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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

San Sebastian runs Arellano to the ground for 11th straight win

This appears in the Thursday September 1, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror.

San Sebastian runs Arellano to the ground for 11th straight win
by rick olivares
photo by nonoy lacza

The San Sebastian Golden Stags shook off the an early bout with boredom before running the hapless Arellano University Chiefs off the court with a 97-70 win to remain undefeated at 11-0 in the NCAA.

For Stags’ head coach Michael Christopher “Topex” Robinson, the challenges were keeping his team focused on their current unbeaten run, trying to find ways to curb the San Sebastian Stags’ boredom, and preparing for the Chiefs who he thought would be more dangerous as they were without head coach Leo Isaac.

Against the erstwhile 3-7 Chiefs who were led by Junjie Ablan with Isaac being in the United States on a scouting mission, the Stags, undefeated at 10-0, looked bored at the start of the game. With Arellano rookie Michael Doligon scoring on a daring drives and Calvin Abueva committing one turnover after another, Robinson sent in 6’6” rookie center Michael Miranda to break the monotony.

Miranda pulled down a couple of defensive boards and his intensity inside had the Stags off and running.

After one half of basketball, the score was at 42-23 in favor of San Sebastian. Of the Stags’ 42 points, eight came from jump shots and six from the free throw line. Robinson’s boys pounded the Chiefs into submission on a variety of lay-ups, tip-ins, put backs, spin moves, the whole arsenal. They scored 25 fastbreak and 15 turnover points.

And the Stags’ bench which had looked shaky and unreliable early in the tournament, was more confident in its ability to contribute following their win over San Beda to close out the first round. “How can you not notice a Miranda, a (Dexter) Maiquez, and a (Jovit) dela Cruz? These games are not just about our Big Three of Calvin Abueva, Ronald Pascual, and Ian Sangalang. It’s an honor for them (the bench) to step up,” glowed Robinson on his reserves chipping in 38 big points.

The Stags posted its largest lead of 33 points after Abueva hit two free throws after a foul by Arellano’s Vergel Zulueta. They shot an incredible 51% from the field underscoring the strength of their inside game. The Stags also won the battle of the boards with a whopping 48-29 difference. San Sebastian also issued 22 assists to the 15 of Arellano.

Despite his four turnovers to start the game, Abueva, who returned in the second quarter tallied 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists. Sangalang led the Stags’ with 24 points while Pascual and point guard Anthony del Rio chipped in 17 and 10 points respectively.

The Chiefs, who fell to 3-8, were led by Andrian Celada and Zulueta who each had 13 points. Jerald Lapuz, recently drafted by PBA Governors’ Cup champion Petron, finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds.

The Stags return to action on September 7 against struggling Jose Rizal University while Arellano, with a mathematical yet slim chance of making the Final Four, goes up against the College of Saint Benilde, another team with playoff aspirations of their own, on September 5 at 4pm.   

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

UST Growling Tigers ad for the Varsitarian

Go Gotze

This piece on Mario Gotze and Borussia Dortmund appears in

Taking a look at the DLSU Green Archers

Taking a look at the DLSU Green Archers
by rick olivares

This is something I’ve had on my workstation for a while but couldn’t make heads or tails out of it until I had more data.

During the first round, offensive-wise, La Salle (4-3 in the first round) averaged 72.7 points (tops), 17.3 assists (second), 6.4 steals (second), 16.7 turnover points (first), and 37.4 points in the paint (tops) per game.

So no doubt about it, the Green Archers can score some.

LA Revilla has led the green and white with 11.7 points while Jarelan Tampus ha chipped in 10.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game.

What I don’t get is outside Revilla, four other La Sallians have averaged more minutes than Tampus (who doesn’t turn over the ball as much 1.3 TOs) yet they score less.

Take a look at these first round numbers:
Maui Villanueva 21.1 mins with 5.6 points, 4.1 rebounds
Luigi dela Paz 20.7 mins with 7.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists
Norbert Torres 19.1 mins with 8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists
Simon Atkins 19.0 mins with 4.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.0 steals

When DLSU wins, Tampus averages 13.0 points while Revilla scores 10.
In loses, take note of the drop off: Tampus scored 7 while Revilla racks up 11.

It has been said that DLSU has no go-to guy. I’d say that there you go – Revilla and Tampus. And I’d give more playing time to dela Paz because he is has the makings of a go-to guy.

