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, August 5, 2017

Ateneo Blue Eagle thoughts and updates

Ateneo Blue Eagle thoughts and updates
by rick olivares

I caught the tune up match between the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the technological Institute of the Philippines Engineers today at 2pm at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center.

The Blue Eagles turned on the jets in the second half to win by a mile. Sorry. I forget the score but it was by forty-plus points (94-47 I am reminded by Mon Jarencio).

Sure TIP isn’t La Salle. Nor will they be mistaken for FEU. They sure have talent though. In years past, lots of their players would get pirated by other squads and this squad of coach Potit De Vera has some ballers. They just need more big game experience.

During the summer, in a conversation with Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin, I asked him outright if I should be concerned that the bigs didn’t show up. He said it was only right. I will explain more of that in a bit but let me backtrack.

During last year’s Filoil tourney, I already went out in the open to say Ateneo would make the UAAP Finals. Winning though, was altogether another thing. This year, they looked very inconsistent. But you can chalk that up to a lack of training as they hit the summer tourneys with like a day or two of practice. Naturally, it told on their fortunes. They won some big games and lost rather badly to others.

It has been two months since the Filoil tourney ended and I finally got to watch a tune-up match and here are a couple of things to take away from the game.

Based on what I have heard and what I saw today, they are close to getting the system that Tab Baldwin wants them to play.
Remember that massive streamer that hung at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center that said, “Defense wins championships”? Well, after Norman Black decided to walk into the sunset a winner, the Blue Eagles’ defense took a hit. Sure it shows up once in a while. But I like the fact that Coach Tab has taken them back to that formula for success.

Do not think by virtue of pre-season wins, we have worked out the kinks. Nope. Not at all. There are still things to work out such as holding on to the ball when the earlier pass could have led to an easy basket. There’s the matter of sustaining the intensity and not straying from what got them their lead.

This is a system where everyone can score. Provided they play defense.

We are deep.
This is going to be a team effort. And far less, isolation plays. Now that means, it’s an equal opportunity offense that is predicated on defense. A lot of guys are going to play. It’s not about who isn’t scoring in 20s but who can do what on any given play. Basically, the team is trying to clone Mike Nieto. Into 16 of them.

I thought that during the summer, the bigs – perhaps save for Isaac Go – all auditioned for the part of the Invisible Man. Unfortunately, it became a chorus line for Invisible Men.

And that begets the question, “How is Ikeh?” Well, he is playing better. And that’s good.

Vince Tolentino. At least the one who suited up two years ago and not the impostor last season, is showing signs of a return to form, fury, intensity, scoring, and fewer turnovers. That’s good too, right?

Kris Porter. Well, he still chucks way too many shots. If he had the accuracy of Ranidel De Ocampo, I wouldn’t mind him teeing off. As it is, opponents will dare him to shoot. There will be the odd game where he drills a couple of treys, maybe more. But he isn’t RDO.

As for Isaac… let me just say this… he has added something to his repertoire.

If Aaron Black and Thirdy Ravena can find their groove – consistently too – this team will be darn good and fun to watch.

How are we holding up without Adrian Wong?
We’re going to miss him certainly. His brother Dan though can shoot. He just needs to work on his D though. Matt Nieto if he can bring consistency to his game then will be handful for foes. Tyler Tio is going to be off massive help. And Gian Mamuyac is ready. Juwan White? Well, if FEU has RJ Ramirez, Ateneo has White. You know the energy guy who is also a defensive stopper and is the athletic sort? And there’s Jolo Mendoza and Anton Asistio.

Am not too sure if Jolo can handle being a point guard first and a shooter second. I don’t think playmaking – at least the role of it – comes naturally to him. And I feel that it takes away from his offense. How he adjusts this year is going to be interesting.

Like I said, I think we will be deep at every position. Hopefully, at center too. Cross your fingers.

How is Troy Mallillin?
There’s the saying, “hulog ng langit”. The kid will help. Athletic. Good nose for the ball. Athletic. Doesn’t mind banging bodies. As he gets more comfortable with Tab’s system and his teammates (and his role), he will get better. But I like. Huge addition.

It’s going to be tough making those cuts. Not going to be an easy decision.

More stuff and insights soon!