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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

2015 FIBA Asia: Looking at the Philippines' unexpected loss to Palestine

Philippines FIBA Asia campaign: Looking at that unexpected loss to Palestine
by rick olivares pic from fiba

Now that was an unexpected loss.

You can spin it and say, we’re still on track on advance to the next round. Of course we are, but as the saying goes, “quota ka na agad sa talo.”

More than an unexpected 75-73 loss; it was an embarrassing loss. Especially to an unranked team.

With all due respect to Palestine, they don’t even have a league with our quality. Heck, their players — some who grew up in the United States or played abroad — don’t have a real league to call their own. It isn’t even the most popular sport in their tiny sliver of a state. They aren’t even recognized by many countries. They didn’t even have a bench. They got zero points from their bench. Jerry Scheele only played seven of his players; three who played the entire 40 minutes! Save for Sani Sakanini, no one else got four fouls!

In contrast, every Filipino got to play. Everyone scored save for Asi Taulava. Save for Marc Pingris, no one else had four fouls. 

Now that I have gotten that out of my system, what happened?

Here’s how I see it.

The Philippines just didn’t play well.
Instead of attacking the Palestinians, we settled for a lot of outside shots especially late in the game. 

Despite the presence of Andray Blatche, we got beat on the boards, 58-53. The Palestinians didn’t even capitalize on their dominance of the offensive boards, 23-17, as they only scored nine second chance points to our 17. So what was the advantage? It gave Palestine 83 field goal attempts to our 77. 

The defense, especially on the perimeter, wasn’t great.
Time and again, we could see Filipinos late to rotate out to the open man. First of all, I am not sure what their rules on defense are, but they were oft late in marking Palestine’s shooters. 

The last six minutes saw the Philippines collapse. 
I don’t think for one minute the Palestinians were fazed by the Philippines. That 13-3 wind-up after 5:54 in the fourth killed us. The Philippines was up 70-59 then.
Here’s how it went downhill:
Three crucial turnovers to their solitary error.
We shot 1-9 in the last six minutes (to go with the turnovers) include six attempts from the three-point arc. 
Palestine went 6-11 in that stretch PLUS, they had zero offensive rebounds in that stretch. They shot a collective 32% from the field but they hit their shots when they needed to do so.
Granted the team went through a bad shooting day but why not go inside? I don’t think their zone gave us serious fits. We had a 38-24 advantage in points in the paint. Why not use the advantage of Blatche who really wasn’t troubled until that last gasp trey attempt of his was blocked? While we know he can hit the outside shot, I think we got him to play inside not jack up treys.
Not sure about that substitution at the 3:50 mark with the score, 71-62, Philippines. 

Hong Kong is next!
Next up is Hong Kong. Now these guys gave us fits during the 2013 edition of FIBA Asia. Gilas finally pulled the rug from under them in the fourth period. They too are unfazed by us.

I believe that for the Philippines to win that match, we will have have to attack them inside, guard that perimeter as HK likes to shoot from the outside, and speed up the tempo to our pace; step on that pedal from the opening tip. 

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