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.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Five ways of looking at an ugly win by Ateneo over UE

This appears in the Monday, August 6, 2012 edition of the Business Mirror.

Five ways of looking at an ugly win by Ateneo over UE
by rick olivares pic by brosi g.

By all rights, Ateneo should have beaten UE by 83 points. Okay that might be exaggerated (not at least by US Olympic standards) but this is a bad team they played. And in the first half, the Red Warriors looked like they were 4-0 instead of 0-4.

Yes, a win is a win but some games you just have to crush the opposition from that UAAP some board member will eventually propose a mercy rule to basketball.

But they insist that the show must go on so lucky for us that there are five ways of looking at this 68-51 win over the down-on-their luck Red Warriors.

This was an opportunity to give the bench (the third team) some serious minutes
In a recent post-match press conference, a member of the media pointed out to Ateneo head coach Norman Black that the starters were logging heavy minutes. Black replied that Ateneo faced the contenders in a gauntlet run in the first two weeks and that forced him to play a smaller rotation. Come the less heralded teams he hoped to get the bench some court time.

Now had blown them off the court – more so since in the first four matches saw the Blue Eagles get off to a hot start – then the bench would have gotten some serious experience and not just in the last few minutes when you’re just waiting for the game to end.

We can opine that the team seems to get up for the big teams then relax (although some times too much) against the supposedly lower tier squads until challenged. The good thing about this is that there is a halftime to put things in perspective.

We cannot tell the coaching staff whom to play but it sure would be nice if there are more weapons, confident ones at that, who can contribute during the UAAP and not the post or pre-season games.

This was as probably the best half that UE played as they wanted to present to everyone that they were more than a Roi Sumang show. And they did as Chris Javier suddenly looked like he back in his high school days in San Beda and not the befuddled center he mostly been in the UAAP. Peds Galanza hit a couple of treys and JR Sumido was challenging Greg Slaughter with lane incursions.

Tonino Gonzaga owes Ryan Buenafe lunch
Sometimes I get the feeling that we will never see the best of Ryan Buenafe while in blue and white. I saw him play in San Sebastian’s uptempo game and he was like Magic Johnson rebounding, running the break, hitting threes, showing some hangtime moves, and generally making everyone look better.

In the current system, he is not the primary ball carrier and he doesn’t start. The only time he did was when he was a rookie before he became the fire starter for the bench mob in his second year.

But boy can he create. He is still the best by far passer on the team.

In years past, Nico Salva had Buenafe to thank for his many open looks at the basket. And then it became Justin Chua. Now it’s Tonino Gonzaga. And you can throw in Frank Golla in there for this game.

Gonzaga has struggled with his shot. Mostly because he’s too wound up and he admits that early on he was looking for his shot. While that has changed he still rushes shots. When Buenafe would find him, he got his groove going and this was the Tonino of last year zigging and zagging his way to a deuce.

I have always believed and I wrote about this a couple of years ago that Buenafe is an underrated defender. While the Blue Eagles got going in the second half of play it was Buenafe’s entry that really sparked the team.

And I’d like to say that the official statisticians didn’t do Ryan any justice. Buenafe’s official stat line is: 23 minutes, 6 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover. They missed one more steal and a blocked shot. The referees aren’t the only ones in need of an extra pair of eyes. But the intangibles? He put on a show. He is still the only one with enough cojones to throw a bounce pass in traffic and through the lane. And that hang time baseline jumper? Stupendous.

He is the Player of the Game.

It was nice to see Oping Sumalinog back in the starting unit
And Oping’s numbers don’t tell it all. But in a Kirk Long minute, he stole the ball, passed he ball to a teammate and was rewarded with a return pass for a lay-up.

That should get his confidence up because FEU is just around the corner.

There was a Frank Golla sighting
In years past, Frank was referred to by Black as “the glue guy” as he did a lot of the literal dirty work on the court. In the first two games of the season, Golla has missed a lot of easy shots and has looked lost on the court. In the last few games, he has burned a hole on the bench. The game against UE was a good one to get his confidence going because we’re going to need the tough guy for the long haul.

Golla got a bucket (courtesy of Ryan Buenafe) and he got 3 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block. He played well in the second unit and here’s to seeing him contribute more.

A win is a win doesn’t matter how you get it
Sure we’d like our foes to be handed their behinds. Some just don’t like those cardiac games. When you look at FEU and UST, their head coaches, Bert Flores and Pido Jarencio, like to say, “nakadali na naman” or “naka-tsamba ulit”. They don’t particularly care about it because at the end of the day, it’s the win that is important. And that gets them closer to the Final Four. And look at La Salle. Some of their loses (not against us though) could have gone either way but the fact of the matter is they are 2-3 and they are left to think, “Crap, we didn’t expect us to be in this hole.”

The first half of Ateneo against UE was ugly. Close to the butt ugly half against UP. But know that every team gets up for us and bar none. They will always bring their best against us. But look what happens when we decided, “Oh, this is enough.” We cream them when we have to cream them. We’re 5-1 and it could be better but look at it this way, our spot in the standings is not a bad place to be in.

Six played and eight to go.

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