GIVEN a chance to finally showcase what he can do, TNT rookie Sidney Onwubere made the most out of his opportunity.
A DNP in his first official PBA game, the eighth overall pick in this year’s PBA draft got his feet wet as he played extended minutes for the Ka-Tropa, logging in 28 minutes in the victory over the Alaska Aces on Friday at the Astrodome.
Onwubere played well as expected, giving the Ka-Tropa energy on both ends as he finished with six points, nine rebounds and a steal off the bench — stepping up for the injured Anthony Semerad and Alex Nuyles.
“Last game hindi ako nagamit, sabi ko parang may kulang. Naisip ko na baka kailangan ko pa sipagan sa practice kasi parang siguro, para sakin, may kulang pa na hindi ko naipapakita sa mga coaches,” said Onwubere.
“Inisip ko na doblehin ko pa yung effort ko sa practice and then siguro pag dating sa game, ttriplehin ko pa para makuha yung minutes na gusto ko,” he added.
As if fate would have it, Onwubere’s debut had him pitted against Calvin Abueva, a player he drew comparisons with when he was wreaking havoc for the EAC Generals in the NCAA due to their similar style of play.
Naturally, Onwubere was left in awe that he’s finally playing against a longtime idol but the moment he went face to face with the Beast, he knew that admiration would have to be put aside.
He had a hand in limiting Abueva as the Alaska star made just six of his 18 shots while committing six turnovers to finish with 16 points and nine boards.
“Na-starstruck ako. Abueva yun e. Pero siyempre magkaiba kami ng team, we play to win. Ako talagang gagawin ko best ko to defend him and kung nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon on offense, shoshootan ko siya,” Onwubere said.
Now that he has his debut behind him, it’s all about continuously improving for the 6-foot-4 forward.
He knows that he can be best utilized if he completes his transition to playing the three position instead of the power forward spot that he played in college. That’s why he’s working doubly hard to work on shifting positions while still focusing on his bread and butter, energy and defense.
When I started playing basketball, I was known as a defender. Yun siguro ang role ko sa team, yung defense. Siguro para sakin, kailangan ko pa mag-work talaga. Nung college I’m playing the four and now gusto ni coach Nash na maglaro ako ng three. Kailangan ko bumilis para maksasabay ako.”