MANILA, Philippines -- Reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player Ange Kouame is unsure if he can play for Ateneo de Manila University in the upcoming World University Basketball Series (WUBS), as he is still recovering from a knee injury.
The Blue Eagles will leave for Japan on Sunday to play in the tournament, where they will be up against collegiate teams from Japan, Indonesia, and Chinese Taipei. It will be the first taste of action for Ateneo since losing in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball finals to the University of the Philippines.
Kouame, Ateneo's naturalized center, admitted on Wednesday that he does not yet know if he will be playing in the WUBS.
"It's still a question mark, because my leg doesn't respond the way I want it to," he said. "I think I might, or I might not be. It depends on how it will respond in this coming week."
Kouame was diagnosed with a meniscal sprain and a partial ACL tear in June, which kept him from playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia Cup and the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.
He said Wednesday that he has yet to fully join the Blue Eagles in practice, although he is already doing running and jumping exercises.
"We'll figure it out," said Kouame. "It's not yet sure, but I might be. We'll try to fix as much as we can, and try to be better."
The Blue Eagles did not join any of the various preseason tournaments currently ongoing in the country, instead opting to focus on their training while playing tune-up games against other collegiate squads.
The WUBS will serve as the debuts of Ateneo's new recruits, including Kyle Ong, Sean Quitevis, Kai Ballungay, Andrew Bongo, and Paul Garcia. They will still have the remaining members of their core, including Dave Ildefonso, BJ Andrade, and Geo Chiu.
Ateneo will play the Tokai University Seagulls of Japan, the National Chengchi University Griffins of Chinese Taipei, and Universitas Pelita Harapa (UPH) Eagles of Indonesia in the tournament.
Their first game is on August 9 against Indonesia's UPH.
Catch replays of UAAP Season 84 games via the UAAP Varsity channel on iWantTFC, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.