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, September 2, 2012

Five things you should know about the second round Ateneo-La Salle game.

This appears in the Monday, September 3, 2012 edition of the Business Mirror.

Five things you should know about the second round Ateneo-La Salle game.
by rick olivares

That was a Jordanesque performance by Ryan Buenafe.
Big time plays. Check.

Clutch play. Check.

Taking on the best offensive player on the opposite team and talking trash to him. Check.

Fever. Check.


Ryan Buenafe sat in his cubicle inside the Ateneo dugout at the Araneta Coliseum. He had a towel covering his head and he sat Indian-style. One would have thought that he were meditating except that he had a pair of earphones on. In spite of the cool air emanating from the air-conditioning unit, Buenafe was sweating. He was nursing a fever. But it didn’t matter. He was ready to play.

Boy, was he ever. In 27 minutes, Buenafe’s stat line was: 24 points, 8 rebounds, and zero turnovers. He didn’t have an assist in this game but more on that later. He shot 50% from the field and 83% from the line.

He went at La Salle rookie Jeron Teng like they did during last summer’s FilOil tournament that the Green Archers won. In that match, Teng and Buenafe engaged in a shootout and some trash talking. Once the UAAP tipped off (“winning time” as he described it), Buenafe, amped up his jawing. “Kaya mo yun?” he asked after scoring on a drive against Teng who didn’t reply.

At one point, Buenafe’s former high school teammate, Almond Vosotros told him, “Wag mo na ako bantayan. Mainit ako, eh. Minsan lang naman to.”

Buenafe grinned and said, “Saka na kapag wala na ako sa Ateneo.”

The 24-points were Buenafe’s highest since the title-clinching game against FEU two years ago.

While he could possibly average a ton of points in every game, the situation in Ateneo is different for him. In high school, the offense ran through him. He is no longer the primary facilitator. In fact, more often than not, he comes off the bench. The triple doubles aren’t there anymore. And so are the dunks. Yes, sir. He would occasionally sky for a stuff while in high school and obviously several pounds lighter.

Well, college ball is different from high school ball. But Buenafe has proven to be a big game player by rising up to the challenges of the FEUs, La Salles, and UEs of this world.

The 77-67 result reaffirmed Ateneo’s mastery over its ancient foe. As for Buenafe, who has been on fire of late, he’s been Jordanesque.

Man down. God, they are in trouble.
With all due respect to the league commissioner, I do not agree with the upgrading of the JP Erram foul. If we’re going to review fouls on videotape why don’t upgrade, downgrade or even correct dubious and wrong calls? FEU committed so much more than Arvie Bringas spitting and Mark Belo throwing forearms and elbows that if one were to call them all they’d only have a few guys to dress up against their next foe. And if so, then we should add more cameras in order to catch the cheap shots. Correcting calls opens up a Pandora’s box of problems. But it’s done and maybe that’s something that should be addressed in the near future.

Having said that, as Alfred E. Neuman once said, “What me worry?”*

It should be known to everyone that since 1999 every time we’ve had a player or even a coach suspended for a game, we always won the next match. At the start of the current program, then-Ateneo coach Joe Lipa threw his clip board on the floor to protest a horrible call by the zebras. He was ejected and suspended for the next match. The Lipa-less Blue Eagles went out and defeated FEU in the next game. Ditto with Enrico Villanueva, Rich Alvarez, LA Tenorio, Doug Kramer, and Nico Salva who all received a one-game suspension at one point in the past decade with the blue and white picking up a win in the succeeding play date.

So the next time we’re losing someone, don’t worry too much. We thrive in adversity.

As for La Salle, if you say that they missed LA Revilla, I will agree up to a teeny weeny point.

Sure he runs their dribble drive offense more effectively than Almond Vosotros, Thomas Torres or even Mark Tallo. And heading into this game, the Green Archers are 20-17 with Revilla in the lineup and 16-16 without him. They are now 16-17 without him but I disagree with that theory because for one, 11 of the 20 wins came in Season 71, Revilla’s rookie year and the last time La Salle made the UAAP Finals. Back then they had Simon Atkins as the starting point guard with JV Casio occasionally taking on the ball handling chores. Furthermore, they had Atkins last year.

A better argument may be made if one says, “Some players need to step up.” It cannot be just Revilla who in my mind is a terrific player. 

Vosotros did and scored 20 points against Ateneo. For me, when certain players don’t produce it hurts the team. And that leads me to my next item... Ateneo’s bench mob scored only nine points. La Salle’s on the other hand, dropped 30 (with the bulk of points coming from Vosotros). Without Erram (suspended) and Buenafe (who has started the last two games), Ateneo’s bench production has gone south.

Now I hope that puts things in perspective.

La Salle did not contain Greg Slaughter (4 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 blocks).
Not the stat line we’ve become accustomed to seeing from the Big Fella. But know this – it is by design.

The small forward position has been Ateneo’s weakness all season long. With the starting three-spot position normally occupied by Oping Sumalinog, his lack of consistent production has seen opposing teams use their small forward to double on Slaughter.

Buenafe’s insertion into the starting unit means that opponents will have to figure out where to send the double against Slaughter.

As the Big Fella played decoy against La Salle, he dished four assists and allowed his other teammates to take more shots.

