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.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Between the sidelines in Southwestern U’s PCCL Final Four win over La Salle

Between the sidelines in Southwestern U’s PCCL Final Four win over La Salle
by rick olivares

Early in the Final Four match up between La Salle and Southwestern University in the 2013 Philippine Collegiate Champions League, Green Archers gunner Matt Salem hit a pair of wide-open treys. I thought to myself, “Either the coaching staff of SWU doesn’t respect Salem or they didn’t do a good job of scouting him. Or it could have been both.”

If they bothered to observe at all during the warm-ups, Salem was hitting shots from the moon.

Ditto with Almond Vosotros whose trey made it 19-9 for La Salle at the start of the second period.

Yet those treys were an aberration in a game marked by poor marksmanship from either team (33.8% for SWU and 26.1% for DLSU).

In the fourth period, La Salle either forgot that they weren’t the only ones with a deadeye shooter or they underestimated Southwestern University’s resolve.

Fil-Am Melvin Holper, was surprisingly buried on the far end of the bench of the Cobras and didn’t look like he would get in the game at all. However, in the fourth period, coach Yayoy Alcoseba called his number and he dialed up three triples and grabbed three rebounds including two crucial offensive boards.

“It’s a funny thing,” said Holper, the younger brother of former PBA player Michael Holper who once suited up for Ginebra, Red Bull, and San Miguel Beer. “You think about the coach giving you a chance and hitting some big shots. It’s an ideal scenario because I got to it. It’s even more sweet because the last time we played this team (La Salle), the embarrassed us by 37 points (during the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup last April 21).”

It was as if Southwestern University told La Salle, “We may have sold you Ben Mbala but we aren’t going to give you this game.”

The game was especially sweet for SWU point guard Mark Tallo who played for La Salle in Season 75. When he saw Kib Montalbo recruited by the Green Archers, he figured that he stood to lose more playing time, hence, his departure for the CESAFI team.

Before the game between La Salle and SWU, I spoke to Tallo about two life altering decisions he made (or at least his father did) in his young life – leaving Ateneo after being recruited out of Cebu Institute of Technology University and leaving La Salle for SWU.

When he trotted out of the dugout for warm-ups, his former teammates at La Salle all warmly came over to exchange pleasantries.

On the sidelines, I asked him about his leaving both Ateneo and La Salle. The young Tallo sat quiet for about half a minute before he answered. “Tapos na. Sa past na yun. I-regret ko lang yung pagalis kung hindi ako gumawa ng paraan para sa career ko. Siguro pagkatapos ng ilang taon, pwede ko mas sagutin yun.”

Tallo, was recently named Most Valuable Player for CESAFI after leading SWU to the finals. The Cobras went 14-0 in the elimination round but in the best-of-five finals series against the University of Visayas, SWU fell apart after winning the first two games. The result was the UV Green Lancers won their first CESAFI title of the post-Greg Slaughter period, a title they last won in 2009 before the June Mar Fajardo-powered University of Cebu took the 2010-11 titles. 

“Masakit yung nangyari sa CESAFI,” admitted Tallo. “Sana dito sa PCCL makabawi kami.”

Tallo along with gunner Monbert Arong, Daryl Goloran, Landry Sanjo, and Holper came up huge defensively and offensive in the endgame to upset the UAAP champions.

It was a block party between Sanjo and Green Archers Jason Perkins and Norbert Torres. The three engaged in a war inside the paint with Sanjo blocking two of Perkins’ shots and two of Torres’.

Norbert Torres responded by rejecting Sanjo twice as well including a layup by Tallo that would have done the DLSU Lady Spikers proud as the Green Archers center spiked the ball.

Even as La Salle led, SWU came roaring back and twice cut the gap to two points. In the two earlier opportunities, they turned the ball over in succession and took some terrible shots that allowed the Green Archers to pad the lead again.

However in the fourth period, the Cobras took tied the match for the first time at 41-all after a layup by Tallo. Vosotros made sure that any SWU celebration was short lived when he hit a pull up jumper from 18-feet to retake the lead for the green and white. Then Holper dropped the first of his three treys.

Both teams had a chance to win it in regulation but Sanjo missed a short stab while La Salle had three attempts at the basket in the final 24 seconds but the shots missed.

In overtime, Sanjo, dribbling atop the three-point arc, zipped a pass in the middle of the lane to a wide-open Tallo underneath the basket. Tallo’s undergoal stab, a Sanjo hook in the lane and another Tallo layup were a lethal 6-0 run in overtime. After Perkins added a twinner, Holper drained his second trey in a massive response.

SWU held on for a huge 68-58 win in overtime.

Revenge for Tallo?

“Hindi naman,” denied the SWU point guard who finished with 13 points six rebounds, and six assists. “Hindi ko iniisip yun. Nagkataon lang La Salle kalaban namin. Gusto ko lang makabawi kami.”

“It is nice to get a win especially against a top team like La Salle,” said SWU assistant coach Mike Reyes after the match. “But as we experienced recently in CESAFI, a big win doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win anything. Now we have to try and win another game.”

SWU faces San Beda that lost to FEU in the other semifinals encounter later in the day, tomorrow, Tuesday, at the San Juan Arena.

SWU 68Arong 17, Tallo, 13 Mohammed 12, Sanjo 11, Holper 9, Goloran 4, Siewe 2, Pardo 0, Bautista 0, Panerio 0, Bregondo 0.

DLSU 58Torres T.  12, Perkins 10, Teng 7, Salem 7, Vosotros 6, Torres N. 4, Tampus 4, Montalbo 2, Dela Paz 2, Reyes 2, Bolick 2.

Quarter scores: 9-16, 23-30, 33-37, 68-58

Notes: SWU forced DLSU into three 24-second shot clock violations. La Salle did not field Arnold Van Opstal into the game as he still isn’t 100% after suffering a minor back injury during practice a few days before the Champions for A Cause charity game last Saturday, December 7.

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