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 17, 2014

Two sides of the game: FEU’s win over St. Clare College

Two sides of the game: FEU’s win over St. Clare College
by rick olivares

There are lessons to learn in defeat and in victory.

All game long, St. Clare College center Raymond Jamito was posted up, pushed around, and even blocked by FEU’s Anthony Hargrove. The word “manhandled” would have been apropos in that sentence. Saints coach Jinino Manansala felt the same way and got on Jamito’s case after Hargrove’s intensity set the tone for FEU. “Bakit ka nagpapatulak?” Manansala thundered. “Takot ka ba? Kayang kaya mo naman pero natatakot ka ba.”

In one instance, St. Clare’s Cameroonian player, Fabien Redoh drove hard for a lay-up only for Hargrove and Mac Belo to simultaneously get a hand on the ball and send it flying out of bounds. The Tamaraws’ bench rose up to celebrate the block.

Redoh, who has been a shining example of a relentless work ethic for the Saints found himself at a roadblock with FEU’s taller players converting the shaded area had become a no fly zone for the NAASCU team.

None of St. Clare’s back-up centers could get the job done and it fell to forwards Jason Ibay and Colly Bollos and their excellent touch from the outside to give the Saints a massive lift. But not all the outside shooting in the world will drop because one has to still rebound and try to score from the inside.

However, with the FEU center out on account of five fouls (the last two questionable calls to say the least) with plenty of time to spare, Jamito breathed a little easier but it didn’t mean that the path to the basket was a free way. There was still the high-leaping Belo, tough as nails frontliner Carl Cruz, and the underrated Raymar Jose in the way.

Then suddenly… Jamito had a chance at redemption. He found himself the recipient of a perfect drop pass from teammate Marte Gil who split the lane and drew the defense to him. It was textbook perfect drop pass. Gil’s eyes gleamed with anticipation.

No Tamaraw met Jamito in the air for the short stab. If it dropped the score would be tied at 84-all with a strong chance to go into an extension.

But the unchallenged shot was painfully short and FEU’s Roger Pogoy corralled the rebound with 2.3 seconds left and was fouled. The graduating FEU swingman hit both his free throws -- as St. Clare was in penalty -- for the marginal points, a 86-82 win, FEU’s fifth straight in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup leaving them in the top position of Group C.

St. Clare painfully dropped to 1-3. In their three losses, they were in the fight for all three. The led San Beda at the half before the Red Lions ratcheted up their defensive intensity to win running away. Against the Lyceum of the Philippines University, the Saints were burned at the stake in the final minute of play for an 85-82 loss.

After the traditional post-game handshake, Jamito stood on the court; the disappointment and pain on his face so evident that one thought he was going to breakdown. Gil, who had played brilliantly in the last three minutes as he single-handedly brought St. Clare back into the game, put an arm around his crestfallen teammate. “Bawi tayo,” he consoled.

The Tamaraws dominated the early goings of the match posting a lead as much as 17 points after Ron Dennison drilled a triple, 41-24, at the 4:18 mark of the second period. The Saints had no answer for the Tamaraws’ incursions from their dribble drive offense. And Hargrove, who finished with a team high 16 points to go with five rebounds, one steal, and two blocks, strung up 10 of FEU’s 12 points in a10-3 first quarter run to give his team a lead they didn’t surrender, 17-11.

Just when the game seemed headed for a blowout loss, the Saints sprung a full court press on the Tamaraws. For much of the second half, it wreaked havoc on FEU. St. Clare closed out the first half with a 7-2 run and held the Tamaraws scoreless in the half’s last two minutes.

In the third period, with the lead chopped down to three, 43-40, FEU fielded its one-man press breaker in Mike Tolomia. All tournament long, FEU head coach Nash Racela has left his starters on the bench in crunch time as he wanted his bench players to learn and try to hold the fort on their own. “This would serve us well in the long run,” reasoned out the coach who is one of the game’s underrated minds. “I do not want the team to be too dependent on others because that will defeat the purpose of them learning.”

The cool cat and quick Tolomia knocked down a triple and a bucket in the lane to give his team some breathing room, 50-42. Hargrove then went to work again scoring his last six points of the game for a 62-51 lead with the third period almost done.

FEU looked to close out the match with 28 seconds left, 84-78, after a Mac Belo reverse lay-up. Ibarra scored quickly to cut the lead to four but a flagrant foul called on FEU’s Francis Tamsi who belatedly knocked down Ibarra gave St. Clare two free throws and possession. Ibarra swished his two free throws and set up Jamito for the equalizer.

“Every game we need to learn something,” said FEU head coach Nash Racela after his team remained unblemished in Filoil play at 5-0. What we learned today is Achi Iñigo (10 points, five rebounds, and four assists) delivered in the endgame for us. We will learn more kapag dikit yung laban.”

Racela has deliberately rested his starts – point guard Mike Tolomia, shooting guard Roger Pogoy, forward-center Russell Escoto, and forward Mac Belo during crunch time to give his young players much needed playing time to prove their worth and gain confidence. “The ultimate goal is the UAAP and this tournament is an opportunity to learn to play as a team.”

Manansala on his part, while disappointed at the result still looked at the positive to take away. “We had a chance,” he enthused. “This gives the team heart because we are playing a very good team that has a very good coaching staff. Just watching them, iba yung level of play. Alam namin that they are resting their regulars and giving the young players a chance to shine. But they are still good. We have to look at what they are doing and learn.”

FEU 85 Hargrove 16, Belo 15, Iñigo 10, Tolomia 9, Pogoy 9, Jose 8, Cruz 7, Escoto 4, Tamsi 3, Dennison 3, David 0, Lee Yu 0, Delfinado 0, Ugsang 0, Belga 0.

SCC 82Ibay 18, Bolos 16, Ibarra 13, Redoh 12, Gil 11, Acebron 7, Jamito 2, Managuelod 2, Lunor 1, Amboludto 0.

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