By Dugout Philippines
MANILA--So far, the arrival of Bright Akhuetie has paid massive dividends for the University of the Philippines.
Touted as a dominant force from his days with Perpetual in the NCAA, the Nigerian anchor’s presence almost certainly assured the Fighting Maroons of a much-needed game changer on both ends of the floor in UAAP Season 81.
One thing’s left on their to-do list, though, and that’s to end a 21-year Final Four drought.
UP is still engaged in a dogfight with two other teams for a semifinals seat, and on Saturday, the 6-foot-8 big man took it upon himself to make sure that they’ll move to the cusp of reaching that goal.
A monster 25-point, 18-rebound double-double by this year’s frontrunner for MVP just did the trick for the Fighting Maroons as they finished with a flurry to kick UST out of contention, 83-69.
Akhuetie, who already managed 12 points and 12 rebounds against an undersized Tigers lineup after three quarters, doubled his scoring tally in the payoff period by pouring 13 points, which was just two shy of UST’s output as a team during that stretch.
His outstanding performance rightfully earned him the Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Sports Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week award.
This citation may seem like it’s been long overdue for Akhuetie, whose stellar play throughout the season has not gone unnoticed. In 13 games, he’s put up prolific averages of 19.1 points, 14.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks while shooting a blistering 60.7 percent from the field.
He bested Far Eastern University's Arvin Tolentino and Kenneth Tuffin, National University's John Lloyd Clemente, Ateneo's Thirdy Ravena, and Adamson's Sean Manganti to nab the weekly feat given by online and print writers covering the beat.
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