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, March 8, 2015

Analyzing Ateneo de Cebu’s win over San Beda in the NBTC Championship Game

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Analyzing Ateneo de Cebu’s win over San Beda in the NBTC Championship Game
analysis and pic by rick olivares

Was I surprised that the Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles defeated San Beda for the National Basketball Training Center National Championship?


Here’s why.

Ateneo de Cebu has a better frontline.
The strength of this batch of San Beda Red Cubs are their guards – Andrei Caracut, Norrish Decapia, and Chami Diputado. Forwards Nikko Abatayo and Kenneth Alas are a huge reason for their success in the past NCAA season especially the latter who came up big in the second round. However, Alas has not played for San Beda since the end of the NCAA season following a dispute with head coach JB Sison. Now that’s one less inside operator for the Red Cubs. They felt the absence in the MMBL championship game against Chiang Kai Shek College and no doubt they were going to feel it against a taller Ateneo de Cebu squad.

No disrespect to Evan Furaque and Sam Abuhijleh but they aren’t the second coming of Arvin Tolentino (but then again he preferred to play outside) or even Javee Mocon (who played the three/four) although they were serviceable in the past NCAA season.

In the MMBL Finals, the Red Cubs had a tough because Shannon Gagate, Jonas Tibayan, Scott Aying, and Rafael Toribio were beasts inside. Furthermore, the CKSC Blue Dragons are more balanced with outside threats like JV Gallego, Fran Yu, Van Pilanga, and Memet Ascano and they were on target

So how did the Red Cubs beat the National University Junior Bullpups in the semifinals of the NBTC when they have quite a frontline?

Simple. The bigs of NU didn’t play well. In fact, they haven't played well since Game One of the recent UAAP Juniors Basketball Championship. During the Bulldogs' semis loss to SBC, Justine Baltazar finished with seven points, Mark Ferraras scored four points, and the Vinces Saquian and Claveria had nothing. Power forward Mark Dyke finished with 11 points on 4-9 shooting from the field and 3-4 from the stripe. And when Philip Manalang doesn’t play well it hurts his team.

As for the Magis Eagles – they’ve got quite a frontline – Dominic Longa, Felix Jaboneta, Zach Huang, and Josh Sinclair. Save for Huang, the other three can also shoot well from medium range to beyond the arc. What makes them dangerous is they can drive to the basket and are very active in and around the basket. Furthermore, they’re more mobile.

How did they get in even if they lost to Chiang Kai Shek?

All tournament long, the Blue Dragons’ starting frontline did not play well. That forced Aying and Toribio to play extended minutes. Trying to reach the quotient of 14 points (to qualify for the finals) threw their finely tuned offense out of whack. Instead of trying to play their usual game, they got rattled with the quotient. It was a win but it was also a loss since they didn’t qualify for the finals.

San Beda looked really pumped for their last game as a team. The did their team dance and cheer near their bench. And early on, it looked like the game was going to be over even before it got really started.

The Red Cubs started out like a house on fire as they attacked the interior of the Magis Eagles. At one point, they posted an 18-2 lead and looked to be well on their way to a blow out. The problem for San Beda started when they went to their bench. The Cebuanos roared back and nearly tied it all as Jaboneta missed a triple attempt at the buzzer that would have knotted it at 21-all if it had hit the bottom of the net.

San Beda found its second wind with the return of the starters and they once more posted a 25-20 lead. Then Sinclair made his presence felt inside with a variety of turn around jumpers, drives and putbacks to tie the score for the first time at 29-all.

With less than three minutes to play in the second period, San Beda guard Chami Diputado injured his knee while going after a loose ball out of bounds. While trying to avoid the media table, he landed awkwardly. He would not come back. No Alas. No Diputado. Norrish Decapia to the rescue.

But Decapia who scored 15 second half points couldn’t do it alone. With Caracut struggling with his shooting (5-15 from the field), Abatayo was forced to play inside with Furaque and Abuhijleh ineffective (10 points between them). That put him in foul trouble and he did eventually foul out.

Let me illustrate the problems San Beda had inside the lane versus Ateneo.

Ateneo de Cebu
San Beda
Inside points
Total Rebounds
Offensive Rebounds
Fastbreak points

The dreaded San Beda press was largely ineffective against the Magis Eagles whose own press forced the Red Cubs into turnovers.

Ateneo – 8 steals + 25 turnover points
San Beda – 4 steals + 18 turnover points

Did the loss of Chami Diputado hurt San Beda?
Most definitely.

If he stayed in the game, would it have changed the outcome?
Am not so sure. Maybe. Maybe not. But I still think it would come down to the frontline battle.

When the chips were down, some others picked up the slack.
Decapia, Caracut, and Diputado put up good numbers but they had no help after the latter went out.

As for Ateneo de Cebu?

Dominic Longa and Josh Sinclair carried them in their matches against San Beda Team B and Chiang Kai Shek College. Longa was guarded pretty well by San Beda but in his place, Zach Huang played huge and Felix Jaboneta, a non-factor in the aforementioned matches, finally exploded scoring 27 points in 26.8 minutes of play!

And lastly, Ateneo de Cebu wanted it more.
They hustled. They didn’t back down from San Beda as they won the war of attrition (more so when Furaque tried to get under the skin of Jaboneta although it backfired on the Red Cub). And they played with a lot more energy.

So the Magis Eagles bring home their third NBTC title. They won two when it was just a battle of provincial teams. But in the past three years where Manila teams finally competed, they won their first NBTC National Championship.

They’ve got a good program over there in Ateneo de Cebu. Longa and Jaboneta are headed for UP while Huang is going to UST.

Even with these loses, they’re sure to come back with even more talent on their squad.


Praying for Chami Diputado!

With my blue and white brothers from the south.

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