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Ateneo's Ikeh proves worth with first UAAP Player of the Week citation

Chibueze Ikeh of Ateneo de Manila University | File photo

MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo center Chibueze Ikeh is slowly but surely proving his worth with the Blue Eagles in the UAAP Season 80 men's basketball tourney.

Now playing in his third year with the team, Ikeh has emerged as one of the key cogs in the Katipunan-based five's bid to reach the Promised Land anew, best typified by his impressive performance in the Eagles' last two games.

For leading Ateneo to a league-best 6-0 record and for showing he has what it takes, Ikeh earned his first UAAP Press Corps Chooks-to-Go Player of the Week award.

Ikeh beat Adamson's Papi Sarr and the Far Eastern University pair of Ron Dennison and Arvin Tolentino for the weekly individual plum.

Using his height and heft advantage to the hilt, the 6-foot-7 Ikeh averaged 12.5 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, and 1.5 bpg last week.

Against University of Santo Tomas last Wednesday, Ikeh scored seven points, pulled down 11 rebounds, and had three assists and two steals as the Eagles subdued the Growling Tigers 94-84.

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Three days later, Ikeh scattered a career-high 18 points to go with 11 caroms, one dime and two blocks in Ateneo's 96-83 drubbing of National U.

Ikeh, a native of Nigerian, has also showcased a new facet of his game when he took — and — buried two 3-pointers against the Bulldogs last Saturday.

“Coaches have been teaching me other facets of the game such as shooting, dribbling. I just found myself open and I just had to shoot it and went in,” Ikeh said.

“I’m not feeling any pressure. It’s just a game. If I miss, that’s okay. Coaches are teaching me every aspect of the game and that’s giving me the confidence I need," he added.

Ateneo's coaching staff, led by coach Tab Baldwin, was not surprised when Ikeh tried to extend his range because they were giving him the go-signal to do so.

“We weren’t surprised. The coaches have been giving him (Ikeh) the green light to shoot if he has a good rhythm to shoot it,” assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga said.

The Eagles go for a sweep of their first round campaign when they clash with arch-nemesis and defending champion La Salle this Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

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