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, July 31, 2010

Looking at the Ateneo-NU match

This is the first time where there's not going to be a clear cut winner as the two teams take on each other. Both teams are coming off tough loses. There's the infamous meltdown against La Salle 66-63 and the Bulldogs error at the endgame (where the pick and roll between Joseph Terso and Kokoy Hermosisima was baldy played and broken up) that saw them lose to UST 60-59.

Ateneo is at an even 2-2 while NU is at 2-3. 

Surprise here... the Bulldogs are the number one defensive team as they surrender only 62.6 points per game. I was surprised however that NU failed to dump the ball to Emmanuel Mbe or Jewel Ponferrada late in their match against UST. I though that their insistence on taking the ball from the outside did them in. This is the last ride for Ponferrada, Hermosisima (who spent time on Team B), and Baloran all who will finish their playing years after this season. So expect these hombres to give it their all. And if Glenn Khobuntin comes to play (he was absent on defense and thus it hurt his playing time in their match against the Tigers) then that will give NU four guys who like to attack the basket from the outside (including Terso, Hermosisima and team captain Mervin Baloran).

Now the question is -- how do the two teams respond after a loss? Either team cannot afford another one when we're only halfway through the first round. 

Ateneo has the advantage of its deeper bench but that bench is only good on potential and on paper thus far. The games have shown a maddening inconsistency that reminds me of 2007. The one constant there was well Ford Arao and even Chris Tiu. This year... it has only been Kirk Long although Justin Chua is really on the verge of getting things going. If he keeps it up against NU then one can say that it's no fluke. But there's still that doughnut hole in the middle that I've been talking about since the summer. Will it be plugged? I don't think so. For now at least. We don't have any one bigman who has the mobility to run out to the perimeter and recover like Nonoy Baclao. But we just might see JP Erram do something soon.

But there seem to be more questions about Ateneo after the loss to DLSU. But doesn't that happen to either team after a loss? But questions about some players being big game flops abound as do some about their value to the team. The last time the Blue Eagles took a back-to-back loss was -- I'm not sure here either the 2006 Finals or in 2007. A loss today would be damaging for their quest for a three-peat. That will be answered by day's end.

The Bulldogs goals have been very clear -- to be the top defensive team and to get into the Final Four. They have somewhat accomplished the first in spite of their record and the second seems to be wavering a bit. If Ateneo can keep Mbe off the floor or even Ponferrada then that augurs well for the Blue Eagles. 

Should that happen then this is not going to be close.

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