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, September 12, 2018

Looking at Ateneo’s 1st round win vs UP

Looking at Ateneo’s 1st round win vs UP
by rick olivares

If you are an Ateneo fan, there are two ways to respond to this 87-79 win over the University of the Philippines…

Remark, “This is how we should have played Adamson,” and two, heave a sigh of relief, and exclaim, “Let’s get it on!”

A loss would have been unthinkable. When was the last time an Ateneo team went down to 0-2 to start the season?

You have to go back to 2013. 

Now what was different in this game for the Blue Eagles?

First of all, it was the intensity.
A backs-against-the-wall feeling. You could see the sense of urgency. It was in the body language.

I felt that they got going when Angelo Kouame came out and played. Flat out played. He was snarling. Dunking. Grabbing boards. And swatting shots.

I think that the Blue Eagles were a little miffed by the physicality. I was surprised to see even UP’s Paul Desiderio pushing off.

Note to all, when Ange plays well, the rest of the team does too. That’s because he’s their rim protector (when Thirdy Ravena is playing the perimeter). And he runs the break too. So when Matt Nieto rewarded him for the trailer job and a rim rattling dunk… look out below.

Speaking of dunks…. Another player who gave Ateneo a massive lift was Thirdy Ravena. Those were vicious dunks. Vicious. That’s the term.

I was fortunate enough to see all of Bong Ravena’s games when he was with UE and he was like that. Except that Thirdy attacks the rim with more power. Bong was like a jet fighter. He’d sidestep or slither his way in them rattle that rim. Thirdy? He punishes the rim.

And Ateneo began to attack the basket. Something they didn’t do against Adamson. There were moments when some players launched a few shots when they should have gone in and Coach Tab Baldwin called them out for that.

From the get go, it was obvious that UP wanted to test Ateneo’s interior. They scored 44 inside points to Ateneo’s 28. They definitely have to look into that again.

Having said all this, the intensity begat a higher commitment to defense.
Defensive rebounds:
Ateneo – 28
UP – 24

2nd chance points
Ateneo - 17
UP – 11

Ateneo – 8
UP – 5


Ateneo - 16
UP – 17

Ateneo – 7
UP – 0

Ateneo – 11
UP - 24

During UP’s opening day win over UE, they had seven players scoring in the fourth period. Against Ateneo, UP only had four put points on the board in the final frame. 

Against Adamson, Ateneo only had four players scoring in the fourth period. Against UP, they had six scorers in the fourth quarter.

Some instances we have to point out, Jolo Mendoza and Anton Asistio -- not exactly known for their defense – getting huge stops. That was simply pride.

The Man in the Middle showed up.
The road to any championship is paved by that man in the middle. In 1987-88, there was Danny Francisco. In 2002, Enrico Villanueva. From 2008-09 there was Rabeh Al-Hussaini. In 2010, it was Justin Chua. Then from 2011-12, Greg Slaughter. In 2017, it was Chibueze Ikeh who didn’t play an overpowering season statistically, but was solid and effective. Ikeh averaged 7.5 points and 8.6 points and 1.0 assists in 20 minutes per game. He helped frustrate and contain DLSU’s Ben Mbala.

You might argue that Ikeh’s numbers were small compared to the double digit scoring of the others. In case you do not remember, during the 2010 season – the bridge to the five-peat – Chua averaged 9.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks also in 20 minutes per game. Backing him up were Frank Golla, JP Erram, and Jason Escueta. Ateneo had a four-headed monster at the center slot.

Ikeh, of course, had superb help from Isaac Go and Kris Porter.

And now, there is Kouame. I am not suggesting that he is an all-time great. After all, he has only two games under his UAAP account (he does have several other titles won in other tourneys to go with Most Valuable Player Awards) but his potential is undeniable.

Ange was clearly a handful against UP counterpart Bright Akhuetie who played great as well.
Kouame: 14 points (50% shooting), 9 rebounds, 5 blocks vs. 3 turnovers.
Akhuetie: 8 points (40%), 11 rebounds, 9 assists, and 2 steals

He really changed many a UP shot. At one point, he was late in getting back and Akhuetie had a path to the basket, but Kouame caught up and rejected the shot.

Kouame’s performance underscored his importance to the overall effort. I like the fact that Isaac Go, not as fast as Akhuetie and got burned twice off layups, came back to block a reverse lay-up.

They got him twice, but third time was definitely not the charm.

Better rotation of players.
I sat next to a former Ateneo player and we discussed the rotation of players during the game. We agreed it was much better this time around (although we did wonder why Ange had to come out at one point just when he got his rhythm). But, everything else was spot on. Including the late substitution in of Aaron Black who got a stop off Jarrell Lim.

We kind of rationalized that the loss to Adamson is okay. At least we have our work cut out for us and we know that we are beatable. It was actually a shitty loss. You want to pound foes into submission; win close ones and ugly games. You don’t want foes to smell blood in the water (or give them any confidence).

During the five-peat, there were games that even before they were played you know it was game over. This was an impressive win and Ateneo wasn’t even at full throttle. There are kinks that need to be worked out (of course, it is the same for UP), but getting back on the winning tracks does a lot for the team’s confidence.


Additional reading:


  1. Where was Mamuyac, Tio and Davies? Are they part of this team?