31 March 2016

How to Counter the 'Hack-Arinze' Strategy

Arinze Onuaku
One of the reasons why Meralco Bolts is currently on top of the leaderboard with 6-2 record is their bulky import Arinze Onuaku.

The 6-foot-9 center is averaging in dominant numbers: 21.4 points, 19.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. These eye-popping figures is on top of the 67.0 percent field goal percentage. The only problem that he only shoots 52.4 percent from the free-throw line.

The opposing team could resort to 'hack-a-shack' or 'hack-a-player' tactic and send Onuaku to the dreaded free-throw line. This is a strategy that involves fouling a poor free-throw shooter away from the basketball in an attempt to limit an opponent's production.

There is nothing wrong with the 'hack-a'player' strategy because it is teaching young players the importance of making free throws. Basketball notables like Larry Bird and Reggie Miller emphasized that free-throw shooting is a fundamental skill of basketball. A skill, like passing and dribbling, that cannot be tossed aside with rule changes because a very small percentage of players are being affected by their extremely, incredibly frustrating poor free-throw shooting skills.

However, with this in mind, should the Bolts choose to leave their long, big center in the game, allowing him to control the boards and contest shots at the rim, or do they sit him out during the most crucial part of the contest? What can they do to address the problem?

There is no question that Onuaku is a terrible shooter from the line and that sending him there a lot can be effective. But it seems there is a limit to how effective the strategy can be when things get so out of hand.

Before their opponents can recover from their mistake, Onuaku needs to be spending a couple extra hours a day in the gym getting up foul shots, working on his form and not being allowed to head out until he go through 100 shots connecting at a higher clip than his average so far.

The second and most effective way to address the intentional fouling is for the Bolts to let Onuaku post down low, preferably in the spot where he usually makes to those unstoppable baby-hook shots and ask him to immediately shoot the ball after receiving the pass. No matter how the free-throw will turn out, the Bolts can rest easy that they were at least able to score two from a possible three-point play.

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