UAAP: MVP Bright Akhuetie credits magical Season 81 run to team effort
Santino Honasan on Nov 29, 2018 12:15 PM
"We see ourselves as one family, so that’s what we do. We help each other, we push each other. That was what got us this far." - Bright Akhuetie
University of the Philippines is on a magical run in the 81st season of the UAAP, and at the forefront of it are their three big stars in MVP Bright Akhuetie, super sophomore Juan Gomez De Liaño, and star skipper Paul Desiderio.
In his debut season with the Fighting Maroons, Akhuetie has posted season averages of 18.9 points, 14.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, earning him the Most Valuable Player nod and a spot in the Mythical Team.
Juan GDL, the other Maroon on the Mythical Team, has been stellar for the Diliman-based squad as well, with all-around remarkable averages of 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. In the do-or-die matchup against Adamson, Wednesday night, Juan dropped a career-high 30 to help propel the Maroons to their first finals berth in 32 years.
Desiderio's production has dipped compared to his last two seasons with UP, but the senior has been the Fighting Maroons' heart and soul. Wednesday night, it was Desiderio who scored the final five points to seal the deal.
It would be hard to imagine where UP would be without their big three, but for the MVP, it isn't just about them, but rather a complete team effort.
"These guys, it’s not just me, Paul or Juan, it’s everybody," Akhuetie said proudly. "You can’t match the energy of Pio [Longa] on the bench. He’s so energetic in practice and all that, these guys won’t stop pushing and they will give you the motivation to do more."
More than what each man on the roster brings to the table, Akhuetie adds that it's their bond as a family that has helped get them this far into the season.
"We see ourselves as one family, so that’s what we do. We help each other, we push each other. That was what got us this far."
Aside from the #16Strong, Akhuetie also gives a lot of credit to the coaching staff, led by head mentor Bo Perasol.
"Coach Bo and the other coaching staff won’t stop talking to us individually or as a team to make sure that we put ourselves together. That’s how we got this far."
Now, Akhuetie and the Maroons face one more test in reigning champions Ateneo De Manila in a battle of Katipunan-based universities.
Heading into the Finals as the underdogs, Akhuetie says that it's not about proving people wrong, rather it's more about winning the big one for themselves, for the team, and for the people who have stood behind them all season long.
"We’re not trying to prove anybody wrong. We just want to go there and play basketball, and definitely win it for our team, our school, our community, the fans and their families, and everybody," he said.
The UAAP Finals begins on Saturday, December 1st at 3:30 PM. Catch it LIVE on ABS-CBN channel 2, ABS-CBN S+A channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD channel 166, iWant, and on LIVESTREAMING.