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, November 26, 2017

Just rambling after that Game 1 win

Just rambling after that Game 1 win
by rick olivares

Let’s put aside the analysis for this game. Let me ramble while sipping my coffee.

I find myself wracking my brain. Where have I seen this before? I have to sit and think long and hard; trying to recall basketball seasons past.

As a high school student, my classmates said, ‘Let’s go watch the seniors games. Yung utol ni Jun (Reyes) naglalaro.” Although I caught a few games of those great Ateneo NCAA teams of yore, I was a grade schooler and I hardly remember anything except for the tense atmosphere, short shorts, and the Converse Chuck Taylors. As far as I am concerned, my Ateneo Blue Eagle basketball history dates back to the last year Chot Reyes was playing. And I kind of

Those teams were small. The moment they took the court, dehado na sila. Their center was Mike Facundo with Vince Araneta, under-sized at his position, is back-up. There was no three-point shot at that time. Had there been one, they might have won a few more matches. In some ways, there are similarities but that was mostly because of the composition of the team – a couple of undersized bigs and a plethora of shooters.

But that doesn’t tell the whole thing so I think back?

I think of the three-peat of 2010 – yung pampatawid to the five-peat. When Justin Chua was that team’s version of Isaac Go (although the former missed his three-point attempts, he shot a whopping 48% from the field that year) with Emman Monfort akin to Anton Asistio. They were a team that faced a tough and deep team in FEU in the finals and the Tams were seeded (by others and not me – my prediction in Rebound magazine was a championship for blue and white and not because of my being blue but I thought the team was tough, smart, poised, and played like a team).

But still it isn’t as the season stats do not even compare:
Season 73 average: 62.9 points, 41.2 rebounds, 12.2 assists, 4.5 steals, 3.9 blocks, 16.8 turnovers.
Season 80 average: 85.2 points, 45.1 rebounds, 17.9 assists, 5.2 steals, 3.4 blocks, 16.1 turnovers.

This current Blue Eagles team is its own.

As I have said, if you saw them during the summer, they were awful. But that was because they hardly practiced as the focus was on school. However, the last month preceding the UAAP tournament, they looked darn good. Just exactly as how you are seeing them.

It has been a season of moments, right? Remember that first game where Tyler Tio opened his UAAP/Ateneo account by playing a memorable debut (he has cooled off since but is beginning to show signs of rebounding from his woes)? Remember the first round match with UST where the Blue Eagles survived a furious Growling Tigers rally and atrocious calls? Remember how we stopped worrying about Chibueze Ikeh as he showed a lot of maturity and big game-ness this season to really give the team a lift? Remember that vicious Thirdy Ravena tomahawk during the second round UST game? Remember Matt Nieto making up for a turnover with a steal and a crucial basket against La Salle in the first round? Remember the games against NU, FEU, and UP where the team came through in the fourth period for a win? And barely a week ago, that Final Four win against FEU where Isaac Go and Matt Nieto hit some of the most memorable shots in Ateneo basketball (let alone) UAAP history to send the team to the finals against one of the finest basketball teams we’ve seen in college cage history?

And now there’s that Game 1 Finals win where Matt Nieto got bloodied and came back to play. It’s somewhat of a Willis Reed moment. And there’s his twin brother Mike Nieto, fuming, but making the Green Archers pay with timely shots and putbacks. And there’s even more Isaac Go clutchness too.

Wait… I am getting ahead of myself. When people would ask me this season, I said if Ateneo wants to win it, they need to take Game One. Winning it is an advantage. I expected La Salle to be physical but man, this game, they were trying to punish us physically. Did anyone get the plate number of that truck named Ben Mbala? He ran over everyone who stood in his path. I thought it wouldn’t take long before someone becomes – for lack of a better term – roadkill. Seeing Matt bloodied – I wondered about that. I shook my head and felt some anger perhaps like most not wearing green who were watching the game. Now, let me digress for a moment. When Greg Slaughter manned the slot for Ateneo, he was taller than anyone who guarded him. When he’d turn at the post, the opponent’s strategy was to make sure their face was near his elbow so when he’d turn he’d be whistled for a foul. So why was it different now?

The old Ateneo teams (especially my batch teams of 1987-88 that won the school’s first UAAP crowns) would retaliate. But I am glad we didn’t. Hearing Mike Nieto talk about it and how he’d instead focus on the game rather than let his emotions take over him… I thought back to the time when Eric Salamat asked Norman Black for permission to retaliate but the then-Ateneo head coach said no. And Mike chose to make them pay in another way.

And I love how Anton Asistio and Tyler Tio broke out of their slumps. I told Tyler folks during our recent dinner and after the semis loss to FEU that Tyler would be fine soon (more so next season as it’s all adjustment). It was good to see Vince Tolentino and Raffy Verano play well too as Isaac Go and Chib Ikeh – who both did their part by the way – were saddled with fouls.

The Blue Eagles survived another hot shooting day by Aljun Melecio and strong play by Kib Montalbo, and that frightening frontline of Mbala, Abu Tratter, Leonard Santillan, and Justine Baltazar. What a great stand in the last two minutes.

Just thinking of Game Two – La Salle will be even more physical. Ben Mbala will be back (after he was confounded for most of the game). It will be twice the anxiety, intensity, and tension. We will need a few more moments like this to grab a title from this frightening green machine. The Ateneo Blue Eagles have to seize that moment. If they do, now this will be a season to truly remember.


  1. One way we can help our BLUE EAGLES is to shout our hearts out, even yell at the referee if a Bad Call or a non call is made. Put the pressure on these hired mercebaries ...

  2. Is it true that Ayo did not shake hands with Coach Tab afer the game?

  3. I don't think it's fair to compare the Season 73 and Season 80 teams using just raw numbers. You have to adjust it by the number of possessions since the pace of today's game is much faster than it was back then.

  4. Ateneans want to win at any cost...LaSallites, or Lasallians as they like calling themselves now, want to win at all AND ANY COST! That is the difference right there...

  5. UAAP just acquitted the 3 referees, Duterte style.

    Non calls are far different from bad calls.