Former UAAP MVP Bright Akhuetie has been tapped by the Nigerian national team to see action in the 2023 FIBA World Cup African Qualifiers.

/ 24 November 2021

The 6-foot-8 big man joins a 16-man pool led by ex-NBA players Ben Uzoh and Ike Diogu, where they will compete against 16 continental rivals for five berths in the world meet scheduled in August-September 2023 and co-hosted by Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Akhuetie, who last saw action during UAAP Season 82 with the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, steered UP to the finals in the same season, ending the school’s 32-year finals drought.

He averaged 14.7 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.5 steals during the league and was awarded the MVP plum since Benjie Paras in 1986.

The Nigerian has one year of eligibility left to play for the Fighting Maroons, but since Season 83 was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Akhuetie decided to fly home to Nigeria.

Nigeria, with an average height of 6-foot-7 and average age of 27, will be manned by Julius Nwosu, who once led Red Bull to the 2002 PBA Commissioner’s Cup title.

The D’Tigers will start their campaign with back-to-back games against 100th-ranked Cape Verde and 75th-ranked Mali on Friday and Saturday. 

The Nigerian squad ended up winning one game at the expense of Korea, in the group stages before finishing 17th. 

They then competed in the Tokyo Olympics last August where they finished 10th in a 12-team field.