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.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ateneo-FEU Finals Game One: One Day

This appears in

One Day*
One year. Two teams.
by rick olivares with photos from brosi gonzales & aly yap

September 25, 2010
The Far Eastern University Tamaraws were the favorite to annex the UAAP Season 73 Men’s Basketball Championship over the grand slam seeking Ateneo Blue Eagles. They took the two elimination round games and it was said that they had the defending champions’ number.

After one quarter where the Blue Eagles dropping a crippling 15-0 strike, the score stood at 26-8. The law of averages did not catch up to the hot-shooting blue and whites. The Tams were blown off the court 72-49 in the first game of the finals.

September 24, 2011
After the Tamaraws put the finishing touches on a two-game upset of the Adamson Falcons in their Final Four series of Season 74, the team, as a part of its preparation for their finals rematch with Ateneo, went to watch – among others – Game One of last year’s finals.

FEU head coach Bert Flores said that he wanted his team to recall the hurt and shame and find some motivation in that game.

Saturday, game day, one day before the anniversary of that infamous beating, FEU Team Manager Anton Montinola echoed the same sentiment right before the two teams raced onto the Maplewood court of the Smart Araneta Coliseum. “We want to learn from that and that is we cannot allow another game like that.” said Montinola who professed to have no qualms about trying to derail his alma mater’s quest for a fourth straight title. “Or else it could all be over. But we will give Ateneo a fight.”

September 25, 2010
With the forward-center Jason Escueta suspended for Game One, JP Erram moved one notch up the rotation.

With four minutes left in the first quarter, Erram entered the fray and immediately blocked in succession a jumper by Paul Sanga and an undergoal stab by Mark Bringas. The defensive stops galvanized Ateneo and the rout was on.

September 24, 2011
The Tams were having a field day with their pick and rolls and pick and pops. With the guards unable to fight through their picks and Ateneo’s bigs not gamely challenging the incursions, FEU twice posted ten-point leads at 26-16 and 28-18.

In a scene eerily reminiscent of last year’s finals, Erram entered the game in the second quarter. Finding himself wide open for a jumper, he took a shot with no confidence and bricked it. Running sheepishly back down on defense, he saw Tams rookie Mike Tolomia scooting in for an uncontested layup. Erram gave chase and swatted away Tolomia’s shot.

Soon after that, Ateneo equalized following a 15-5 run, for a 33-all heading into the half.

In Ateneo’s four-year dominance of the college basketball scene, there’s that one day, one game, during the UAAP’s playoffs, where they bamboozle a foe.

During the Final Four of Season 71 against the University of the East Red Warriors, Ateneo ended Dindo Pumaren’s tenure with a thorough 70-50 thumping.

In Season 72, there was that 81-64 win over UST in the Final Four.

And there was last year’s Game One of the finals (not to mention the Final Four rout of Adamson).

Conversely, there’s that one day, one game, where Ateneo loses a match that maybe they shouldn’t have – FEU in Season 71, UP in Season 72, UE in Season 73, and there’s Adamson in Season 74.

So much has been made of that loss. Of how the Blue Eagles have peaked too early. Of how Ateneo’s game is going down.

They conveniently (or maybe even stupidly forget) that just days before those massive blowouts of La Salle and National University, they were singing Hosannas. And just because of one thrashing?

In case they have not done their homework, Ateneo has repaid every one of those loses in spades (you can even go all the way back to the loss to NU in the second round of Season 70 that cost them the twice-to-beat advantage heading into the Final Four).

There are still players on this team who present during the debacle of Season 70. They know the empty feeling following a loss. The consensus after the late loss to Adamson that spoiled an undefeated season was, “Let’s just go get another streak on them.”

Talk about ruthlessness. And of course, those mid-game adjustments.

Shutting down the high pick and roll, Ateneo showed FEU that they can give as well as they can take.

