Bright Akhuetie’s 20-20 game powers Perpetual Help

Title contender Perpetual Help made life miserable for San Sebastian in the stretch to overcome an error-prone showing and post a 76-61 victory on Thursday afternoon in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan.

Fresh from a two-week break, the Altas hardly missed a beat offensively and held the Golden Stags scoreless in the final six minutes to claim their second straight victory that came on the heels of their 58-50 win over Jose Rizal U last July 1 for a 2-1 mark.

“Buti nga kahit masama ang nilaro namin, nanalo pa rin kami. Actually sobrang sama ng game namin,” said Perpetual Help coach Jimwell Gican, clearly aware of his wards’ 30 turnovers that somehow enabled San Sebastian to stay within striking distance throughout.

“Ang taas ng turnovers namin,” he stressed. “Hindi pang college caliber.”

Good thing for Gican, the Altas choked the Golden Stags with their stingy defense after their rivals trimmed what stood a 15-point deficit to just 61-68—off an Ian Valdez bucket—with a little over six minutes to go.

Nigerian import Bright Akhuetie dominated with a 20-point, 20-rebound performance on top of two assists and a steal while locals Daryl Singontiko, Genmar Ilagan and Keith Pido came through with solid performances to the delight of the Altas faithful.

“I give the credit to those players who stepped up today,” said Gican, adding their defensive adjustments in the crunch that forced the Stags to make harried shots one after another made the biggest difference.

“‘Yung depensa gumana,” he said. “Alam naman natin ang Baste, ang strength ‘yung outside shooting nila kasi wala naman silang legitimate big man at import. We pressured them from the top and stayed close to their shooters.”

Going down the drain with San Sebastian’s second straight loss in three starts was the 27-point explosion of unheralded Regille Ylagan, 20 of them coming in the first half where he made all of his seven attempts from the field, spiked by five triples. – By Jerome Lagunzad

The scores:

PERPETUAL (76) – Akhuetie 20, Singontiko 12, Ilagan 11, Pido 8, Eze 7, Hao 6, Coronel 4, Dagangon 4, Dizon 4, Cabiltes 0, Yuhico 0.

SAN SEBASTIAN (61) – Ilagan 27, Capobres 9, Costelo 5, Calisaan 4, Baetiong 3, Bulanadi 3, David 3, Serajosef 3, Fabian 2, Valdez 2, Gayosa 0, Mercado 0, Quipse 0, Calma 0.
Quarterscores: 19-21, 44-37, 60-54, 76-61.