ATENEO star Kiefer Ravena was glad to see new teammate Chibueze Ikeh deliver on his word.
“Before the first game, I texted Ikeh on how he can prepare his mind for his first UAAP game," said Ravena. "He sent me a picture of Dennis Rodman with stats of 0 points and 20 rebounds, and saying that he is going to do it this season.”
The Nigerian player wasn't much of a factor in the Blue Eagles' first two games of the UAAP season but finally fulfilled his promise on Wednesday, scoring 14 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in a thrilling 74-70 double-overtime victory over defending champion National University.
From Ikeh's total rebounds, 14 came from the offensive end in a performance reminiscent of the eccentric former Chicago Bulls rebounding demon.
No one was happier for Ikeh than Ravena, who, after seeing reserve Aaron Black step up for the Blue Eagles in a victory over Adamson over the weekend, saw another player step up in the match against the Bulldogs.
“What a way to show it against the defending champions. Last game, it was Aaron (Black). Now, it’s Ikeh. It’s his time,” Ravena said.
Ateneo coach Bo Perasol said Ikeh’s performance came as validation for a “much-maligned” player.
“Of course, the much-maligned player, Ikeh, he stepped up today and proved that he belongs in the team. He didn’t really need to prove it but he really belongs in the team,” said Perasol.
The soft-spoken Ikeh thanked his teammates for believing in him.
“I have to thank my teammates for believing in me. I have wanted to give up,” said Ikeh, without elaborating. “But they keep on pushing me.”
Ravena expects Ikeh to be central to Ateneo's title aspiration.
“For a player who haven’t really adopted yet in the UAAP, he won it for us. He is going to be the key in our championship drive,” said Ravena.