The Man of Steel and The Man of Steal

Seriously. You don’t see the resemblance?

My friend and I were walking out of the Araneta Coliseum when fans from the Upper Box section waved what turned out to be printed cut-out faces of Brandon Bates.

And that’s where it came to me.

I mean put the guy in a business suit, a Dick Tracy hat, and black horned rimmed glasses, and he looks like Clark Kent. Make him wear blue overall leotards, and put boots, a belt, a red underwear, a letter S, and a red cape over that, let him play basketball and he looks like a fool. Hahahaha. Just kidding.

But aside from his looks, what resembles him more of Superman is his strength. His strong defensive game, anchored on double digit rebounding, scrappy plays, and his rim protection. Several blocks per game (one of which was a not-in-my house-get-it-outa-here-finger-wagging type, wasn’t it?), changing a lot of shots, and limiting the opposition to one shot.

Equally impressive in this game was the Flash. Kib Montalbo. Like Brandon, imagine making Kib wear red overall leotards and a cowl, a yellow belt, a lightning bolt, and yellow underwear over that and what will you see? Nothing, because no matter what Captain Kib wears, you can’t see him. He is a blur.

Well, the game plan, to begin with, was correct. With Prince Orizu out on injury, FEU really did not have a rim protector, and despite our notorious slow start, our bigs and slashers started working on their defensive men. Equally also, FEU had the right game plan. Use their wingmen and shooters to shoot from the outside, including primary big man, Arvin Tolentino. So the stats really gave away the contrasting strategies of the two teams. Better rebounding, less fouls, more free throw chances (here we go again with the not happy with the 8 of 19. Well……..hmmm), but less accurate shooting.

FEU’s offense, although well distributed, was still concentrated on the perimeter, and still dominated by only one man, Arvin Tolentino. Thus, we were facing an improved version of a UE team. Just better defense.

But there was no post-up threat. No big body to push out. No Prince Orizu. Thus, Brandon Bates happened. He wasn’t as concentrated on pushing a guy away so much as waiting for a guy to cut, or blocking out a smaller guy on the rebound. And…….this was the game the he could be part of the offense. And his teamates knew that. Thus, the 7 point “explosion”.

But it was really a team effort, specially defensively, to wipe out a 10-0 blast with a counter 10-0 bomb. And we didn’t explode that bomb with fast break offense. We creeped it in. One stop at a time. One rebound at a time.

Guys, WE HAVE A TEAM. No matter what you say with our free throw shooting (it’s been years already, hasn’t it?). It took a 7 point performance from Aljun Melecio to seal the win, not a 20 pointer, didn’t it?

This game embodied who we are as a team, who we should be as a team. Defense. We have to have the complexion of the game be a low scoring one. This both masks our free throw shooting slumps, and limits and frustrates the other team into a war of attrition. Result: WE ARE SOLO THIRD.

And Brandon and Kib, the Man of Steel, and the Man of Steal, showed us who we are.

So you ask. Why am I focusing on these two players and comparing them to DC superheroes? Because we needed saving in this game.

And they did. And that’s what superheroes do. After all, Superman beat the Hulk, and Batman beat Captain America. Well, they did according to this source here that allowed readers to choose between the battles. But they won. They conquered their demons and destroyed their enemy. And you take that. And you win with that.

Regardless if you’re a Marvel fan.