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, July 25, 2018

LPU Pirates: A renewed focus this NCAA S94

LPU Pirates: A renewed focus this NCAA S94
by rick olivares

Right back at you.

That’s what the Lyceum Pirates must have said after their 82-65 win over the Arellano University Chiefs.

In the first period, the Chiefs pounded LPU real bad that you would have thought that the way the three-point shots were raining inside the Filoil Flying V Centre that Typhoon Josie was still in town. The Arellano University Chiefs could do no wrong. They drilled five triples and after Archie Concepcion drove for a bucket to make it 34-17, coach Jerry Codinera’s troops were up by 17.

By game’s end, it was LPU that had won by a 17-point margin.

For a while there, it looked that Lyceum would succumb to its first loss of the young NCAA season. Arellano’s Adrian Alban, Brylle Meca, and Michael Cañete repeatedly took it to the basket unmindful of Pirates center Mike Nzeusseu’s presence.

After LPU sliced a 13-point deficit to nine, 26-16 following a Jayvee Marcelino trey, Arellano responded with a bombardment of their own for an even bigger 17-point margin.

While the Chiefs played great defense, the Pirates were also a bit unlucky. CJ Perez missed two lay-ups while Nzeusseu bungled two dunk attempts much to the delight of the predominantly Arellano crowd.

With their offense in a funk, Lyceum turned to its star and to playing defense to turn matters around. Perez stole the ball thrice in succession and scored five points off them. The defensive display rattled the Chiefs who would not be the same the rest of the game. By second period’s end, their once imposing lead was down to four, 41-37.

Ten minutes later, LPU led, 58-54, and never looked back.

At the 7:51 mark of the fourth quarter and the Pirates leading 62-56, Perez reprised his second period heroics when he scored seven straight points all off lay-ups including an and-one for a 69-56 lead. Then at the 3:40 mark, he delivered the coup de grace when he drilled a triple from the left corner pocket, 72-56, LPU.

“At some point in the first period, I pulled CJ out,” remarked Pirates head coach Topex Robinson. “He was surprised I subbed him out. I needed him to gather his wits. And it helped.”

Perez, in one of his most brilliant performances in his collegiate career, top scored with 31 points while adding six boards, six assists, and five steals.

“When you have a special player like CJ, sometimes you just ride that same wave as he does,” quipped Robinson.

Unlike Game One of last year’s NCAA Finals against San Beda where the Pirates had panic written all over their faces as the Red Lions seized the momentum and ended their dreams of a sweep – after going 18-0 in the elimination round – with a 94-87 win, this season, LPU despite twice challenged twice by Emilio Aguinaldo College and now, Arellano, have looked composed.

Robinson agreed. “I think it’s the experience of having been there and losing in the finals. We now know what it is all about. That doesn’t mean it is going to be easy this season. We aren’t catching anyone by surprise. Expectations are up and San Beda, is still San Beda.”

Other than a more composed nature, one other difference is that the team trusts each other more. Last season saw some new faces added to the mix – Perez, the Marcelino twins. Now that everyone has been to war together, including the winning D-League campaign, they trust each other more.

“That is why our motto is ‘together is better,’” pointed out assistant coach Jeff Perlas who knows a thing or two about winning having been a part of National University’s historic UAAP Season 77 champion squad along with current Pirates forward-center Ralph Tansingco. Robinson also knows a thing or two about winning having been a part of San Sebastian’s 1997 NCAA champion team with current his LPU assistant, Rommel Adducul.

Robinson was also a part of some of champion teams in the PBA from Red Bull to Alaska as a player and as a coach.

“What we are trying to do is create a winning culture for Lyceum,” pointed out Robinson. “We have winners and doers here in the coaching staff; good people. We hope that will translate into our teachings to the players.”

Of course, the season is young and any talk about a championship is premature at this point. The memory of last season’s 18-0 and subsequent 0-2 finish is still fresh more so with a meeting with San Beda looming on the horizon.

“Right now, we’re 4-0, and at this point that doesn’t really mean anything,” summed up Robinson. “It’s a long season. But games like these are good because this is where you learn and not from blowouts. We have our work cut out for us.”

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