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.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Filoil Cup: Expansion, new stars & domination

The Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup Mythical Five: SBC's Art dela Cruz, SWU's Landry Sanjo, DLSU's Jeron Teng, CEU's Rodrigue Ebondo, and SBC's Ola Adeogun. Adeogun was also Best Defensive Player while Teng was MVP.
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Filoil Cup: Expansion, new stars & domination
A look back at the tournament that was.
by rick olivares pic by brosi gonzales

The curtain has closed on perhaps the most exciting Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup ever. The De La Salle Green Archers reasserted its mastery over San Beda who they ousted in the semifinals of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League, defeated in the recent charity Battle of the Champions for the benefit of the Typhoon Yolanda victims, and now the finals of the Filoil Cup.

La Salle’s win also continued the dominance of the UAAP over the senior circuit, as it is now 5-1 versus the NCAA in the title match ups. In the eight of nine stagings of the tournament, UAAP squads have come away champions seven times.

Unlucky San Beda lost for the fourth time in the title game.

The Green Archers’ victory also gave them two Filoil titles apiece with the University of the East Red Warriors. Technically, DLSU has three but the first ever Filoil tournament was held in the post-UAAP season and was known as the Homegrown Cup.

This 2014 tournament that last for six weeks was also marked by expansion as teams from NAASCU, CESAFI, and PCCL Mindanao participated for a high of 21 seniors teams. The Final Four reflected not only the diversity but also the strength of other leagues. Southwestern University represented CESAFI. NAASCU’s current champions, Centro Escolar University, gave a great account of themselves as they finished with the tournament’s best record of 8-1. Their only loss was to San Beda in the semifinals where they botched a shot at the buzzer.

The UAAP of course, was represented by La Salle while the NCAA was bannered by four-time champion San Beda.

The tournament certified that Jeron Teng is the college game’s brightest star while teammate Almond Vosotros is one of the best clutch players. Center Arnold Van Opstal showed that he is only getting better as he makes a case as the UAAP’s best big man.

Van Opstal’s opposite number in San Beda, Ola Adeogun, reigns supreme as the best big man in college ball although his team has yet to solve the riddle of La Salle. Arthur dela Cruz Jr. has continued to emerge for the Red Lions not only as a leader but as a scorer. Baser Amer continues to grow as one of the best young amateur players in the land.

Three foreign student-athletes also cracked the Mythical Five with SWU’s Landry Sanjo and CEU’s Rodrigue Ebondo joined Adeogun alongside SBC’s dela Cruz and La Salle’s Teng who was likewise named the league’s Most Valuable Player.

The league saw the emergence of hitherto underachieving squads like the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Altas, the Jose Rizal University Bombers, and the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates. The Altas thrived with essentially four players like Juneric Baloria, Justine Alano, Harold Arboleda, and Earl Thompson who gamely battled taller and deeper teams. The Heavy Bombers essentially lived and died with the slashing drives of Jaycee Asuncion and the sniping of Philip Paniamogan. While the Pirates saw new stars like Dexter Zamora and Rhoel Maconocido take over from Shane Ko and John Tayongtong.

The Filoil Cup also was witness to some huge games and titanic upsets.

JRU piped La Salle 69-68 behind the shooting of Paniamogan and Asuncion. The Heavy Bombers had to sweat out a last second effort by the Green Archers’ Jason Perkins before they lustily celebrated on the court.

It was Perpetual Help Altas roared back from an 18-point deficit to likewise inflict a stunning upset on La Salle, 98-95. Unfortunately for the Altas, they needed to win by five points to advance to the quarterfinals and consequently bounce La Salle.

SWU showed what a difference a year could make when the Cobras returned to Manila to defeat JRU and Perpetual Help both in the final minute of play. The Cobras’ rookie gunner Anton Pardo hit a game winner after the Altas muffed two chances in a 79-77 victory. However, SWU's strong showing was somewhat negated by the two stinging losses to La Salle. In both matches, the Cobras led the Green Archers until they suffered a second half meltdown.

The Holy Trinity College Wildcats out of General Santos City were 0-5 until their second to the last day in Manila where they got out of the gates to throttle UP, 94-85.

The Far Eastern University Tamaraws likewise never surrendered their lead to San Beda for a 89-79 triumph that saw them sweep the eliminations, 6-0. FEU beat back repeated rallies by the Red Lions as their post-RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo lineup showed they could still compete with the best of college basketball.

Another team that flirted with perfection, CEU, saw a golden opportunity slip them by when JK CasiƱo lost his footing on a wide open three point shot at the buzzer as the Scorpions fell, 63-62. 

Lastly, there were the first ever Filoil Cebu games that featured five teams – the town CESAFI squads of SWU, UV and USC as well as UAAP squads La Salle and UE. In their final match in Cebu, SWU came back from a painful loss to La Salle to unseat the Red Warriors as defending champions.

“The games proved not only to be exciting but also an eye opener for fans who only watch the traditional basketball powers,” noted Filoil tournament director Joey Guillermo. “Expansion has certainly opened new doors for the league and for other schools. The Cebu games also proved to be very popular with the fans. The direction of the league can only get better.”

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