MERALCO saw the importance of Arinze Onuaku on Sunday despite the Bolts import’s sub-par offensive production in their 94-86 over Mahindra in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The 6-foot-9 Onuaku has been dominating the paint, averaging 21.4 points on almost 13 attempts in his first eight games.
But attracting most of the attention on defense against the Enforcers, Onuaku was limited to just 10 attempts and 16 points in 43 minutes.
Still, that has benefited the Bolts’ locals, primarily Cliff Hodge, who matched his season-high with 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting, including two made three-pointers.
“It’s really easy when you got a center who gets triple-teams,” Hodge said. “The shots that we’re all getting are wide open.”
Hodge scored five points in a telling 16-0 run that enabled the Bolts to turn the game around.
“Some games, people are not going to make shots. It’s just I made my shots today,” said Hodge, who added 11 boards, three assists, and one steal in 33 minutes.
“I just took what the defense gave me,” he added.
Jimmy Alapag and Baser Amer also benefited from the attention on Onuaku as they buried two triples each and sparked the Bolts’ comeback.
“Normally, we dump the ball to the Arinze, who’s our biggest advantage, but we had to adjust today,” Bolts coach Norman Black said.