With legendary coach Aric del Rosario and triple-double machine Scottie Thompson no longer in Las Pinas, University of Perpetual Help was expected to take a step back in the 92nd Season of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Only, Bright Akhuetie was having none of it.
The Nigerian behemoth has put the Altas on his shoulders en route to a three-game winning streak that pushed them to catch the Letran Knights for second-place with a 5-2 slate. Two of those wins came within the span of three days when he averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and 3.5 blocks.
For his strong stat line and 2-0 record through the week, Akhuetie was recognized as the ACCEL Quantum Plus-3XVI NCAA Press Corps Player of the Week for July 24-30.
The highlight of Akhuetie’s week was a match-up against Lyceum of the Philippines University’s Harry Nzeusseu who got the better of him for three quarters. Come the final frame, however, Akhuetie banged in 10 points as he almost single-handedly outscored the whole EAC team enabling Perpetual to wrest control of the game.
The 19-year-old wound up with 13 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks in the 71-68 win. This came on the heels of a 21-point, nine-rebound, and four-block power performance in a 70-55 rout that kept College of St. Benilde out of the win column.
The way he sees it, the Altas’ big man is doing nothing special. As he put it, “I’m just here to play basketball. I don’t think about those because I just do everything I can to help out my team.”
Nonetheless, he knew that he could only get better – and that’s a scary thought for the rest of the field in the tournament.
“Of course, I still have so much to improve. Hopefully, our winning continues,” he expressed.
Akhuetie edged out Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s Rey Nambatac and San Beda College’s Davon Potts for the weekly honor.