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.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Looking at JRU’s Filoil win over La Salle

JRU's Jaycee Asuncion celebrates his team's win over tough La Salle.

Looking at JRU’s Filoil win over La Salle
by rick olivares pic by jan dizon

Before the game, I spoke with La Salle team official Dave Dichupa and wondered, “What I want to see is how you defend their outside shooting.”

Dave just smiled.

I don’t think anyone in green and white was smiling during that first half or even parts of the third.

JRU scorched DLSU behind the terrific shooting of Philip Paniamogan and Teytey Teodoro then overcame a small deficit in the end game to fashion out a riveting 69-68 win.

While Jaycee Asuncion was mostly off, he did swish that crucial jumper for the marginal points. Forward and undersized center Mike Mabulac was plagued by foul trouble but because La Salle was busy minding the outside shooters in the second half, they didn’t know of his low post moves that included a crucial reverse lay up in the dying seconds to give back the lead to JRU for good.

Then when they finally tracked Mabulac who was on his way to drive in, he dished off to Asuncion who hit a 16-footer that gave JRU a 69-66 lead with 41 seconds to play. Jason Perkins scored off an airball by Arnold Van Opstal and he also had a chance to win it with time running out but he missed a drive as time expired.

The Heavy Bombers’ win put them at 3-1 in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup’s Group A; tied with the idle Perpetual Help Altas who lost yesterday to the Southwestern University Cobras (who inflicted upon JRU their lone loss so far).

I don’t think La Salle actually scouted the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers because I didn’t see their coaches at the Arena for the latter’s matches. If they did, they would have marked JRU’s shooters early on. Furthermore, I thought that the players didn’t respect JRU – at least for the first half.

Yeah, maybe JRU hasn’t had a good team in years. This batch of Heavy Bombers is far removed from their days as a NCAA title contender but for the first time under Vergel Meneses, they’ve started to play better this summer.

They made the Finals of a Cebu tournament that included NU, UE, and SWU and the only reason they did not take home the trophy because they walked out after a scuffle during the championship game. In fact, they were even leading SWU before the stoppage.

How have they played better?

They’ve got someone who can drive to the basket – their first since John Wilson was in uniform – in Jaycee Asuncion. Asuncion, who transferred from Perpetual Help forms a deadly shooting trio along with Philip Paniamogan and Teytey Teodoro.

JRU got off to a good start because of great defense. They double teamed Van Opstal and rotated out to the open man. The played the passing lanes. And made life tough for Thomas Torres. They didn’t give Matt Salem good looks at the basket.

JRU’s Razak Abdulwahab also played his best game in this tournament so far. He gave Arnold Van Opstal fits. His activity on the defensive end also sparked two fastbreaks. In his other matches, he looked lost in the scheme of things. He was also lost on a few occasions but he’ll get a B- in my book for his stat line of one point, six rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one block versus one turnover and four fouls in 26 minutes!

On offense, they attacked La Salle’s interior and netted two quick fouls on Jason Perkins.

Jaycee Asuncion was mostly off (4-17 for the game) but Philip Paniamogan was raining threes in the first half (3-4) to go with a medium range jumper and three free throws. He even drained a couple of shots over Thomas Torres who is no slouch in defense. Someone opined that Philip was lucky today; obviously, he doesn't watch the NCAA or JRU. 

If there was a chamba shot that was Gio Lasquety’s trey that was all net when he lofted a shot to beat the 24-second shot clock. That was unexpected largely because he isn’t really a good outside shooter. Marco Balagtas, the other JRU player to hit a triple in the first half, can stroke that if left open. And he obliged the defense that gave him more than enough space to make the attempt.

After Paniamogan shredded Torres’ defense, Almond Vosotros and Terrence Mustre alternated in guarding JRU’s shooting guard but they didn’t have much luck either (even on their offensive end). In a moment of supreme irony, JRU was running those old staggered screens that was employed under former head coach Franz Pumaren to free shooters like Ren Ren Ritualo and JV Casio. This time it was for Paniamogan. Remember, Vergel Meneses is an assistant to Franz Pumaren with Air21. Coach Franz’ other coaching understudy Cholo Villanueva is also with Air21. The other members of the coaching staff also worked under Derrick Pumaren.

