UNIVERSITY of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol said Bright Akhuetie's stint with the Maroons in the preseason has benefited the team, even if the prized recruit won't be eligible to play in the UAAP next season.
The Cameroonian center led the Maroons to two championships in Davao and Manila, but not a few critics have questioned the wisdom of having Akhuetie join the team that would be left to play without him once the UAAP gets going.
Akhuetie is still undergoing residency at UP after his transfer from Perpetual Help.
UP coach Bo Perasol, however, feels Akhuetie's presence in the tournaments will benefit the team in its preparation for Season 80 of the country's premier collegiate league.
"The idea there is the idea of winning and how to win," said Perasol. "Now, when we experience winning, we experience the details. Ano ba ang kailangan naming gawin (para manalo)."
Akhuetie will no longer be available to play for UP when the Maroons compete in the Filoil preseason tournament, which limits participation to players who will be eligible to play for their respective squads in the coming UAAP and NCAA reasons.
His absence, Perasol said, will pose a challenge to the other big men who will be left to fill the void.
"You take away Bright, you ask your big men, 'What did Bright give us nung nandito siya?' Rebounding, defense, confidence, tapang. Now, ano ang gagawin natin? So may point of comparison."
"Again, it's not the winning, although it is important to the program, but the experience of winning na naranasan namin kapag nandun si Bright." said Perasol.
Perasol said Akhuetie's intensity has rubbed off on the other UP big men.
Perasol cited the case of Andrew Harris, who stepped up in the championship game of the Republica Cup college division finals against University of Santo Tomas following the ejection of Akhuetie.
"Like Andrew, maganda linaro niya. Kailangan namin ng rebounds, free throws, stops in the endgame, and shot blocks, and Andrew gave it to us. 'Yun ang binibigay ni Bright na nagiging example," said Perasol.