MERALCO sent Columbian Dyip crashing back to earth on Wednesday night, rolling to a 116-103 victory for a solid start to its PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts were met by a tough challenge from a retooled Dyip side that was coming off its biggest win in franchise history, but they went on a late surge to give their opponents a reality check.
Arinze Onuaku showed why he’s the best import two editions ago as he dominated down low despite coming off sickbay, while Niño Canaleta sparked the late blowout by connecting from long distance for the Bolts.
“Hats off to Arinze; He’s been sick,” Bolts coach Norman Black said. “I was happy with his performance. He gives us what we lacked.”
"The other guys also stepped up particularly KG, so it’s a great start for us,” he added.
For a while, though, the Dyip, fresh from a 126-98 rout of Blackwater last Sunday, picked up from where they left off, building an early 10-point lead, before giving it up, but still staying within striking distance all-game long.
But up by just five points, 95-90, with over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Bolts scored eight unanswered points, capped by an Onuaku touchdown slam to give them a 13-point lead, one shy of their biggest that came minutes later.
Onuaku pumped in 30 points after making all but one of his 15 shots, 19 boards, six assists, four blocks, and three steals in 43 minutes, while Canaleta chipped in 12 points – all in the second half and nine in the payoff period.
Chris Newsome also delivered with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and two steals in 41 minutes, while Nico Salvo provided a spark off the bench with 13 points in 18 minutes.
CJ Aiken bounced back from a sub-par offensive outing with 21 points along with 18 caroms and four blocks, but failed to lead his team to the win this time.
MERALCO 116 – Onuaku 30, Newsome 18, Salva 13, Canaleta 12, Dillinger 11, Hodge 8, Amer 7, Hugnatan 7, Sedurifa 4, Caram 4, Tolomia 2, Ballesteros 0
COLUMBIAN 103 – Aiken 21, Lastimosa 16, McCarthy 16, Camson 15, Celda 14, King 12, Tubid 4, Cahilig 2, Khobuntin 2, Corpuz 1, Ababou 0, Escoto 0, Sara 0
Quarterscores: 25-31, 56-57, 85-79, 116-103