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, May 5, 2012

Looking at Game 6 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals

Looking at Game 6 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals
by rick olivares pic by brosi

One more game for all the marbles.

That was the mantra for the Game Six of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals by Talk ‘N Text that came into the match needing to draw heavily on their championship moxie to send the series to its ultimate game.

And Game Six is proof of why a game is played for the full four quarters.

Of course, we’ve seen teams lose it at the start of the game where they’ve shown no fight in them. So maybe I should amend my statement by adding that timeless statement by Rudy Tomjanovich: “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.”

Everything was clicking for B-Meg in the first quarter. Denzel Bowles scoring on a three-point play in the Llamados’ first possession. James Yap hitting a trey. Bowles flushing the ball on an assist by JC Intal. James knocking down a shot in the lane. The score was 19-5 in favor of B-Meg at the 5:32 mark before Intal hit two free throws.

Those seven minutes said much about B-Meg’s game – they were pretty much a Bowles and Yap show. The two combined for an incredible 60 points. Yap’s prodigious scoring effort was pronounced by TNT head coach Chot Reyes as “Jordanesque”. Added Reyes, “All we could do was withstand their onslaught.”

B-Meg head coach Tim Cone mournfully said, “We got the start that we wanted but we couldn’t sustain it. They (TNT) had a great shooting night. We didn’t do a very good job committing to pick and roll defense. They shot the ball so well and after that we just couldn’t get our offense on track.”

The Llamados’ bench (the other 12 players who all got sent into the game) tallied a collective 22 points.

More than the low bench production and two points coming from PJ Simon, the Tropang Texters made B-Meg pay for their 17 turnovers by collecting 30 points. Added Cone: “We have to get more people involved. We only had nine assists today. We tried to get PJ untracked as we need that other scorer.”

The early zone (2-3 and 3-2) caught TNT by surprise hence the early scoring binge by B-Meg. Luckily for TNT, they hit 14-29 three-point attempts for a 48.3% clip. That’s good enough for second place behind the record 15 shot by San Miguel Beer during Game 4 of the 2001 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals where the Beermen beat Sta. Lucia 106-73.

Playing gritty defense, TNT whittled the lead, endured one more run by B-Meg before overtaking them for good when Jason Castro hit a triple at the buzzer to make it 50-48.

Castro has been incredible despite playing hurt (on both feet). Castro scored 25 points to lead five Tropang Texters in double figures – Jared Dillinger (16), Ranidel de Ocampo (15), Donnell Harvey (11), and Ryan Reyes (11).

Each of the Texters in double digits took turns in leading a beleaguered TNT side that had to stop the coronation of B-Meg. Larry Fonacier kept TNT in the fight in the first period when he hit two triples. Ryan Reyes and de Ocampo did their job on both ends of the court in the second quarter. In the third quarter, it was Dillinger and Harvey who combined to keep TNT afloat, 67-63, before turning it over to Castro who was scintillating in the fourth period when he drove in or hit long bombs for 14 points to notch the final score at 92-82 to send the game into a seventh and deciding game.

Chot Reyes was quick to point out that his wards made their shots: “it’s the same output we had in the last game. The only difference is we made some shots. Our problem in this series is we’re stretched out; we can’t get two good games together. We need to shoot well in Game Seven. Yesterday’s practice was all business. No rah rah speeches. No emotional drama. We just went to one light practice then we had a nice chat with four guys – Jimmy (Alapag), Ranidel (de Ocampo), Kelly (Williams), and Larry (Fonacier). I felt Tim Cone pulled a fast one on us with a zone that caught us napping. That allowed them to run and score but we kept our composure.”

More than TNT making their shots, they also won it with defense. Ryan Reyes strip of James Yap with 2:16 left saw him hightail it for a fastbreak layup to score it 90-78 for the Tropang Texters. That was another department where TNT ruled 10-5. As Chot Reyes said, they withstood the early onslaught them masterfully turned the game around and outdid B-Meg in almost every statistical category save for free throws (15-19 vs. 10-17), blocked shots (4-1), and second chance points (10-9).

Now with Game Seven a day away, it’s going to come down to more than making one’s shots and keeping one’s composure. It’s throwing everything in and leaving everything out on the court. After all, this one is for all the marbles.

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