FOR Perpetual Help coach Aric Del Rosario, Bright Akhuetie is heaven sent for the Altas following his dominant play on Friday in NCAA Season 91.
The 18-year-old Nigerian threw his weight around against College of Saint Benilde, finishing with a season-high 44 points and 19 rebounds in a 77-69 win.
Akhuetie also added two assists, two steals, and two blocks as the Altas posted their second straight win.
“Oo, hulog ng langit,” Del Rosario admitted.
Akhuetie’s scoring effort was one of the most prolific seen in the league in recent years, or since Jose Rizal University’s John Wilson exploded for 48 points during the 2009 season.
In a long list of big men he has handled during his coaching years that includes the likes of Dennis Espino, Chris Cantonjos, Rabbi Tomacruz, the late Gido Babilonia, and EJ Feihl, to name a few, Del Rosario acknowledged Akhuetie will definitely go down as one of the best bigs he had coached.
“Isa siya sa mga top na big man na hinawakan ko. Hindi naman siya ganun kagaling noong una ko siyang nakita. Siguro nasanay na rin sa larong Pinoy. May outside shooting pa, rume-rebound at dumedepensa pa. ‘Wag lang siya magbago,” said the veteran mentor.
On his career game, the 6-foot-6 cager said there was no intent on his part to light up the scoreboard against the undersized Blazers.
“I don’t really care about the stats. I just play,” said Akhuetie. “I don’t really care about scoring. All I care about is to win. Even if I don’t score, if we win, I’m happy.”
Akhuetie’s scoring explosion came after he struggled in the Altas’ season opener against Lyceum when he finished with only nine points after nursing a sprain.
“I actually struggled the other game. I went to rehab and my ankle was okay. I just came out to play,” said the former striker and goalkeeper turned basketball cager.
Now that Akhuetie is doing damage for the Altas, Del Rosario could only hope he will be able to bring Perpetual Help to the Promised Land.
“Ilang taon ko na sinasabi na paano ako mananalo kung wala akong big man. Nakakasawa na rin na puro Final Four lang. Panalangin ko na sana finals naman,” said the former University of Santo Tomas champion coach.