Countdown to NCAA 93: Perpetual confident in post-Akhuetie era

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AJ Coronel and Gab Dagangon will be among Perpetual Help’s leaders in Season 93, with Bright Akhuetie gone. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – University of Perpetual Help is moving on sans its former Nigerian star, Bright Akhuetie.

The Altas will parade a veteran roster when it launches its campaign in the NCAA Season 93 tournament that opens on July 8 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

With Akhuetie taking his talents to University of the Philippines, the Altas are now pinning their hopes on their other Nigerian cager, Prince Eze, as they try to match their Final 4 finish last year. The Altas were one win away from advancing to the Finals but bowed to eventual champions San Beda College in a do-or-die affair.

Perpetual Help coach Nosa Omorogbe, however, stressed that they cannot be too reliant on the 6-foot-11 Eze if they hope to match their achievement from last year.

“We’ll need contribution not just from Eze, but from all the players,” said Omorogbe, who also played two seasons for Perpetual Help a few years ago before getting the call to coach his alma mater in Season 92.

While they lost Akhuetie, Perpetual Help still has its old core composed of AJ Coronel, Gab Dagangon, JG Ylagan, Kieth Pido, Flash Gordon Sadiwa and Jack Hao among others.

They spent their preseason campaign adjusting to life after Akhuetie, and won only three of their eight games in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup.

However, one of those wins was an impressive 60-59 upset of Ateneo de Manila University that denied the Blue Eagles a spot in the quarterfinals.

“It’s a process,” Omorogbe said of their campaign. “There are no shortcuts to success. But we’re slowly but surely improving, and I expect more improvements come the NCAA tournament proper.”

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