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, April 13, 2008

First steps.

Game observations by Rick. Nico Salva photo by Miggy.

What can you say about Sam Ekwe? He's come a long way from that gangly center who reminded me of a young Akeem Olajuwon to a player who's almost a compleat one. His jump shot and hook shot from medium range is so much better now and that clearly begs the question... how much better can he get? Ekwe clearly is San Beda's x-factor.

The back-to-back NCAA champs got off to a rousing start as they dealt Ateneo a 70-61 loss. After an early deficit, the Red Lions took the lead and never looked back.

Someone asked me what this game says about Ateneo.

I said, "Not much. It's only the first game." However, it does expose some flaws early on.

1) The lack of a post-up player who can get the ball in deep and draw the double team. Basketball has changed where the back-to-the basket player has been replaced by those who face up and can stick the j. But conventional ball will never go away. Come crunchtime, that piece of real estate by the shaded lane will command top price -- the closer you are to the basket, the higher the percentage.

Losing Ford Arao and Jobe Nkemakolam -- two pound it inside operators -- took away the physical presence. And Zion Laterre's rebounding and shot blocking was sorely missed. After the early lead that was built by outside shooting, it evaporated when they weren't finding the bottom. The team was forced to scramble and improvise.

The team however is at its best when Eric Salamat, Jai Reyes, Chris Tiu, and Bacon Austria flash inside for a lay-up or a drop. With all the new faces on the team, it's obvious that there would be chemistry problems. There was none of the joy that was on display during the last UAAP season and the Champions League where their fluidity was a marvel to watch.

2) I thought that the coaching staff should have played the rookies longer. They should have come back sometime in the third but when it got more competitive it was too late to put them back in until Nico Salva returned to chip in the Blue Eagles' final four points. And when all else fails, why not play Chris Sumalinog? You'll need that extra man who can hit the outside shot.

3) Notice what the Red Lions were doing? Same thing UST does (didja notice that Ed Cordero is on the San Beda bench as an assistant). Bump our players on the dribble to subtlety to throw them off their pace and wait for the outlet for the pick-off.

It's the first game. It doesn't say much because this is definitely not a true barometer of the team. And there are five new guys so that creates an interesting situation. The coaching staff I figure was trying out some things. At the same time, it does say a few things about the team. It's good to take their lumps now because they'll get better in the UAAP.

But chin up, Ateneo! Bawi na lang.

Now to the assholes on the opposite side of the gallery who were rude during the singing of the alma mater... you'll get yours in time.

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