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.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Breaking down CEU’s huge win over NU

Aristote Mutombo smothers the drive of NU's Alfred Aroga.
This appears in the May 23, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.

Breaking down CEU’s huge win over NU
by rick olivares pic by kc cruz

CEU Scorpions head coach Edgar Macaraya downplayed his team’s 61-58 win over NU in last Wednesday’s match in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup. The win, CEU’s fifth straight practically put them in the driver’s seat for a quarterfinals berth while NU, despite taking the loss to drop to 3-1, still looks to qualify for the knockout stages.

“It’s not a statement,” pronounced Macaraya. With all due respect, he’s both right and wrong.

He’s right because it’s a pre-season tourney and teams are stilling trying to look for combinations and test their players. Furthermore, his team is stacked with veterans while NU lost eight veteran players and are now led by players who didn’t get much playing time last season (the only two players to log in serious minutes were Troy Rosario and Gelo Alolino).

He’s wrong because his Scorpions have beaten teams from the NCAA, UAAP, and Mindanao. It gives you pause to look at his team and say, “Hey, they’ve got some pretty good players here.”

And given how St. Clare College came within a basket of defeating Letran, there is talent outside the country’s two most prestigious leagues.

Both teams came out with great defensive intensity. Let me correct that – they played flat out smothering defense.

As an example, the first period score – 7-5 in favor of CEU – is an all-time Filoil low. The Scorpions shot 3-17 for 18% while NU managed only one bucket in 14 attempts (14%).

The Scorpions’ Aristote Mutombo also typified that defense. In his 17 minutes of the floor – the most in CEU’s five matches – he didn’t score a point missing his only two shots. The only other numbers to show up in the stat sheet are his seven rebounds and four fouls. But he made life difficult for NU – taking away a crucial aspect of the Bulldog’s game – their ability to get into the lane and run.

CEU’s shifting man-zone killed the dribble drive of NU, leaving them to force up shots.

CEU pulled down 46 rebounds to NU’s 41. The Scorpions also had 20 offensive boards – double NU’s. The result – three measly fastbreak points for the Bulldogs. I assure you they average much more than that.

Macaraya wasn’t able to get the usual games of Rod Ebondo and Alvin Abundo and this is what makes the victory even more significant is Samboy De Leon, Joseph Sedurifa, Aaron Jeruta, and Jason Opiso came up huge in this win. They picked the team up when their stars didn’t have it.

Aroga was clearly bothered by the defense of Ebondo and Mutombo much like Charles Mammie neutralized him in last year’s Filoil finals. Glenn Khobuntin has a subpar game as he finished with only four points. I was surprised that Rosario didn’t return earlier in the fourth period.

It was Rev Diputado who played well for NU.

What they also did right was to do what they do best which is attack the basket. After a while they got CEU into penalty except they wilted at the free throw line. They had 31 attempts from the free throw line botching 11.

In fairness to CEU, if they made at least two free throws in the final minute then it couldn’t have come down to the last shot.

There’s lot to learn from this game for both sides. But more than the stats, the one thing you can take away from this is that CEU and the other provincial teams are for real.

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