But La Salle has lost four consecutive games to Adamson, UE, UST, and Ateneo.

I don’t have the stats on the Adamson-La Salle game but here are their last three games:

Vs. UE
LA Revilla 31 minutes, 9 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists,
Maui Villanueva 26 minutes, 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist
Luigi dela Paz 10 minutes, 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists
Norbert Torres 26 minutes, 12 points, 8 rebounds
Simon Atkins 17 minutes, 5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
Jarelan Tampus 16 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds (Okay he wasn’t as productive here but he had a better day than Villanueva)

LA Revilla 27 minutes, 8 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal
Maui Villanueva 26 minutes, 2 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal
Luigi dela Paz 15 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist
Norbert Torres 22 minutes, 4 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks
Simon Atkins 19 minutes, 3 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal
Jarelan Tampus 13 minutes, 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist

Vs Ateneo
LA Revilla 29 minutes, 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists
Maui Villanueva 15 minutes, 6 points and 2 rebounds
Luigi dela Paz 10 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists
Norbert Torres 24 minutes, 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block
Simon Atkins 26 minutes, 4 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists
Jarelan Tampus 12 minutes, 9 points and 2 rebounds

It could be something but then again it could be nothing. Just mulling over here. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stuff I am working on

That's me interviewing Norman Black for a story I am writing for the next issue of Rebound (out next month).

So far, here's what I have for the next issue:
- "A perpetual state of misery" (Perpetual Help Altas)
- "Great Expectations" (on Bobby Ray Parks)
- "Six degrees of separation" (the Ateneo-FEU rivalry)
- my column in Rebound From the Parking Lot titled "Gilas V.2"
- and "The Lockdown Specialists" on Chris Exciminiano, Kirk Long, Jeric Teng, Janus Lozada, Ajeet Singh, Chris Camus, and a bunch others with interviews with Pido Jarencio, Bert Flores, Norman Black, Marco Benitez, Luigi dela Paz, Leo Austria, Eric Altamirano, and a bunch of others.

For hoops stuff, there's Greg Slaughter, Renren Ritualo, and the Alaska Aces. Also working on other non-hoops stuff which I won't divulge for now because someone else might steal it.

Ateneo-La Salle Second Round: One

by rick olivares with photos by brosi gonzales

One is the numerical term to describe the point guard position.

One foul is all this point guard committed in 26 minutes of masterful play.

And when the 40 minutes of basketball was done, this point guard’s team was still undefeated and number one.

Emman Monfort is in his final year and he is enjoying his finest season for the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

In Season 73 where he came off the bench 13 times, Monfort averaged 7.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.7 steals, and 2.5 turnovers per game while playing an average of 16.9 minutes.

This Season 74, the point guard from Ateneo de Iloilo has posted 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.6 steals 1.3 turnovers. All that in 26.1 minutes per game.

The player who was once dropped to Team B after his sophomore year has become not only an invaluable player for the Ateneo Blue Eagles but also one whose impact on the game does not reflect in the stat sheet.

Against La Salle, fighting for survival in the race for the last Final Four slot, Monfort went up against two more heralded point guards in LA Revilla, who starred with the San Beda Red Cubs, and Almond Vosotros, who won a few titles with the San Sebastian Staglets.

Revilla’s easiest bucket was his strip of Kirk Long for a breakaway layup.

Vosotros piled on his points in a late surge against Raymond Austria.

Against Monfort, Revilla, who has had an incredible comeback season for the green and white, could empathize with FEU’s RR Garcia.

For years underrated and overlooked with stellar defenders like Nonoy Baclao, Zion Laterre, Eric Salamat, and Long, Monfort has turned in some remarkable defensive stops on celebrated scoring guards like Lester Alvarez, Jeric Fortuna, and Garcia.

Against La Salle, he played superb D and was a conductor to masterfully orchestrated symphony of team basketball. Even as there was cause for concern when center Greg Slaughter picked up his second foul with barely four minutes played, Monfort cooly picked up the reins for Ateneo and literally stood tall. He co-led the team in rebounds with Slaughter with seven boards (with two coming from the offensive glass).

And there was his playmaking.

After a defensive stop, the Blue Eagles quickly shifted to a fastbreak where Monfort found Kiefer Ravena a few strides ahead to the left with a bounce pass. With a couple of Green Archers furiously galloping down to prevent the bucket, Ravena fed it back out to Long on the right side who then zipped it to Nico Salva who was playing trailer. Three passes. Hook shot in the lane. 40-29 lead and the rout was on.

