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.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ateneo Blue Eagles: Learning to fly again Part One (getting that first win against Adamson)

Learning to Fly Again Part One
Ateneo notches its first win of UAAP S76
by rick olivares

When this UAAP Season 76 started, I thought of my second favorite sports team outside of the Ateneo Blue Eagles and that is the New York Yankees.

The Yanks have been hard hit by departures of key free agents as well as injuries to their top stars. This year, they fielded a team of the unlikeliest of players who have miraculously kept them head above water in a very competitive American League East.

When Kiefer Ravena went down with a foot injury, I changed my first week’s prognosis of 3-0 to 0-3. It is not because I do not have any faith in the team. Well I do. Boatloads of it. But I had to realistically look at a team that never had one game where everyone was available and healthy. Dating back to the summer, it seemed that someone was always out with some injury. And some key players were just getting back in the circulation of things. So losing Ravena was definitely going to hurt the offense and the rotation.

So in my best Joe Torre (the former and sainted Yankee manager who said something similar prior to New York’s 1996 World Series campaign) impression, I figured aloud in Blue Eagle 40, “Hell, maybe we’ll win one; maybe we’ll lose all three. But we’ll get the next one.

This season for New York they did well then ran into the wall; losing a bunch of games that dropped them from first place to fourth. Then came their long time foil, the Minnesota Twins and those wins got them going again.

So without meaning to sound cruel (as I like and root for the Adamson Falcons – just not against Ateneo), down 0-3, on deck were those Adamson Falcons whose albatross has been the Blue Eagle.

Ateneo had a 29-game win streak going against Adamson but that was snapped in the final elimination round match of Season 74. I felt that it was an aberration, no direspect there, and that the streak had to end at some point. I wrote back then that Ateneo would continue its streak the following season. And they did as they blanked the Falcons in Season 75. And well, they were poised to continue that this year, 3-0 or 0-3.

Confidence is something you want to gain and do not want to give. When a player gains that and does well and he repeats it then he’ll be hard to stop. Just ask Rabeh Al-Hussaini or even Arnold Van Opstal. The two wins over Adamson last year will have to play in their minds even if it’s a new season. You keep the pressure up and the old doubts come creeping right back in.

Yes, the Falcons were coming off a terrific game where they defeated the struggling UE Red Warriors but I felt their inconsistencies gave the Blue Eagles a fighting chance. The thing about Adamson is not to give their gunners like Roider Cabrera, Harry Petilos, and Don Trollano some daylight to shoot. Jay Cruz would be a handful but he always is because of his inside and outside game. If Ateneo needed to do one other thing it was to attack them and not sit back and wait for the Falcons to dictate the pace of the game. 

Sure they had the massive Ingrid Sewa inside but having Rodney Brondial play outside meant that another solid defensive player out on the wings (that reminded me of Noy Baclao having to chase Dylan Ababou out on the wings leaving Rabeh Al Hussaini by himself to protect the rim) where he couldn't help guard the lane.

So how did Ateneo pull off this win?

We finally won a third quarter.
The third quarter has been the bane of this Blue Eagle team when it was previously their strength (in making adjustments).

In the first three games, the team scored 11, 11 and 16 points in the third period. However, the opposing team dropped 17, 22, and 31. Ouch.

This time Ateneo took that pivotal period, 25-19, and in doing so, won three of the four quarters of a game.

Heading into the match against Adamson, Ateneo had won only four of the 12 quarters played against NU (0-4), FEU (2-4 and in the first half), and La Salle (2-4 also in the first half). With the exception of the opening day loss to NU, the other two losses were winnable until Ateneo fell apart.

The Blue Eagles were more consistent in this game. They needed that third quarter stand and I felt they took a really good shot from Adamson and held firm. That enabled them to finish strong.

The bench came up huge.
Basketball to put it in its most simplistic terms is to score more points than the opposing team. The team has struggled to put points on the board when it needed to. For the second consecutive match, we had four players in double figures.

But here is an important stat: the starters scored 44 points while the bench added 27.

In the first three matches, this is has been the disparity between the starters and the bench:

Against NU: Starters 36 points      Bench 18 points
Against FEU: Starters 69 points    Bench 12 points
Against DLSU: Starters 64 points  Bench 9 points

So you bet the bench was huge. During the post-match press con, I asked Ateneo coach Bo Perasol about something I noticed, at one point in the second half, there was no Ryan Buenafe, no Chris Newsome, and certainly no Kiefer Ravena on the court.

It was an unusual five on the floor and they held fast.

I recall in Season 71, Norman Black had at least Chris Tiu or Rabeh Al Hussaini on the floor at all times. Ditto in the past two seasons with Greg Slaughter or Nico Salva or Kiefer Ravena because you always wanted a primary scorer to lead the way.

Welcome to a new era of Ateneo basketball. And it’s to draw out performances from the bench. Gwyne Capacio played the most minutes in a UAAP Seniors game and he might have only scored four points but his defensive presence against Roider Cabrera helped (to a point).

Plus, hopefully JP Erram has broken out of his funk. JP tallied 12 points, 12 rebounds and one block. This was the Erram we saw last year.

Of course, it wasn't all offense. They played great defense as well.

We outrebounded the top rebounding team in the UAAP.
Adamson has been averaging 52.2 rebound per game. Furthermore, foes only haul down 35.0 rebounds against them. Those numbers are tops in the league. Any time you grab more rebounds, you get more possessions and well that means you get the opportunity to run on the break.