At one point, Nico Salva missed a couple of isolation play shots as well as gimme layups that allowed La Salle to creep back into the game. And still Ateneo gave the ball to Salva to create. Disappointed and angry due to his inability to contribute, Salva received some moral support from co-captain Tonino Gonzaga and the rest of the team. When he eventually found his scoring touch late in the fourth quarter that further eased the burden on Slaughter, Buenafe, Kiefer Ravena, and that was all she wrote for La Salle.

Slaughter, on the other hand, sacrificed much for the win (four Blue Eagles scored in double digits). In the dugout after the match, Slaughter said, “No one will remember if I scored a lot of points but everyone will remember that we won the game. Now I want another championship. Seems like I can’t get enough of that.”

Salvation is at hand.
Were you one of those fans who yelled (not that Norman Black could hear you) to get Nico Salva out of the game after he flubbed a lot of shots? Raise your hands. Mine included.

A couple of years ago, I came out with a shirt that read: “SALVA-tion Army” for Nico Salva supporters. I have always been a fan of his game (that is why he is one of my Brand Ambassadors for Gatorade) although at times he can get tunnel vision when it comes to the basket. But for the most part, one reason for the continued success of the team is Salva’s play.

Prior to the La Salle game, this is how Nico stacked up against some players who play the four-spot (or power forward position):
Eric Camson 15.7 ppg, 36% FG, 9.8 rpg
Nico Salva 14.1 ppg, 48% FG, 5.6 rpg
Aljon Mariano 13.0 ppg, 42%FG, 6.4 rpg

Salva stacks up well against the two premier power forwards in the league.

Some players would have been benched already, but Coach Norm sent him back into the fray late in the fourth. When Nico nailed that jumper, he let out a yell of relief. After he made another shot, his confidence was back.

“You have to have faith in your players,” explained Norman. “Nico’s been doing it for so long that you know he is eventually going to get going.”

As I wrote earlier, when Salva’s shots began to fall, La Salle didn’t know whom to guard: Slaughter, Buenafe, Salva, Kiefer Ravena or Juami Tiongson?

The roles have been reversed to the way it has always been.
There was a time when we couldn’t get over the hump against those guys in green. Those were the 1990s and 2004-05. But since then we’ve pretty much regained the upper hand that we’ve always enjoyed in this ancient rivalry.

In more recent vintage, note that in the past two years, La Salle has failed to shoot at least 40% against Ateneo. In all four games of the past two UAAP seasons, the Green Archers have shot a combined 92/271 that translates into a poor 34% field goal percentage (compared to the higher 38% accuracy clip they have against other school based teams not named Ateneo).

On the defensive end, La Salle has held opponents to 65 points per game. Against Ateneo, they have surrendered 77 points per match-up.

And in four matches against Ateneo, DLSU center Norbert Torres has produced to date only one 10-point outburst. He has shot at a FG accuracy rate of nearly 40% against the UAAP schools save for Ateneo (against whom he shoots an anemic 30% clip).

The team is proud of its many achievements – the titles won in a span of five six years. Aside from the Drive for Five, the one other thing the team wants to retain is its being the best defensive unit not just in the league but in the entire country. Norman Black sounds like a broken record, but it is true: defense wins championships.


An hour and a half before tip-off, I went to the Ateneo dugout. I usually do that to talk to a few players who I feel will be crucial to the day's effort. I sought out Ryan -- as usual and as I have done for the past five years -- to talk to him. Also had a conversation with Greg Slaughter and Von Pessumal. What we talked about I will write for the companion piece to this in

Ya'll know Alfred E. Neuman? From Mad Magazine. Bwahaha. Glad to insert him right there for a cameo.

Number 13 meets Number 13.

Here's the companion piece to this that appears on


  1. Slaughter said, “No one will remember if I scored a lot of points but everyone will remember that we won the game."

    You deserve a bleacher girl.

  2. Sir, just for the record, Nico Salva was also suspended way back Season 72 (or what we seniors at that time call the Jens Knuttel scandal), and we won big after that game against FEU.

    1. Yup. Thanks for the heads up on this. OBF!!!!!


  4. As usual, well written and said Rick.

    Two things I couldn't agree more:

    1. That backtracking to a foul or commotion, dead ball situation or otherwise, NOT related to the (un)eventful spitting or ANY situation outside of it was indeed lame IMO also. It's a bad precedent, pandora's box as you said, 'cuz that will encourage the Refs to be lazy. "oh there's the slowmo or commish review to rely on. No worries." And that worries me.

    2. Ryan. Of all the Ateneo players, he's the only one with "angas" which he's all too obliging to prove on the court. Somehow, when he starts showing or talking 'ego', you really feel confident he's gonna back it up. I won't forget that year, 2009 or 2010? prolly the latter, when we lost the first round. Come 2nd round, Ryan uttered "Makakatikim din yang mga taga Morayta". Guess what we lost again. Feu swept us in the elims. Come Finals though, we returned the favor and swept them. That was the "patikim" as he made the crucial shot and raised his 3 fingers.

    Now I understand why NB courted this guy. NB really knows talent and a winner when he sees one.


  5. Ryan has tremendous upper body strength allowing him to control his shots in mid air. That's what makes him such a great one on one player.

    The only problem is that his leaping ability is not that high. If it were, he'd be like Samboy Lim. The only player I saw that was able to contain him one on one was Kevin De La Pena during one of the off-season leagues.

    You need a tall, strong, athletic player to negate Ryan's hang time. The problem is that we are seeing more and more of those types of players in the PBA, like Gabe Norwood, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ellis, etc.