In his first four years with the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, Sidney Onwubere was known as a rugged defender and a tenacious rebounder. However, his perimeter shooting was non-existent during that frame, and he mostly relied on drives to score.
For the majority of the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup, Onwubere had been quiet yet stable for the Racal Tile Masters. But he became a beast unleashed on Tuesday afternoon.
With his team facing a daunting task of going up against perennial contenders Café France-CEU Bakers, it was Onwubere who shone the brightest in Racal’s 88-86 win in Game 1 of their semis series.
Onwubere finished with a game-high 24 points spiked by five triples — with his last one serving as the game-winner with 1.9 ticks to go, completing Racal’s comeback from seven points down, 77-70, late in the payoff period.
“Nag-step up lang ako,” said Onwubere of his game-winning triple.
“Nung third quarter nakaka-shoot talaga ako kaya sabi ko I’ll take this shot.”
The Filipino-Nigerian’s 24-point outburst also serves as his best outing yet in his first-ever D-League stint. And it’s a testament to the hard work he has put in during this NCAA off-season.
“Yun nga, first time ko makalaro dito so I just want to do my best. Gusto ko lang ipakita yung kaya kong gawin,” added Onwubere, who posted norms of 11.7 points and 6.4 rebounds in the nine-game stretch of the eliminations.
And the one-time FIBA 3X3 participant gives full credit for his new found shooting ability to his coaches at Racal.
“Nilagyan ko lang ng oras shooting ko. Sabi nga nila coach kelangan ko i-develop going to the pros.
“Sobrang laki ng kumpyansa na binibigay nila. Sobrang nagpapasalamat ako sa coaching staff ng Racal, pinagaling nila ako,” the incoming EAC super senior shared.
Tuesday’s victory over the Bakers is enough leverage for the Tile Masters over the Bakers in the best-of-three affair as they head to Thursday’s Game 2, according to Onwubere.
“Sabi nga nila coach, makuha lang namin tong Game One we’re already leading them.”