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.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Looking at SMB’s win over RoS to advance to the Finals

Looking at SMB’s win over RoS to advance to the Finals
by rick olivares

The San Miguel Beermen dispatched the hard-fighting Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 117-110, to book a second finals seat this 40th PBA season.

How did San Miguel pull this off?

The hit 55% of their field goals and 80% of their free throws. In the first quarter and the first half, SMB shot an incredible 59%! Any time you shoot like that you put yourself in a strong position to win the game.

I thought that their quick ball movement created havoc for RoS as they were oft late in challenging the open man. In the first quarter, SMB attacked the interior of RoS placing them into penalty situation. It is easier to attack when you know that the opposing team has no rim protector. 

The presence of JuneMar Fajardo gave the Elasto Painters fits. They had some choices: double team Fajardo or leave a man on him. No way could JR Quinahan guard him one-on-one. Beau Belga could but he has this tendency to give up some silly if not unnecessary fouls. And why was Ray Almazan sent in only at the start of the second quarter? He could be that rim protector and post presence they need.

And there’s your classic formation - dominant big man at the post, a shooter like Marcio Lassiter at the right corner to make the pitch down low. AZ Reid near the free throw line to further draw attention then Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos on the weak side in case of the cross court or swing pass. 

They had their eyes on the prize. Focus is an overused word in sports but the Beermen were uncannily focused. 
Even when RoS was rough on them they kept their cool. It sounds cliche-ish but I thought that RoS was so frustrated that they tried to distract the Beermen with rough play and cheap shots here and there. It backfired because how many technical fouls were they assessed? Furthermore it gave SMB a bit more possession. 

I think too that they ran their sets and offense to precision. I don’t recall too many shots where players were looking for their own shot. This clearly bears some watching in the finals.

They managed their lead. The Beermen racked up a 19-point lead that helped them weather several spirited rallies by the Elasto Painters. Just when it seemed that RoS would overtake them, they found ways to keep their heads above water. They dictated the pace for the most part of the game and put up several double digits leads that had RoS playing catch up the entire game (save for the first few minutes).

What could have Rain or Shine done better to forge another match?

I thought they should have given some players more minutes - Almazan, Ryan Araña, or even Jericho Cruz (who showed absolute fearlessness and could have given RoS that inside attack option they needed with some players like Jireh Ibanes having subpar outings.

I previously mentioned that Almazan should be able to play a bigger role. If they can establish him inside that will further open things up for their shooters. 

They should have passed the ball a little more rather than try to jack it up from the outside. 

They should have not allowed the Beermen to do what they want on offense. The rally towards the end of the third period saw them harassing the SMB guards and that paid off with three consecutive steals, two of which they converted for baskets. And that was when Jeff Chan and Paul Lee were on the floor at the same time. The Beermen ostayed with their offense almost all throughout. They stuck at it, running their sets even when they were missing. I 

I think the Elasto Painters play a little more instinctive ball but I’d like to see them run a few more set plays. There was one instance where it looked like they were going to set up some screen to free up Lee from the top of the three-point arc. After Lee made his cut, SMB’s defenders were fooled because on Lee’s heels was Cruz who took the trey from the top. Bucket. I thought that it was nifty and maybe they should a little more of that. 

What I think RoS needs to address in the off-season it shore up that frontline of theirs that is too thin. 

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