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 4, 2013

Looking at the Philippines' loss to Chinese Taipei

This appears in the Monday, August 5, 2013 edition of the Business Mirror.

Looking at the Philippines' loss to Chinese Taipei
by rick olivares

Where do you begin with a loss like that?

I guess you start with the beginning of the end.

Chot Reyes has received an amount of criticism for starting Jimmy Alapag, Jeff Chan, Gary David, Marc Pingris, and Japeth Aguilar in the fourth period.

They conceded a 6-0 run in two minutes and 12 seconds. Even before that, Reyes sensed a shift in the momentum and he sent Larry Fonacier (who had 21 points by then), Gabe Norwood, Ranidel De Ocampo, and Marcus Douthit back into the fray (they had to wait for a deadball situation to get back into it).

However, the team’s offense went south while Chinese Taipei’s rally was in full swing.

The result was a deflating, demoralizing, and heartbreaking 84-79 loss to the visitors.

So who would you started, pundits are asking.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to end of the third quarter and fourth quarter substitutions.

One, you insert your bench to hold the fort for a few minutes while keeping your starters or players who have logged significant time and have contributed to their offense rested for the final push.

And second, you keep your workhorses in there (depending also fouls) to break their will.

Reyes chose the former. Does that make him wrong? Not at all. 

The composition of the Philippine team is that it is very much like an All-Star team. Anyone who is inserted into the game is capable of contributing to the cause. Even the foreign teams acknowledge that the Philippines has a deep team. It just so happened that players on the court were unable to hold, manage, or even increase the lead.

Because of the near daily schedule of matches, all teams participating in the tournament have to juggle their lineups while managing their playing time.

In the case of China, head coach Panagoitis Giannakis is saving injured center Yi Jian Lian for the knockout stages. The two loses in the first round are not something they expected but they knew that they could enter the next round and try and go on a roll from there.

I spoke with a couple of other teams about the Gilas match – Iran and Qatar – and their approach to the game would be the latter – pound the opponent into submission. In Iran’s case, the only time they sit center Hamed Hadadi, the best player in the tournament so far, is when the outcome is beyond doubt. When Iran 70-51 last Sunday, Iran head coach Mehmed Becirovic was asked by the Chinese media if he was being disrespectful by calling a timeout with 27 seconds left in the game and his team up by a huge margin. Becirovic replied by saying he meant no disrespect but merely wanted to issue instructions about finishing the game better. It is up to you whether you believe him or not (personally, I thought it was wrong because there was no way that China could overhaul that deficit with that little time left).

Nevertheless, who plays on certain situations depends on the coaching philosophy and the strategy.

Looking at the fateful fourth period, the Philippines shot 4-19 from the field for a measly 21% accuracy rate. The home team also had two 24-second shot clock violations.

In contrast, Chinese Taipei shot a blistering 9-10 from the field for 90%. And get this – those eight of those buckets were off assists. They were likewise 3-4 from the free throw line for 75% and they won the battle of the boards 13-5 in that period.

Any time you shoot 90% (for the period) or 54% (as they did all game long), you have better chances of winning the game. The Chinese were simply blistering. That trey that forward Tseng Wen-Ting took off an inbound pass with 2:05 left to give Taipei the lead for good was a killer. I mean, it hit the square on window on the backboard. Does anyone try to bank a triple in from the top of the arc?

If anyone watched the last Asian Games, Tseng was a star in that tournament. He is that good.

Furthermore, the Chinese Taipei team has been shooting the lights out in this tournament. In three games, they have hit 51% of their field goals. Now that is really being in the zone.

Another thing you have to understand about this game is Chinese Taipei wanted this really bad. During the 2012 William Jones Cup, the Philippines was playing catch up for most of the game until they finished off the home team with a late salvo. The Taiwanese had payback on their minds.

Furthermore, they also were thinking of the row with the Philippines owing to the death of a Taiwanese fisherman at the hands of the Philippine Coast Guard last May. Head coach Hsu Chin Che downplayed during his pre-tournament and pre-match interviews but when I spoke with the Taiwanese media covering the tournament, they said this match carried a special significance and they badly wanted to the win.

So if Chot Reyes expressed his dismay about being unable to win one for the overseas foreign workers don’t cringe. He merely verbalized what was all in our hearts. Taiwan’s national team wanted to win one for their slain countryman as well.

And the last word on the loss, remember, save for about four teams, all the other countries are capable of beating the other top teams. It is just unfortunate, that the nationals were unable to put this one away. 

This isn't over by a long shot.

Notes: At the 6:58 mark of the fourth period, Jason William nearly forced a turnover on Lin Chih Chieh except the ball went out of bounds. The Chinese star tapped William as a sign of respect. In the final play of the game as the Philippines after Quincy Davis pulled down the defensive rebound, he passed the ball to Tseng Wen-Ting who was on their side of the court. He could have tried to jam the ball or even attempt a shot but he held on to it until the final seconds ticked away. I thought that this was great sportsmanship. 


  1. KARMA!

    We took a life! They took our hearts from our breast!

  2. I woke up with a numb feeling in my chest. I also had a hard time sleeping last night 'cause the end game came rushing back in my mind when i close my eyes. But that's how it is in a contest. We just had to do better in our next games. I still believe that Gilas can accomplish its goal.

  3. I don't wanna be mean but why can't any team we send defend effectively against a deadly shooting team? Is it because long shots have long been lost in our Pba vocabulary? So much so we can't defend against the treys anymore? A deadly shooter is really a match against anyone. Larry had his spurt, hence, the 13 point lead after the 3rd. It's also very effective "pang habol" when you're down like the Taiwanese did. Maybe we go back to old school long shooting and then we learn how to defend against it. HS covered courts anyone? The boardless ring? lol
    Now I understand why Kiefer and Ryan are trying their darnest best to develop their range from beyond the arc this early, hehe. Anyone who becomes the next Caidic will be as rare a gem like he was.