In the jingle jangle morning - an Eagle's Nest special by A.R.Samson
Having a twice-to-beat (TTB) advantage in the playoffs in the F4 format is the reward for racking up the best or second-best win-loss record in the elimination round when the top team did not manage a sweep. Of course, this TTB benefit only works for the first game where if the top team wins it automatically goes to the finals. And if it loses, which sometimes happens too, it needs to play one more game with the same team which already feels deliriously giddy--we didn't want an early vacation (a sentiment few employees share), or: the boys just didn’t give up. All right, already.
Anyway, this useless run-through is just a way of dribbling the ball waiting for a good shot, which may not even be available. I go through this already too obvious analysis because I want your heartbeat to attain its usual rested pace after an hour on the treadmill when your tongue was hanging out (you know the feeling, for sure). It’s the same calm level you are likely to attain after the proposed banned car plate number scheme for traffic alleviation is being explained to you.
So, what happened?
At this point, and I know you’re getting tired of this interruption (but I’m still dribbling around here), we essay into Bob Dylan’s sixties song from which I’m sure you recognize the eponymous line. Note: Mr. Dylan (aka Bob Zimmerman) has recently been accorded the Nobel Prize for Literature, which is like winning the championship five times (well, maybe a bit more than that). The song may be about LSD (like the Beatles Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds—note the abbreviation), the muse of poetry (Is it Calliope?) or the demanding fans (hey, that one resonates). “Mr. Tambourine Man” in this longish song (only partially sung by the Byrds) is being cajoled to get the character into a magic trip: Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me/ I’m not sleepy and there ain’t no place I’m going to/ Hey Mr. Tambourine Man play a song for me/ in the jingle jangle morning I’ll come following you.
Is this about the trip to the finals and the need for the team to get us there on a magic trip? What else could it be about?
This first playoff game between the Blue Eagles and the Tamaraws could have gone either way. But as in bullfights, someone from the other side (its team owner) replied to a congratulatory text of his former classmate Friend T, also from the school on the hill, with a succinct and rather appropriate response—“sometimes, the bull wins”.
Quickly, now, here are eight things that happened in Game 1 of the semis:
1) The first half was low-scoring. The 1st quarter was all of 10-10! (I seldom use exclamation points but this one called for it.) The 2nd quarter had a little more oomph with additional 10 and13 points. The Blue Eagles then had a consistent 10-point output in the 1st and 2nd quarter. This was a low shooting clip in the high twenties (29%) including rainbow production of 1 made out of 16 attempts. (Let’s pause here for one decade of the sorrowful mystery—the agony in the garden.) The other side was no better with just a bit higher percentage of 31% and zero out of 8 triple attempts. At this point neither Agent Zero nor Adrian scored any goal. Just stating the facts here, Ma’am/Sir.
2) Okay, in the 3rd quarter, the offensive machine went into high gear. It opened with a triple from this game’s highest pointer, Aaron Black to tie the score (23-23). The 3rd quarter output at 22 for the Blue Eagles and 12 for the Tamaraws showed zippier ball movement and lots of rebounds. In the 2nd half, second chance points were 12-0 in favor of the Eagles. What about that lay-up miss by Verano, where Thirdy flew from nowhere to tip it in—a show reel moment?
3) There were only 8 lead changes in spite of the seemingly see-saw nature of the game. The biggest deficit of the Blue Eagles was only 5 points in the 4th quarter, where it was critical. The Blue Eagles twice led by 10 points, at 39-29 in the last minute of Q3, and 49-39 with 8 minutes to go in the game. So, the offensive sock was working in the 2nd half. This is a good sign for the next game.
4) Rotation was wider. Aaron had 7 quick points (2 jump shots and 1 rainbow) in succession at the start of the 4th quarter, which is what padded the lead to 10 points. The resting periods for the shooters were probably necessary, but that’s the call of the bench. Let’s not be coaches here.
6) The game was really tight. In the last two minutes (1:53) the game was still tied at 55 all. So, it was the breaks of the game that gave the edge to the winner, as well as the rebounding dominance in the 4th quarter where 1 Tamaraw player out-rebounded the whole team at 11-8. These possessions too were crucial in the erosion of the Blue Eagle lead.
7) Those last-11-seconds shots of 2 triples by Thirdy Ravena were critical especially the spectacular half-court heave at the buzzer to close the score at 62-61. Sure, they did not alter the outcome but they were huge in storing up confidence for the Wednesday rematch. After all, the 2nd half output of the Blue Eagles was 41 to the Tamaraws’39. Don’t shake your head. That’s a nice basket to bring to the next picnic.
8) It’s not over. There’s 1 more chance to get to the finals. That’s what the 2nd place finish gave the Blue Eagles. It’s the gift that must be unboxed in the next match.
We still have the same strong team that went on a 6-game tear. And they are motivated to win. This is just a bump on the road. And it’s better to lose this “another chance” game rather than the ones down the road. Now for a 3-game winning streak starting with the celebration of the leader of the original Katipunan, that’s the heroic effort needed. And that Katipunero was the real article.
On to the fray. OBF.
Photos courtesy of Joji Lapuz, Fabilioh.com