After being away for two years, Arinze Onuaku made his presence known immediately as he towed the Meralco Bolts to a 116-103 victory over the Columbian Dyip, Wednesday evening at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“Great effort, great start for us coming off the All-Filipino. Hopefully, we could sustain it the rest of the conference,” said Bolts head coach Norman Black as they finished the first conference with a horrid 4-7 record.
Onuaku, who is the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup Best Import, tallied 30 big points on an excellent 14-of-15 shooting clip to go along with 19 rebounds, four blocks, and three steals. And he did this despite suffering from a bum stomach.
“I’d like to tip my hat off to Arinze. He’s been sick the last few days. He hasn’t practices with us and he came from the hospital. I would like to tip my hat off to him for playing really, really well,” Black shared.
“He gives us exactly what we need, rebounds and post-play. I believe that our locals are better with his presence,” he added.
With the game knotted at 77-all late in the third frame, the Bolts made it rain on the Dyip, knocking down six triples — four from KG Canaleta — to give Meralco a 101-90 lead with 6:06 left.
“The other guys also played well. KG, JD [Dillenger], and the other guys. KG did not play in the first half but we got the much-needed scoring from him in the second half,” said Black, as Canaleta scored all 12 of his points during their run that bridged the third and fourth quarters.
Despite attempts by Rashawn McCarthy and the rest of Columbia to rally back, Onuaku was there to stop them in their tracks.
Chris Newsome added 18 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists for Meralco, while Nico Salva chipped in 13 markers off the bench.
After being limited to just nine points in their first outing, CJ Aiken led Columbian this time with 21 points and 18 rebounds. McCarthy had 16 points.
Jerramy King, who scored 30 points during his debut with the Dyip, was limited to just 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Meralco will next face the Globalport Batang Pier on Friday, April 27, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Columbian, on the other hand, take on the NLEX Road Warriors on Saturday, April 28, at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.
Meralco 116 – Onuaku 30, Newsome 18, Salva 13, Canaleta 12, Dillinger 11, Hodge 8, Amer 7, Hugnatan 7, Sedurifa 4, Caram 4, Tolomia 2, Ballesteros 0
Columbian 103 – Aiken 21, Lastimosa 16, McCarthy 16, Camson 15, Celda 14, King 12, Tubid 4, Cahilig 2, Khobuntin 2, Corpuz 1, Ababou 0, Escoto 0, Sara 0
Quarterscores: 25-31, 56-57, 85-79, 116-103