After La Salle strung up six consecutive points to make it 44-34, Monfort found a wide open Tonino Gonzaga from the right side of the three-point arc.

Cries of anticipation on one side and “oh, shit” on the other side.

Tonino Gonzaga, sparkplug for the second unit, had hit some huge shots earlier including a pair of high-arcing layups over Philip Paredes that sent the shot blocking center to the bench.

Bang. The Greenies’ momentum killed. 47-34 Blues’ lead.

La Salle would make one more serious run at Ateneo in an eight-point splurge that spanned the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth to make it 53-46 but Gonzaga began a retaliatory strike of seven straight points with another trey that snuffed the fight out of La Salle for good.

For fourth year forward Nico Salva, the game began with a pair of traveling calls and missed shots here and there. Frank Golla soon replaced him at the four-spot.

The feed in the lane from Long had gotten him going. In Ateneo’s next offensive, he scored on a putback off a botched layup by Ravena. He would score 13 points in the second half and perhaps none more emphatic when Monfort dropped a pass to him inside the lane that drew a foul from Revilla who tried to slap the ball away.

Salva pumped his fist. Free throw made. One cut. One pass. Nineteen points. 78-57 lead.

With the game minutes from its now obvious end – an Ateneo victory – the Blue Eagle coaching staff pulled out Monfort and the other starters from the game.

The Ateneo crowd, who filled about 65% of the Araneta Coliseum, applauded in appreciation. Hard to believe that even as far back as a year ago, some quarters were questioning his presence on the team after a few poor matches early in the season. He was extremely composed against La Salle. He never forced anything. In one instance, there was an opportunity to go all the way for a layup even as Revilla and a few others gave chase. But instead, Monfort pulled back, and waited for his teammates.

There were no boisterous yelps of joy inside the dugout. No posturings or trash talking of any sort. The team was in good spirits of course after being on the side of a 79-62 win. Celebrations are best saved for October when the team is playing for keeps.

Monfort sat by his cubicle and smiled then gave the thumbs up then raised his index finger.

I asked, “We’re number one?”

“No, sir. One game at a time.”

Loved the halftime cheering! Good job!

Post-USTvsUE interview with Pido Jarencio & Karim Abdul

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Philippine Volcanoes explode at the Asian Men's 7s Championships

This appears in the Monday, August 29, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror.

Philippine Volcanoes explode at the Asian Men's 7s Championships
by rick olivares

Shanghai, China -- The Philippine Volcanoes rugby team erupted at the 2011 Asian Men's 7s Championships last Saturday, August 27, by beating the United Arab Emirates, 26-7, and top-ranked South Korea, 19-14, in the biggest upset of the tournament at the Yuanshen Stadium in Shanghai, China.

Incredibly, the Philippines started the day ranked 8th in the 12-team two-day tournament and by the day’s end, they topped Pool A and were advancing to the next round of the tournament.

During the first match against UAE, Justin Coveney, nicknamed "the Flying Jeepney" for his smashing runs, broke through the gulf team’s line to score the opening try of the tournament. The Filipinos proved to be quicker and more resolute for the UAE team as Harry Morris and Andrew Wolfe both scored tries (each worth five points) in the second half to guarantee the victory.

Against 2010 winner Korea, the Volcanoes fell into an early 5-0 hole as the defending champions scored on their first try. But Oliver Saunders was able to swoop on a loose ball from Korea to run the length of the field to score under the posts and even the game. Saunders’ big play swung the momentum in favor of the Philippines. Finding their confidence, the Volcanoes continuously smashed the defense backwards which led to mistakes by the Koreans. Coveney scored on the second try to give the Philippines a 14-5 halftime lead.

Korea threw everything at the Philippines in the second half, but the Philippine spirited defense stood firm as Andrew Wolff and Harry Morris pulled off try saving tackles that ripped the insides out of the Korean attack. Coveney was again able to use his size and power to run in the Philippines third try and the Philippines went into the last minute leading 19-5. The Koreans tried to rally as they added nine points but time ran out on the defending champions.

The Philippines, coached by Australian Matt Cullen, advanced to the playoffs along with Pool B winner Japan and runner-up Thailand; Pool C top-notcher Hong Kong and second placer Malaysia; and Pool D leader China and second-running Kazakhstan. 

The Volcanoes will play Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals and should they hurdle that assignment, they will move to the semis where they will face the winner of the China-Korea match.

