An all-star game is the perfect time, the only time, really, to try any Harlem Globetrotter type trick plays in a game situation. When execeuted properly, they seem like the best idea ever. When they fail, nothing seems worse.
Unfortunately for Riverdale Baptist High School’s 6-foot-10 center, Chinanu Onuaku, his plan didn’t quite work as he would’ve hoped and one could say it actually cost the Capital All-Stars the game against the USA All-Stars in Saturday’s Capital Classic.
Of course, the Louisville University recruit also led the Capital All-Stars in scoring with with 21 points and rebounding with 14 and likely would’ve been voted Most Valuable Player if the team had won — which he was. But it was an ill-timed failed attempt at a play destined for the highlight reel that gave USA the opening for a late-game comeback.
With the Capital All-Stars up 126-122 with about three minutes to play — they’d led, 107-98 after the third quarter — Onuaku, shooting one and one, attempted to purposely bank his free throw attempt off the glass in order to set himself up for a slam dunk. The problem was, he left the foul line too early and the referees immediately blew their whistles — specators didn’t even get to see what surely would have been a pretty amazing dunk.
Onuaku laughed it off, but it seemed to suck the air out of his team’s proverbial bubble and the USA All-Stars took advantage, going on a 9-4 run to clinch the 131-130 victory, their second straight.
The play probably didn’t even faze Onuaku, who is likely bound for big things in college and possibly the NBA. And in all fairness All-Star games are more about who can come up with the flashiest plays than actually winning. But several players alluded to area pride after the fun contest and Capital All-Stars coach Chris Lun of Walt Whitman did say his team intended to win. Just seems like there might have been a better time to try something like that.
— Jennifer Beekman