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, April 26, 2015

Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup: Looking at the UE Red Warriors & UST Growling Tigers

My thoughts and analysis on the FIRST GAME OF THE TOURNAMENT for both the UE Red Warriors and UST Growling Tigers.


UE squeaks past UST in Filoil tourney
by rick olivares

The University of the East Red Warriors lost a lead, rallied, and nearly lost it again before stopping the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers on the last play to eke out a 60-59 win at the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at the San Juan Arena yesterday.

Rookie Joshua Gonzales hit two free throws off a foul by UST’s Jon Sheriff with 1:33 left in the game to make it 60-57. Sheriff redeemed himself by hitting a jumper to come within a point. In UE’s next possession, Paul Varilla, now UE’s leader after Roi Sumang opted out of his final playing year, turned the ball over. But the Red Warriors held fast on defense for their first win of the tournament.

UE posted a 10-point lead in the first period, 25-15, but the Growling Tigers, sans Kevin Ferrer, Louie Vigil, and Karim Abdul who are all out on account of national team duty or niggling injuries came back to take the half, 32-29.

The Tigers led by seven-points to start the fourth period behind the lane incursions of Ed Daquioag and Mario Bonleon who ironically was a part of the UE squad that won the Filoil tournament in 2013. Bonleon left UE after the summer to go back home to Davao. He went back to Manila last season but served a year’s residency.

The Red Warriors charged back with three triples courtesy of Varilla, Gonzales, and freshman point guard Philip Manalang to tie the match at 57-all with 3:40 to play. UE took the lead for good on a free throw by African Bertrand Awana.

Paul Varilla was the only UE player to score in double figures with 10 points. Bonleon and Daquioag scored 17 and 12 points respectively for UST.

UE 60 – Varilla 10, Gonzales 9, Javier 8, Awana 7, Manalang 5, Abanto 4, Alberto 4, Penuela 4, Batiller 3, De Leon 2, Palma 2, Charcos 2, Larupay 0, Cruz 0.

UST 59 – Bonleon 17, Daquioag 12, Sheriff 8, Lao 7, Lee 4, Huang 3, DeCapia 3, Caunan 3, Magno 2, Kakonda 0, Furaque 0.

The UE Red Warriors 2015-16
Paul Varilla, Joshua Gonzales, Chris Javier, Bertrand Awana, Philip Manalang, Nick Abanto, Dan Alberto, Ralph Penuela, Edson Battiler, RR De Leon, Emil Palma, Edgar Charcos, Omar Larupay, Jeremy Cruz.

Bleachers Brew grade on the UE Red Warriors after one game: C-
The post-Roi Sumang era began albeit prematurely after the ace guard opted out of his final year. They can say that he wanted to concentrate on getting ready for the pros but to my knowledge, Roi never bought into the coaching of Derrick Pumaren. In fact, he almost did not suit up last season.

But play he did only now he isn’t there along with a few other mainstays – Charles Mammie, Gino Jumao-as, Bong Galanza, and Moustapha Arafat.

That’s pretty much the entire offensive force from last season. Defense? With a full year and summer to implement his system, Derrick Pumaren has a team – not the perfect one, mind you – to do what he wants and that is his patented full court high-pressure defense.

Paul Varilla is now their leader while Renz Palma, another Doberman of Pumaren’s is the backup. Chris Javier is there to provide vocal leadership. Against UST, he had one run where he strung up all of his eight points in consecutive fashion. When he returned in the second half, he left his game on the bench. Chris can score. He just needs to produce consistently. More importantly, play better on the defensive end. He now has the minutes as Charles Mammie is gone. Bertrand Awana is still a few months from finding his legs and groove on offense and defense. Awana showed he can be a force defensively when he blocked a Mario Bonleon layup with 17 seconds left that could have given UST a one-point lead.

Why is that crucial? Because this UE team will have problems putting points on the board. As much as I like Varilla, I thought that he played better in a support role last season. Now, he is the man.

Varilla, reminds me of the Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler – a guy who can hit it from the outside albeit not consistently, he can finish, play defense on the opposing top gun, likes to attack the basket, is expressionless. Maybe this is a stretch but this is what came to my mind while watching UE in action against UST today – the Red Warriors are made up of several Jimmy Butlers – tweeners who can are utility-like players. Palma is in the same vein. Penuela, Gonzales, Larupay…

I was surprised that Pumaren did not bring back RR De Leon. RR has a decent medium range shot. He can rebound and block shots too. His best shot of the day, however, was when UST rookie Marvin Lee careened out of bounds towards the UE bench after mishandling the ball. As Lee, who played for FEU in high school, looked like he was going to crash into someone, De Leon stood up and shoulder blocked him nearly flattening the Growling Tiger. That was a message sent after Lee got a call (his way) on a three-point attempt that was charged to Dan Alberto. He later hit Philip Manalang after which De Leon sent a message – “Hey, rookie. Know your place.” Lee dispensed with the physical play after that.

Speaking of rookies, UE’s Manalang, late of the NU Bullpups, finished with 5 points, 8 rebounds (third best on the team), 4 assists, and 2 turnovers. All in 22  minutes.

He hit a crucial trey that notched the count at 57-all with 3:40 to play in the game. That was the last deadlock. He made his presence felt and I should say that one day he will own that position for the Red Warriors (that is until Fran Yu is elevated from Team B to A). He didn’t mind playing a little rough with some of the UST players. But he should be careful for what he wishes for as Kevin Ferrer didn’t suit up.

The UST Growling Tigers 2015-16

Mario Bonleon, Ed Daquioag, Jon Sheriff, Kent Lao, Marvin Lee, Zach Huang, Norrish DeCapia, Enrique Caunan, Jasper Magno, Christian Kakonda, Evan Furaque, Louie Vigil, Jeepy Faundo, and Kevin Ferrer (Karim Abdul is injured).

Bleachers Brew grade on the UST Growling Tigers after one game: C-

It will be difficult to gauge this UST team until their three main players are back. It is a very different team.

This one reminds me in some way of their 2006 team sans a Jervy Cruz. Marvin Lee, who they tabbed out of Far Eastern University will be a defensive pest; a guy who can make things happen with his hustle, aggressiveness, and toughness. If Norrish DeCapia can bring his medium range shooting and expand his range and play steady like he did in San Beda, he could be another Jeric Fortuna. Zach Huang, out of Ateneo de Cebu, when he figures out the college game and how to play bigger players will be a player who will provide a lot of intangibles. Has a good head on him so am not worried.  Enrique Caunan – the next Melo Afuang? Evan Furaque is he can hit the medium range shot – no way can he play inside as he is too small for the college game – will help. But I like his willingness to bang inside. And there’s Mario Bonleon who has never met a shot that he didn’t like, is fearless, can put the ball in the basket, yet has yet to figure out when he should shoot or make the pass. Give the kid props…. He’s got balls.

It is good for Ed Daquioag to be the go-to person. That will serve him in good stead come the UAAP season. Jon Sheriff is gaining more confidence with every game and with every shot he buries.

These Tigers are a better offensive team than UE. Defensively, not yet there. UE fashioned out a win because of defense. It gives the Red Warriors a little more confidence while if you are UST you can say, “ho-hum, we were missing four guys.”

They need to find their legs and their system. I was trying to figure out what exactly they were doing on the court. But no cigar. Of course, it is one game.

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