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, September 20, 2015

UAAP Season 78: Breaking down Ateneo's win over UE 1st Round

This appears in the Monday September 21, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

Breaking down Ateneo’s win over UE
by rick olivares

There were endgame anxieties but the Ateneo Blue Eagles looked more at ease in their match against the UE Red Warriors that resulted in a 77-72 victory, their third straight win after the opening day loss, to give them a 3-1 record.

I thought they played much better against UE than in their outing against NU. This despite playing three games in a week. For this we must lead off by giving credit to the coaching staff as the team looked more relaxed and that there was a method to what they wanted to do rather than force the issue on things. Good job.

For one the ball flowed, moved around better.
In that opening possession, Ponso Gotladera attacked the basket. It is good to show that kind of attacking intent as it will give opponents more cause to keep the opponent’s defense honest rather than cheat on double teams. 

I got the sense that the Blue Eagles were more composed and in better control. Even at the height of the UE rally, they were fine. And in a game where they could have been tired, they came out smoking.

Save for a few instances, they handled UE’s press better than any other team. Not many of the 17 points UE scored off turnovers came off that dreaded press.

The Blue Eagles got a lot of contributions from a lot of people. Von Pessumal rebounded from a poor shooting day against NU to lead the team in scoring with 21 points.
They made better decisions in shooting the ball leading to better percentages:
Von Pessumal 7/14 FG - 50%
Ponso Gotladera 3/5 FG - 60%
Chibueze Ikeh 2/4 FG - 50% (to go with 12 rebounds with 5 offensive boards)
John Apacible 3/3 FG - 100%

Two others - GBoy Babilonia and Gwyne Capacio - made their only shot attempts of the game.

And then there’s Kiefer Ravena with a near triple double of 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists. That fade away shot over Paul Varilla to give the Blue Eagles a little more cushion in the endgame — nasty! Incredible shot. He is clutch.

Right now, Ateneo is fourth in bench production (behind UP, FEU, and UE) with 29.5 and that shows the quality of the bench that has a lot of blue chip players who just need to soak in more experience before they can really flash that deadly form. 

The last two games showed a willingness by Ateneo to mix it up inside:
Vs. NU 36 inside points (NU had 38) and 16 perimeter points
Vs. UE 32 inside points (UE had 30) and 26 perimeter points
This is their first game where they had fewer than 50 jumpshots with 48.

That will give the outside shooters more room and better spacing to get those shots. 

With Ikeh, Gotladera, Apacible, and Babilonia doing their part, they are making it harder for opponents to bear down on Ravena and Pessumal. 
One key to all three victories thus far has been rebounding. 
47-42 vs Adamson
57-46 vs NU
50-39 vs UE

During the loss to FEU the Tamaraws had the edge 46-40.

Incredibly, Ateneo grabbed more offensive rebounds in all four games, the FEU match included!

11-10 vs FEU (scoring 5 second chance points)
19-18 vs Adamson (scoring 10 second chance points)
32-13 vs NU (scoring 21 second chance points)
20-15 vs UE (scoring 24 second chance points)

Another point, Ateneo struggles against teams that employ the dribble drive offense or have a system of play in place (FEU and NU) as opposed to teams that just play a lot of motion (Adamson and UE). That should change as Ikeh is emerging and getting better with every outing.

I like how when he challenges players on the outside that he is very conscious of keeping that arm extended and not stepping into the jumpshooter’s cylindrical space, and that he quickly rotates back inside. 

When he learns not to bite on every pump fake, he will be swatting and altering more shots.

While he was on Team B, I saw him throw some hooks and even nail that medium range jumper. If he knocks that down then he learns to finish strong around the basket… watch out. It is an understatement that he will be key to Ateneo’s Final Four aspirations.

What can be improved?
The defense. It is not yet on lockdown mode but they are getting there. At least for a day, the Blue Eagles climbed out of #7 in the defensive rankings to go up to #6. 

How about UE?
UE showed how dangerous it could be even with Edson Batiller sitting down for a long spell due to foul trouble. They got key contributions from several players in their last ditch rally — Edgar Charcos, Fran Yu, and Clark Derige.

Batiller came back and immediately lit the scoreboard by attacking the basket. That’s a good way to get your rhythm. He has finally accepted the role of UE’s top gun and it now shows. And the frightening thing is — he is getting better. 

Chris Javier is finally enjoying more consistency. It is his final year and he has to make an impact if he is looking to go in the next PBA Draft. He is second in the team scoring with 11.0 ppg next to Batiller’s 20.0ppg.

So that you know, UE’s Chris Javier and Ateneo’s Gotladera were teammates in San Beda (with Baser Amer). Gotladera started while Javier came off the bench for him. There were occasions when they were paired together. I thought that Ponso was better in and around the basket while Javier had that medium range jumper going for him (he does occasionally hit the three ball).

They just need Renz Palma and Paul Varilla (not to mention Philip Manalang) to contribute more and to be more consistent (although it is good to see Clark Derige step up in the last two matches). The Red Warriors can defend but they have trouble when they get into an early hole as they come up short in their rally (see the UP match). But if they are steady (see the matches against Adamson and NU) they can hold. Palma is especially befuddling because of his talent. He is scoring a paltry 5.8 ppg (aside from his 4 rebounds and 4 assists per outing). He could be what Ed Daquioag is to UST. 

The onus on UE’s coaching staff to get Palma going because he can make things happen on both ends of the floor for UE.

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