FOR Bright Akhuetie, Paul Desiderio is the real MVP.
The first UAAP MVP to come out of UP in 32 years credited the Fighting Maroons team captain for allowing him to take the lead as the Iskos reached the Final Four for the first time since 1997.
"I want to thank Paul cause he did a really great job for all of this to happen," the Nigerian big man said.
"He used to be the man of the team so for him to step down and to get everybody involved was huge. What he did was great."
Akhuetie was the runaway winner of the plum after netting 18.9 points, 14.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 steals to amass 82.5 statistical points.
He wasn't the only one to earn a spot in the UAAP Season 81 Mythical Team as Juan Gomez de Liano joined him in the top five with the Season 80 Rookie of the Year averaging 16.2 points, 6.6 boards, and 5.5 assists in his sophomore year in UP.
But for Akhuetie, he believes that there should be three of them in the Mythical Five, with Desiderio being the third.
"Sayang no? He didn't make it to the Mythical Five, but he did great," the 6-foot-7 slotman said. "If it was Paul of last year, I'd say he should be there. He did a great job."
Desiderio missed out on last year's cut after netting 16.6 points on 30-percent shooting from threes, to go with 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
His scoring slightly dropped this season with only 13.7 points on 27-percent clip from deep, but he did up his other figures in 5.7 boards and 3.1 dimes per game.
Despite the Cebuano leader not bagging any individual award in his final collegiate playing year, Akhuetie thinks that UP can give Desiderio a bigger prize before he leaves the Fighting Maroons: the championship.
For that to happen, though, UP must be able to get over two-seed Adamson in what is shaping up to be an exciting Final Four clash on Saturday.
"We have to practice, put in every detail together, and get ready because whether we like it or not, we still have to beat Adamson twice to make it to the Finals. And after that, we have to talk about Ateneo or FEU. We can't just be contented with this. I am not and I don't want to. I don't want to put it in my head that this is it," he said.
"Yes, we made it to the Final Four, but that is not it for me. I want more. Why can't we beat Adamson and make it to the Finals? Why can't we win the championship? Being in the Final Four is a step for us to get there. Winning the MVP, I thank God for that. But I want more, I really want more. With these group of guys, I know we could do it, but they have to know that we could do it."