PERPETUAL Help rookie Bright Akhuetie has earned the respect of coach Aric del Rosario not only for the way he plays, but also for his work ethic.
The Nigerian import exploded for 44 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the Altas’ 77-69 win over College of St. Benilde five days ago in Season 91 of the NCAA. He later dropped 24 against Mapua in an 82-79 win on Tuesday.
But unknown to many, the 6-foot-8 Akhuetie suffered from fever three days following his dominant performance.
“After nung laban namin nung nakaraan, nagkasakit,” shared del Rosario. “Tignan mo kahit may sakit, naglaro. Kung iba 'yan di na naglaro.”
“Sabi niya, ‘Dont worry I’ll play.' ‘Yun ang gusto ko sa kanya,” added the veteran mentor.
Akhuetie was quick to down play the kind words from his 75-year old coach.
“(I had) fever after I scored 44,” he said laughing. “But no, I just had fever. (Maybe because of) bad weather.
“I felt that I have to play,” he added.
Aside from his offensive production, Akhuetie set up the Altas' game-winning basket against the Cards as his long pass led to a Gab Dagangon layup.
“One of the coaches once told me that when you get the ball, look ahead. I saw him (Dagangon),” he said.
Meanwhile, Mapua big man Allwell Oraeme had 15 points, 18 rebounds, and two block shots, but Akhuetie said he didn’t focus on the match-up against his fellow import.
“We played basketball. Good thing we won,” he said.