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.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Five things you have to know why we won against UP

Five things you have to know why we won against UP
by rick olivares

Did you expect a blowout?

Me? I didn’t. Just didn’t figure it would be this close no thanks to Larry, Moe, and Curly better known as the three stooges referees. But you really have to credit the Fighting Maroons. They had a game plan in mind and they nearly executed it to perfection – for a half at least.

While a 76-70 win is a lot closer than many would like, these nailbiters might serve us good in the long run. And here’s why.

We played better with 24-second shot clock on
Tip-off was delayed for about eight minutes because the shot clock on the north basket of the Araneta Coliseum malfunctioned. The solution was to switch off the shot clock located at the south basket so both Ateneo and UP played with only the game barker announcing how many seconds one had left before they were whistled for a violation.

The disadvantage was Ateneo’s because they try to make the most of their walk-it-up offense. Without Juami Tiongson who injured an ankle in practice last Monday and UP playing very physical and coming out with a lot of energy, the Blue Eagles looked, well, lost.

UP scored 40 points in the first 20 minutes. That’s the most they’ve scored in four matches. In their first three assignments, the Maroons averaged a measly 25 points after a half of hoops.

I expect every team – wherever they may be in the standings -- to bring out its A-game against us. The Maroons are no exception.

However, when Araneta Coliseum technicians fixed the shot clock during the halftime break, I felt that UP’s game was numbered both literally and figuratively.

After making their mental and sets adjustment, it was Ateneo’s turn to put in a season best in quarter scoring when they pumped in 29 points during an incandescent third quarter that turned the match around. And the triumvirate of Nico Salva, Greg Slaughter, and Oping Sumalinog outscored the entire UP team 25-17 during that quarter.

Although far from a textbook perfect game, Ateneo executed better in the second half as they went inside to Greg Slaughter. For their supreme efforts they were awarded 24 free throws (22-24 for 92.7%) while UP opted to bomb from the outside and ended up with 13 free throw attempts (they made nine).

Nico Elorde is a tough SOB
You all know that Nico is the grandson of the late Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde who was the greatest boxer in our history before this guy from General Santos City came along (no, not Rolando Navarette, you slime).

Nico’s two older brothers – Migs and Bai are both professional boxers so you know that toughness is in their genes.

Now if this were a boxing match, the referee would have stopped the fight for the sheer number of times that Nico has been knocked down to the floor. Only it’s a basketball game and UP got away with several charges.

Elorde grimaced after getting decked on several occasions that he could have filed for assault and battery. But his grit and warrior attitude was infectious.

Nico has played great defense on opposing guards not named LA Revilla while ably quarterbacking the team. His stat line for the day – 2 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, and 3 turnovers.

Oping Sumalinog hit a couple of big threes
Just so that you know, he is on the lineup for a reason. While he is probably even our best three-point threat (and that says a lot considering the Cebu native has made 3 of only 6 attempts from trifecta land), Sumalinog also does a lot of things.

After he nailed a trey from the right side of the court to make it 72-64 with 2:51 left to play, Sumalinog stripped Mike Silungan off the ball in UP’s side of the court. The graduating swingman hightailed it to the Ateneo basket where he was promptly fouled.

Now worries. Two swishes and it was 74-64, Ateneo.

Sumalinog finished with 10 points (his best production so far this year) to go with 5 rebounds and his steal – all in number’s 17’s 17 minutes on the floor.

With his strong showing on both ends of the court as he has also compiled an average of 4 rebounds per outing, it looks like Oping has worked himself back into the rotation.

Greg Slaughter decided to do something more constructive with his anger.
The knock on the Big Fella is simple – he loses his concentration when opponents play him physical and rough. Larry, Moe and Curly, those three stooges that officiated the match, swallowed their whistles as Raul Soyud, Chris Ball, and Alinko Mbah were tenderizing Slaughter.

The Big Fella had valid reason to complain but he should know that no amount of complaining will change a call that has already been made. It took a halftime talk to settle the team and Slaughter down.

Before the Blue Eagles returned to the floor for the second half, I pulled Slaughter aside and urged him to go out and execute. Never mind the rough stuff or the numbers hacks, elbows, knees and body picks that are designed to hurt – just play the game. In fact in one play late in the fourth period, Soyud took out Kiefer Ravena and Nico Salva with his butt alone and there was no whistle.

Slaughter had a paltry two points in the first half but he awoke from his slumber to score 11 in the second half.

Ateneo dug deep inside to pull out an ugly win.
For the first time this Season 75, Ateneo didn’t jump out to a huge lead after the first 20 minutes. In fact, it was the Fighting Maroons who came out with a lot of energy that surprised the Blue Eagles. Why they were surprised I will never know because they should know by now that they are the hunted. They have to bring it every single game. As it was UP fought hard and refused to help go away.

While discussing with media colleagues Eddie Ching and Josiah Albelda about who at this point has been the league MVP, we all agreed that it was a toss up between Slaughter and Salva although the latter has been greatly impressing people in the last few years.

Salva finished with a game-high 21 points and his two free throws with 11.9 seconds left in the match saved the outcome for Ateneo. This season, he has been easily the most consistent player on the team.

When the team was unable to get points, it was Salva to the rescue.

The Fighting Maroons beat us in almost every statistical category save for the free throws and the field goal percentage. In the intangibles department, Ateneo played great situational defense in the final 16 seconds of play. UP was whistled for a 24-second shot clock violation as suddenly the Blue Eagles remembered how to defend. It was the third shot clock violation for the Maroons… in the fourth period.

Just as Ateneo played great defense against La Salle in the final minute of play, so did they once more against UP. Suddenly with FEU’s loss to NU in the nightcap, we’re back atop the standings with a 4-1 record.

The season certainly hasn’t been easy. There are ups and downs and challenges.

Five played and nine to go.

Here's a companion piece to this analysis and it appears on


Here's an interesting stat line about my good friend Mike Silungan (who is one of my former Gatorade Brand Ambassadors): 
Season 73 24.8 mins; 11.3 ppg; 33FG%; and 4.0 rpg
Season 74 31.6 mins; 11.4 ppg, 33FG%; and 5.2 rpg
Season 75 29 mins; 10.7 ppg, 32FG%; and 4.0 rpg


  1. What's the status of Tiongson's injury? Anything serious?

    1. He's okay. He should play the next game.

    2. Nice to hear JTiongson will be back for the next game! This completes the regular guard rotation of Ateneo vs UE!I've always believed that the team has played well when the guards are complete and play heads up. This has been part of their championship run since CTiu's years!

      Against UP though sans JTiongson , NElorde played very well despite the banging of UP'S bigger defensive guards!There was an instance though that he forced a telegraphed lob pass to GSlaughter down low which resulted to a turnover! If he plays steadier and doesn't panic, NElorde can be a dangerous PG in the future!