Move the ball quicker and read the defense better.
That’s precisely what Meralco import Arinze Onuaku needs to do if he intends to help the Bolts bounce back from a 94-97 setback dealt by the Alaska Aces in Game 1 of their best-of-five PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series on Monday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Despite getting ample offensive lift from his local teammates, the 6-foot-9 Onuaku struggled to get himself going against the Aces’ stymieing defense, limiting him to just eight shots for an 11-point output, merely half of his elimination round average of 20.4 markers.
While Onuaku refused to grant an interview from sports scribes, Meralco coach Norman Black and veteran Bolts big man Reynel Hugnatan were one in saying the former Syracuse Orange standout should make the necessary adjustments that could serve them well in Game 2 on Wednesday also at the Big Dome.
“Arinze has to move the ball quicker and he has to do a better job in terms of reading where the double-team is coming from early, get rid of it early and not wait so late to pass the basketball. That way, we’ll be able to take advantage of the weak side,” said Black, 58.
The 6-foot-4 Hugnatan, who led all scorers with 21 points on an impressive 8-of-13 shooting from the field, echoed Black’s observation, saying: “Sinasabi ko sa kanya kapag may double right away para bitawan ‘yung bola. Malaki rin kasi si (Alaska import Rob) Dozier, natatabunan ‘yung kailangan niyang pasahan.”
Black, a two-time Best Import awardee in the pro ranks, also challenged Onuaku to be “more aggressive offensively.”
“Tonight, they (Aces) mixed up their defense against Arinze. They double him sometimes, they went after right him away sometimes. Normally if a player scores 11 points and he’s not getting the ball, that’s one thing if the ball is on Arinze’s hands all the time. He has to do a better job on being more aggressive offensively and also reading the defense at the same time,” he pointed out. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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