Ateneo’s Ikeh puts in the work, pulls off career outing
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 10, 2017 11:39 AM
NO SURPRISES. Chibueze Ikeh's hard work with his teammates and coaches paid off in a big way as he turned in his best game since 2016 to start the season.
Ateneo de Manila’s Chibueze Ikeh is a name that is seldom, if at all, mentioned to be among the best foreign student-athletes.
The UAAP’s reinforcements are bannered by Ben Mbala and Papi Sarr while the NCAA has powerhouses such as Prince Eze and Mike Nzeusseu.
Without a doubt, the Nigerian Ikeh’s averages of 5.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in two years is not in the same class as those four.
Then the Blue Eagles faced off against Adamson University to commence their campaign in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
And simply put, Ikeh was a beast.
The six-foot-seven center toyed with the Soaring Falcons’ frontline that did not have Sarr and totaled 18 points and 17 rebounds – 14 markers and 13 boards coming in the first half alone.
To the surprise of just about everybody, Ikeh was the difference for Ateneo in turning in his best outing since September 2016.
However, the Eagles themselves weren’t surprised at all. As coach Sandy Arespacochaga put it, “We weren’t surprised that Ikeh played a good game. He’s been playing well for us the past few weeks and practices and he has really stepped up his game.”
For his part, the third-year big man said his power performance is all thanks to his teammates who never lost faith in him. “My teammates, they’ve been the one pushing me to be in the right place and in the right time,” he said.
He then continued, “Sometimes I tend to slack off, but they’ve been telling me, ‘You can do it!’ So thanks to them.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Ateneo has more than capable mentors for big men. “He’s been working hard. He’s been working extra with coach Gene Afable, coach Ford Arao, and coach Alton Lister,” Arespacochaga shared.
He then continued, “He’s been putting in the work, that’s why I mentioned earlier that we weren’t really surprised.”
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.