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, August 20, 2017

Breaking down Lebanon’s win over Gilas

Breaking down Lebanon’s win over Gilas
by rick olivares

It didn’t go well for the Philippines from the get-go. They surrendered an alley-oop dunk, lost the ball for a fastbreak lay-up, and Fadi El-Khatib stroked a wide-open triple to make it 7-0.

Calvin Abueva retaliated with a triple over El-Khatib. But the Lebanese Tiger responded with his second trey.

And that set the tone for the game as Lebanon never surrendered the lead en route to a 106-87 blowout loss; the Philippines second in a row after winning three straight. That loss also prevented the Filipinos from finishing fifth place, their first finish outside the top four since the 2009 FIBA Asia Cup when the Philippines ended up at eighth place.

My thoughts about the loss?

I thought the Lebanon quickly planted their imprint on the game by going strong inside.
The three-point play by naturalized player Norvel Pelle (although he missed the bonus free throw) showed their intent of punishing the Philippines inside.

Without Christian Standhardinger, easily the Philippines’ best inside operator for the tournament, Gilas got carved up inside.

Lebanon owned a massive 44-29 advantage on the boards. And that translated into a 29-10 fastbreak points advantage and a whopping 48 inside points (the nationals only managed 22)!

They also swatted 10 Filipino shots while Gilas only finished with 2.

The Lebanese had plenty of motivation.
They were the hosts and also had a raucous home crowd, they know that Fadi El Khatib could be playing his last games in a national jersey, and they were out to finish a respectable fifth.

The Philippines no doubt has its own dynamo in Terrence Romeo who prodigious scoring feats can be inspirational. But El Khatib despite playing the three-spot put up better stats 36 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists to the Filipino’s 19 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 assists. In my opinion, more than the scoring, the Lebanese Tiger’s ability to do a lot of things including set up teammates is a massive advantage.

I wondered if the Philippines would come out like a house on fire to avenge the loss to Korea. But Lebanon got the jump on Gilas. I thought that Calvin Abueva and Japeth Aguilar tried their best to turn the tide. Had Japeth’s missed dunk down the middle gone in – who knows – it could have pumped up the team and the crowd even more. Sure, Aguilar later threw down a two-handed stuff but Lebanon had a comfortable lead at that point.

The lack of that stud in the middle hurts.
Norvel Pelle was a game changer for Lebanon. He provided a different dimension with us ability to rebound and protect the rim. And that allowed Lebanon to run.

That instance where the Philippines had a 3-on-1 fastbreak advantage with only Ali Haidar left to defend. Romeo sucked in the Lebanese down the baseline and dropped a pass to Carl Bryan Cruz. Pelle ran back on defense and rejected Cruz’s shot igniting a Lebanon fastbreak and a bucket.

The win over China was good. If you look at the rest of the tournament, we can get by without say, Andray Blatche, for a game or two but ultimately, really miss that big guy in the middle who score and defend.

June Mar Fajardo did his best to hold the fort inside with 13 points and 2 rebounds. Japeth Aguilar added 5 points and 6 rebounds (with no blocked shots). But that was woefully short as the pounding inside killed the Philippines’ chances of eking out a win.

I find it shocking that some quarters dismiss the loss to Korea by saying the Olympics and the World Cup qualification are the main goals and this tourney is a pride. Sure it is but it is also trivializing the loss. So why did we celebrate the win over China?

The fact of the matter is, the eventual finish of this tourney is a jarring reminder not to take things for granted and that we have our work cut out for us. Fortunately, there’s time to adjust for the home-and-away series that happens in a few months’ time.

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