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.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

UAAP Season 78: Ateneo crushes Adamson and finds a silver lining

This appears in the Monday, September 14, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

Ateneo crushes Adamson and finds a silver lining
by rick olivares

It is always ugly before it gets better.

The Ateneo Blue Eagles crushed the Adamson Falcons, 84-60, in a tale of two different halves.

It’s a fact of life and a basketball truism that life, or in Ateneo’s case, UAAP basketball, is never easy. And who better to test that than the decades-old rival Adamson who no matter who they field always play the Blue Eagles plenty tough.

There were a lot of nervous moments especially in the first half as Falcons’ center Pape Sarr began to assert himself inside and seemingly scoring at will. Ponso Gotladera, GBoy Babilonia, and Chibueze Ikeh were used as gunsights while Jospeh Nalos and Dawn Ochea hit some shots. 

And for the second consecutive week, I wondered if was watching Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, er, Kiefer Ravena and the Blue Eagles. The team, save for Kiefer couldn’t do anything right in the first half. On the other hand, it reminded the basketball world at large that had become infatuated with other high scoring guards that the King has not left the building. 

Check out the Phenom’s stats: 24 points on 11-17 shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and ZERO TURNOVERS.

Kief didn’t have to overexert himself as he got plenty of help. 

As we said, it was a tale of two halves. In the first, the team clearly struggled. The second half, well, was different. Not completely as there are still rough edges, but that was classic Ateneo defense that got them rolling.

It starts with defense.
Two huge blocks by Gboy Babilonia set the tone for the defensive stand and the much-maligned Ateneo big man scored against Sarr sending the blue and white gallery cheering louder.

And for the first time in ages, we saw an honest-to-goodness effective halftime adjustment that helped the team immensely.

First half - 13 defensive rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block, 11 Adamson turnovers, 10 points off Adamson turnovers
Second half - 15 defensive rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks, 18 Adamson turnovers, 26 points off Adamson turnovers

The Blue Eagles contained Adamson point guard Joseph Nalos in the second half. 
First half - In 15 minutes: 8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 turnover
Second half - In 15 minutes: 2 points, zero rebounds, four assists, and zero turnovers (with Nalos unable to really get going they went though Frederick Tungcab a little more but he too was stymied).

With the Falcons’ offense in a funk, Adamson’s game went south. That 28-18 third quarter blitz hurt Mike Fermin’s squad. 

Kiefer got some big and timely help 
Right before the game, the team talked that whoever gets called to come in should be ready to do their best. And seven bench players scored. 

Von Pessumal added 12 points and Aaron Black, coming off the bench, scored 11 points. Von doesn’t have his rhythm as he is jacking up quite a volume of shots. But he is open so we can’t fault him too much for that. Black was a perfect 3-3 from the three-point line.

Matt Nieto (nine points) showed a lot of guts while Jerie Pingoy (eight points and six assists, 1 steal and 1 block against two turnovers) looked to have discovered his shooting touch that deserted him. 

Starters vis-a-vis bench scoring
Adamson 38-22
Ateneo 40-44

The 44 points by the Blue Eagles’ bench was huge and it propelled Ateneo to a badly needed victory by Ateneo as there were all sorts of rumours swirling around the MOA Arena had they lost. 

Big win aside, here are some things Ateneo should work on:

Getting Arvin Tolentino untracked. Come on. He is not a center. So why play him at the position. The Tolentino we saw in the first round of Season 77 is now a distant memory. He looks unsure of himself, out of position, and is clearly frustrated. It isn’t only Tolentino. There’s John Apacible too. I saw Big John play for two years in high school with Hope Christian High School. Along with Clint Doliguez who we never saw his best, they were flat out good. As early as third year high school, I tipped Ateneo's Jojo dela Rama about getting them. Even Ikeh at one point was pulled out after like a little over a minute of play. A lot of blue chipper players but everyone is underperforming.

I am not sure if giving “obligatory” or “token” or whatever it is you want to call those minutes as consolation will help. It’s like commit a mistake and you go to the bench. Give them a chance to redeem themselves.

Why were so many people upset after the opening day loss? It was because the way we lost and the fact that with all the blue chip recruits, Ateneo didn’t look ready. And the post-game presscon admission that not knowing how to play Adamson’ Sarr didn’t help. It only served as a reminder of what the team is missing by skipping the pre-season tourneys. 

You can’t leave Isaac Go out there alone. Pair him with either Ponso Gotladera or GBoy Babilonia; someone with veteran experience up front so he doesn't become a foul magnet. And when he’s inside during crunch time, give him the ball and set him up. That should help build confidence. 

We have to be concerned about the disparity and high volume of outside shots. The Blue Eagles hit 24-59 jumpshots and went 9-19 from layups and tip-ins. In two matches, Ateneo has attempted 54 triples (with a 35.2 success rate), the most in the league. The Blue Eagles also lead the league in perimeter points.

The stats were padded because of the blowout win over Adamson (as I am sure most teams will do the same). So for now, you have to take that with a grain of salt because there are genuine concerns defensively. It is ironic that GBoy Babilonia was the one who sparked the defensive turn but good for him and the team. 

As I said, there are rough edges and no doubt, they will work on them. Having said all of that, it was a nice win to get because the Blue Eagles will need more than confidence when they face their next foe — National University who they have not beaten in two years.

As for Adamson, you really have to give a lot of props to Mike Fermin and his staff. That is some team they have there and are building. They played with no fear. What they need are a few more pieces to the puzzle and more seasoning and they’ll climb out of that cellar they found themselves last season.

They outrebounded Ateneo and gave them fits yet were waylaid on defense in the second half of play. The Falcons shot 40% at the half however by match’s end, the accuracy rate plummeted to 34%. Keep working hard guys, who knows, you could pull off some huge upset along the way.


  1. While a key to the 2nd half may have been containing Nalos, I don't think the stats that you indicated show that. He had 8 pts and 2 assts in the first half. Counting each assist as 2 points, that comes out to 12 pts contributed. In the second half, he had 2 pts and 5 assts, which also comes out as 12 pts contributed. The fact that he had 1 TO in the 1st half and none in the 2nd further doesn't show much of being "controlled". He did go from 3 to 0 rebs, and while he really may have been controlled, the stats don't seem to show that definitively.

    Also, re Isaac Go, it was garbage time and he was paired with Vince Tolentino for most of the last 2 minutes. More than who is paired with him, I think it was also that he was not sure what to do or where to go at times. Perhaps more coaching attention?

  2. I agree. The team takes way too many outside shots, particularly 3s. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more 3 pt attempts than higher percentage perimeter jumpers. Aside from Ravena, I think Pingoy and Cani have the ability to break down defenses so they should try doing this more. There also has to be a more conscious effort on the part of the coaching staff to get Arvin Tolentino involved in the offense. (He strikes me as the type of player who needs to score first in order to get him pumped up to play good D.) Maybe even make him a starter to boost his confidence, The team needs him to provide inside and perimeter points to go far in the tournament (and to lessen the over reliance on the 3 pt shot).

  3. On Tolentino, A True Blue simply plays with a lot of heart...