Ange Kouame reaffirms commitment to Gilas: 'I love my job'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2022 07:02 PM

Ange Kouame has been unable to play for Gilas Pilipinas in recent months due to a knee injury. File photo. FIBA.basketball
Ange Kouame has been unable to play for Gilas Pilipinas in recent months due to a knee injury. File photo. FIBA.basketball

MANILA, Philippines -- Ateneo de Manila University center Ange Kouame remains as committed as ever to Gilas Pilipinas, vowing to stay ready should he be called up to the national team in the future.

Kouame, the reigning Most Valuable Player of the UAAP, was admittedly frustrated after a knee injury kept him out of action in the past couple of months. He was diagnosed with a meniscal sprain and a partial ACL tear in June that forced him to miss the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers and the FIBA Asia Cup.

"Super frustrated," said Kouame of being sidelined. "Honestly, it was super painful for me, just to sit and watch them play."

"If I was there, maybe the result wasn't gonna change, it wasn't gonna be like a big difference. But I know like, deep down, me being able to be with your brothers, going to battle, it's something that's really meaningful for me," he added.

Kouame is expected to be available for Gilas Pilipinas upon the conclusion of UAAP Season 85, which likely opens in October. He has previously played for the Philippines in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament last year, as well as the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifying window in February 2022.

But Kouame could not play in the 31st Southeast Asian Games which clashed with the UAAP schedule, and his injury prevented him from suiting up in recent FIBA tournaments.

"If the national team calls me, for sure I will represent. I will still be there no matter what's going on," Kouame vowed. "At the end of the day, it's something that I chose, and I love my job, too."

"No matter what's gonna happen, I'm still gonna represent, I'm still gonna be present for the national team," he added.

Kouame admitted, however, that he has plans to play overseas at the end of the UAAP season and is hopeful that these plans won't clash with the schedule of the national team.

"After the season, I have other plans to play overseas, so we never know how things can go. It depends on how things go," he said.

"For sure I have options, but we'll figure it out after the season, after the UAAP season," he also said.

In the meantime, the focus for Kouame is to complete his recovery. The Ivory Coast-born center has yet to join the Ateneo Blue Eagles in practice, and is waiting to receive a full clearance from his doctors. He is unsure if he will be seeing action in the World University Basketball Series in Japan, where Ateneo will compete next week.

"If he will be called, Ange is always ready. Even for the past windows na he's hurt, he's dying to play," Ateneo team manager Epok Quimpo said. "It's just unfortunate. He has been playing like this for a year already."

"It's just about time that he had to rest and slow down, and do the strengthening that he needs. But of course, again, if he will be called to serve the country, he's more than willing," he added.

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