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, October 31, 2010

Faith, the Shot & Alex Cabagnot

Faith, the Shot & Alex Cabagnot
San Miguel 85 vs. B-Meg Derby Ace 83
by rick olivares

October 30, 2010
Araneta Coliseum
There were 14.7 seconds left in the game when San Miguel Beer head coach Ato Agustin put the ball in Alex Cabagnot’s hands. “I have faith in him,” Agustin would later say.

A minute earlier, Cabagnot the six-foot guard out of Hawaii, missed a shot in the lane that could have given the Beermen the lead. “I was telling myself, ‘sayang!’ All I wanted was another chance to make that shot.”

A few days earlier, he sank the Alaska Aces with a game winner and now here he was again with a chance to win the game Peter June Simon hit a triple off a broken B-Meg Derby Ace play to notch the count at 83-all.

The play had several options all depending on what the defense gave him. If they crowded him, he could drop the pass to any of his teammates inside the lane. If the Llamados shut down the lane, then he could throw the ball out on the kick out. Or he could take the shot himself. “I have faith in him,” Agustin would say not once but twice later on.

Fronting Cabagnot was the tough Roger Yap. The Llamados wanted him to go right which wasn’t his strong side. With teammate Arwind Santos and Dondon Hontiveros positioned around the arc, the Llamados had no choice but to cover them. Danny Seigle was lurking along the baseline for a drop pass while Danny Ildefonso was on the free throw line to set a pick if need be.

Now everyone needed to play their part.

“I have faith in my teammates,” said Cabagnot outside the San Miguel dugout after the match. “They know what they need to do.”

After taking the inbound, Cabangnot waited for the seconds to tick away to prevent B-Meg from a last attempt should San Miguel misplay the offensive. Then Ildefonso ran out and Llamado center Rommel Adducul followed to guard against the pick and roll. With the lane somewhat clear, the SMB point guard went to his weak side before shifting to his left leaving Yap behind. With Seigle still lurking, B-Meg’s Rico Maierhofer had a split second to decide whether to commit to the help defense or not.

The lanky and shot blocking six-foot-six forward extended and forced Cabagnot to reach deep for a playground scoop shot that swooped over the arms of Yap and Maierhofer before settling into the net and a second consecutive escape act at the buzzer for a 85-83 win.

“It wasn’t supposed to be that way,” Cabangnot said. “I would have wanted us to win by 10, 20, maybe more. But a win is a win. I’ll take it. We’ll take it.”

Not only did the Beermen take the game, but the had to forcibly wrench it from the hands of a hard-fighting B-Meg team that came charging back from a 16-point deficit late in the second period.

Without the injured Rafi Reavis, Kerby Raymundo, and Marc Pingris, the Llamados have been forced to go small and play a tougher brand of basketball as led by Jondan Salvador, Don Allado, Jerwin Gaco, Roger Yap, and Adducul. The tough play distracted the Beermen and in succession, they lost their focus, their lead, and Jay Washington.

As the third quarter began, Salvador literally began throwing his weight around. And Beermen Washington, Dorian Peña, and Mick Pennisi took the bait and retaliated. As it is oft the case with retaliatory strikes, they are the ones oft caught by the officials.  Barely two minutes into the third quarter and the lead down to nine at 51-42, Washington was thrown out for throwing the ball at Allado.

As the Best Player of last year’s Fiesta Conference walked towards the locker room, Allado, who was to take the technical free throw slapped on Washington, pointed to his temple to indicate playing smart. Washington looked back and uttered a few choice words before departing.

Each time, the Llamados made a run, San Miguel point guard corps of Cabagnot, Olsen Racela, and Dennis Miranda rescued them with sterling play. In the first half, Racela was responsible for orchestrating the Beermen’s lead.

With B-Meg nipping at their heels, Miranda checked in at the start of the fourth a scored seven points to restore San Miguel’s lead 73-67 following a triple from an Ildefonso kick out.

After Simon’s triple, it was Cabagnot’s turn to lead the Beermen in the face of B-Meg’s searing endgame rally.

“I’ve never been in this situation in the PBA where my coach is giving me the ball in crunchtime to see what I can do with it. I have to justify his faith in me. I’m just glad to be a part of this.”

The win put SMB on top of the 10-team standings with a 5-1 record and the league’s first four-game win streak. Incidentally, it was the Beermen’s fourth straight win since Agustin took over the head coaching duties. “I cannot claim too much credit,” he graciously offered outside a joyous locker room post-game. “We have good directors here (Cabagnot, Racela, and Miranda). They are responsible for executing our game because I can no longer do that.”

“Pero what a shot ha? Wala ako masabi.” Agustin reenacted the shot, shook his head, and entered the locker room.

San Miguel 85Hontiveros 14, Seigle 11, Yeo 10, Ildefonso 10, Cabagnot 9, Santos 8, Miranda 7, Washington 4, Racela 4, Peña 4, Artadi 2, Pennisi 2

B-Meg Derby Ace 83Yap James 21, Villanueva 11, Salvador 10, Simon 9, Allado 9, Gaco 7, Yap Roger 6, Acuña 5, Maierhofer 5, Canaleta 0, Adducul 0

Just wanted to say am having a blast writing about the 36th Season of the PBA.

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