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, August 20, 2011

Notes on the Letran-JRU game yesterday; a 70-59 Knights win

Notes on the Letran-JRU game yesterday; a 70-59 Knights win
by rick olivares

I have to admit that I didn’t expect much from Letran this season. I thought that since last year, they had a problem putting the ball in the basket. In the pre-season, I thought that it was more of the same. But they have come alive and have finished the first round at 7-2. Their only loses to San Sebastian and San Beda. If only they had a big time scorer, maybe even a zone buster they’d be a real force to reckon with.

They manhandled Jose Rizal University, 70-59, in a score that should have been higher but the Knights allowed the Heavy Bombers to bring down that lead a bit in the final minute. But that wasn’t enough to prevent them from sinking into a 3-6 hole in the first round.

Sophomore center Raymond Almazan set the tone in the first quarter with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 blocks (he finished with 4 swats but I counted 5 ad I have no idea why the statisticians missed that). As Almazan got going, JRU counterpart John Montemayor got out of it being falling into foul trouble and upsetting the rotation. Jeckster Apinan who I have always thought of as an underrated player scored 7 points in place of Montemayor to help out the talented John Lopez, a poor man’s version of Wesley Gonzales.

But somehow JRU still couldn’t get going. I thought that despite their high octane game, they have largely played uninspired ball since last season. For a while last year, Marvin Hayes was on the bench. I don’t even agree with how Joe Etame was used. Some might point out that Lopez, Nate Matute and Alex Almario have stepped up… well, they should since that fab lineup of John Wilson, Jay-R Bulangis, Marvin Hayes, Mark Cagoco, JR Sena, Maui Pradas, and the late Jason Nocom have all come and gone.

It is said that the players have become tentative because the slightest mistake draws sharp reprimands from the coaching staff. With Matute guarded so tightly, why weren’t there any high screens set for him (when the staggered screens at the baseline didn’t work)? They could have played the two-man game with JLo that would give Letran nightmares on the switch. Oh, well.

Whatever it was, the Knights pounced on them. Just flat out killed them physically and mentally. I had to wonder how Apinan would continuously fall for Andrei Mendoza’s head games. At the half, holding a 39-30 lead, Letran head coach Louie Alas, after making his adjustments, asked the team, “Do you have any suggestions?”

Kevin Alas and Franz Dysam spoke up about breaking the 221 zone press to which the coach agreed. A number of players offered their insights too. That was something not evident last season – that line of communication amongst each other.

And come the second half, they juts kicked the crap out of the Heavy Bombers who came to the match without their bomb sights.

Jam Cortes might have scored 11 points but for me, what make this team better is Almazan. Cortes at times, at least to me, seems like he wants to challenge Calvin Abueva for the roughest player in the league. Or maybe even in the team now that he has been joined by the equally rough and tumble Mendoza.

If the Stags have the Pinatubo Twins in Calvin Abueva and Ronald Pascual, the college version of the Bruise Brothers or Bump and Thump resides in Intramuros in Cortes and Mendoza.

Letran ruled the paint with 59 boards with 22 coming off the offensive glass. JRU had a measly 35.

With the defense solid, Kevin Alas took care of the offense as he scored 18 points off a dizzying array of stretch layups and drives including an off-balanced shot that went in while he was falling out of bounds for a 58-41 lead!

When shots like that (he was some eight feet away from the basket when that dropped), it’s time to go home.

Only Letran didn’t as they stayed to watch that epic match between San Sebastian and San Beda.

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