Said Coach Cullen, “I am quite confident that Kazakhstan can be beaten if we keep to our strategy. And if we accomplish that, we will be in a prime position to compete with the top four rugby nations in Asia for a medal position.”
Added Letts, “We need to beat the best to become the best. Both Korea and UAE are some of the best in the world. Winning those games will give us a massive dose of confidence.”

The Asian Men's 7s tournament invites the top twelve Asian Countries to do battle over two tournaments and it can be compared to the Asian Games in terms of caliber of teams and the countries that compete. Korea won the Shanghai 7s in 2010 and is ranked as the favorite to repeat in the 2011 staging.

Rounding out the Volcanoes roster are team captain Jake Letts, Christopher Hitch, Rupert Zappia, Christopher Everingham, Kenneth Mitchell Stern, Mark Chatting, Harry Morris, Jon Morales, John Odulio, Coveney, Saunders, and Wolfe. The team’s coaching staff includes Cullen who has made the Philippines his home and is married to a Filipina, Noel Flowers, and Damian Peter Raper.

Notes: The Philippine Volcanoes got their name from a World War II unit based in the Philippines that included Americans, Englishmen, Australians, and Filipinos. The current Volcanoes team features Filipinos with mixed lineages from the United States, England, and Australia.

Casio is top PBA pick in Gilas-heavy draft

Casio is top PBA pick in Gilas-heavy draft
by Rick Olivares and Mia Domingo

August 28, 2011
Robinson’s Place
Ermita, Manila

As expected, Powerade chose former La Salle gunner and Smart Gilas point guard Joseph Evans Casio as the overall number one pick of the 2011 Philippine Basketball Association Draft.

Casio’s selection opened up a frenzy among PBA ballclubs to snag the national players who made themselves available for the annual rite of renewal by Asia’s first pro hoops loop. Six Gilas players were taken in the first round with one in the second round.

The Powerade Tigers who finished with a 9-22 record for the entire PBA Season 36 got a huge boost for the upcoming campaign when they selected Casio to run their offense. The former Green Archer, who turns 25 this coming Thursday (Sept1) was pivotal in Smart Gilas’ three-year campaign to avail of a slot to the 2012 London Olympics (that will be determined by next month’s FIBA Asia tournament in Wuhan, China). Said Casio who was visibly moved by the selection as well as making the PBA, a longtime dream of his: “Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala na ako yung unang matatawag. Basta ma-draft, okay na. I feel blessed with this honor given to me. Hindi naman ako mahihirapan sa pag-adjust sa brand of play sa PBA dahil nakasali na kami [Gilas] dati so familiar na ako sa laro rito.”

Just as this past PBA season where the league went back to the old three-conference format, so did the draft where teams selected players until all have opted not to pick from the pool of talent.

The two-conference format began with the 2004 season while the two-round draft was put in effect a year later.

Paul Lee, the high-scoring former University of the East Red Warrior, was selected by Rain or Shine (13-17 for last season) with the number two pick.

The third overall pick originally belonged to Barako Bull however, the team swapped draft spots with the newly crowned Governors Cup champions Petron Blaze Boosters (18-13) who owned the number eight pick. The switch saw Carlo Sharma and Dondon Hontiveros trade places with Sunday Salvacion and Mick Pennisi.

Hontiveros was reunited his old ballclub as was Pennisi and Salvacion. Although for Pennisi, Barako is not the old powerhouse he once knew when the team routinely challenged for a championship with players like Davonn Harp, Topex Robinson, Kerby Raymundo, Enrico Villanueva, and Cyrus Baguio.

With the pick, the Blaze Boosters chose Gilas’ Chris Lutz, formerly of Smart Gilas and Marshall University where he was team captain in his last year with the Thundering Herd.

Powerade, who acquired the fourth overall draft pick which they got from the Larry Rodriguez-Eddie Laure trade with Rain or Shine, picked the 6’2” Marcio Lassiter from the national team. Lassiter, the former Cal-State Fullerton Titan who also improved a lot under Coach Rajko Toroman in the Smart Gilas program, will be reunited with Casio in the Tigers’ fold., formerly Air21 (11-20), made a splash by naming former La Salle Green Archer and San Miguel Beerman Franz Pumaren as their first-ever head coach. Pumaren steered La Salle to five UAAP men’s basketball titles during his celebrated stint with his alma mater. And with the fifth pick, they selected the exciting razzle dazzle guard Mark Barroca, who once starred for the FEU Tamaraws and Smart Gilas.

