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.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Looking at the FEU Tamaraws in the Premier Cup

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Looking at the FEU Tamaraws in the Premier Cup
by rick olivares

During the Far Eastern University Tamaraws’ Filoil Flying V Premier Cup debut, guard Ron Dennison, one of the veterans on the squad, harassed San Sebastian College’s point guards. At one point, he trapped the Stags’ Ian Valdez by the sideline and yelled, “Huli!” Dennison picked Valdez clean and scooted off the opposite direction for a FEU layup.

The next possession, he managed to trap Valdez again and this team, a teammate intercepted a pass that was poor to begin with from Dennison’s relentless pressure. The Tamaraws stayed ahead of the Stags to earn this first triumph of the competition.

In FEU’s next game, against Arellano University, Dennison was more chaste. After all, he was up against those masters of killer crossvers in Jio Jalalon and Kent Salado. The bluster somewhat tamed, the Chiefs blew away the Tamaraws, 90-72. FEu lost a close one to UP for their third match after surrendering the lead late in the second half. And last game, they once more took it on the chin against the NU Bulldogs, 75-59.

One of the challenges for collegiate basketball or any other sport is the rite of renewal. Since student-athletes have a finite number of playing years, a team will undergo highs and lows — when they struggle to jell as a team, when they learn to become contenders, when they are championship ready, and when they reload. It’s as sure as the sun will shine the following day.

Certain teams sustain success because they are able to replace graduating players year in and out, feeding their machine. But what happens when the graduation rate it too steep?

Here are a few teams who after winning a championship or three or five, saw a dip, sometimes severe, in their performance.

Far Eastern University Season 69 - Lost Arwind Santos, Mark Isip, RJ Rizada, and Denok Miranda.
Still had Jonas Villanueva, Jeff Chan, Marlon Adolfo, Benedict Fernandez but they became the first defending champion in the Final Four era not to make it back to the semifinals.

Ateneo de Manila University Season 76 - Lost Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva, Justin Chua, and Tonino Gonzaga.
Still had Kiefer Ravena, Von Pessumal, Ryan Buenafe, JP Erram, Juami Tiongson, Frank Golla, Nico Elorde, Gwyne Capacio. However, Ravena and Erram were injured. Became the second defending champion not to make it back to the Final Four.

National University Season 77 - Lost Glenn Khobuntin, Troy Rosario, Henri Betayene, and Tristan Perez.
Still had Gelo Alolino, Alfred Aroga, Rev Diputado, JJ Alejandro, Reden Celda, and Pao Javelona. They were eliminated in the Final Four.

Far Eastern University Season 79 - Lost Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo, Russel Escoto, Al Francis Tamsi, Roger Pogoy, Achi Iñigo, Still have Jojo Trinidad, Raymar Jose, Prince Orizu, Monbert Arong, and Ron Dennison. Save for Arong and Orizu, everyone else got few minutes of playing. The challenge now is how quickly can the others adjust to their roles whether starting or taking more responsibilities. 

Despite FEU at 1-3 in the current Filoil Flying V Premier Cup DO NOT think that defending UAAP champions will be easy pickings come the UAAP. They like everyone else are using the tournament to get better. I figure they’ll struggle a bit but they are still very good.

Here’s a quick look at their early tourney stats:

FEU 66.7 points
Opposition 74.5

Field Goal Percentage
FEU 38%
Opposition 42%

Free Throw Accuracy
FEU 63%
Opposition 65%

FEU 43.5
Opposition 39.7

FEU 14.2
Opposition 12.5

FEU 4.2
Opposition 6.7

FEU 3.2
Opposition 2.7

FEU 24.0
Opposition 18.7

Fastbreak Points 
FEU 15.5
Opposition 18.5

Who should we watch?
Monbert Arong - Didn’t have a debut season for the Tams that we expected after transferring from Southwestern University. Chalk that up to adjustment and the fact that in a team with Tolomia, Belo, and Pogoy that means you’re getting scraps. Averaged 5.9 points during the last UAAP season. In four Premier Cup matches, he is averaging 11.0 points (on 41% FG shooting), 3.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Is that enough? Probably not. 

Could lead this team in scoring. Just needs to make simpler plays rather than the spectacular. During the last match against NU, tried to cross the ball over not once but twice to shake Dave Yu. Instead had the ball picked off and he fell to the court and watched as the Bulldogs scored on a drive-through. Hasn’t adjusted to opposing teams keying their defense on him.

Steve Holmqvist - Now that he is getting more playing time, will emerge as one of FEU’s sources for points. Has a good nose for the ball. I like his willingness to mix it up inside but needs to learn some gulang. So far, he is putting up 8.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. But take note — he is getting better.

Jojo Trinidad - Last year, he fed off the kick-outs from teammates. Now, aside fro learning the ropes of starting, he’s kicking out some of those balls as well. In the tourney so far, he is posting 8.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists an outing. Kind of concerned with those assists average especially when you add up Arong’s total. 

Richard Escoto - Will play the three and the four spots. I like the upside as he can shoot, drive, or even post-up. The latter however, he has to be quick because he’s kind of undersized now for the college game. Great game intelligence and with more minutes and bigger shots, will see an upsurge in his confidence. In two matches so far, has averaged 7.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. In 25 minutes of play, has only one turnover. He could have had some assists, but some of his teammates have not been up to the task in terms of scoring.

Ken Holmqvist - 6’8” and with great upside. Might be lumbering up and down the floor but is a wide body who can alter shots. In fact, he had three blocks in one match. So far with 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds. With more minutes and more conditioning, could round out into a force. 

Prince Orizu - Played two matches so far with 3.5 points and 8.0 rebounds average. Again, still finding his way with his teammates. The 6’8” Nigerian came on strong towards the end of the last UAAP season and if he can impose his will inside offensively and defensively it will open up the game for his teammates.

Kevin Barkley Eboña - Second year on the team. Played like Raymar Jose years ago — uncoordinated but with lots of spunk and drive. Never afraid to mix it up. Enforcer? Probably not. But he will battle inside. 

Wendell Comboy - I think he should be starting in place of Trinidad. Trinidad is averaging over 18 minutes to Comboy’s 16.0 but look at this, Wendell is averaging 4.7 points (21 attempted field goals to the 30 of Trinidad), 2.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. I think he will be taking some big shots. Like his courage. Doesn’t show frustration. Just plays. Not yet vocal. Wait until he is.

Joseph Nunag - Will be a gunner on this team. Still finding his way.

Kenneth Tuffin - Long, good instincts. When this Fil-Kiwi figures things out, he’ll be that Merwin Castelo type — stopper, shooter, and all-around yeoman. 

Raymar Jose - Hasn’t played because of a hamstring injury. Should help with the rebounding and inside scoring when he returns.

FEU’s next match is on Friday, May 20 at 3:15pm against the University of Perpetual Help Altas at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

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