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.

Monday, February 12, 2018

SJ Belangel is the latest in a long line of Blue Eagles and Blue Eaglets who spat in the eye of defeat or a challenge to come away with a win, a championship, or a legend.

SJ Belangel is the latest in a long line of Blue Eagles and Blue Eaglets who spat in the eye of defeat or a challenge to come away with a win, a championship, or a legend.
by rick olivares

The British Special Air Service have this motto… “Who dares wins.”

And the National University Bullpups dared. It was an audacious gambit. End Ateneo’s 13-game win streak and bid for a sweep that meant an outright finals berth. And in doing so, trample them in front of their home crowd and on their home floor.

And they were coming close.

There was blood in the water. The Bullpups could smell it. They overhauled a first half 40-30 deficit by playing a tough man-zone and relentlessly attacking the interior. They didn’t care if seven-foot center Kai Sotto was there. They played him physical and the floor was littered with fallen Blue Eaglets who were on the receiving end of the physical play of the Bullpups.

But they forget… the eagle too is a predator.

SJ Belangel, frustrated with the roughhousing, contentious calls, and a poor offensive game, turned the jets on… and that was the end of it for the Bullpups’ dreams of an upset.

Belangel pilfered the ball from RJ Minerva and twice from Terrence Fortea (he scored two lay-ups off those steals). He fished a foul from Minerva that he converted into two points from the free throw line. And when he drilled a trey with 15 seconds left to give Ateneo a 76-68 lead, that was the coup de grace.

The graduating Blue Eaglet tallied 31 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 assist. His endgame heroics sent Ateneo to the finals for the first time in three years.

The effort reminded me of that game in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup during the summer of 2013. The five-peat was done and there were lots of changes. With a weaker and injury-plagued line-up, other teams too smelled blood in the water. Most especially La Salle.

This is what I wrote back then:

In last year’s Filoil meeting (2012) between the two rivals, Jed Manguera, ear-marked as La Salle’s defensive specialist, had a great game against Kiefer Ravena in a Green Archers win. And because of that, Manguera was matched up later on with the likes of NU’s Ray Parks or even FEU’s RR Garcia. However, in the two UAAP elimination round meetings between Ateneo and La Salle, Ravena made mincemeat out of Manguera. 

This year (2013), La Salle has rookie Robert Bolick who mans the point guard position. He somewhat reminds me of a smaller version of American professional basketball player Matt Barnes – an athletic long-armed specimen who plays the points and likes to take on the tough assignments. I was surprised to see him from the opening whistle talking trash and yapping at Ravena.

This reminded me of former Vancouver Grizzly Darrick Martin who woofed Michael Jordan during a match in 1996 (when the Chicago Bulls won 72 games) match. “You ain’t so hot,” crowed Martin to Jordan who was on the bench cooling his heels. “I told you we were going to beat your butts.”

Jordan, who had taken off his shoes, laced them up and proceeded to the scorer’s table. When he checked in, Jordan scored the next nine points to lift Chicago to a win.

Bolick was talking to Ravena right from the start. After Ravena lost the ball, the intense La Salle rookie clapped at the King Eagle’s direction. In return, the rook got posted up four times. Each time, Mamba nailed a rainbow shot that was all net.

Then it was Thomas Torres’ turn to guard Ravena. The result? Three more buckets.

After that it was Almond Vosotros’ turn. Bucket.

It was an incandescent performance by Ravena: 31 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.

And the torch has been passed from Ravena to Belangel. And coincidentally, both finished with 31 points.

If you go all the way back, Ateneo’s basketball history is replete with King Eagles strapping teams onto their backs to tow them to impossible wins or even gallant last stands.

Here are a few.

During the 1974 NCAA Season, the San Sebastian Staglets had the ball with the shot clock winding down. If they scored during that possession, the championship was going to be theirs. However, then Eaglets point guard Chito Narvasa picked his opposing number’s pockets and high-tailed it down the opposite end for a championship winning lay-up… at the buzzer!

There was Richie Ticzon who drained eight triples against UE to try and keep Ateneo’s hopes up in making it to the Finals in 1991. Ticzon finished with 34 points but it wasn’t enough.

The following year, Vince Hizon dropped 44 points against La Salle in a herculean effort that had the Green Archers’ Jun Limpot uttering an expletive on live television to talk about the Blue Eagle’s scoring outburst.

And that brings us back to “Who dares wins”.

Now these Blue Eaglets… they dare to be great. Now all they need to do to cement that is to lift that trophy when the dust settles.

1 comment:

  1. I hope this kid won't be turned off by the logjam of guards in the seniors team and stays with Ateneo.