UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help had little choice but to move forward from Bright Akhuetie’s transfer to the University of the Philippines.
But with Akhuetie’s departure, the Altas discovered their biggest weapon heading into NCAA Season 93—themselves.
The Altas knew that it would be wise to stop looking at someone to replace the production of their former import. In this season, they'd have to do everything as one cohesive group for a chance to repeat their Final Four run from last year.
"Nung una, siyempre, low morale kasi malaking tulong si Bright kaya nakapasok kami sa Final Four ulit eh. Pero hindi naman pwedeng hanggang dun lang kami. Nadapa kami kaya kailangang bumangon ulit," said assistant coach Jimwell Gican.
"We stayed as one. Actually, di na nga kami team eh, yun ang malaking bagay na nangyari sa amin. Nung nawala si Bright, naging pamilya kami," he added.
Gican admitted that they may have been over-reliant to Akhuetie over the past few seasons and for good reason.
The Nigerian recruit averaged 17.6 points, 12.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in Season 92, but Gican is confident that they'd find ways to make up for the loss.
"Nagising kami lahat, especially locals, na kailangang magtrabaho na. Sa totoo lang, halos umaasa lang kami kay Bright e. So it’s time na gawin na namin yung role namin lahat. Naging mindset na namin na dapat nang magtrabaho," Gican continued.
Gican will be looking at veterans Gab Dagangon, GJ Ylagan and Keith Pido to lead the way, alongside the towering Prince Eze to carry the fight for the Altas this season. Newcomers CJ Casas and Robbie Clemente are also expected to contribute.
That's why with or without Akhuetie, Gican is confident that they will live on.
"Nakapag-adjust na kami, tanggap na sitwasyon na double-time dapat kami. Kaya ngayon, ipapakita namin na kahit wala si Bright, kaya naming bumalik ulit sa Final Four," Gican said.
"Ready na. Ready na kami this season."