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Gonzaga Basketball

Key matchup: UCLA post Adem Bona presents challenge at both ends of floor

HONOLULU – UCLA has produced some of college and pro basketball’s greatest post players. Sophomore Adem Bona obviously has a long way to go to reach the top levels of the sport, but he certainly appears to be on track to be the next quality big in the Bruins’ pipeline.

Bona, at 6-foot-10 and 245 pounds, is a physical presence at both ends of the court. He had limited duty in Tuesday’s 76-48 rout over Chaminade, the second in a grueling stretch of three games in three days that concludes with Wednesday’s showdown against No. 11 Gonzaga at the Maui Invitational.

Bona finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 22-plus minutes against the Silverswords.

Bona entered the game as UCLA’s leader in scoring (16.8), rebounding (7.3) and blocks (2.25). The Bruins have several capable scorers, but it’s clear Bona is a primary option, leading the squad with 43 field-goal attempts.

He does most of his damage close to the rim. He’s only attempted one 3-pointer, but he attempts nearly six free throws per game.

Bona should have added motivation for the Zags because he was a spectator last March when GU edged the Bruins 79-76 in the Sweet 16 on Julian Strawther’s late 3-pointer at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Bona didn’t play due to a shoulder injury.

Bona opened the season with 28 points, nine rebounds and four blocks against Saint Francis. He scored 20 points against Long Island. Bona was limited to 13 points in 30 minutes in Monday’s loss to Marquette, but he was still efficient (5 of 8 from the field).

Bona wasn’t counted on for scoring last season on the Bruins’ talented roster, but he still contributed nine games with double-digit points, including two against Washington.

It should be an interesting clash of bigs when Bona and 7-3 Aday Mara clash with Gonzaga’s Graham Ike and Anton Watson. Mara has started two games, but he only averages about a dozen minutes of playing time.

Gonzaga also will bring in Braden Huff and Ben Gregg, both at 6-10, off the bench to deal with the Bruins’ frontcourt.