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, October 26, 2011

Ateneo Blue Eagles pick apart NORSU Tigers

Gwynne Capacio scores on a reverse lay up for an and-one situation.

This appears in

Blue Eagles pick apart NORSU Tigers
by rick olivares photo by brosi gonzales

October 25, 2011
Capiz Gym
Roxas City, Capiz

JP Erram grabbed the defensive rebound and attempted an outlet pass to Gwynne Capacio that would have ignited another Ateneo fastbreak. But Negros Oriental State University point guard Kenneth Unabia picked off the pass. With Erram guarding the basket, Unabia pulled up for a jumper but Capacio came back down to swat the shot away.

The Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles blew away NORSU 90-32, their second win in as many blowouts. Last Sunday, they opened the campaign for the 16 University Games basketball championship with a 90-50 demolition job on Filamer Christian University.

If you think that they’ve got any hangover from winning a fourth straight UAAP title, guess again.

The Blue Eagles are without their entire starting unit and a few from their second (Bacon Austria, Frank Golla, and Oping Sumalinog) but that doesn’t mean that they do not have the offensive weaponry or the defensive chops to stop opponents.

The Ateneo Blue Eagles – Justin Chua, Juami Tiongson, Tonino Gonzaga, JP Erram, Jeric Estrada, Bon Jovi Cipriano, Von Pessumal, Gwynne Capacio, and their replacement killers in Paul Siarot, Joma Adornado, and Marky Mercado (Golla will be arriving on Friday) – are proof that the system we have in place works.

A blowout might sound boring but if you’re a hoops geek, then you’re going to appreciate the finer points of picking apart an opponent.

The NORSU Tigers may not be as tall but they definitely have talent and some athleticism. And the Blue Eagles did not have to use their height to get things done. They killed the Tigers, who oft preferred to go one-on-one, with terrific team defense and clinical passing.

With their hot shooting and high percentage shots, the field goal percentage must have been in the 80% range.

And speaking of “hot” the Capiz Gym inside the Villareal Stadium is a sweat house. You think that the antiquated Blue Eagle Gym is hot? You have not been to this sauna that passes for a basketball court.

Nevertheless, a crowd of several thousand packed the gym. They came to watch the Blue Eagles. They asked, “Where’s Ravena? Where’s Slaughter, Salva, or Long?”

After the game, they knew everyone’s names as they asked for pictures and autographs. In fact, during the game, it seemed that the Capiz Gym had become the Smart Araneta Coliseum during the last UAAP campaign as fans cheered for the Blue Eagles.

Although it didn’t start out exactly that way.

The game started rather testily as Justin Chua’s second motion on the Tigers’ Archie Ella was deemed by the referee to be an unsportsmanlike foul. Ella made both free throws for an early 5-2 NORSU lead. Chua was reprimanded by acting head coach Sandy Arespacochaga while the crowd rained some jeers. “Wag kang pikon,” hissed one fan.

Minutes later, JP Erram tried to save a possession by throwing the ball at the body of a Tiger. Instead, he beaned Ella on the noggin. Although unintentional, the referee called Erram over to be careful so as not to inflame passions. The events of last Sunday’s melee between two other squads has not been lost on the tournament organizers.

In Ateneo’s next possession, Capacio found Tonino Gonzaga in the right corner pocket for a triple. Zags returned the favor in the next two offensives by finding Capacio for two fastbreak layups including a lookaway pass that had the crowd roaring.

The Blue Eagles held the Tigers scoreless over the next four minutes and by the time NORSU scored a bucket, the lead was 15-7 and Ateneo had taken control over the game.

Deftly pacing his wards, Arespacochaga had his players in and out regularly as the Tigers did not know what hit them. Juami Tiongson dished off nine assists (by my count) and the ball was whipping around like crazy.

At the 2:18 mark of the second period, Tiongson whipped the ball to Gonzaga who was open in the left corner. As the defense rotated over to him, Gonzaga, without missing a beat found a cutting Capacio for a layup and a deuce, 41-17 for Ateneo.

Three touches. No dribbles. Two points. Easy money.

Other players who sparingly play during the UAAP season like Jeric Estrada and Von Pessumal showed what they can do given longer minutes and the opportunity to get hold of the ball.

Even the call ups from Team B – Siarot, Adornado, and Mercado – were pretty in synch with the offense.

Said one patron in the vernacular (I had to ask the person seated next to me to translate it because he was so animated in his expressions): “Walang ka-hirap hirap maglaro ‘tong Ateneo. Wala na nga sila Slaughter at Ravena wala pa rin binatbat yung kalaban.”

Ateneo 90Capacio 12, Gonzaga 10, Cipriano 10, Estrada 9, Siarot 9, Chua 9, Tiongson 8,  Pessumal 6, Adornado 6, Mercado 6, Erram 5.

NORSU 32Reyes 8, Ella 7, Veniales 4, Bheron 4, Enriquez 3, PiƱero 2, Enopia 2, Unabia 2.

Juami Tiongson was magic. Picking up from where he left off in a scintillating UAAP Finals series, Tiongson was magnificent at quarterback. He dished off nine assists to go with his eight points.

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