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.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ateneo-FEU Round Two: 75

by rick olivares

Seventy-five seconds is theoretically at least four possessions in basketball. In a blowout, you can’t wait for it to get over with so you can get the hell out and wait for the next game. In a close game, you feel the knot in your stomach knowing that a miss, an error, or a big shot by an opponent can spell doom. This is the time when you remember God to pray, bargain, or make all sorts of promises just for a win.

The season thus far has seen the Ateneo Blue Eagles win close shaves and willy whackers (a term I am borrowing from the Boston Celtics’ Kevin McHale that refers to laughers or blowouts). Whatever it is, it’s the “W” that counts at the end of the day.

So how about climbing back from the grave?

Did you feel that it was all over and that Ateneo was going to lose a payback match against the hungry and pissed off Far Eastern University Tamaraws?

If you were watching at home were you close to flipping the channel to save what was left of a day that was slowly turning bad?

Oh, ye of little faith.

Who could blame you? After all, the Tamaraws were in (there’s that reference again) Kobe Bryant mode – hitting everything in sight and threatening to run up the score in the manner of the international stock markets’ rebound after early scares.

Who said that it was “Christmas in August?” Well, he was partially right because that Mike Tolomia trey that was banked in was a gift. Who the heck takes banked in three-pointers? That was the kind of game that FEU was playing in the first half when everything they seemed to throw up went in while the Blue Eagles couldn’t hit the side of the Big Dome if they life depended on it.

And when their crowd was chanting “uwi na kayo” did it sound something close to “ho ho ho”?

Only it was the derisive voices died in throats as they changed their tone to  “Holy Shit!” after furious rally that saw us come down from 16 points down.

It was like the wrath of the collective FEU population hit Ateneo in the first quarter. They shot 47.4% from the field (the blue and white only managed 28.6%) to go with 6 assists.

Then in the late second quarter, RR Garcia even fed Russell Escoto for a reverse jam that had their side of the coliseum in ecstasy although they hit 41.2% of their shots in that quarter that suggested their hot hands had somewhat cooled off. The Blue Eagles shot 31% in that period and the halftime break for them was like a boxer being saved by the bell.

Phenomenal shooting suggests the law of averages will catch up. But that isn’t always so. A team can stay hot until the end. FEU knows that as they were on the receiving end such during Game One of last year’s finals when it seemed like Ateneo scored 200 points. So they braced for Norman Black’s adjustments and a Blue Eagles’ comeback. But if they played their game and stepped up the pressure, then they could exact a measure of vengeance on a long-time tormentor.

The defending champs have virtually had a target scoped on them since the end of Season 71 and four years later, it remains although with a bigger bulls-eye with more and more teams circling those dates with Ateneo in red. For the Tamaraws, in a rivalry that is growing hotter and more bitter by the game, they felt that they were robbed of a chance to comeback against Ateneo in their first round match up with those consecutive technical foul called on them. FEU head coach Bert Flores went to meet UAAP Men’s Basketball Commissioner Andy Jao after the match to question the calls. Still unsatisfied with the answers, they made a DVD of the so-called missed or bad calls.

And those were the subplots heading into the match.

By the third quarter, the Blue Eagles began to chip at the lead. A bucket here. Four points to their two. Six points to their deuce. Ten minutes later, the lead had been whittled down to five 47-42. The frontline had begun to make inroads with Greg Slaughter, Justin Chua, and Nico Salva combining for 10 points while Kiefer Ravena, held scoreless in the first, began to take over with 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist.

FEU’s magnificent RR Garcia has shown in his three-year UAAP career that he has normally has ice water running in his veins. Capable of hitting huge shots, his trey that gave his side a 63-57 lead with seventy-five seconds left had their faithful screaming their hearts out.

The Blue Eagles since 2006 have cut their eyeteeth in comebacks and late rallies. Since that year, only once has Ateneo blown out Adamson. How many have been won with last second magic? Remember being down to UE in Season 71 where some late heroics by Chris Tiu saw Ateneo salvage a win? UST has been Kramered and hurt by Long shots. And FEU most certainly remembers Ryan Buenafe.

