Ateneo spoils Bright Akhuetie's birthday, but it's okay
MANILA, Philippines – After keeping up with defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles in the first half, the UP Fighting Maroons eventually collapsed and lost the match on the same day prized recruit Bright Akhuetie was celebrating his birthday.
"I would have loved to have the biggest gift of the night, which is the victory but it’s okay. That shows that we still have to go back and prepare," said the 22-year-old Akhuetie after the Maroons dropped their first UAAP assignment in two outings on Wednesday, September 12.
Although Akhuetie's wish for a second win wasn't granted, he still believes that the Maroons played well.
"It was a good fight, they (Blue Eagles) wanted it more. We just have to stay disciplined from the start to the end of the game," said Akhuetie.
The Perpetual Help transferee failed to repeat his 15-18 performance from the opening game against University of the East, as this time, he only managed to chip in 8 points and grab 11 rebounds.
But he did try to come up for poster dunk with the intention of sparking his team's offense as UP trailed by double digits in the 4th quarter.
"I just had [the feeling]. I felt like [dunking]. I wanted to do something to charge up my teammates. Too bad, it didn’t go in," added Akhuetie.
Instead, the play ignited frustrations from the UP bench especiallly head coach Bo Perasol, who charged at the referee for a non-call, which eventually led to his ejection from the game.
"At first I was surprised at the called foul on coach Bo, [but] that’s to show how much he got your back and it can happen to anyone so it’s okay. It’s still part of the game," said the Nigerian, noting that Perasol is like a father figure to the players. (READ: UP coach Bo Perasol set to appeal likely suspension)
Akhuetie is right about the season still being young, so he doesn't mind hitting the gym as soon as possible – even on his birthday.
"So right now the party starts… in the gym," joked the bubbly big man.
The UP Fighting Maroons will go head-to-head with the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers on Sunday, September 16, 4 pm, at the Filoil Flying V Centre. – Rappler.com