When Bright Akheutie exited the press room with his teammate, Jun Manzo, he felt a sharp pain, which was evidence of another hard-fought game for the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.
Beforehand, the Season 81 MVP had another monster performance in State U colors. Akhuetie picked up 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Fighting Maroons towards their sixth victory, a 78-75 squeaker, in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the expense of the UE Red Warriors.
“I just sprained my ankle, but I’ll be fine.
“Ankle sprain lang. I had to go ice, but after the ice, I actually feel better. I think I’ll be fine until I get home,” said Akhuetie.
The injury forced Akhuetie to sit on the floor and wait for assistance from one of the team’s personnel. However, to his and everyone’s surprise and amusement, those who came to his aid were his comrades in the squad. All of them ran to Akhuetie and carried him back to their locker room.
“No, no, I didn’t expect it. I thought it was gonna be Andrew [Harris] and I saw everybody.
“That just shows how much we are together, how much we are a family. I’ll do that for my family and they’ll do that for me as well,” said the former Perpetual Help standout.
The Fighting Maroons knew that they needed to pull off a victory to arrest a two-game skid that started the end of the first round; first, they were ransacked by defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, and then defeated in overtime by the FEU Tamaraws. This outcome was definitely a welcome respite from those losses.
“I’ve always been sure of the team. It’s just we need to get it together and play as a team. I said we have to work on that. Right now, it just shows how much we can do. It’s just consistency — come back on and on and on,” said the 6-foot-8 big man.
“Let’s see where that gets us.”
Akhuetie may be the rock that stands as the foundation of UP’s campaign, but when he was down, his teammates were there right when he needed them the most.
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