In the first five minutes of the third quarter when Ateneo turned the game around, Kirk Long drove hard on Terrence Romeo on several occasions. When the Captain was done, he had six points from those incursions while Romeo had two buckets and two fouls.

And there was Nico Salva in the post instead of Greg Slaughter. From the get-go, Ateneo went to him down low. He posted up Chris Exciminiano, Carl Cruz, and Roger Pogoy. He sliced in for layups. And he was once more the recipient of a forward pass for a throw down.

With 4:20 to play in the third quarter, Salva backed down Exciminiano. With the Ateneo forward inching closer to the basket, Pogoy went to double team. He blocked Salva from behind but also got him on the head. The fourth-year Ateneo forward deposited both free throws that broke a 45-all tie. That was the last deadlock of the match.

By the time Salva was done, he had scored 24 points on perfect 8-8 shooting from the field and 8-8 from the line. And he led Ateneo to a convincing win.

As it was almost one year to the day, Ateneo punished FEU inside. The Blue Eagles faithful witnessed a dunkfest not seen since the sophomore year of JC Intal and Doug Kramer (during Rich Alvarez’ final season in blue and white in 2003). Ateneo had three slams from Slaughter and one from Salva (FEU’s Russell Escoto also had an awesome slam off a missed trey by Terrence Romeo). Such was the dominating inside play of the Blue Eagles that they scored 50 points inside the paint to the 22 of FEU.

Ironically, one year ago, Ateneo held a 42-22 edge inside the pit. The Blue Eagles also reprised their board dominance by outrebounding FEU by six – 46-40 In Game One of Season 73 and 37-31 this year’s first match.

The Tamaraws had come into the finals with a three-game winning streak and a 7-2 record coming off the second round. Once more, they were the recipient of a clinic on defense and team play as Ateneo sent them crashing back to earth with a resounding 82-64 triumph.

September 25, 2010
In the aftermath of that 72-49 massacre in Season 73’s Finals, FEU Athletic Director and former Blue Eagle Mark Molina said, “We were completely outplayed. Para silang (the Tamaraws) deer stuck in the headlights.”

In the same breath, he vowed a comeback.

September 24, 2011
In the aftermath of the Game One loss, Bert Flores offered no excuses. “Talo talaga. Ang ganda ng laro ng Ateneo. Maganda yung execution nila nung second half at hinigpitan nila depensa nila. Para siya last year ulit nung second half.”

In the same breath, he vowed a comeback.


In my preview, I listed down some things Ateneo needs to do to win the game and the series. Here's my scorecard on that:

1)    Greg Slaughter needs to stay in the game. The Big Fella played 26 minutes and tallied 12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block.

2)   In Ateneo’s two elims wins over FEU, they had three players scoring in double digits. They needed to maintain that and get more involved in the scoring. In this game, four Blue Eagles scored in double digits – Salva (24), Kiefer Ravena (17), Slaughter (12), and Emman Monfort (11).

3)  The Phenom will have his way inside. Against Exciminiano (the man Ateneo calls “X”), Romeo, Garcia, and Tolomia, the Phenom finished with 17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists (including a bullet inside the lane to a flashing Slaughter who dunked it home), and 2 steals. After Terrence Romeo, who single-handedly kept FEU in the game, hit a trey, Ravena answered with a trey of his own while cramping up.

4)    If Nico Salva takes his shots in the flow of the game and passes off when need be. The power forward finished with zero assists but that was okay as he was perfect everywhere else for the day.

5)    If Emman Monfort can continue to give RR Garcia fits. In last year’s Game One, Garcia, newly crowned league MVP, had 11 points. This year, he was held down to six.

 * Thanks to David Nicholls for the title inspiration.


  1. the game of NICO SALVA really makes the team get hotter:) the slam dunks of Greg Slaughter and Nico really put an exclamation point to the game:)!!!!!

  2. Last Saturday's game was really amazing! Well, maybe Game 1 was Nico's game, ever, an almost too perfect game for him :) I guess the entire UAAP Season 74 was an improving season for Nico.