The Alaska Aces (16-15), who were shut out of contention for all three finals berth last season went with Gilas’ forward Marnel Baracael who also played for FEU in the UAAP. With the loss of Elmer Espiritu and Joe Devance, it is hoped that Baracael will shore up their rebounding woes.

Talk ‘N Text (25-6) originally owned the seventh overall pick but they gave it up for the Meralco Bolts for Yee and a future draft pick. The Bolts acquired the services of 6’6 forward-center Jason Ballesteros. He was a part of Smart Gilas and a former San Sebastian Stag who could’ve won the MVP award in 2008 if only his team entered the Finals.

Barako Bull (3-11), finally selecting in the first round, tabbed former UST Tiger Allein Maliksi. Maliksi, who saw action with the Cebuana Lhullier Gems in the PBA D-League is also the first MVP its inaugural tournament. He was also a member of the Philippine Patriots Champion team that bagged the first ABL crown.

After losing Rudy Hatfield who went back to the United States, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings (20-11), for the ninth overall pick selected forward Reil Cervantes out of FEU.

Cervantes adds some ceiling and low post scoring for the Gin Kings who drew inconsistent performances from the oft-injured Eric Menk and Enrico Villanueva and Billy Mamaril.

Barako Bull wrapped up the first round by using the pick acquired from Talk ‘N Text in exchange for the 2008 1st round draft pick. The Energy Boosters selected another Gilas mainstay and UST Tiger in Dylan Ababou who was named UAAP MVP in 2009.

Shopinas opened the PBA Draft’s second round when they chose 6’7” center Magi Sison out of the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons who also once suited up for Smart Gilas.

Then Talk ‘N Text that failed in its 2011 Grand Slam bid, named Pamboy Raymundo as the 12th pick of the draft.  The shifty playmaker a vital cog for the San Sebastian Stags and the NLEX Road Warriors.

The Alaska Aces owned the third, fourth and fifth slots for the draft which they used to acquire the services of Erik Salamat, who played for the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA D-League as well as Julius Pasculado and Ariel Mepana of Max! Bond.

The B-Meg Llamados, for their first pick this year (sixth pick of the second round) got Brian Ilad, who spent his college years at PCCR before transferring to DLSU.

The second round’s seventh pick, originally owned by Alaska, was traded to Meralco for a second round pick in 2014. With that slot, the Bolts picked San Sebastian’s Gilbert Bulawan who also saw action with the FCA Cultivators team in the D-League.

Ginebra, who acquired the eighth pick from Shopinas chose another guard in James Martinez. After exhausting his playing years with UE last season, he played for the Jr. Powerade team in the PBA D-League.

Barako Bull used the 9th and 10th pick from Petron and Ginebra from the Billy Mamaril trade, to tab UE’s Kenneth Acibar and UP’s Paul Sorongon. Acibar saw action with Cobra and Sorongon with PC Gilmore in the D-League. Ironically, the last pick in the second round is an 11th pick, or 21st overall.

In an ironic twist considering how acrimonious the Governors’ Cup Finals meeting was between TNT’s Chot Reyes and Petron’s Ato Agustin, the Tropang Texters drafted Marc Agustin, the son of Petron’s head coach Ato. The younger Agustin played for Leo Austria in Adamson.

For the third round, eight of the ten teams opted to pass except for Shopinas and Petron for the seventh and eight pick. Shopinas selected another point guard in Marc Cagoco while Petron acquired Fil-foreigner Felimon Fernandez. And, for the fourth round, nine of the ten teams opted to pass except for Petron for the eighth pick. The Blaze Boosters selected Jerald Lapuz, the heavily built center who is currently seeing action for the Arellano University Chiefs in the NCAA.

Twenty-four of the 34 applicants this year were drafted with seven coming from Smart Gilas. In last year’s PBA Draft, Air21 and Rain or Shine selected former national players Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Rey Guevarra, and RJ Jazul respectively. The only high-profile player from the Manny Pangilinan-backed national squad is Chris Tiu who opted to re-sign with the Gilas program.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

34 hopefuls for the 2011 PBA Draft

Good luck to Eric Salamat and the Smart Gilas boys: Dylan, Jason, Mac, Mark, JV, Marcio, Chris, and Magi.

Bleachers' Brew #274 Aftermath of NU's loss to FEU: Questions at 4-7

This appears in the Monday August 29, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror.

