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The Altas are in need of help after Omorogbe-Akhuetie brawl
by rick olivares pic by mark cristino for rappler
With the Perpetual Help Altas on the eve of a return trip to the Final Four; the first of the post-Aric Del Rosario era, all is not smooth sailing in Las Piñas. First they lost two consecutive matches to San Beda and Mapua respectively, and now their top player and head coach are at literal loggerheads and at each other’s throats.
Forward-center Bright Akhuetie who is currently third in the statistical race for the Most Valuable Player (behind Arellano University’s Jiovani Jalalon and Letran’s Rey Nambatac) has had major disagreements with first year head coach Nosa Omorogbe since the latter took over from Del Rosario at the start of the year. It has led to some benchings of Akhuetie during the summer and just last Wednesday, a day after their loss to San Beda, it turned downright nasty as the two engaged in fisticuffs.
According to eyewitnesses, the two Nigerians clashed during practice when Omorogbe was incensed with what he perceived to be the non-interest of Akhuetie in taking part of the drills during practice.
“He (Akhuetie) was suspended because of an attitude problem,” said the former Altas center turned head coach. “He got into a fight with me.”
According to Omorogbe, Akhuetie prefers not to practice “and only waits for the scrimmages. During practice, he wasn’t joining the drill so I told him that he can leave the gym. And he said 'don’t ever talk to me like that. And don’t tell me to leave the gym because you do not have the authority to do so.’”
The coach alleged that Akhuetie pushed him and he shoved back which led to him breaking a chair while the player went for the stick (from a mop). The two tangled and exchanged blows before security officers were able to separate the two.
According to Akhuetie, he wasn’t feeling well during the match against San Beda as he had a fever and a bad cough. “During the practice, I was having a difficult time because of my condition and I informed the physical trainer about how I was feeling. But I was there. And Coach pushed me twice before I pushed back."
The player also alleges that the coach hurled a few expletives towards him which caused him to lose his temper. He also said that Omorogbe threatened to further inflict bodily harm on him.
The entire basketball and volleyball team witnessed the fracas. According to athletes who refused to be named, they said it was disappointing to see this happen and that it has also hurt morale. “We just want to play basketball and try to make the finals,” said one player who was disappointed that his team isn’t playing to its full potential given the rift between its center and their head coach.
Omorogbe said that Akhuetie is still with the team but was suspended for the last match. “I don’t care how he plays or what his decision is."