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, March 17, 2019

Tough Fiba Draw

Tough Fiba Draw
by rick olivares

The Fiba World Cup draw saw a somewhat equitable distribution of the powerhouse nations amongst the good teams and rising ones. 

After the draw, Argentinean coach Sergio Hernandez summed up everything about the draw and the talent, “There are no easy opponents and predictions serve for very little. You have to perform on the court. It’s like that. There are no secrets.” 

I agree. In my opinion, the closest one to a “Group of Death” is Group H with Canada, Senegal, Lithuania, and Australia that will play its matches in the city of Dongguan. 

One thing is for sure, the Philippines isn’t going to ambush other countries – although we can hope – such as the manner in which we did in 2014 in Spain.

The top two teams of each group will advance to the second round. Let’s see – off hand – if we can pick out who will progress to the next stage.

Group A: China and Poland
Group B: Argentina and Korea
Group C: Spain and Puerto Rico
Group D: Serbia and…
Group E: USA and Turkey
Group F: New Zealand and Greece
Group G: France and Germany
Group H: Australia and Canada

If you noticed, I didn’t pick a second team after Serbia to advance. It is too presumptuous for me to say, “Philippines” because I am Filipino. 

However, I figure it is either Italy or the Philippines. Italy is such an unknown commodity. When we say that, we usually look for NBA or Euroleague players. As it is, no Italian on this squad – although this could change – is playing in this 2018-19 Euroleague as well. 

All the players play at home. They have no one who matches up with either Andray Blatche, Japeth Aguilar, or June Mar Fajardo height-wise or in size. Of course, that doesn’t mean they cannot be taken lightly. 

It is the same thing with Angola. They have the height and athleticism, but I feel they more often than not give more importance to these rather than court vision or game intelligence if you will.

That is what in my opinion has really helped Philippine basketball take off. Since generally, we aren’t tall and able to take to the skies and dunk, we worked on other aspects of the game such as dribbling, shooting, and finding the open man. Pretty much like the Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese. 

Of course, the success of these Angolan teams in recent memory will really help their grassroots movement. 

No doubt, they will be a handful.

Serbia might be the fourth ranked team in the world, but make no mistake, they have a young team that was inconsistent during the qualifying phase. 

If you ask me, it is a most unpredictable group. Even for the Philippines. And that is good, don’t you think?

As the man said, there will be no easy games. Everything will be earned.

If we do progress, now that would be something to crow about.

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