Questions at 4-7
by rick olivares

What questions must be swirling inside the minds of the National University Bulldogs and Ray Parks?

In Year Three of the proclamation of team patriarch Hans Sy (where he said that the Bulldogs would win a title in five years), the team is 4-7 and is pretty much out of the Final Four picture.

The 84-82 double overtime loss to Far Eastern University saw to that.

Was it the expectations of a University Games and Fr. Martin title? Was it the acquisition of blue chip rookie Parks?

Obviously, the answer is youth. There are eight newcomers to the team. But that isn’t the only thing.

Parks missed two free throws against UE in crunch time during their first round loss. This time, he was pretty much clutch. He did nail four crucial free throws that sent the game into overtime and into the second extension. But with the game on the line and FEU up by two he made only one. That necessitated fouling in the next possession.

Granted that the confidence-challenged and one-time starting point guard Joseph Terso could have won it all with his last second triple attempt. But the moment he released it, everyone inside the Big Dome knew it wasn’t going in. It was off by a few inches and it was lucky to graze iron.

If Parks is the Kobe Bryant of this team, he should have taken that shot no matter who was hanging on to his jersey. Ray says he’s also a fan of Michael Jordan. If he knows MJ’s history, then there was that storied Game 5 against Utah in 1997 when he was sick and his shot was short. What MJ did was drive repeatedly. He may have missed his shots but he did get to the line where he did some serious damage.

During one occasion, point guard Gelo Alolino was looking to pass to him but Parks stayed so far away that it was dangerous to throw a crosscourt pass. He would do that in the second overtime and he got picked off by Terrence Romeo would a fastbreak deuce. But in the previous instance, with a look of annoyance, Alolino passed off instead to Joeffrey Javillionar who missed from the right corner pocket.

With the game on the line once more, Parks instead deferred to Javillionar who nailed a triple with 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter to make it 70-68 for NU. In fact, he deferred twice to Javillionar. The other was with 1:33 left in the firs overtime and Javillionar botched a lay up. And you have to give it to Joeffrey because he was willing to take those big shots.

Parks scored 32 points 7-18 field goals and 15-18 free throws and is the league’s leading scorer. But didn’t Tracy McGrady lead the NBA in scoring too? Does anyone remember that? He is more remembered for not getting out of the first round of the NBA playoffs despite being the man on his team. The one time his team did get out (the Houston Rockets), he was no longer The Man. That was Yao Ming.

The son of PBA great Bobby Parks did play the last 20 minutes of the match and maybe there was some fatigue. And he did have that twisting 180° layup from the left baseline that should be one of the shots of the year. But this was their only game of the week. And not with the season on the line. Last year, Kokoy Hermosisima wanted that ball.

Where is the ferocious dunker who during the Fr. Martin Cup semis attempted to tomahawk Greg Slaughter into the following week?

But as much as Parks did not want to be the man in the end, NU has to take a look at itself collectively to search for answers.

The Tamaraws didn’t have it any easy as RR Garcia was playing with a strained ligament in his non-shooting hand. They had to rally as NU crumbled from a token press. I say token because they didn’t really press that hard to begin with. The Bulldogs just did not execute.

Time and again, Gelo Alolino would pick up his dribble on the wrong side of the court and look to pass off. How many times did they lose the ball with poor passing? The Tams were playing Emmanuel Mbe straight up and making sure that none of NU’s plethora of three-point snipers didn’t get too much daylight.

Mbe. In NU’s four wins, the Cameroonian center averaged 16 points and 11 boards. In six losses, the numbers were down to 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. After the second round loss to FEU he had 11 and 10 to his name.

Turnovers. In their first 10 games, NU forced the fewest turnovers in the league with only 14.9 per match. Against FEU, they forced the Tams to cough up the ball 15 times (pretty much the same) but they committed 21 turnovers that the Tams translated into 23 points. The most costly was the Alolino pass that Romeo intercepted.

When FEU pressed why didn’t NU counter with two point guards? They have Terso although he is a shade of his former self, and Cedric Labing-isa who hasn’t been playing.

You have to give FEU head coach Bert Flores props for a masterful game plan. They answered some questions too. Such as winning in a double overtime game (they lost to Ateneo several games ago) and executing down the stretch. Although Terrence Romeo once more had an endgame boo boo. When he fouled Parks and sent him to the line (the one where Parks split his free throws).

