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, December 14, 2011

TNT ousts Barako Bull

TNT ousts Barako Bull
by rick olivares pic by brosi gonzales

December 14, 2011
Smart Araneta Coliseum

Jason Castro leaped up high to grab the defensive rebound. A second later, Barako Bull counterpart Wynne Arboleda went up as well and clipped the Talk ‘N Text speedster on the leg.

As Castro fell, he braced himself to hit the Maplewood of the Smart Araneta Coliseum court. “Na-condition na ako sa injury at ready ako kung sakali na mangyayari ulit,” he shared post-match while icing his knees.

Arboleda was slapped with a Flagrant One foul and Castro picked himself up and added one free throw to level the match at 62-all. Castro, who topscored with 32 points, would preside over the defending champions’ late charge that saw the Tropang Texters come back from a 16-point hole to squeak past and oust the Energy Boosters 81-79 from the Philippine Cup playoffs.

Nine seconds after his free throw that tied the match, Castro drilled a three-pointer to give Talk ‘N Text their first taste of the lead since they were up 11-10 early in the first quarter. Jimmy Alapag, in his first game back after a lengthy injury, tried to land the knockout punch with another triple attempt but it rimmed out. Barako Bull equalized once more at 65-all before TNT’s Kelly Williams and Castro responded with a pair of triples to give the Tropang Texters some breathing room, 71-67, with 3:43 to play.

But like a boxer that refused to go down, Barako Bull, which had adopted the never-say-die attitude of head coach Junel Baculi, stayed within striking distance. The Energy Boosters checked the explosive TNT offense for the most part but they had no answer for Castro who repeatedly beat his guard to the hoop.

With the game on the line, the former PCU Dolphin received a kickout and he rifled in another trey with Barako Bull’s Sunday Salvacion all over him to make it 75-69. Alapag followed that by beating Salvacion off the dribble to hike the score to 79-72.

The seven-point cushion was good enough to weather a spate of TNT errors in the endgame that enabled the Energy Boosters’ comeback. Willie Miller scored seven points in the final minute of play but it was Arboleda who nearly won it all for Barako Bull but his desperation trey from well past midcourt hit the rim of the basket.

For much of the game, the Energy Boosters slowed down the match and worked the ball around before finding the open man for a shot. They worked that to perfection in the first half when they shot 50% from three-point territory and they outrebounded TNT 24-15 for a 44-30 lead.

TNT methodically chopped down the lead in the third canto behind Japeth Aguilar’s spectacular dunks (off a pair of terrific Kelly Williams assists) that gave the Texters hope of overhauling a deficit from a tough foe who beat them earlier in the tournament, 100-86.

Castro scored a game high 32 points on top of five rebounds and four assists. Mick Pennisi led Barako Bull with 15 points.

“I was prepared to play a game on Sunday,” admitted TNT head coach Chot Reyes after the match. “Credit Barako for slowing us down and capitalizing on our chemistry problems. Now we get some extra days of rest to heal our tired bodies.”

The four-time PBA Coach of the Year referred to not having a complete and healthy roster for the entire season. “We wanted to keep it close so we would have a chance and Jason Castro gave us that chance to win it.”

Added Castro, “Hindi kami sure kung mananalo kami. Inisip ko na lang na gagawin ko na lang lahat ang kaya ko para manalo.”

Barako Bull head coach Junel Baculi lamented his squad’s finishing kick but was quick to praise them for coming this far. “It’s a newly-formed team and even if we have veterans with a dash of youth, we are still adjusting to each others’ games. We expected to finish better but it didn’t happen. We’ll try again in the next conference. The age of our core is from 33-35 years. We will try to complement Dylan (Ababou) by getting some young players and a good import who can help cover our mistakes. But it’s good and bad; bittersweet. We’ll be back.” 

Talk ‘N Text 81Castro 32, Alapag 15, Williams 14, Aguilar 10, Carey 8, Fonacier 2, Dillinger 0, Reyes 0, Alvarez 0, Lao 0.

Barako Bull 79Pennisi 16, Miller 15, Peña 12, Seigle 9, Allado 9, Ababou 6, Salvacion 3, Gatumbato 2, Artadi 1, Aquino 0, Najorda 0.

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