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Onuaku bucks sickness to lift Meralco over Columbian in PBA return

Just recovering from sick bay, Arinze Onuaku made a PBA return as if he's 100 percent healthy. PBA Media Bureau
By Dugout Philippines

QUEZON CITY--After being sick the last couple of days, Arinze Onuaku came directly from the hospital to the game Wednesday.

Before he and the rest of the Meralco crew were through, Columbian Dyip was the one left feeling really bad.

Onuaku still finished with game-highs of 30 points and 19 rebounds in leading the Bolts' charge to a 116-103 victory over Columbian Dyip in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

"My hat is off to Arinze because he's been sick. He's been in the hospital the last few days. He hasn't practiced and he basically came from the hospital to here," related Meralco coach Norman Black.

"I'm sure he's not only feeling bad but he's also tired. So I'm very happy with his performance tonight, mainly because he gives us exactly what we need as a team. He takes care of the rebounds for us as well as the low post plays. I think my local players played a lot better with a strong center in the middle."

Indeed, the likes of Chris Newsome, Nico Salva, KG Canaleta and Jared Dillinger also played big, as the Bolts overcame an early 10-point deficit, took full control in the closing minutes of the third period and even posted as much as a 112-98 spread.

As a result, Meralco foiled Columbian's bid to follow up its 126-98 win over Blackwater on opening day last Sunday.

After scoring just nine points against the Elite, CJ Aiken wound up with 21 points on top of 18 rebounds.

Rashawn McCarthy and Carlo Lastimosa notched 16 points apiece, Eric Camson 15 and Jerramy King heated up late to finish with 12 points, 18 below what he scattered in their first game.

Notwithstanding its 22 turnovers, Meralco's offense was more consistent and spot-on in the times that mattered, enabling it to break free of the game's eighth and last deadlock at 77-all.

"Great effort, great start for us. We needed it," said Black, whose team needed four games before breaking into the win-column before finishing at 11th in the season-opening Philippine Cup.

"Hopefully, we could sustain the effort going to our next game (against GlobalPort) on Friday."

Newsome wound up with 18 points, seven rebounds and as many assists, Nico Salva added 13 markers and Dillinger 11 points and seven boards. But it was Canaleta who particularly stood out in the breakaway.

After riding the bench the entire first half, Canaleta was fielded in the third quarter and promptly drained the first of his four triples to shatter the last deadlock.

Reynel Hugnatan followed suit with his own deep shot and Meralco went into the fourth with an 85-79 lead.

King, who missed his first five shots, came alive in the fourth but there was no stemming the Bolts' tide as Dillinger, Salva and Newsome got into the act with Onuaku.

The scores:

MERALCO 116 - Onuaku 30, Newsome 18, Salva 13, Canaleta 12, Dillinger 11, Hodge 8, Amer 7, Hugnatan 7, Caram 4, Sedurifa 4, Tolomia 2, Ballesteros 0.

COLUMBIAN DYIP 103 - Aiken 21, Lastimosa 16, McCarthy 16, Camson 15, Celda 14, King 12, Tubid 4, Khobuntin 2, Cahilig 2, Corpuz 1, Ababou 0, Escoto 0, Sara 0.

Quarters: 25-31, 56-57, 85-79, 116-103.

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