And now, here’s where this heist of a game enters college basketball lore.

In a play that reminded me of Isaiah Thomas’ ill-fated pass to Bill Laimbeer that Larry Bird stole and fed to Dennis Johnson for a layup (that led to a Boston Celtics win), FEU’s Terrence Romeo throw a lazy inbound to Garcia that Emman Monfort picked off and laid in to bring down the lead to 63-59 with 52 seconds left.

Incredibly, Romeo once more committed a turnover by stepping out of bounds that gave Ateneo another chance to inch closer. Ravena drove for a layup and Ateneo was a bucket behind.

The Tamaraws’ Al Ramos missed a jumper and Ravena, showing steel grit and verve, drove the length of the court for a lay-up that tied the game at 63-all. Carl Cruz had a chance to pull out a win for FEU but he went up against Ateneo’s swat team and found himself rejected.

By overtime, the tables and the rug had been pulled. FEU threw even the kitchen sink at Ateneo and the Blue Eagles still finagled a 74-67 win.

The win put Ateneo at 8-0 with Adamson two games behind at 6-2. FEU fell to 4-4 the same as La Salle and UST. That gave NU at 3-5 and even UP at 2-6 a mathematical chance out fighting out for the third and fourth slots in the Final Four.

This season, there have been close shaves and blowouts. And now there’s this year’s come-from-behind win. The sort of you will talk about for years to come (especially if Ateneo goes on to win the title). No one ever said that winning a championship is easy. If you want pretty wins then go watch ice skating or synchronized swimming.  

Years ago, Ateneo supporters started the “We Believe” campaign (after we fell short in 2001). Though not exactly original, it has been co-opted by everyone and their mother since (see the Azkals etc).

The lesson here is something that has been said by the New York Yankees Yogi Berra, “it ain’t over until it’s over.”

Even if there are 75 seconds left.


  1. this is so disappointing, really.

    looking at the final tally of points, santos was leading the mvp race until the votes from media came in. the numbers are deceiving. just by looking at it, people would think that alapag really won by miles (201 points). mathematically speaking, he just won by a very small margin. The votes coming from the media dictated the outcome. santos got the stats, players and commissioners votes, but not the media. so does alapag really deserve it? i guess not.

    this issue boils down to one thing, the criteria. i can't understand why is the importance of statistical points same with that of the media votes (both 30%)? it seems like a media vote is equal to a rebound or a steal or an assist or a game point. do they both give justice to the player's capabilities, performance, and talent? which is quantitative or qualitative? which is subjective or objective? which is fair and which is not? the criteria must be changed to be fair... to the fans and most especially to the players.

  2. Basically, it should have been caguioa!

    Santos may be up in statstical points, but he's not a go-to-guy of his team. He's just a garbage who pile up those points. He's not the ace player, so he won't be the MVP. It was Ildefonso (a veteran past his prime) who took the game winning shot in game 1, not Santos.

    On the other hand, caguio is my choice. He is while Santos is not..

    But I'll accept Alapag, he's the leader of his team. 2 Finals MVP awards strengthen his case. He's the best point guard so far..

    Back to ATeneo, I did not continue to watch the game when RR Garcia hit the trey. I was amazed to know that the Blue Eagles won. Kiefer is the ROY and MVP. Is the MVP award only based on stats??

  3. It was Ildefonso (a veteran past his prime) who took the game winning shot in game 1, not Santos. - A game winning shot foesn't make one an instant MVP... Are you out of your mind? Do you even know what you're saying? Caguioa is your MVP? Really?

  4. In perspective, the only year Santos didn’t deserve to win MVP was Kelly Williams’ MVP year. That’s it. Santos is and continues to be a stat monster and the country’s best player on both ends of the court. There’s just no one in the entire PBA that could measure up, pound for pound. You could make an argument for Jay Washington and his athleticism, but Php 100 says Santos can lock him down as well while JWash couldn’t even stop an offense-less Kelly Williams when matched up.