ON course of a possible PBA Philippine Cup championship, San Miguel is already leaving no stones unturned in the import-laden Commissioner’s Cup
A source disclosed to Spin.ph that former Syracuse Orangemen forward Arinze Onuaku has already signed on Friday as the team’s reinforcement for the midseason tournament, coinciding with the Beermen’s meeting with big boss Ramon S. Ang.
News about the Beermen acquiring the services of Onuaku comes at a time when the team is currently awaiting its opponent in the all-Filipino Cup finals, which could either be Alaska or Rain or Shine.
Onuaku was unfortunate not to have been taken in during the 2010 NBA Draft, but has played for different leagues in America, Europe, and China, where he last played for the Chongqing Flying Dragons, averaging 28.6 points and 14.8 rebounds.
The wide-bodied Onuaku was also given short contracts by the New Orleans Pelicans, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Indiana Pacers, although crowded spots in the power forward slot prevented him from earning a break with the three NBA teams.
But at San Miguel, Onuaku is expected to boost the Beermen’s frontline for the midseason tournament set to start on January 27.
He is expected to provide extra muscle for the Beermen in the middle to complement the game of June Mar Fajardo, acknowledged as the most dominant big man in the league today
Coach Leo Austria confirmed the negotiations with Onuaku and bared his acquisition would give Fajardo a lot of help underneath.
“Yan kasi decision ng coaching staff. We wanted an import who can complement Junemar. Ayaw kasi namin na bugbugin sa depensa si Junemar. Si Onuaku ang gagamitin naming import stopper. Junemar will still be Junemar in the team,” said Austria.
"More of an inside player yan (Onuaku). So kung nahihirapan ang mga kalaban kay Junemar sa poste, dalawa na sila ngayon. Magaling din sa rebound yan. Kaya gusto namin siya dahil mas magkakaruon ng kumpiyansa mga shooters namin sa labas. That way, involved lahat ng locals,” he added.
At the same time, Austria insisted the decision to get a ‘role playing’ import is to keep the confidence of San Miguel’s local players.
"Ayaw namin ng import na siya lang lahat. Gusto namin mas malaki role ng locals. Mas maganda ang hindi alam ng kalaban kung sino puputok every night. Hindi lang kami magrerely sa import," said Austria, who has carried the team to the finals right in his maiden conference with the franchise as head coach.
Austria, who won an Asean Basketball League (ABL) championship for San Miguel in 2013, said he expects Onuaku to arrive on the second week of January.
The 275-pound Onuaku is an American of Nigerian descent and also played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Canton Charge in the NBA D-League.
He finished his college career as the all-time field goal percentage leader in Syracuse history.