What a difference a two-week break makes.
Nigerian import Bright Akhuetie flashed his old deadly form on Thursday, leading Perpetual Help to an impressive 76-61 victory over San Sebastian in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan.
The 6-foot-7 Akhuetie appeared he has gained his usual footing as he dominated with a 20-point, 20-rebound performance on top of two assists and a steal while anchoring the Altas’ rejuvenated defense in the stretch where the Golden Stags laid a big fat egg in the last six minutes.
And the Nigerian could only be thankful for the timely break that allowed him to recuperate from a nagging right knee sprain which sidelined him during Perpetual Help’s 78-83 setback dealt by top title favorite Arellano U in the opening weekend.
“It really did help,” admitted Akhuetie during the post-match press conference. “I stayed out for a week to rest. But I was able to get back to our practice in the past three days.”
Akhuetie’s latest performance came on the heels of a 19-point, five-rebound showing in their 58-50 win over Jose Rizal U last July 1.
But he refused to reveal if he’s really back to his full, healthy condition, saying: “I think I’m okay. I’m okay to play. That’s all I can say.”
Asked if he’s trying to make a big statement with his recent exploits, Akhuetie said: “I don’t know. I just want to win and that’s all I care about—the end result.”
Up next for Perpetual Help is season host San Beda on Tuesday and Akhuetie believes the Red Lions remain a formidable force to be reckoned with despite the graduation of his fellow Nigerian Ola Adeogun.
“They are a very good team,” he said. “We cannot feel San Beda don’t have Ola anymore. They still have the likes of Donald (Tankoua), (Arnaud) Noah and (Fil-Am wingman Davon) Potts. We should go back quick and play defense against them.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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