'Aric Magic' reached Nigeria, just look at Bright Akhuetie

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 27, 2020 02:38 PM
'Aric Magic' reached Nigeria, just look at Bright Akhuetie
(Photos by Richard Esguerra, Arvin Lim)

Aric Del Rosario will always be one of the best coaches to ever do it in Philippine basketball.

In the eyes of one player, though, he's actually no. 1 on that list. "The best-ever," Bright Akhuetie said, short and sweet.

Akhuetie played under the always amiable mentor fondly called "Tatay Aric" in University of Perpetual Help.

Their relationship began before that, though, as it was the seasoned shot-caller who brought the 6-foot-8 Nigerian to the Philippines and to Las Pinas.

Once there, Del Rosario, just like he had done with many, many others, did his best to harness Akhuetie's potential.

The now-University of the Philippines Fighting Maroon was nothing but grateful to have had a coach to do that from the very start of his collegiate career. "Coach Aric was like a father to me. He brought out the best in me and my teammates back then," he shared.

He then continued, "He guided me on what to do and how to go about it not just on the court, but life in general."

In his one and only season under "Tatay Aric," Akhuetie averaged 21.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks.

Del Rosario moved on from the Altas after that season and the Nigerian powerhouse followed suit a year later.

Even as a Fighting Maroon, however, Akhuetie said he always looked to make his former mentor proud. "The last time I saw him, I think, was Filoil (Preseason Premiere Cup) in 2019 and he told me how proud he was to see me grow," he shared.

He then continued, "I'm glad I made him proud and I will always do."

Still, the UAAP Season 81 MVP wishes he could pay respects to Del Rosario in person. "It's too bad I can't be there right now with his family," he said, referring to the continuing community quarantine due to COVID-19.

Nonetheless, Akhuetie is only certain that "Tatay Aric" is doing well and good. As he put it, "I know he is in a better place right now. He is forever in my heart."


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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