Bench? What bench? 

Game 3 is done. A 2-1 record. Good. A weak UE team, they say. Hardly. Feu beating a seemingly unstoppable offensive juggernaut in UP. By now, you must realize that teams who do not bring their A game at game time will lose. This season is wide open, even for UE.

Before the start of the game, my friend and I were already discussing about who will emerge from the bench for us in this game. Our expected suspects: Serrano and Dyke. Lo and behold, if you were there, they were precisely the players who got the most applause from our very knowledgeable gallery, everytime they went back to the bench.

Their emergence from the bench confirms my expectations. The emergence of the positive effects of a short 13 (now 12), man lineup. There’s no choice really. We have to use everybody. Now we can see and enjoy the results.

As I previously said, both Serrano and Dyke have very good defense. Serrano up top, and Dyke taking the post up players, particularly the bigs and imports. I will call Dyke the Delayer, because his defense delays the post up players and channels them to our recovering rim protectors.

But what a surprise yesterday. They are now part of the offense as well. And we all know Serrano is an explosive slasher, which was why we recruited him to begin with. He scored 11 yesterday.

Right now, we are 9 men deep on offense, but what I like more is that we are 12 men deep on defense. Everybody is contributing there. And it’s not token defense. It’s suffocating.

Ateneo is such a team, because of Kouame. Their wings and small men defend aggressively up top, extending to the full court, as Kouame is a rim protector. In other words, they can cheat on defense. So, can we as well?

The answer is a resounding yes. Justin Baltazar is a rim protector. Brandon Bates is a rim protector. Santi Santillan is a rim protector. We have three rim protectors. What a luxury.

Our guards are the best mayhem (still) defenders anchored of course on Kib Montalbo. Nobody on our team is a defensive liability.

Slowly but surely, our team is beginning to form. Baltazar is now a franchise player. Actually, our first 5 are all franchise players. And more importantly, our defense really NEVER RESTS. We are now very DANGEROUS.

So shallow bench, you say. Guys, after this game, our rotation is now 10 men strong. If ever The two C’s, (Capacio and Corteza), come up with their own statement games, then we will be the most unpredictable line up in the UAAP.

Bench? What bench? Animo.