Perpetual Help’s Bright Ahkuetie (18) is fouled by Jeffrey Deles (18) of St. Benilde during their Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup game Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan. gDennis Caparas-Abrina/UPH Media
MANILA, Philippines Perpetual Help unleashed Nigerian Bright Akhuetie as it survived a stubborn College of St. Benilde, 81-78, on Wednesday to clinch a quarterfinals berth in the 2015 Filoil Cup at The Arena in San Juan City.
Akhuetie, a 6-8 native of Enugu, Nigeria who will be eligible in the forthcoming 91st NCAA cage wars, bulldozed his way to season-highs 35 points and 20 rebounds he spiked with three assists, a steal and a block to power the Altas to the top of Group A with a 6-1 (win-loss) record.
More importantly, the Perpetual Help barged into the quarters alongside fellow NCAA school Jose Rizal, which also totes a 6-1 mark.
“We want to make it to the quarterfinals and at the same time gain confidence and experience in all the games we play,” said seasoned Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario in Filipino.
Akhuetie stepped up big in the absence of team captain Earl Scottie Thompson, who will be leaving to join the Gilas cadet team eyeing no less than a gold medal in the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
Gab Dagangon scattered 13 points, including a pair of booming triples while Kevin Oliveria did most of the dirty work with eight points, eight boards and five assists.
The 6-11 Prince Eze, another African recruit, was hobbled with foul trouble and wound up with six points and eight caroms in just 11 minutes
It was Akhuetie, however, who shone the brightest.
“He’s a good kid and works and plays really hard in both practices and actual games,” said Del Rosario of Akhuetie.
Perpetual Help is using this pre-season tournament to challenge reigning five-peat champion San Beda for the title.