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.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Breaking down Game One of the Philippine Cup Finals between Talk ‘n Text and Rain or Shine & looking at Game Two

Breaking down Game One of the Philippine Cup Finals between Talk ‘n Text and Rain or Shine & looking at Game Two
by rick olivares pic by paul ryan tan

Both squads wore their mantra literally on their sleeves.

When the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters trotted out for the opening introductions of the Philippine Cup Finals, they wore a red shirt that said: “Dare 2 Dream” in reference to their attempt to win their second PBA title.

The Talk ‘n Text Tropang Texters wore their standard warm up attire but their staff had a different shirt on – “Defense wins championships”.

It’s a familiar line that is adorned on the railings of the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center where TNT and the Ateneo Blue Eagles practice and call home. Now the two are one with the ascension of Norman Black as head coach to the pro club.

And true enough, defense won it. But before I go to that, let’s back track. Here’s what I thought happened.

TNT were able to nurse that double-digit lead for much of the game.
From the onset, TNT pounded the ball inside. They secured that double-digit advantage because they made the extra pass. Whether it was Jimmy Alapag finding Jared Dillinger on the break to Larry Fonacier stopping and popping then dropping to Kelly Williams inside or to Jason Castro finding an open Ali Peek for a baseline j, it was all about the open man and playing those spaces.

Late in the game, Paul Lee tried to go inside and did not see an open Jeff Chan by the three-point line. Sure the closer you go the better chance of scoring but Lee was well defended while Chan was not.

Eventually, ROS stopped those extra passes by playing the passing lanes. However, when ROS clogged the lane, TNT made their outside shots. In fact, they outscored the Elasto Painters from the arc by hitting 10 to the 4 of the latter.

For the latter to win games, they need their outside artillery to find the range.

Furthermore, TNT always had an answer for all the ROS runs.

When the Elasto Painters came within three after Gabe Norwood split his free throws to make it 79-76 with 3:15 left, TNT responded with a huge Fonacier trey from the deep left corner for a six-point lead.

After a Jeff Chan bucket, Castro replied with a lay-up.

The defending Philippine Cup champions always had an answer.

When your offense goes south, play defense.
If you look at the game stats, the difference between the two teams wasn’t much.

TNT had 53 rebounds to the 51 of ROS. The Elasto Painters had 22 assists to the 21 of the Tropa. ROS edged TNT in turnover points 14-12,fastbreak points 15-11, and they walloped the champs 12-3 in second chance points.

Through the first three quarters, the stats showed everything going TNT’s way – save for the second chance points.

So how did TNT pull this out – they hit the shots that mattered and made the stops that mattered. The Tropa shot better 38.5% to the 34.6% of ROS.

Jared Dillinger’s steal off Jeff Chan was huge for it came with 32 seconds left and the score 84-79 for TNT.

When Jeff Chan found himself open as a result of ROS moving the ball around, he was clearly bothered when Castro ran out to challenge the shot that was wobbly and short.

Previous to that there was a spell where TNT was scoreless for three straight possessions yet ROS wasn’t able to score as well.

ROS’ small line-up gave TNT some trouble
Jervy Cruz, Jireh Ibañes, Paul Lee, Jeff Chan, and Gabe Norwood. They were on the floor when they made their fourth quarter run.

Lee scored seven points. Norwood had six while the other three contributed a bucket each. The quicker lineup got them inside the paint which is where TNT doesn’t want them to go.

But ROS failed to capitalize as they missed crucial free throws (the same can be said also for TNT after they got two free throws off a flagrant foul by Ronnie Matias on Jared Dillinger).

Where these the real Elasto Painters who came out for Game One?
Save for Matias trying to take off Dillinger’s head – not once, not twice, but three times in one play and Kelly Williams shoving Jervy Cruz as his second motion got Jimmy Alapag out of the way – the game was mostly devoid of the MMA and WWE moves that was expected.

Yeng Guiao already lamented about their gunners being held mostly silent but   TNT was surprised that ROS was less physical.

I don’t expect that tonight.

For TNT to win Game Two, aside from playing defense, they
Should continue to pound the ball inside
must help Kelly Williams on the boards
give ROS a dose of its own medicine by continuing to hit the outside shot
push that ball at every opportunity. Who can deal with Castro’s speed after all?
must be ready for the storm tonight (and they are ready for a war where “bump and thump” is an understatement).

For ROS to turn their dream into a reality, they
obviously need to make some outside shots to open up the lane for them
must get more points from JR Quiñahan and Beau Belga
need Jervy Cruz to cause more havoc inside
to try and throw TNT off its rhythm by being a little
and be ready to throw in those weird combinations that confused TNT during Game One (although I am sure adjustments will be made).


  1. Glad you're watching (and giving your thoughts) on this Finals series. I love series like these, where you can clearly two very tactically sound coaches moving their players like chess pieces.

    I wonder if Ateneo will keep their "defense wins championships" mindset though. IIRC, Bo Perasol is a more offensive minded.

    1. Thanks. I try to catch as many games as I can but I've got a horrible sked. Please feel free to send your thoughts on the game as well.