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.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ateneo-UST Round One: 40

This appears in

by rick olivares pics by brosi g

When a team shoots the basketball exceptionally well, one wonders when the law of averages will catch up.

When a team shoots poorly, they’re told to keep shooting (albeit with a mind for better shot selection or to take it to the hole) because it is theorized that shots will eventually find the bottom of the net. Or so we’re told.

Because there’s ugly ball and there’s one-for-eighteen shooting from La La Land that is simply atrocious. Granted that during the three-peat, Ateneo was not your classic bomb squad. And granted that nailing 50% of attempts from trifecta land is almost impossible, Ateneo is – gasp -- seventh in field goal percentage in the league but they’re tops in the standings. Go figure.

And in case you don’t remember, the Blue Eagles were 1-17 from three-point range against UE.

But of course, three-point shooting is just one aspect of the game. There are so many other factors that contribute to the final outcome and besides, the stats can be awfully deceiving. The UP Fighting Maroons outrebounded us (by one actually) but they still got killed.

The UST Growling Tigers hauled down 53 boards to the Blue Eagles’ 42 but even before halftime, Ateneo had them figured out. Incidentally, Ateneo is fourth in rebounding with an average of 42.8 ribbies per match.

And one sports scribe shook his head at that statistic – Ateneo being seventh in field goal percentage – “Yet they are 6-0? Incredible,” he mumbled as he shook his head and went back to pounding the keys.

Speaking of pounding, the UST Growling Tigers are one of the more physical teams in the league. Don’t be deceived by their bevy of outside gunners, they like to bump and thump (maybe not as much as Adamson but they still do). And even as the match unfolded, it was obvious that they chose the wrong poison.

In double-teaming Greg Slaughter, the forgot the other Blue Eagles, the much-maligned bench in particular, came up big. Kiefer Ravena, Nico Salva and everyone else took attacked inside at every opportunity. The game plan was to attack UST’s suspect interior defense.

When you think about it, 2/5 of the second unit – Justin Chua and Frank Golla in particular -- were starters on last year’s three-peat squad. Chua in particular at least in my point of view, has not adjusted to the shorter minutes and his scoring as well as his confidence has dipped. But that begs the question do you sit Slaughter and return Nico Salva to the bench?

The Growling Tigers also have the same dilemma. Carmelo Afuang is the UAAP’s version of Bill Laimbeer. Bad hoops body. Can stroke the outside shot. Plays undersized. He’s scrappy, hard-nosed, maybe a tad dirty, but he gets the job done. How many times did he get Rabeh Al-Hussaini’s goat?

He never was as effective last Thursday as he played 11 minutes and scored on a gimme only because Paolo Pe sealed in Golla inside the paint and Afuang had a free lane for the bucket.

But it is what it is and everyone has to adjust.

With UST holding a slim 11-10 first quarter lead, Tonino Gonzaga, the even much more maligned Bacon Austria, Oping Sumalinog, Golla, and Monfort, the lone starter left and who was in the midst of a dreadful shooting day (0-7 field goals and 2-2 free throws), got Ateneo out of their collective funk.

Norman Black had earlier told the team that they couldn’t keep relying on Ravena and Slaughter to carry the scoring load. The bench must simply step up (they are dead last in the league at 15.5 points per game). And that day, the call was answered as the reserves tacked in 20 points.

With both squads reacting to calls and non-calls, the game turned even sloppier as Ateneo momentarily relaxed and failed to guard a fastbreak layup following a goal tending violation by Karim Abdul.

And UST coach, repeated FEU coach Bert Flores’ folly (he was teed up late in the Tamaraws’ loss to UP) by angrily reacting to the officiating by entering the court.

The technical foul slapped on him allowed Ateneo to hit two free throws right even before the start of the third quarter with the Blue Eagles holding a 29-20 lead.

Ateneo cranked up their defense and scored six consecutive points in a devastating 8-0 run that all but knocked out UST. That was eight points in the first 54 seconds of play in the third. Jarencio mocked the officiating crew after his technical by derisively applauding.

Fifty-four seconds later, no one on the UST side of the Araneta Coliseum was clapping. The starch had been taking out and Ateneo threatened to bowl them over. They led by 18 on two separate occasions: with 4:22 left following a Kirk Long layup, 58-40; and with 3:33 left after Slaughter tipped in a shot (his third and fourth points of the match) to make it 60-42.

Ateneo scored 26 fastbreak points and cashed in on 14 turnover points off 24 UST errors. That right there – the 40 cumulative points said it all. Can’t buy a bucket from the outside? Take it to the hole for those higher percentage points.

And they were good enough for a 66-53 win for number six.

1 comment:

  1. This is one game perhaps that Bacon Austria hit his "Hail Mary" shots which he regularly fumbled through the the end of the day, Ateneo bench has to deliver and it did this game!