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.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Grading Ginebra in their win over Purefoods

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Grading Ginebra in their win over Purefoods
by rick olivares pic by nuki sabio

The match between Ginebra and Purefoods had me extra attentive because I wanted to see how the two teams defended each other since they run similar offenses.

I don’t think that Ginebra had the added advantage of head coach Jeffrey Cariaso knowing Purefoods inside and out because he served as an assistant for several seasons to the Hotshots’ counterpart, Tim Cone. The level of scouting in the PBA is so sophisticated that Purefoods knows Ginebra just as well enough.

You really cannot say that defending the Triangle Offense is an easy task as it evolves with every play as the offensive team adjusts to what the defense gives. While there are set patterns, the beauty about it is re-writes itself. To borrow American Football terms, it’s a read offense.

The success of defending the Triangle depends on a defensive team’s willingness to play relentless pressure defense. Players have to be strong on helping out and ready to rotate back out either to their original man or whoever is left open by the double teams. The idea is to force the offensive team to consume as much time as possible on their shot clock and for them to take a jump shot under duress.

That’s what the defensive team playing the triangle wants – for opposing teams to take jumpshots. The farther out the better because the percentage drops.

Some basic tenets when defending the triangle:

Ball Pressure – I thought that Ginebra did a great job with this. How many times was Purefoods hit with a 24-second shot clock violation? Two? Three? Plus, Ginebra though had more crucial stops. They swarmed and hawked for 11 points off turnovers (to Purefoods’ three).

There was Mark Caguioa’s block on PJ Simon from behind and Joseph Yeo’s steal of an inbound pass where he found a streaking Mac Baracael for an easy layup. I really can’t say that all of Purefoods’ missed outside shots were due to Ginebra’s defense. After all, the Hotshots missed quite a few open jumpers. Although I thought that Greg Slaughter did alter a few shots including one from James Yap.

Denial – Purefoods (as San Mig Coffee) was fourth best in fastbreak points last season averaging slightly over 10 points a game. The Hotshots finished with five for the game. Ginebra had six points but running is really not their suit as they are more of a halfcourt squad with their platoon of bigs.

Ginebra also denied Purefoods its passing lanes and entry points. The result – nine assists for the Star Shots who conversely were unable to deny Ginebra that finished with 22 assists. With Ian Sangalang out with an injury, that put a cramp on Purefoods’ defense as two of Ginebra’s bigs –Billy Mamaril and Greg Slaughter finished with double doubles. Japeth Aguilar came close as well.

In one of the basic plays of the triangle where the post player finds a teammate cutting from the corner pocket, Ginebra nearly got a block on James Yap but a foul was called. It was perhaps one of the few successful plays run by Purefoods that struggled mightily against the defensive schemes of Ginebra.

Physicality – Billy Mamaril won this battle over Marc Pingris (with some help from rookie Rodney Brondial). His willingness to engage Pingris (who even pushed off Slaughter late in the game that gave him some space for an undergoal stab) was crucial as well. Past Ginebra teams always had a big man willing to do the dirty work – Rey Cuenco, Philip Cezar, Santiago Cabatu, and Noli Locsin come to mind.

Rebounding – You have to keep the opposing team off the glass to prevent them from running or even getting second chances at the basket. Ginebra took this crucial department 58-51. In those second chance points? Ginebra had 13 to the four of Purefoods.

One of the factors for this win was Joseph Yeo’s third quarter binge. I thought that at the start of the season that he was an excellent pick up for Cariaso. For one, he is another jump shooting threat who can complement Mark Caguioa. He is to Ginebra what PJ Simon is to Purefoods.

Purefoods last season was tops in four defensive categories (points allowed, points made, total field goals allowed, and assists allowed) and second in two others (three-point field goals allowed and rebounds allowed). Ginebra scored 89 points (to the 66 of Purefoods in this match) and that is 3.9 points better than what they allowed in Season 39.

It’s a whole new season and of course, it is foolish to judge Purefoods on the basis of four matches (the Hotshots are 1-3 but have shown an ability to comeback) but make no mistake, this is a huge win for Ginebra.

At 4-1, I’d give Ginebra an “A” for their showing in this match as they really socked it to their archrival in this match. The return bout should be just as interesting.

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