Back in 2014, Bright Akhuetie and Prince Eze decided to study in the Philippines to pursue their dreams.
Five years later, the two have been crowned as the best collegiate players in the country.
“The journey was really tough,” recalled Eze.
Back in the 91st season of the NCAA, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas were the pre-season favorites to challenge the San Beda Red Lions, as they had the two towers. Moreover, they had then-reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson steering the team.
However, the hype proved to be too much, as the Altas failed to make the Final Four.
After missing out in Season 91 of the NCAA, the two lifted Perpetual to a semifinals finish a year later. Akhuetie averaged 17.6 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per contest, while Eze tallied norms of 5.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks.
However, Akhuetie left Perpetual during the off-season of that year, citing irreconcilable differences with Altas consultant Nosa Omorogbe.
In 2018, the two led their respective teams to excellent finishes.
With norms of 17.9 points, 16.3 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks, Eze took the Altas to the Final Four. On the other hand, Akhuetie, who had averages of 18.6 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game, ended UP’s 32-year title Finals drought.
“For him (Eze) winning the MVP – we all know he would have wanted a championship more, but I think that just shows that he’s doing great,” Akhuetie said of his good pal Eze.
“Him being MVP did not surprise me, because I know what he can do,” Eze remarked of Akhuetie, on the other hand.
“It’s going to the Finals that got my attention.”
However, the two could not help but look back on the missed chance they had in 2015. And they will forever look on that year with wonder.
“We missed our opportunity. It still hurt my eyes, seeing the team roster, and the players we had,” admitted Eze.
“These guys are really MVP material. We couldn’t all get it in Perpetual because it just has to be one,” thought Akhuetie.
“So we moved our separate ways and there it is. That’s the better explanation.”