A LOT of people look at Bright Akhuetie as the difference maker for the University of the Philippines this season and that’s for good reason.
It has been a long time coming since the Fighting Maroons had a player who can post double-doubles on a daily basis, while becoming a game-changer on both ends of the floor.
It’s also not a coincidence that the moment Akhuetie came onboard, the Fighting Maroons ended 21 years of semis futility but for the 6-foot-6 Nigerian dynamo, he’s just a mere piece of the puzzle.
“I’m just lucky to be a part of this group right now that made it to the Final Four after 21 years. It’s not just me, we did it together,” said Akhuetie who’s currently the frontrunner for the MVP plum this year.
“The coaches, the players, even the utility guys we all did it together. It’s not just me.”
Despite being part of that historic team, Akhuetie sees no reason for celebration, saying that they haven’t done anything yet this season.
When he decided to jump over to Diliman, Akhuetie wasn’t just looking to bring this team to the semifinals, he wants to take this squad all the way.
“For me there’s no more celebration. Like I said, we’re just a step closer to what we want to achieve. As you can see right now we’re back already. We started practicing cause it’s gonna be hard to beat a team twice,” said Akhuetie.
“It’s doable but it’s gonna be hard cause we got to come out with everything we have got the first game and the second game so we have to start preparing early now,” he added.
Losing two heartbreakers against the Adamson Falcons in the elimination round, Akhuetie is now bracing himself for a tough week knowing that they have to be in tiptop shape to beat them twice.
“That’s why we have to start practicing right now cause we have to get them twice. The past games, it shows we can, it’s not gonna be easy but we can, it’s nothing really. We just have to go out there and want it more. Twice not just once,” Akhuetie said.
Despite all the external noise about UP’s feat and his own individual performance, Akhuetie said that he’s blocking it all out as he doesn’t want to lose focus on their real objective this season.
“I’m just blank. I don’t want to be caught up with the hype and celebration, all I have in my head is one game at a time, and now I have Adamson and that’s all where I’m locked in - to go beat Adamson twice,” Akhuetie said.
“That’s what I tell myself every day to get used to it.”