MANILA, Philippines – The UP Fighting Maroons needed all they can get from reigning MVP Bright Akhuetie in their 78-75 bounce-back win against the UE Red Warriors in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
Even though the often-hurt Nigerian bruiser was already hobbling in the 1st quarter, he still finished the game and finished with a team-high 18 points and 14 rebounds.
However, as a consequence, Akhuetie could not even walk out of the Mall of Asia Arena press room after the post-game presser as he fell back down clutching his right ankle.
Much to the surprise of everyone around, including Akhuetie himself who only called for former UP big man-turned-assitant coach Andrew Harris, several teammates rushed to his aid and carried him back to the locker room.
Akhuetie could not help but feel proud for his UP brothers after the surprise assist.
“No no, I didn’t expect it. I thought it was gonna be Andrew and I saw everybody,” he said in between laughs. “That just shows how much we are together, how much we are a family. I’ll do that for my family and they’ll do that for me as well.”
Even after Akhuetie once questioned his teammates’ character back in their nerve-wracking first round run, he clarified that he never lost faith in them. (READ: Akhuetie puzzled with UP’s character after another near-meltdown)
“I’ve always been sure of the team. It’s just we need to get it together and play as a team,” he continued. “I said we have to work on that. Right now, it just shows how much we can do. It’s just consistency, come back on and on and on. Let’s see where that gets us.”
UP will certainly need their prized big man at nothing less than 100% as they continue their bid to return to the UAAP finals. Akhuetie’s good health will especially be crucial in the Maroons’ next game, where they meet first-round tormentors UST Growling Tigers on Wednesday, October 16. – Rappler.com