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.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Smart Gilas vs. Ginebra San Miguel: No Answers

No Answers

Ginebra San Miguel 100 vs. Smart Gilas Pilipinas 72

words and pics by rick olivares

The Fearless Ronald Tubid sent a three ball into the hoop at the start of the game to make it 3-0 for Ginebra. They way he jacked it up and looked at the bench of Smart Gilas Pilipinas after the barker affirmed his marksmanship was as if to say, “No sweat and it’s going to be like this all afternoon.”

And it was.

The Gin Kings’ lead was a mountain to climb for the nationals who struggled for fluidity and consistency on both ends of the floor without CJ Giles who is on the verge of being booted out of the team for differences with the coaching staff. When Gilas managed to tie the match at 47-all early in the 3rd Quarter courtesy of a trey by Japeth Aguilar, Ginebra, still very much the crowd favorite, detonated a telling 13-4 bomb to take the wind out of the nationals’ sails once and for all. This with more than a quarter to play as Ginebra cruised from there on to a 100-72 victory to go 3-0 in Philippine Cup play.

When Gilas Head Coach Rajko Toroman sued for merciful time, he looked beaten, exhausted, and bewildered. “I don’t know what to say,” was the first thing he said.

While the 10-game PBA stint for the nationals is supposed to give the team competition, Gilas has virtually offered no competition. In three matches, they’ve been blown out by 10, 33, and 28 points. And in their first game of the conference, they were bullied into submission.

The startling results, considering that Gilas has been soundly beating the pro clubs in scrimmages, have instead begat more questions. Ones that will increase in frequency and bite the more they lose and if they continue to lose big.

Their running off their national counterparts Powerade suddenly seems a lifetime ago and some see that win now as an aberration. And perhaps more painfully, the nationals can’t win without CJ Giles.

In the post-game press conference, the Gin Kings’ Head Coach Jong Uichico explained that despite the losses of Gilas, it’s all part of the process. “Ganyan din naman kami noon,’ he said in reference to those nascent days of the Northern Consolidated Cement team that Gilas is patterned after and of which he played for under American mentor Ron Jacobs. “They need to grow together and learn from these loses. But to compete in the international arena today, they will need to naturalize. If they had played Giles, who knows, the outcome might be different and we would have played them differently.”

For the third consecutive play date with Gilas playing, the venues – Araneta Coliseum and the Cuneta Astrodome – saw a huge crowd come in for the 230pm game. For the third consecutive play date, they came away disappointed and grumbling. Once more a fan yelled (or implored) Gilas to score during a drought. “Umi-score naman kayo,” he yelled from the upper section seats.

If the fans were waiting for a Japeth Aguilar or CJ Giles slam, none was forthcoming. The crowd was cheering for both sides early on but as Ginebra asserted its might due to its heft and experience, the crowd began to show their loyalties. And when its high-flying swingman JC Intal skied for a two handed stuff to hike the pro team’s lead to 66-53, the Astrodome was theirs.

With under 6:17 to play in the first quarter, Aguilar rejected a reverse lay-up by Tubid. But the Gin Kings’ swingman grabbed the loose ball and unleashed a hook shot to make it 14-4 for his side.

As Gilas sued for time, guard Jayvee Casio, the sweat dripping all over his face, couldn’t hide his frustration. “Walang tumatakbo sa fastbreak,” he said to no one in particular. In a match up between two speed teams, Ginebra won the match up 16-9. On the offensive boards, Gilas was clobbered for the third straight game 63-46.

No rebounds, no fastbreaks.

With the nationals’ game in a funk, the fans were instead treated (not just to a Ronald Tubid Show) but the match up between the last three centers of the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

At the 11:37 mark of the 2nd Quarter, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, who returned to action after missing the Talk ‘N Text game because of a fever, posted up Enrico Villanueva. The former missed and the latter returned the favor on the opposite side by hitting two free throws after baiting the taller Al-Hussaini to a foul.

Both players acquitted themselves well with Al-Hussaini scoring 14 points while pulling down 10 boards and blocking one shot. The Raging Bull finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Along with Aguilar later on, from another standpoint it was interesting to see players from past and recent Ateneo teams go at each other. Intal’s and-one off Aguilar was spectacular as he dropped the ball in the rim instead of stuffing it home. In his best game of the conference, the Rocket also finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 shot blocks.

In previous games, the question asked of Gilas in the locker room was: “How do you respond to this?”

The question should be asked not just of the players but the coaching staff and team officials as well.

It certainly doesn’t augur well when the team did not respond to the constant badgering during the game that at one point cost 2 points because Mac Baracael was paying attention to what was being yelled from the sidelines by his coach rather than watch his man.

With the Giles situation hanging up in the air, the questions swirl.

When will this be resolved? Does the team go back to square one? Has the team’s motion offense been properly scouted by the PBA teams and how will the Gilas braintrust adjust? How will they respond to this (San Miguel is on deck for the national team)?

For now, there are only questions.

Ginebra 100Tubid 22, Helterbrand 15, Intal 11, Villanueva 11, Wilson 8, Cruz 6, Mamaril 6, Baguio 6, Salvacion 6, Kramer 4, Alvarez 3, White 2

Smart Gilas 72Barroca 20, Al-Hussaini 14, Casio 11, Baracael 9, Aguilar 7, Ramos 4, Jazul 3, Cawaling 2, Ballesteros 2, Ababou 0


The Smart Gilas National Team will need to work as a team -- coaching staff and team officials included -- to get back on track.

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