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, June 14, 2015

Analyzing JRU’s loss to San Beda in the Filoil Cup semis

This appears in the Monday, June 15, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

Analyzing JRU’s loss to San Beda in the Filoil Cup semis
by rick olivares

The late rally had tantalized. Given hope. But it ultimately fizzled out. The San Beda Red Lions looked like they would stroll to an easy win over the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers in their match-up in the semifinals of the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup.

Up to the early fourth period, JRU had only one meaningful spurt and that wasn’t spurred by its regular scorers like Abdel Poutouchi, Paolo Pontejos or Teytey Teodoro. It was Ghanaian reserve center Abdul Razakwahab who not only swatted two shots (that was the official tally but he looked to have gotten at least one or two more) that led to some easy baskets.

Defense. It is hard to imagine correlate that with these Heavy Bombers. It was their calling card back when they had players like Marvin Hayes, John Wilson, and James Sena to name a few. Since then…. well, they went back to their old bombarding ways. Sniping from the outside with reckless abandon while turning the ball over just as much.

Last year, they were good offensively behind scorers Zam Paniamogan, Jaycee Asuncion, and Michael Mabulac. This year with chemistry still being developed and players blowing hot and cold, their calling card was their defense. And they had the 8-1 record heading into the semifinals match with San Beda to prove it.

The problem with playing San Beda is that opponents want to get the jump on them. Gigil is the word. To show them up. Score on them; taunt them even. But that isn’t the proper game plan. The idea is to stay focused, just play the game, defend and when the opportunity arises, score. All that can be distilled into one word – execution. That’s all there is.

Unfortunately for the Heavy Bombers, on a day where their head coach Vergel Meneses wasn’t available (due to personal reasons it was said), their players made plenty of poor decisions.

The problem with JRU is they live and die with the play of their corps of guards – Pontejos, Teytey Teodoro, Gio Lasquety, Dave Sanchez, and Mark dela Virgen. With Lasquety still out after being knocked to the court two matches ago, the others kept jacking up shots. The problem is they do not take them within the flow of the game. They were looking to score points. The old Heavy Bombers lineup of Cagoco, Hayes, and company liked to pass that ball around. The only one who would have fit right into this current crop of conscience-less Heavy Bombers was Wilson who never met a shot that he didn’t like.

With that mindset, it is hard for them to get teammates into the flow. More on that in a bit as we look at their forwards.

Forward Marco Balagtas is dependent on how, when, and where he gets the ball. Counterpart Jordan dela Paz can play both ends of the court but needs to be more cognizant that he can do more by slashing to the basket as opposed to taking jumpshots. The other forwards, Ervin Gorospe and Kim Aurin who both sometimes start are the same. They are like robots. Aurin has to work on his jumper that is in local parlance, “masyadong matulis.” He needs to follow through on that shot and give it some more spiral to go in.

Aurin and Gorospe started the first and third periods. They both finished with one assist. Their starting Bedan counterparts – Art dela Cruz and Jaypee Mendoza – has 11 assists between them. JRU’s starting guards of Teodoro and Sanchez finished with seven assists; the same as SBC’s Ryusei Koga and Ranbill Tongco. So the forwards were a huge difference.

The starting centers JRU’s Poutouchi and SBC’s Pierre Tankoua both canceled each other out with subpar games. Of the centers who came off the bench, Razakwahab had a bigger impact on the game for JRU than Ola Adeogun did for SBC and that gave the Heavy Bombers a little hope.

San Beda looked like they were going to cruise when they spotted JRU a 16-point lead, 70-54, when Razakwahab inspired another rally. With Teodoro finding the range and then Pontejos draining two treys (4-9 from that zip code), the lead was cut to one, 75-74. But two badly executed possessions with shots taken from Jimmy Alapag range ended any chance of forging overtime or winning the game outright.

Dela Cruz scored on a crucial putback (in addition to a pair of coast-to-coast layups that is unpardonable when you think that the defense was set) and an assist to Adeogun to help put JRU away, 81-77, to enter the finals.

If you look at the basic defensive stats, San Beda, with subpar games from Tankoua and Adeogun grabbed 37 rebounds to JRU’s 30. They had six steals to the Heavy Bombers’ two. JRU came up aces in blocks, 6-1. And here’s the rub – SBC shot 53% to the 41% of JRU. The poor shot selection definitely was a factor.

Why is this massive? You are playing the five-time NCAA champs who are going for a sixth consecutive title. It is theirs to lose at this point.

It’s the pre-season but if the Heavy Bombers want to make serious headway in the upcoming NCAA tourney then they will have to play consistent and better defense and to make smarter decisions in their playmaking and shot selection.

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