Of course, what La Salle “created” they sure know how to bust it and they later chased Paniamogan and hounded him into a poor shooting second half.

In the meantime, it was Jeron Teng who kept La Salle afloat in the first quarter because of his multi-faceted game. He drove, he created for his teammates and hit some outside shots.

What I like about this DLSU team is how they’ve come from a team that would get rattled to a team that plays with a lot of composure. They’re good and they know they are good. They’ve got depth and the weapons to get the job done.

Now an 18-point halftime deficit notwithstanding, everyone in the arena knew that the inevitable La Salle run would come. And come it did.

After an Almond Vosotros trey cut the lead down to ten, 45-35, the predominantly green and white crowd erupted in cheers. Paniamogan netted two free throws, his only points of the second half as he was shut down, to give JRU a brief respite. But a Van Opstal hook shot and Jeron Teng three had the arena rocking. After Paniamogan’s medium range jumper was blocked by Julian Sargent of which Thomas Torres scooted in for a lay-up, the lead shrunk to five, 47-42.

With Asuncion misfiring and Paniamogan checked, it was Teodoro’s turn to provide a lift. He hit two long range bombs to go with a lay-up and two free throws to almost single-handedly hold off the green tide. JRU led, 57-48, after 30 minutes played.

In the fourth, one could sense that La Salle was on the verge of chalking up another win. But first they had to catch JRU. Not a problem when you have players who can put points on the board in a hurry. There’s Vosotros, Teng, and Perkins.

And the Heavy Bombers seemed to be cooperating as Paniamogan racked up two quick fouls to open the fourth period including a three-point play converted by Sargent on a drive. Then Gio Lasquety muffed two free throws then Abdulwahab stuck his butt out on a pick for an offensive foul.

La Salle opened the final period with a 15-2 bomb with Perkins and Van Opstal delivering points for a 63-59 lead. It looked like the Green Archers had finally seized control of the match.

But Mabulac used the rim to protect the ball from Van Opstal’s outstretched arms for a reverse lay-up to cut the lead to two.

JRU got a stop but Mabulac lost the ball when he put it on the floor during a drive. Van Opstal restored the four-point lead on the opposite end.

This is where another of those unsung heroes for JRU came up big. With Asuncion still struggling and Paniamogan well covered, Jordan dela Paz drove twice and scored four points including a Jordanesque hanging drive over AVO for a bucket that cut La Salle’s lead to one. Then came Mabulac’s second reverse and Asuncion’s big bucket.

How would I sum up this game?

La Salle ruled the stat sheet:
20-19 in free throw attempts;
54%-39% in field goal percentage;
39-28 in rebounds;
15-14 in assists;
and 3-1 in blocks.

But this was a game of two halves. JRU stuffed the stat sheet in the first half while La Salle  ruled the second (I am not forgetting the 25 turnovers of the Green Archers to the 12 of the Heavy Bombers).

The difference is one team – JRU –  is finally learning how to play as a team and play some good basketball (La Salle knows that already).

What does this win mean for Jose Rizal University?
This is the first year under Vergel Meneses where they are starting to show some real competitiveness. This will give them some confidence in going up against San Beda that has ruled the NCAA in the past seven years.

Beating a quality opponent and as Meneses pointed out, a current champion, will go a long way in boosting their confidence.

What does this mean for La Salle?
It’s a wake up call that they have to bring it. They’ll learn from this. Of course, it’s the pre-season and no one hangs banners for pre-season tourneys. So let's not go overboard. They’ll forget this in a day or so and move on. They are a big picture team after all.

But one of the biggest learnings of this day’s game is they’ll need to respect their opponents at all times.


I think that a lot of props have to be given to JRU head coach Vergel Meneses who has really come into his own this year. 


Additional reading:

The Southwestern University Cobras are REAL.

Looking at the UE Red Warriors in this Filoil thus far.

On the FEU Tamaraws' Anthony Hargrove.

Analyzing the first week of Filoil's senior hoops

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