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, June 30, 2009

NCAA Day 2: CSB shows it's all about execution while Arellano U sends a message.

Day 2 of the NCAA Men's Basketball Games.

College of St. Benilde 87 vs. Angeles University Foundation 76
The College of St. Benilde Blazers got off to a rousing start by breaking open a close game with the Angeles University Foundation Great Danes by simply executing better than their Pampanga-based foes.

The Great Danes, coached by former FEU Tamaraws Enrico Gascon, must have thought they were still at their hometown as they tried to run without rhyme or reason and they paid for it.

For starters, their point guards Paulo Henson and Patrick Musni were huge liabilities. The pair played a total of 34 unproductive minutes and collectively compiled 2 points (from free throws at that), 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, versus 6 turnovers. They were slow to bring up the ball to their frontcourt and when they did they just passed the ball to the wings and their job was done. Zero playmaking. Zero drives to the hoop. One loss that opened up a list of questions.

In the first half, the Great Danes shot themselves further by committing a rash of turnovers that allowed the Blazers to take a seven-point lead 40-33.

If they seemed like they were going to get back in the game, the punchless pair failed to get Matt Carney into the game. The power playing frontcourt player scored 11 points after two quarters as his ability to carve some space in the shaded lane gave some fits to Blazers Jacob Manlapaz Robbie Mañalac, and William Johnstone. In the final half, he hardly had any touches and played only seven more minutes and had only two more attempts that bricked.

The Great Danes' forwards were faster in bringing down the ball and showed better playmaking by creating opportunities for teammates.

But that was one half of the equation. For the Blazers of former DLSU player and Sta. Lucia Realtor Richard Del Rosario, they showed more discipline in spite of being a young team and suffering key losses to personnel who were deemed ineligible to play prior to the start of the tournament (see Carlo Lastimosa).

The Blazers pounced on AUF's inability to read their basic plays when their forwards or centers would make backdoor cuts and with their opponents napping on defense, cut right back into the middle effectively sealing out their guards for almost point blank stabs.

Furthermore, the bulk of Benilde's points were coming off plays from the right side of the court whether through set pieces or fastbreak passes. CSB scored 23 fastbreak points off AUF turnovers.

Del Roasrio, who is trying to win as many games as he can in this first round, "para hindi kami maghabol," had his guards and forwards meet their foes before the halfcourt line making it difficult to get into their offense. "It feels good to get that first win," added the coach who is taller than all of his players perhaps save for Mañalac. "I didn't have to suit up," he quipped.

CSB's Gelo Montecastro scored a game high 22 points while teammates Chuck Dalanon added 18, Johnstone 12, and Jeff Morial with 10.

AUF's high-leaping Arnel Fuertez scored 18, Limmuel Manarang 16, Matt Carney and Aaaron Santos with 11 a piece.

Arellano University Chiefs 80 vs. Emilio Aguinaldo Generals 62
If AUF's guards were invisible, EAC's John Santos and Argel Mendoza showed a willingness to mix it up inside. Except that EAC went to war without any outside artillery.

The Generals' inability to bombard from the outside allowed the AU Chiefs to clamp down inside and from a 11-16 first quarter deficit, spring their trapping defense that had EAC on its heels.

The Chiefs played man-to-man in the first quarter as they patiently watched what the Generals were doing. The ball basically went down to forwards Russell and Lowell Yaya and Claude Cubo who combined for much of AU's first 8 points.

But AU was able to get inside the lane repeatedly revealing a donut hole in EAC's defense. Come the second quarter, AU sprung their fullcourt press and scored 11 fastbreak points off 8 turnovers (EAC had zero fastbreak points) as they turned the tables around for a 38-29 lead.

It got steadily worse for EAC that after three quarters, their boisterous cheering section had gone quiet while the small AU crowd taunted, Uwian na!" EAC had scored only 9 points to the 26 of AU.

Gio Ciriacruz and his brother Isiah outplayed the Yaya brothers as both showed an inside outside game that befuddled their opponents from San Marcelino. "That is a luxury we have," said a visibly elated Alfie Martinez who is in his first year as head coach for AU. "That our players can play multiple positions."

With only two shots made from beyond the arc, AU closed the lane and turned it into a block party as they made life difficult inside for the Generals. Arellano had 8 to EAC's 7 blocked shots.


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