Head coach Bo Perasol said Bright Akhuetie only needs to go through therapy “in the next couple of days,” to get his left knee right.
Akhuetie suffered an injury in an apparent collision with Ange Kouame in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball finals between University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University at Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.
“The doctors have seen him. Wala naman daw serious injury,” Perasol said of Akhuetie. “He needs to be checked tomorrow, and he needs to be therapied the next couple of days.”
Akhuetie did not speak to reporters.
The Fighting Maroons’ team doctor said Akhuetie hyperextended his knee, which forced medical staff in the arena to carry the Season 81 MVP out of the court on a stretcher.
After that incident, which happened with 6:31 left in the third quarter, Akhuetie rejoined the team on the bench then was subbed in some 3 minutes into the fourth quarter.
He finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Teammate Diego Dario said the Fighting Maroons encouraged each other to fight on after Akhuetie’s momentary departure.
“Gelo Vito talked to us when Bright got out. Sabi niya, we’ll do it for Bright. Do everything to you know win this game to compete with Ateneo so that is what we did and I think we had a good fight against them,” Dario said.
Although the game was closely fought even without their big man, Dario acknowledged that losing Akhuetie was critical.
“Like a few minutes na wala si Bright, that is kind of a big loss, kasi sabi nga ni coach. Bright has a multiplier effect on the team so when Bright’s there everyone gets better because all the defense is attracted to him,” Dario said.
However, the graduating guard lamented UP’s poor end-game execution, which he insisted they need to work on in the coming days before the must-win Game 2 on Wednesday.
Dario even stressed that fatigue should not be a concern for his team now if the Fighting Maroons want to extend the series to a winner-take-all.
“We have to work on that, be more disciplined especially in the end game. When we’re tired also s’yempre heavy minutes din ’yung iba they have to think and play through the fatigue,” Dario said.
Moving forward, Dario said the team will take a rest first then make necessary adjustments on Monday before the Game 2.
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