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

Stags end first round in glorious fashion

Stags end first round in glorious fashion
by rick olivares
pic by paul ryan tan

August 19, 2011
San Juan Arena
For the San Sebastian Golden Stags to win the game against the San Beda Red Lions, rookie head coach Topex Robinson’s game plan hinged on three things – one, playing defense; two, their suspect bench stepping up; and three, Calvin Abueva.

Early in new NCAA season with the Stags racking up huge leads in the early goings before losing them in the endgame, Robinson had a one-on-one talk with his mercurial player.

“Mananalo tayo dahil sa ‘yo,” emphatically underscored Robinson. “At matatalo tayo dahil sa ‘yo. Isn’t it better that we win?”

Abueva silently nodded in agreement.

Robinson, seized the moment and said that he couldn’t keep engaging the crowd and opponents in taunting, trash talking, and rough play to the detriment of the team. “The last word is a win because no one can take that away from you.”

With less than a minute left in the game with the Stags holding a slim 70-68 lead, time was called by San Beda to map out an offensive. San Sebastian had three opportunities to put their crimson foes away but three times they flubbed those chances (an Anthony del Rio airball and two turnovers by Abueva).

In the huddle, Abueva asked to guard SBC guard Anjo Caram who had come of age in the season. The diminutive Bedan guard had 8 points, 6 assists, and as a testament to his quarterbacking a powerful team, zero turnovers.

“Coach, akin siya,” said Abueva who tapped his chest to signify his intention. After being whistled for three fouls in the first half (two of them Robinson described as utterly useless), the human dynamo from Pampanga was able to conserve his fouls.

He took on Caram; a move that surprised San Beda. With gunner Garvo Lanete, 18 points and one crucial turnover in the endgame, well guarded by del Rio, Caram took a jumpshot that missed the rim.

But the Stags gave the ball back to San Beda.

In the next inbound play with both Lanete and Caram unable to extricate themselves for a shot, the ball swung to forward-center Dave Marcelo who found himself open on the right corner. With Ronald Pascual rushing out to challenge the shot, Marcelo released a high arcing shot that was unfortunately short.

San Sebastian held and a first round sweep and in doing so ended San Beda’s 26-game win streak that dated back to last season.

A relieved Robinson accepted congratulations from his players and team supporters. “It got tense, ha,’ he said as he rested his hands on his knees. “We left them an open window…”

As the red and white gallery sang their alma mater song, Abueva beamed. “Masarap ‘tong panalo pero hindi pa rin niya matatangal yung kahihiyaan nung finals last year. Malayo pa ‘to. Pero swerte rin kasi meron akong mga turnover sa huli.”

The Stags were led by their one-two punch of Ronald Pascual and Abueva with 23 and 21 points respectively. Pascual, whose back-to-back treys gave SSCR a 30-23 lead with 2:53 in the second period, carried the Stags early on with Abueva on the bench.

But Robinson’s unheralded players Dexter Maiquez, Jovit dela Cruz, Lyle Antipuesto, Bobby Balucanag, and Michael Miranda chipped in 13 points and held off the hard-charging and deeper Red Lions.

Miranda, the 6’5” rookie center, scored nary a point although he pulled down 9 big rebounds with three coming off the offensive glass. None was more crucial than when he pulled down a Pascual miss from the deep right corner. The ball swung back out to Pascual who drove hard this time. With the Red Lions collapsing to hopefully take a charge, the high-leaping guard dropped the ball to Abueva who was underneath the basketball his lonesome. That was the Stags’ 11th and 12th second chance points (to the 8 of San Beda). And they gave last year’s runners-up the 70-68 lead that would stand to the end.

“It’s nice to keep the streak going but what is really important is beating San Beda because it gives everybody the confidence that we can get this done,” said Robinson outside his team’s jubilant locker room. “If you take a look at us, we’re thin at almost every position. We don’t have the weapons that San Beda has. But I have to give credit to my guys and my bench because they stepped up. The task it to put us in a position to make the Final Four and the Finals. It’s still a long season and we haven’t really accomplished anything. What good is a streak if you don’t win at the end?”

“I think at the end, it came down to execution,” said San Beda head coach Frankie Lim who took the loss in stride. “It’s a matter of making better decisions because we had chance to send the game in overtime or even win it outright. But it’s not the end of the world. We will be back.”

Former Stags point guard Pamboy Raymundo who watched from near the team’s bench beside former teammate Jimbo Aquino was pleased with the win. “Malaking accomplishment yan dahil hindi na malalim yung bench ng team,” said the point guard who recently made himself available for the PBA Draft. “Lalo na nawala si Jon Semira (who suffered tore up his ACL early in the season). Kaya naman talaga. Pride yan.”

The two teams battled through eight deadlocks and 21 lead changes.

San Sebastian 70Pascual 23, Abueva 21, Sangalang 9, dela Cruz 6, Maiquez 6, Antipuesto 3, Balucanag 2, del Rio 0, Miranda 0, Ferrer 0, Vitug 0.

San Beda 68Lanete 18, Marcelo 15, Caram 8, Pascual J. 7, Amer 6, Sorela 6, dela Rosa 4, Pascual K. 4, Lim 0, Semerad D. 0, Villahermosa 0.

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