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 24, 2017

Looking at the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ win over UE

Looking at the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ win over UE
by rick olivares

The sun may be setting on the University of the East Red Warriors this early but no way were they going to roll over and die. There are no easy games especially against the teams that are at the cellar. They lie in ambush.

No way should Ateneo lose if it does what it has to do but it is ultimately lose-able if the Blue Eagles step off the gas pedal. The weekend already saw La Salle waylaid by tough UP. The University of Santo Tomas was on its way to its first win of the season when they led for about 25 minutes before they lost steam against FEU.

Upset weekend wasn’t over as the Red Warriors, always pesky and knowing they can upend Ateneo after having beaten them twice in the past two pre-season tourneys came to play.

Whether it backfired that Alvin Pasaol was being conserved because of his propensity for committing fouls (he fouled as soon as he entered the game) or not we will not know because the Red Warriors they lost the lead pretty early in the match. Mark Olayon looked dangerous in the first few minutes but that was it. He was a non-factor the rest of the way. Clark Derige save for a bucket here and there was once more the Invisible Man for UE. Maybe they should consider playing all three at the same time.

Imagine if all three were locked in…Ateneo averted what could have been a reprise of the “NU game of Season 70”. That was when the Bulldogs of Jonathan Fernandez and Jonathan Jahnke rained one triple after another on Ateneo (at the Cuneta Astrodome) that resulted in a shock loss. The Bulldogs were already out of the running while Ateneo was gunning for a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four. The loss gave La Salle the advantage and Ateneo faced a mountain to climb against the Green Archers.

At that point, the Blue Eagles of Norman Black were up and coming but not yet the juggernaut it would come to be by the following season. And while that game was late in the second round, the match of these current Blue Eagles versus UE is in the middle of the first round. With UP taking second spot after its huge win over La Salle, it was imperative to maintain the unblemished slate and to continue to put some distance over its closest pursuers.

Yet it was easier said than done. Ateneo struggled with sloppy play and suspect decision-making.

The losses in concentration by these Blue Eagles can be beguiling at times. It seems that four games in, there seems to be that requisite inbound turnover. This game there were three. The bulk of the team are in their third or fourth years so these kind of turnovers are unacceptable.

Baldwin was right to get upset at the sloppy play. Despite being ahead, they were playing to the pace of UE. And to think the Red Warriors’ press is not as fearsome as it once was.

Inserting the third team was a near big mistake. While talented, they seemed tentative for the most part. Sometimes this will work; sometimes it won’t. Just my thought, maybe one of the starters – Thirdy or even Anton should be on the floor with these guys much like during the five-peat, at any given time – save for the blowouts – Greg Slaughter or Kiefer Ravena were on the floor at all times. There’s a go-to guy or stabilizer when the offense breaks down.

Speaking of go-to… I love the consistency that Thirdy Ravena is showing. He is third in scoring behind Ben Mbala and Paul Desiderio with 18.0 points per game. He is also close to averaging double figures in rebounds with 9.0 a game.

When his Old Man first came to UE, he wasn’t a frosh. He had played two years at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo before transferring to UE. So when he came to the UAAP, he was already experienced. And he was solid. Coincidentally, Thirdy Ravena is playing like his Old Man in his third year – aggressive, with a better feel for the game, and well-rounded.

Matt Nieto has come on strong in these past two games against FEU and UE. In these two matches, Ateneo’s starting point guard averaged 11.0 points (50% from three-point range as well), 3.0 assists to 1.5 turnovers, and 1.0 blocks.

The team is gathering steam with others beginning to step up. Aaron Black has rediscovered his confidence and aggressiveness. Anton Asistio is more composed. Chibueze Ikeh has been steady. Ditto with Isaac Go. Raffy Verano is finding his groove – sophomore slump perhaps – but he does a lot of things. I like the fact that Ateneo has two of these hustle players in Vince Tolentino and Verano. Imagine if Verano becomes more steady….

Ateneo has won because of their superb shooting, ball movement, commitment to defense, hustle points, and depth. In this game against UE… in my opinion, what won it was some players playing steady and well, making better decisions as all the other factors were there but not in an exemplary manner.

For example, early in the first quarter, Matt Nieto was trapped close to the corner and halfcourt line. He lost the ball. I mean – come on, Matt, that is a mistake for rookies. Yet, he responded by raising the level of his game. In the fourth period, same situation, he found an unguarded Thirdy Ravena underneath the basket for a dunk.

Next up is dangerous UST. Do not let their record fool you. The Growling Tigers are a different team that played during the summer. They hang around for ¾ or 70% of the game before they fall apart. They are hungry and looking to upend Ateneo. Hopefully, by then the Blue Eagles will have picked up a trait of all champion teams – they look to crush the opponent no matter where they are in the standings.


  1. This was not an easy win. Pasaol and company resolved to win, but just didnt make it.

    I like the chiding of Tab. It must have really challenged the Team. Hahaha

    Great win, Blue Eagles!!!

  2. We must play 100% of the time. We revealed a weakness: COMPLACENCY ..

  3. I agree UST is a strong team. Fortune thus far has been in their side. Lets hope it remains that way until after our game with them. Jokes!