CHIBUEZE Ikeh continued to turn heads in what’s been an impressive stint for Ateneo in UAAP Season 80.
But in the Blue Eagles’ 96-83 win over National University, Ikeh impressed not just with his career game but with his improved confidence in taking and making three point shots.
Ikeh first drained a three-pointer in the second quarter to give Ateneo a 39-36 edge, then he drilled another midway through the fourth period before ending up with a career-high 18 points.
Attempting, and missing, just twice over the past three seasons from beyond the arc, Ikeh was responsible for two of the Blue Eagles’ five three pointers in the game. This came as a surprise to many as Ikeh, oft-ridiculed by his limitations on the offensive end, continues to show strides on getting buckets.
But Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga was hardly surprised with Ikeh’s range.
“We weren’t surprised. The coaches have been giving him the green light to shoot, he has a good rhythm to shoot it,” said Arespacochaga.
“He shot a couple in the past, people were surprised he even attempted but we’ve seen him shoot in practice and he’s been knocking it down. That’s why we weren’t surprised because we’ve seen him do it already,” he added.
For Ikeh, his confidence in shooting stems from how his coaches have prepared him in other facets of the game outside of the conventional skills that is expected from a big man.
“Coaches have been teaching me other facets of the game as shooting, dribbling, I found myself open and I just had to shoot it and it went in,” said Ikeh who added 11 rebounds and a couple of blocks to his name.
Arespacochaga shared that it has been their philosophy since last year to expand the skillset of all their players. And the strategy has worked wonders for Ateneo this season.
“One of the things that coach Tab and the coaching staff wanted to do is develop these players and try not to put limit to these guys,” Arespacochaga continued.
“We teach them everything, like Ikeh said, passing. We teach that not to our guards, even in the shooting we try to teach that also.“