For this match, Ateneo beat them 49-37 (of course Ingrid Sewa having shoulder problems had him playing only 23 minutes when he averages 35 minutes a game) but beggars cannot be choosers.

And because of those boards, Ateneo scored 11 fastbreak points. The most it has had this year. This is where you want them to be – on the break.

Ryan Buenafe.
Near triple double 11-12-9 to go with one steal and two turnovers. A very economical performance. He’s been averaging a double double this season with 15.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.

There are only two other players averaging a double double and that is NU’s Jean Mbe who is norming 15.6 points and 12.6 rebounds and UE's Charles Mammie with 10.3 points and 15.3 rebounds per game (UST’s Karim Abdul comes close in rebounds with 9.5 per game). So this is already a terrific achievement for Ryan. 

Buenafe is second behind Terrence Romeo’s league leading 5.2 with 5.0 per game. That roughly translates into at least 10 points.

The team certainly needs his playmaking more so with Kiefer Ravena still on the mend.

It’s a big win to avoid dropping into a 0-4 hole. Now let’s see if they follow this up with another W in order to get going.

How do I see the remaining games of the first round? We can win two more and maybe lose one. But the second round will be much better. Now I hope the Blue Eagles make a liar out of me and do better than that. 



  1. Rick, i'm high on pessumal playing big this year - everytime he gets the ball it's always a strong move to create. Plus his deep 3 is money. Sort of like a james harden OKC days.

    and yeah, i got us starting a huge run shaved heads and all. Coach Bo just has to figure out his bench and we'll be fine.

  2. Yes I agree. Many news reports only noticed JP Erram's contributions, but forgot that on at least two possessions it was Von Pessumal's strong drive to the hoop and hand-off to Poy that led to those points; plus Von himself hit a huge three at a crucial moment in the game.

  3. Hi Rick, with FEU's Romeo and Ryan's near triple double efforts in the last couple of weeks, i was wondering when's the last recorded triple-double in the UAAP?

    The only one i can think of was LA Tenorio's tripdub in 2005 against UST...

  4. "this is answered prayers for us." Bo Perasol

    Now, I can trust him!

  5. It just goes to show that in an All Filipino (read: sans imports} setting, Ateneo will rule. And no, I still think that the La Salle loss was a fluke. But if you can't beat them, join them (think team b's prospects). So in 2 years, on Kiefer's final year, Pinggoy will join him and the two imports or either. I just hope they don't turn out to be lemons and neither would make it. And when you said Ateneo would most likely win 2, I hope you're not thinking of UST winning against us. Make it 3! And if Golla, Erram, and Tolentino play that well against Karim Abdul (not Jabar), we will beat UST...again and again.

  6. Who is Ivan Enriquez??? He is a Fighter! It seems to me he is as solid as rock, or did Sewa underestimate him???

    Henceforth, lets call him Ivan the Terrible, the Killer of Goliaths!

    He and Sewa mixed it up a few seconds, and Sewa never recovered!!! LOL

  7. Finally, plays for our Big Men!

    I get the feeling the Good Lord is building the whole team!

  8. Hey Rick, we just lost the game to UE. If you can see from the past 4 games, it's really not the player's fault anymore. The coach is not putting them in a position to win.

    We only made a run in the 3rd quarter because of Juami's isolation 3's and fastbreaks. Other than that, our half court offense was horrendous. Our plays only have 1-2 options, and as soon as that's taken away, we get lost. Coach Bo seems to be running his plays from Powerade. However, those plays worked because the guys that got open from all the screens were JVee Casio, Gary David and Lassiter. They're all shooters. That's why the Powerade team worked, because they spread the floor, and they used stretch 4's.

    In our case, we're also a guard oriented team so I understand why these plays are being used. However, the overall offensive philosophy doesn't seem to fit with our team. We try to fastbreak all the time but we turn it over, much like the 2006 Suns but much much sloppier. We don't run as much pick and roll as we can, even if that's basically the only chance we can get to try to get inside the lane for kick outs.

    On defense, there's also no established philosophy. Sometimes the big man guarding the screener gives a hard hedge, sometimes he calls for a switch, and sometimes he just hangs back. They seem to be confused. In fact, the best bet we have to get the rebound is to gang rebound, but our boys are told to run the break so Golla and Newsome are left to dry down low.

    I know I only offer criticisms but it's up to the coaching staff to put the players in the best position to win. The talent is there and the heart is there. It's just frustrating because the boys really look lost on the court. It would have been nice if the system of Norman would've stayed (where the offense was inside out with a moderate pace, and the defense was disciplined e.g. hard edge on pick rolls, quick rotations, and gang rebounding)

  9. I didn't have to watch the game against UE (well thanks to the unholy schedule) to be able to tell that Mammie (must have) played big yet again to have defeated Ateneo. That was expected. Our line-up vis-a-vis the other schools in this Governor's or Commissioner's cup ala PBA or whatever conference it is BUT all-Filipino will be good for 6th place (granted we beat UP). This is a lesson in the art of warfare, or just pure marketing tactic and common sense --- you gotta know your foes in the battlefield, or competitors in the market to be a player. I doubt Ateneo didn't see this --- the influx and proliferation of the African imports --- coming. yet, we threw caution too much to the wind by not recruiting or at least in time, seeing that our last local competitive big in Greg played just 2 years. I still hope the BE would be able to bridge this gap until we get our own imports like in 2010. But the competition is just too tough.

  10. You called it right 3-4 at the end of the first round. But admit it, you were thinking wins vs UE, UP heh? lol. All good. You still gotta love the team's position and chances. OBF!