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.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Four points to take from Ateneo’s win over UP

Four points to take from Ateneo’s win over UP
by rick olivares

The final score of 96-82 doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. It was a close match. Although Ateneo wrested the lead around halfway through the fourth period, it was only in the last two minutes where they seized control of the game.

You have to give a lot of credit to UP for coming out with fire and purpose. They played hard and even wanted the ball a bit more than the slower Blue Eagles. Ateneo showed their nerve and verve during crunch time as they took their 13th win in as many matches.

The Fighting Maroons fell to 5-8 with their final match of the second round against NU taking on greater importance (for both sides actually).

Here are six points to take from the game.

Live by the outside shot; die by the outside shot.
When the Fighting Maroons are on fire they can be awesome to watch. Unfortunately, they seem to jack up a heavy volume of treys. They have taken 344 attempts from LaLa Land. That’s 6 more than UE and 10 more than La Salle.

Unfortunately, for them, they are shooting only 29% from that range. Fifth-best in the league or fourth worst depending on how you look at it.

When they defeated La Salle in the first round, they hoisted 35 shots from three-point range making 16. In the return encounter in the second round, they attempted 32 times in a loss.

Obviously, it is a big part of their offense. Unfortunately, for them, the law of averages caught up with UP. Against the Blue Eagles, they shot a blistering 50% from three-point range in the first half (8-16), then 3-15 in the second (20%).

When they stopped making their shots, they began to force the issue resulting in even more misses. But Ateneo just tightened up their defense beginning the fourth period and more so in the final five minutes of play.

On the other hand, Ateneo was 4-9 in the second half with their flurry including two deadeye treys from Isaac Go coming late that broke the game wide open.

Thirdy Ravena played great defense on Paul Desiderio.
Ravena (and Mike Nieto when the former was on the bench getting a rest) played great defense on Paul Desiderio who scored only 3 points in the second half. Ravena denied him possession and good looks at the basket. You could see the frustration on Desiderio's face especially late in the game when the ball wasn't going to him with the shot clock winding down.

With Desiderio not scoring, the Blue Eagles then put the clamps late in the game with two blocks and two steals. They really broke away late in the game.

As for Ravena, despite a poor shooting day, his stat line was pretty good – 10 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block versus 4 turnovers.

Matt Nieto has been spectacular for Ateneo.
Remember Edward Woodward’s TV show, The Equalizer? Well, Nieto is close. He’s actually the stabilizer. The offense is steady when he’s quarterbacking and the engine runs close to perfect. Plus, he hits big shots.

Look at those free throws and compare his form to last year’s form. Look at the balance and where he gets the power and accuracy in his shot. What a transformation!

What an incredible job by the bench.
That was quite a lift gsiven by Ateneo’s bench that collectively poured in 49 points to the 29 of the Fighting Maroons. Now to be particular, Gian Mamuyac who tallied 13 points and 2 rebounds in close to 18 minutes of play; Isaac Go also finished with 13 points and 4 boards; and Mike Nieto who chipped in 9 points. All of them were huge especially down the stretch when they had to repel a last charge by UP.

All season long, their selfless team play has gotten them out of jams and propelled them to wins. Even if Tyler Tio and Aaron Black didn’t score, they at least chipped in a rebound each.

And you really have to appreciate their nerves of steel. To wit, it was almost a bad day for Vince Tolentino who had a rough first half. But late in the game, he was solid on both ends of the court. Ditto for Raffy Verano had a couple of shocking errors again but the great thing about this kid, is how he comes back. It is the same for Tolentino. It’s not how you start but how you finish.

As for the UP Fighting Maroons, they have a very good young core who will use this season and learn much from it. The Gomez Di Liaño brothers have blown hot and cold too but man, they should really be good by next season. They are only losing three players but think of next year’s additions? Wow. But that’s a few months away (until the summer tourneys). Right now, they still have a chance to advance. It’s not going to be easy though.

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