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Ravena: ‘Ikeh is the key to Ateneo’s drive for championship’

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Entering the 76th season of the UAAP, the Ateneo Blue Eagles frontline was gutted out with big men Greg Slaughter graduating while JP Erram, Frank Golla, and G-Boy Babilonia all succumbed to injuries at some point during the season.

The Ateneo coaching staff, headed by Bo Perasol, sought for reinforcements during the off-season. During this season, the Blue Eagles debuted Nigerian student-athlete Chibueze Ikeh to anchor the defense. Expectations for the FSA were kept low by the Ateneo faithful as coach Bo Perasol during the UAAP press conference quipped that “he just has to do his job in rebounding.”

In his first two games, Ikeh posted norms of 7.5 boards in just 17.5 minutes of play. Some pundits quickly criticized the move to line-up Ikeh. Prior to their first game, Kiefer Ravena shared a story about a message exchange he had with their center. “Before the first game against FEU, I was texting Ikeh about how he was preparing for his first UAAP game. He forwarded me a picture of Dennis Rodman having 0 points and 20 rebounds. ‘I’m gonna do it this season.’”

But last Wednesday, Ikeh proved that he belongs. With Alfred Aroga and Kyle Neypes fouling out during the early parts of the fourth quarter, Ikeh, who had already put up eight points, dominated the boards and made clutch free throws to give Ateneo its first win against the NU Bulldogs in two years.

“Last game’s much-maligned player, [Chibueze] Ikeh stepped up today. He proved that he belongs to our team. He does not have to prove anything at all,” coach Bo Perasol remarked about his center.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Ravena: 'Ikeh is the key to Ateneo's drive for championship'    Ikeh, who had not scored a single point in his first two games, posted a huge double-double with 14 points and 17 boards, majority coming from the offensive end. “He worked hard in aspects of the game that we really needed, like rebounding and being a presence in the middle, in hitting those critical shots,” Perasol added.

For Ravena, Bueze is the key for the Blue Eagles’ Season 78 campaign. “With Ikeh this time and for a player who has not yet adopted to the UAAP, he really won it for us today. He is the key for our drive to the championship,” the Smart Elite ambassador shared.

A man of few words, Ikeh shared that he almost gave up on the sport he loves. “First off, all I have to thank my coaches, my captain, and my teammates for believing in me. At first I wanted to give up but they kept pushing me. I give God all the glory.”

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