marnel Baracael
9. Chris Tiu
10. Tyrone Tang

Season MVP
Jervy Cruz (UST)

I’d say that Cruz given his incredible stats is a shoo-in for league MVP. But should statistical points – the cumulated total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks -- be the basis for a player’s selection to the Mythical Five?

The other four selections should also be worthy of the game’s singular highest honor. Say it again… Most Valuable Player. Valuable in the sense that he contributes mightily and heavily to his team’s success. Now if his team is in the bottom tier then tough. What if since he was on a lousy team and he was just trying to pad his stats? If he was so valuable why wasn’t he able to tow his team to the final four?

This season, the Ateneo Blue Eagles were seeded to finish fifth or sixth by pre-season prognosticators; an indication that people thought there would be a power failure in Loyola Heights given the graduation of several vital cogs. The Blue Eagles’ success can be attributed to several factors: good recruiting, a very good system, excellent coaching, and an excellent blend of veterans and new blood. But if you were to compare them on paper the other teams are more talented and have the benefit of just as good if not better coaching.

Now unless a player from the lower or middle tier teams had a truly spectacular season then I’d say anyone who plays for a sucky team shouldn’t be even considered. At least not on the first team. Selections like that in my honest opinion are being politically correct. Consider the term “politically correct” a euphemism for “compromise” or “playing it safe.”

Well the games are decided on the court therefore we deal in absolutes. There are no compromises. If the statistical points are the sole basis for the selections then that leaves UE’s Borboran and Arellano out of the running? And that smacks of total disrespect to the Red Warriors and their 14-0 record. By all rights and purposes, the final four is a charade. Why does UE have to play again when they’ve beaten everyone twice?

Sure being from Ateneo, I’d love for my team to have another crack at the title. But really, it’s nothing more than a ratings and an attendance ploy where more games especially by the “elite schools” means more advertising money.

So maybe the UAAP Board should look into this. They should reward a team that sweeps the eliminations with an outright title. This isn’t the pros.

Back to the Mythical Selection, my criteria for a player making it to the First Five hinges on his:
- overall statistical points
- clutch plays and standing tall during big games
- team’s standing

Based on that, my First Five consists of:
Jervy Cruz (UST)
Ford Arao (ADMU)
Mark Borboran (UE)
Jayvee Casio (DLSU)
Marcy Arellano (UE)

Cruz put up some monster numbers and day in and out. As much as Khasim Mirza gave the Tigers a huge boost with his energy and scoring, he had a tendency to disappear in certain games. Cruz was steady every time. You can only hope to slow him down, but stop him? No one has so far.

Ford Arao has found focus. In his breakout year, he has been almost unstoppable in scoring on a variety of drop-steps, hook shots, turn around bank shots, and put-backs. And it’s not an uncommon sight to find him running the break as well. Arao has become an unlikely go-to player for the Blue Eagles supplanting even Chris Tiu.

Mark Borboran doesn’t need to put up huge numbers to dominate a game. He understands what is needed of him during a game and he goes out and finishes the job. No longer just a flashy dunker, Borboran has become a complete player.

Jayvee Casio can single-handedly alter an opponent’s game plans. His presence and rifle range not only frees La Salle’s bigs to operate but means that no lead is safe with him on the floor.

The UE Red Warriors may get by with Borboran and Elmer Espiritu on the bench owing to the superb development of Hans Thiele and Kelvin Gregorio but without Marcy Arellano, the Big Red Machine is stuck on neutral.

Second Five:
Edwin Asoro (NU)
Rico Maierhofer (DLSU)
Marnel Baracael (FEU)
Chris Tiu (ADMU)
Patrick Cabahug (ADU)

So why did Asoro and Cabahug drop to the second team?

Asoro is a puzzle. Oozing with immense talent, basketball is an easy game for him. Sadly though, for the most part of the year, he looked uninterested, bored, and out of whack. And to think he put up great numbers while seemingly spaced out. I thought that Jonathan Jahnke and Raymond Aguilar helped elevate this team more than Asoro and were particularly there during crunchtime.

As for Cabahug? He’s never met a shot he didn’t like. The Black Hole of Adamson knows there’s no “I” in team, but there sure is in “win.” Unfortunately for Cabahug and his Falcons, he’s no Ken Bono and if it weren’t for the hapless UP Maroons, Adamson would have been winless once more.

Coach of the Year
Dindo Pumaren (UE) You have to love the way he got players like Kelvin Gregorio and Hans Thiele to raise their game to another level. I’d say it’s the bench play of UE that has them where they are. Time was when these guys entered the game, you knew that the second unit was going to take a beating, but now… that’s one deep bench. And I haven’t even touched on the sweep.

Honorable Mention:
Norman Black (ADMU) You don’t lose three primetime players (who all made the pros) and two reserves then head back into the Final Four and give every team fits. Perhaps his best coaching in collegiate sports so far.

Rookie of the Year
Paul Lee (UE). Dindo Pumaren’s Lee-thal Weapon. Just when teams thought that they could sustain a run against UE, Lee comes in and silences the crowd with a dagger trey or the conventional and-one play.

Honorable Mention:
Ric Cawaling (FEU) Cawaling could be ROY, but Lee really provided a bigger spark that pushed the Warriors straight into the finals.

UST’s Khasim Mirza could have been a hands-down selection, but the Tigers’ deadly swingman was a transferee from World Citi Colleges.

Defensive Player of the Year
Edwin Asoro (NU) He’s the only player in the top three in rebounding, steals, and blocks.

Honorable Mention:
Nonoy Baclao (ADMU) Plagued by foul trouble almost all throughout the tournament that limited his effectiveness, he did come on strong in the last games of the eliminations. Watch out next year when he takes it to a higher level.

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