Perpetual dynamic duo tames Benilde

Perpetual Help’s Scottie Thompson soars for a one-handed drive against St. Benilde Jose Saavedra en route to a triple-double game during their NCAA encounter at The Arena. Joey Mendoza Jr.

MANILA, Philippines - Bright Akhuetie sparkled with a league-best score in six years - 44 points - he spiked with 19 rebounds while Scottie Thompson dished out a triple-double game as Perpetual Help waylaid St. Benilde, 77-69, to join San Beda in the lead in the 91st NCAA men's basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.

Atoning for his mediocre nine-point output in the team's 70-61 win over Lyceum last Tuesday, Akhuetie went into an attack mode early, using his 6-8 frame to the hilt to dominate the paint and the boards. He also turned in two assists and the same number of steals and blocks.

"I had a bad game last time so I came determined to play better," said Akhuetie, who, however, made eight turnovers.

"Hulog sya ng langit (he's heaven's sent)," said Perpetual coach Aric dela Rosario of his Nigerian import, who took up basketball only four years ago after giving up football where he excelled as a striker and a goalie.

Akhuetie's 44-point barrage was the highest since Jose Rizal's John Wilson uncorked 48 markers in a 95-85 triumph over St. Benilde six years ago.

Thompson also shone with 14 points, 12 caroms and 10 assists for his first triple-double of the year and fourth overall including two last year on his way to bagging the MVP honors.

"I just went to someone hot and on this game it was Bright," said Thompson, a member of the SEA Games gold medal-winning Gilas cadet team and one of the top prospects in the PBA Draft in August.

Akhuetie and Thompson more than filled the void left by another Nigerian, Prince Eze, who was sacked for one game for a flagrant foul against the Pirates, and Gab Dagangon, who injured his hip late in the first half.

Earlier, Arellano University survived a fourth quarter siege by Lyceum and escaped with an 80-78 victory for a 1-1 card.

Jio Jalalon also bounced back from a lethargic four-point game in a 61-78 loss to the Jose Rizal Bombers last week as he came through with 20 points and a league-high 12 assists.

"I just want to make it up after a bad game. I just don't want my team down," said Jalalon, who spiked his effort with six boards and four steals, in Filipino.

The Pirates had a chance to send the game into overtime but Joseph Gabayni lost the ball during a driving play and rookie Mer Ayaay missed a lay up as time expired.

Lyceum, which was led by 20 points apiece by Gabayni and Shaq Alano, fell to 0-2.

In juniors action, La Salle-Greenhills bounced back from a forfeiture with an 87-62 rout of Perpetual Help.

In the other seniors match, Letran shocked Jose Rizal U, 78-62, to force a three-way tie for the lead.

Rey Nambatac sizzled wtih a game-high 25 points while co-captains Kevin Racal and Mark Cruz had 15 and 12 markers, respectively, for the Knights, who recently drew support from boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.

"Yes, he (Pacquiao) will support the team," said Letran mentor Aldin Ayo, who quit his job in the KIA coaching staff under Pacquiao in the PBA to concentrate on the Muralla-based squad's NCAA campaign.


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