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, September 10, 2015

UAAP Season 78: Game 6: Breaking down UST’s win over FEU

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Breaking down UST’s win over FEU
by rick olivares

Remember that old saying, “Never wake a sleeping tiger?”

That means don’t court trouble you cannot handle.

Lost in the all the Final Four talk after a subpar Season 77, the UST Growling Tigers are 2-0 in this young UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament; tied with UP. For Tigers coach Bong dela Cruz, his team flying below the radar suits him just fine. “Mahirap din sabihin na walang expectations sa team namin,” said the second year Tigers coach. "May history at tradition ang UST so hindi basta basta papayag mga estudyante at alumni na talunan at hindi lumalaban. So okay lang kahit hindi kami seeded, basta, lalaban kami."

UST looked shaky against Adamson in their campaign debut; a 70-64 victory. Against pre-tourney favorite FEU, the Growling Tigers looked bold and daring that resulted in a 72-71 win.

Let’s break down UST’s stirring win.

Ed Daquioag and Kevin Ferrer are a handful. The Tigers version of the Splash Brothers combined for 52 points against UE and against FEU, Ed scored 18 points while Kevin hot for 13 markers. 

Ferrer had two huge threes down the stretch and an incredible bullet like assist from 20-plus feet out to Daquioag underneath the basket.

FEU, the masters of the dribble drive? They had no answer for Daquioag who pretty much did whatever he wanted to do. He also added 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal against 3 turnovers.

Karim Abdul came to life. The graduating center of the Tigers finished with 7 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 assist against Adamson. Bong dela Cruz thinks he will find his old game shape by the end of the first round. What he lacked offensively he made up defensively as he blocked four shots by the Falcons.

Against FEU, he tallied 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks. But it was his stop of Mike Tolomia in the game’s final and deciding play that made the difference. FEU’s Mike Tolomia spun around Jon Sheriff around the free throw line and got into what looked like an open lane. Tolomia also got past Ferrer except that Abdul was waiting to block his shot. The FEU’s main man opted not to lay the ball in and instead dropped it to Mac Balo who came from the weakside. The drop was less than perfect as Belo was unable to field it. Daquioag swiped it and UST had the win.

Abdul laid a big fat egg in the fourth period — no points and no rebounds. But it was a steal (a poor entry pass by Iñigo to Belo where Abdul sneaked up from behind) and a shot changer that made the difference too. 

The Tigers harried FEU non-stop. Said Bong dela Cruz post-game, “Yung kalaban nila nung una (Ateneo) walang depensa. Kami magde-depensa kami.” Everyone dela Cruz sent in from Louie Vigil to Mario Bonleon to even Zach Huang played scrambling help defense that didn’t make FEU comfortable at all. 

UST’s guards were steadier than their FEU opposites. Even when they had Jeric Fortuna in uniform, UST had their forwards bring down the ball a whole lot. And that hasn’t changed. Having pointed that out, UST’s guards were steadier as they harried their FEU opposites and committed fewer turnovers.

UST: Sheriff and Lee = 1 turnover
FEU: Tolomia and Iñigo = 12 turnovers

The two Tams guards committed two four huge errors during crunch time that allowed UST to escape. Iñigo’s entry pass to the post to Mac Belo was bad. Belo had someone on him and Abdul went in to double yet Iñigo still passed the ball. It was poked away and UST went to the offensive. Then Iñigo hung a dangerous crosscourt pass that Daquioag easily picked off.

Nash Racela brought in Tolomia who they had seemed to have forgotten. Maybe he should have not gotten off the bench. Tolomia dribbled the ball off his foot and with a chance to win the game, there was that stop by Karim and Daquioag.

If FEU put the clamps on former Baby Tamaraws star Jerie Pingoy in their first game against Ateneo, they forgot all about Marvin Lee who they opted not to keep (they only tabbed Wendell Comboy who isn’t bad but will have to wait until Mike Tolomia and Achi Iñigo are done). Lee played a little over eight minutes but he had three points, one rebound, and two steals and zero turnovers. He placed a lot of pressure on Tolomia and Achi Iñigo in his limited minutes. 

If FEU played the perfect game against Ateneo, they were uncharacteristically flat against UST. They had 13 uncontested shots — six more than UST — but they just couldn’t hit the side of a building last Wednesday even if they want to. Some of it was their own doing; some it due to UST’s inspired defense. Ultimately, it was their undoing. Instead of putting some distance between themselves and the field, the Tamaraws fell back to earth with a 1-1 slate tied with La Salle while UST and UP are both 2-0. The rest of the league is 0-1 with their next matches this Saturday.

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