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, October 19, 2017

Random thoughts about Ateneo’s 2nd round win over NU

Random thoughts about Ateneo’s 2nd round win over NU
by rick olivares

Ateneo won the season series versus National University with a difficult 85-72 win last Wednesday. The W agave Ateneo a 9-0 record while NU sank to 3-6 and are virtually out of Final Four contention (again I didn’t think they make it because they needed time to adjust to the new system and because of their youth – however, they will be better).

We know what JJ Alejandro can do (ditto with Dave Yu and Matt Salem who will all be graduating after this year) so let’s go to the youngsters.

Chino Mosqueda will become an integral piece to this team. He’s smart, tough, and willing to defend the opposing scorer. He has given Ateneo fits since he was in high school. This is his first year with lots of playing time so expect him to get better. Tzaddy Rangel has improved and will continue to do so. When Jordan Bartlett can play with consistency and play with that tapang that Enzo Joson does he will become an even more solid player.

Here are some thoughts and observations about Ateneo for that match.

I liked how NU tried to pull out Chib Ikeh and Isaac Go out into the perimeter then have someone almost immediately attack the lane. Or someone would cut inside. Issa Gaye is getting better with every game. I have been watching him since he was serving out his residency and he didn’t impress much then but now… he’ll be better as he works out on his dribbling skills, footwork, and strength and conditioning. At times, Ateneo looked confused. Who goes out to pick up the open man? Where are those cuts coming from?

And for the second straight game, teams are keying onto Matt Nieto. Second game in a row he got into foul trouble. They attack him and try to beat him off the dribble.

If you look at the attacks, they did what we do to opponents, drive and kick to an open man. Except that NU did a lot of damage early on from the inside. I am not crazy about all that bombarding from the outside. As the saying goes, live by the outside shot, you die by the outside shot. Ateneo did get its rhythm back but it was in the flow rather than trying to quickly overhaul the deficit than being patient.

In many a conversation with good friend Allan Caidic who I have known since my school days, you’d be surprised but he always attacks inside first before shooting outside. Yep. Why? So he gets confidence with an early bucket. Besides, if you get fouled, you got to the free throw line. And that’s from 15-feet out. If you are hitting it from 15-feet out you know you have that distance covered and can slowly work your way farther out.

In the first quarter, NU attempted 8 free throws to Ateneo’s 0. By the second and third period, when Ateneo went back inside, they began to troop to the free throw line more.

From a basketball standpoint, I thought that Jamike Jarin showed his coaching chops yesterday. He nearly pulled the rug from under Ateneo - NU shot better, had more fastbreak points and points from turnovers. Until Gian Mamuyac showed the Blue Eagles the way.

Mamu was excellent in doing what he does best – carve up the defense with his speed and slick moves. Still not convinced about the coaches’ attempts to turn him into a point guard (same as Jolo Mendoza) but who knows? Maybe they’ll get it down pat eventually. Please do not tell me – how about Mike Nieto. Big Mike is an all-around player. His size makes him unconventional. His single biggest weapon is his will and basketball intelligence.

While Ateneo may not have a dominant rim protector, several of them play good to great one-on-one defense. Come the fourth period, they finally stopped JJ Alejandro. If you watch Alejandro, he will find his teammates early in the game (much like Kiefer Ravena did in his last year) then come crunch time, he will take the shots.

Thirdy Ravena in the last two games has taken on some tough jobs – Jerie Pingoy (who is faster) and now, JJ Alejandro (who is craftier) – and he has done a good job.

Some may not like it but NU did something that Alvin Pasaol and La Salle does so well – they slightly bump a player on the drive to get the defender off balance – then they take a shot. The leaner Blue Eagles – Anton Asistio and Jolo Mendoza -- had a tough time with this.

Ateneo is a finesse team that gets thrown off by the physical stuff. I think that they have to be better prepared for this. It isn’t like this is the first time – UE does that to them a lot. Ditto with UST and La Salle. It’s a mindset that you have to be ready for this so come game time, you aren’t complaining because nothing ever comes of that. The lapses in concentration were there.

In fact, I forgot to point this out during the match against Adamson. During a Thirdy Ravena free throw, the players were communicating with whoever on what to do after the second free throw. Even Thirdy was engaged. I was appalled. Shouldn’t you be concentrating on the free throw? Thirdy botched it. In a close game that would be a telling miss.

Yes, it is a young team (but is a team composed of mostly juniors and seniors considered young?) but the concentration should be better as many of these kids have been exposed to big games since they were in high school. And last year’s finals trip was a big learning experience.

I have to point out how Thirdy was off in the first half then came alive in the second. Yeah, you know… team ball. But come crunch time you need someone to be taking those big time shots. Thirdy is that man right now. He is stronger and so much better. He is more confident of what he can do and his role in this team. And the scary thing is – he is getting even better.

This was a good win against a team that is well coached and is much better than its record. Lots of adversity – first time being behind after the first two quarters, NU taking it to them late in the game, shorter rotation, shooting not there… but this was a character win for Ateneo.


  1. As if it was a matter of opinion, Tab’s a great coach. Maybe we’ve earned enough wins or we’ve been playing well that Tab has now the luxury to field the bench more to give them experience. Truly for most of the game we didnt really have the most efficient line-up on the court, but you want everyone to be ready for the playoffs, not just the starters. No issues with the starters, as noticed yesterday, it was a neck and neck battle until the starters stepped on the accelerator in the last minutes.

  2. I could be wrong, but my hunch for why Mamuyac and Mendoza play point is due to the teacher in Tab wanting them to be equipped with the right skill sets, given their height. I remember reading an article about him saying Calvin Abueva could have made it into his Gilas OQT if he had 3 point shooting; he was probably thinking along those lines for the two players mentioned (i.e. these guys will have a shot in the PBA, and even Gilas, if they had point guard skills)

  3. Actually as early as the 4th minute of the 4th quarter. It seemed all over. Nail on the coffin was when Jamike got ejected.