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, June 24, 2018

Ateneo Blue Eaglets bag BBI U19 championship

Ateneo Blue Eaglets bag BBI U19 championship
by rick olivares

With the game on the line, the young and inexperienced Ateneo Blue Eaglets showed their championship mettle.

Fil-Australian rookie, Cooper McLaughlin, who was recruited during the last NBTC National Finals while playing for AusPinoy Sports Australia, scored the game winning bucket while fellow Blue Eaglet aspirant Jonas Salandanan picked off a poor inbounds pass to preserve the lead with 4.3 seconds left to lift Ateneo to victory over Sacred Heart Academy of Novaliches, 74-72, in the Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals Under-19 championship at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center, Sunday, June 24.

Ateneo looked like their perfect season was going to end at the hands of the five-time Quezon City Athletic Association champions, Sacred Heart Academy of Novaliches as they were without Batang Gilas players Kai Sotto, Gio Chiu, and Forthsky Padrigao. Ateneo dispatched rival Far Eastern University, 76-66, in the semi-finals for a 7-0 record. SHAN on the other hand, had to upend elimination round tormentor Emilio Aguinaldo College-Immaculate Conception Academy to face Ateneo.

Two things in SHAN’s favor was their squad had been playing together for three years now and Ateneo’s Batang Gilas players were unavailable having left for the Fiba Under-17 World Cup in Argentina last June 21.

The young Blue Eaglets wanted to badly prove that they could win without their star trio. Led by their three holdovers from last year’s UAAP juniors title squad in Daniel David, Joaquin Jaymalin, and Jed Diaz, Ateneo did well in in the first quarter leading by as much as 14 points, 25-11, after a baseline jumper by McLaughlin. But the SHAN Bruins showed their capability for late game heroics when they ended their first period with a 5-0 run to make it 25-16.

After JC Fetalvero found the bottom of the net off an open triple attempt to make it 36-24, time down to 5:10 in the second period, the Bruins launch a crippling press that led to eight turnovers (Ateneo also missed five attempts) to tie the count for the first time all game long at 36-all.

After rookie Ateneo coach Reggie Varilla sued for time, the Blue Eaglets came out of the huddle. Interestingly, McLaughlin and Salandanan had a hand in their next two attempts that saw Ateneo take a 40-36 lead into the halftime break. McLaughlin assisted on a dump to Diaz inside the lane for a bucket and Salandanan hit two free throws for the four-point lead.

However, from thereon, the match turned into a nip-and-tuck affair as SHAN continued to hound Ateneo into turnovers with Ateneo laboring to respond. The Bruins took a 56-52 lead heading into the fourth period where unfortunately, they couldn’t build on the lead after missing their first two attempts.

After three periods, Ateneo had compiled 30 turnovers and 22 steals of which SHAN parlayed into a total of 29 turnover points.

Down by one, 65-64, Salandanan hit two free throws and rifled in a trey. Jaymalin also drilled in one of his own and suddenly, the Blue Eaglets led, 72-67, with 1:44 to play.

Joaquin Jaymalin tallied 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists to take the Finals Most Valuable Player Award. In his rookie tournament for Ateneo, McLaughlin scored 12 points, six rebounds, and two assists. Rookie Jynno Ladimo added 11 points.

For the hard-luck SHAN Bruins, Miguel Pizarro led in scoring with 15 points followed by Dric Acosta’s 14. Je Dayrit who hot hands bailed out the Bruins in many a game was ice cold in the match but he finished with 11 points. Point guard Mark Ramirez tallied 10 markers as well.

“This is a good experience for the team,” said Varilla post-match. “But clearly, there is much to be learned before the UAAP.”

Ateneo 74 – Jaymalin 16, McLaughlin 12, Ladimo 11, David 9, Salandanan 9, Diaz Jed 7, Coo 3, Fetalvero 3, Espinosa 2, De Ayre 2, Nieto 0, Lechoncito 0, Diaz Justine 0, Narciso 0, Pangilinan 0.

SHAN 72 – Pizarro 15, Acosta 14, Dayrit 11, Ramirez 10, Fabian 6, Lopez 5, Dela Cruz 4, Nidoy 3, Monsale 2, Ladera 2, LapeƱa 0, Nolasco 0, Casalla 0, Caleon 0.

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