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.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Letran outsteadies Mapua in overtime

This appears in the Thursday September 8, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror.

Letran outsteadies Mapua in overtime
by rick olivares

This game was all about missed chances from loose change.

Letran survived a last gasp attempt by Mapua to carve out a 69-67 overtime win for their tenth victory in 12 games at The Arena of San Juan in this 87th Season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Rookie point guard Mark Cruz split his charities to give Letran a 69-67 lead over with 6.1 seconds left in the game, but they had to sweat out a missed three-point attempt at the buzzer by Cardinals forward Josan Nimes before celebrating a huge win that kept them within striking distance of San Beda for the second seat in the Final Four.

The top two seeds after the double round robin eliminations are accorded a twice-to-beat advantage over the third and fourth seeds.

Because of the defensive nature of the game (both Letran and Mapua are the third and fourth best defensive teams in the league), the shooting percentages went south. Kevin Racal, Jay Espiritu, and Cruz, key contributors for the Knights this season, were a combined 2-15 while their team shot a collective 36% from the field.

Mapua fared no better as Nimes was 4-18 (although he did score 16 points) while Mark Sarangay had two points. The Cardinals were an atrocious 30% from the field.

But it was the free throw shooting where both squads bricked shots in the game’s crucial moments that kept either squad in the hunt for the win.

In the final 3:48 of the match, Letran hit four of five free throws while Mapua’s Yousef Taha, Jonathan Banal, and Allan Mangahas failed to connect on four of five chances from the stripe.

However, it was Espiritu, whose first three attempts all failed to graze the iron, who hit a huge triple with 3:08 left in the extension that gave Letran a 66-61 lead, a luxury considering the defensive stance put up by both teams.

“Ang sabi namin sa isa’t isa ay gawin na lang namin kung ano ang kailangan – rebound, assists, depensa, o kung may chance mag-score, score,” related Cruz after the match. “At least sa clutch nag-contribute kami ni Jay.”

“Akala ko masisilat pa,” said Kevin Alas who topscored with 20 points for Letran which went to 10-2. Letran’s sophomore center, Raymond Almazan who is crowding San Sebastian’s Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang in the statistical points race, compiled 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 5 blocks.

Alas scored 11 of Letran’s last 13 points of the fourth quarter to send the match into an extra five minutes of play.

The Cardinals had an opportunity to seize the lead with 45 seconds left in the game but Yousef Taha committed an turnover. Fortunately for Mapua, Letran was unable to win the game themselves at the buzzer when Alas opted to take a shot from just past midcourt instead of passing it to teammate Franz Dysam who was several meters away from their basket.

Mapua, which had their four game winning streak stopped by Letran, were led by Yousef Taha who finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds while Nimes added 16.

“Missed opportunities,” lamented Mapua head coach Chito Victolero whose team fell to 6-7 but remain in fourth place. “Chance namin umangat pa sa Lyceum (5-7) pero maraming missed chances.”

The Knights face the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates this Friday at 4pm at the San Juan Arena while Mapua will play San Sebastian next Friday, September 16.



I just love watching Allan Mangahas play. I think he has what it takes to play in the PBA. I do hope he gets the chance and also to play for a team that suits his type of game.

Why is Letran playing better? Some might point to the maturity of Kevin Alas. While true, I believe that it is Raymond Almazan playing much much better than has opened things up for the Knights. Last year the game plan for opposing teams was simple – guard Alas and make sure the others try to beat you. The team was young and they had Jaypee Belencion who was a converted shooter when he actually played center in high school.

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