Meralco needs more local support for Onuaku
by rick olivares
You could make the case of deja vu as the Meralco Bolts fell to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday in Legazpi City.
The Bolts were riding a five-match win streak this Commissioner’s Cup when SMB stopped them with an eight-point victory 94-86. In Season 40’s Commissioner’s Cup, Meralco started out the conference on a five-match win streak before SMB downed them again.
It is hoped by team management that there will be no repeat of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup where after the five-game streak, they won only one of six remaining matches. The Bolts dispatched sister team NLEX in the quarterfinals with a two-game sweep after which Rain or Shine booted them out in three games.
Looking at the loss to SMB, aside from Arinze Onuaku who finished with 28 points, only Gary David was in double figures with 12 markers.
In the five previous wins by Meralco, they had at least four players scoring in double digits. Both imports, Onuaku and SMB’s Tyler Wilkerson bucked five fouls each to lead their team. Onuaku finished with 28 points and 30 rebounds (including 3 assists and 2 blocked shots) while Wilkerson tallied 27 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocked shots).
Whereas David added 12 points to backstop Onuaku, Wilkerson counted on Gabby Espinas, Marcio Lassiter, and Alex Cabagnot to help out with 13, 10, and 10 points respectively.
Onuaku has plugged a lot of holes for Meralco this conference especially in the slot. But even the Big Fella cannot win it alone. He needs his teammates to do their share and to do it consistently.
While Meralco had better stats than SMB, one department where the Beermen ruled was in the free throw attempts. SMB attempted 40 free throws while Meralco only had 17. That’s a huge disparity and showed SMB’s willingness to take the ball inside or to attack.
Of course, the statistics only tell part of the game. SMB pulled away in the clutch.
Meralco returns to action this Wednesday when they face NLEX at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.