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, January 21, 2018

Two points to take from the Ateneo Blue Eaglets' 68-65 win over FEU

The second round for the Ateneo Blue Eaglets is getting harder with foes adjusting to what has made them successful thus far in this season.

Ateneo squeaked past FEU 68-65 for their 10th win in as many matches.

While FEU is never an easy opponent, in my opinion, I wondered why Ateneo never figured out the Tamaraws’ play. Maybe they did but they never showed it.

Perhaps among all the players on the floor that game, the quickest one was FEU guard LJ Gonzales. If he didn’t get a screen from Daniel Celso, he used his quickness to beat his guard (which was always). Gonzales’ ability to split his defenders and get inside the lane wreaked havoc on Ateneo’s defenses. More oft than not, he found the open man. And you’d see the Eaglets scrambling in a disorganized manner to cover the open man. Late in the game, Gonzales’ teammates began to miss while he himself committed some turnovers.

In the first half, FEU hit their shots. In many ways, Ateneo was lucky because the Tams also missed their shots in the end. Of course, the Blue Eaglets played good defense but they never really solved Gonzales’ penetration and kick outs. FEU got 48 points from the perimeter (to Ateneo's 9).

Now I do not know what the rules are on defense but for sure, if they don’t fix those rotations, FEU could pull off an upset next time around. Losing twice to the Eaglets in the eliminations means squat until the playoffs.

I think the Blue Eaglets are at their lethal best when going hard to the basket. Look at the discrepancy of inside points 40-14! During the second period, Ateneo scored 15 points with 14 coming from inside. That got them back in the game. I think they should do a better job of recognizing that better.

Let’s take a look at what Gonzales did against Ateneo.

Gonzales gets a screen from teammates Cedric Ona and Xyrus Torres. SJ Belangel is on him.

Gonzales beats Belangel with that first step and is off. Standing in his way are Amchel Angeles and Geo Chiu. At the left corner pocket is FEU guard Royce Alforque.

Angeles, Chiu, and Belangel scramble to cover the open man. Chiu would retreat realizing he has no chance to cover Alforque. Besides, Gonzales in now inside the lane. Ateneo dodged a bullet because Alforque missed and they pulled down the defensive rebound. 

Here's another one (and yes, there are lots).

Here, Gonzales is able to slither out of the trap by Daniel David and Joaqui Manuel. And he leaves the two of them in the dust with SJ Belangel also giving chase. SJ was trying to cover the outlet but LJ beat the trap.

Once more, Gonzales draws a crowd with Dave Ildefonso and Kai Sotto converging on him. Celso is able to seal Sotto.
Gonzales finds a cutting Rei Tolentico who inexplicably misses a point blank layup. Once more Ateneo is lucky. 

And here's another bit of luck. With 3.0 seconds left, Manuel is fouled by RJ Abarrientos sending him to the line. Manuel cans both freebies for a 68-65 lead. FEU quickly inbounds. I am surprised that Ateneo elected not to foul. The had three team fouls and could have given one more to eat up more time on the clock. As it is, they fouled with less than a second left but it was close as Gonzales attempted a trey. That was close to a foul in the act of shooting.

Sure it is a win. But there are lessons to learn as well.

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