But Flores… in the crunch, he inserted Al Ramos and Carl Cruz with the three guards up front in Mike Tolomia, Romeo and Garcia. They would pass the ball around the arc and probe for an opening. If the ball was dumped low, both Ramos and Cruz had decent outside shots. If a Bulldog double-teamed on either the ball was immediately swung back out to the open man for a trey attempt. NU’s 2-3 zone did not work. Maybe they should have run a triangle and two. The one time they did change it – they went to a 1-2-2 zone – they stole the lob pass by Garcia to Ramos.

The Bulldogs had plenty of opportunities to close it out but nerves and turnovers killed them. And so, they are 0-2 in overtime games (the other being a 72-73 loss to UST).

As the Bulldogs dejectedly trooped to the dugout, the coaching staff and some team officials huddled outside to assess what happened. There were a few awkward moments of silence before there were answers. Unfortunately, they only begat more questions.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Blue Mamba shirt from Blue Crew

Check out this shirt from Blue Crew. 

Ateneo-UE Second Round: 10

by rick olivares

In the Bo Derek context, a “10” would mean perfection. If you don’t know who Bo Derek is Google the name.

And as much as the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles won their tenth game in ten attempts this UAAP season, it was far from perfect.

Ateneo went through some anxious moments before pulling out a 74-70 win over the Red Warriors who had finally found their groove. Two threes in the final 39 seconds gave the Red Warriors life. And it took two clutch free throws by Emman Monfort to douse the upset fires.

The Red Warriors ended the first round by beating National University then incredibly dropping skidding La Salle two matches later. They had done the same last year and even dealt Ateneo a stinging second round 62-60 loss.

This year’s cast from Recto might have been bereft of the familiar faces but the spunk remains the same. They were last in almost every category but the two statistics they could be proud of is that they were tops in bench scoring with 39.0 points per game and they were the third best rebounding team in the league with 44.9.

“We’re playing without pressure,” explained first year head coach Jerry Codinera. “At first we were desperate to win a game but now we are dong out best to show that we are no pushovers.”

The Blue Eagles coaching staff closely watched UE’s win over DLSU and noted how the zone had given the Green Archers some trouble. Expecting the same, the coaching staff saw it fit to dump the ball inside to the Big Fella who finished the game with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 shot blocks.

“It’s a luxury to have that advantage,” noted Codinera of the presence of Slaughter. Of course, UE’s coach is no stranger to such a luxury. He was a towering presence for UE leading them to four finals in his college stint.

But across the court, was the son of a former Red Warrior (Bong Ravena served a one-year residency during Codinera’s last year) in Kiefer Ravena. “Ibang klaseng one-two combination yan,” he marveled.

Codinera knows all too well what that means because he formed a deadly partnership with Allan Caidic during his time in red and white. Caidic was not simply a shooter. He could actually post up his man and when the occasion called for it, dunk the ball.

The UE coaching staff knew that if they were to have a chance, they had to draw Slaughter out of the lane. Codinera had Erwin Duran and JM Noble practice their outside shots in the days before the game. If that happened then Adrian Santos and Biboy Enguio could drive inside and fish for fouls.

And early on, the script worked to perfection as the two shot the daylights out of the Araneta Coliseum (8-15 shooting) from different angles that it seemed that Paul Lee was back in the building.

They even led by four points 37-33 at the end of the first half.

It was Ateneo’s turn to adjust. They have been the best at tweaking their game plan as they have scored over 40 points in the second half, the best in the league. But if they were to pull a victory, they had to challenge the outside shot and to tighten up on their defense.

They began the third quarter with three steals that was translated into two layups and a pull up jumper. In 67 seconds, Ateneo had seized the lead 39-37 forcing Codinera to call for time.

But the Blue Eagles would not relinquish the lead.

And like they did against the Growling Tigers five days earlier, all 10 Ateneans sent into the game contributed something to the overall effort. Ateneo topped every statistical category except for the turnover points in which UE bettered the blue and white 18-14; three of those points coming over an errant forward pass by Slaughter to Ravena when pressed by UE in the dying seconds of the game.

After the match, Black said that one of the team’s biggest challenges was complacency. While everyone was focused on the objectives, keeping that focus was tough. It’s as if everyone is waiting for the final four to start.

“We expected a tough game,” said Black. “It’s not by any chance a pretty one and UE seems to have found their groove. But we got the win and now we focus on the next one.”

Yet somehow the team remains perfect in imperfection.