Recruitment coup: Maroons Final 4 bid suddenly turns Bright
Bright Akhuetie has already boosted University of the Philippines’ goal of making the Final Four in the men’s basketball tournament.
And he won’t even officially don a Maroons uniform until the 2018 season.
“Even right now, he’s already going to make us better,” said UP coach Bo Perasol Thursday night in Sports IQ, the Inquirer’s live omni platform sports talk show.
“Bright will be challenging our big men, he’s going to go up against every shot our guards take,” added Perasol. “Basically we now have a practice player who’s better and stronger and someone they really have to defend.”
UP pulled off the coup of the year when it pried Akhuetie away from University of Perpetual Help, and team manager Dan Palami said that even if the big man has to fulfill residency requirements, his impact will be felt as the Maroons gun for more quality recruits.
“We can say that Bright will not be the last marquee player we’ll be getting,” said Palami.
“It’s one of the positive aspects in recruiting Bright; at least the players we want to recruit now know that we are serious about the program.”
Akhuetie joined UP at the turn of the New Year after successful stints with the Altas, whom he led to several Final Four appearances in the NCAA.
UP finished with a 5-9 record as the sixth seed in Season 79, and though the Maroons failed to make the semifinals, Perasol said the next thing for them to achieve is to get to the Final Four.
“We can’t just have a goal of winning six or seven games,” Perasol said. “The next logical thing is to go for the Final Four this season.”
“Whether we like it or not, that’s the logical direction [we have to take].”
Perasol will be without several key guys this year, including go-to guy Jett Manuel, and he hopes players like Paul Desiderio will take this as their cue to rise to the challenge.
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