MANILA, Philippines — Ange Kouame is joining Gilas Pilipinas in its back-to-back away matches in the fifth window of the Fiba World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers next week with the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament also going on a break.
The naturalized center is eager to represent the flag if he makes the final roster after a knee injury forced him to miss stints with the national team since June.
Gilas is scheduled to play Jordan on November 10 and Saudi Arabia on November 13.
“If I’m part of the lineup, I’m happy to join. At the end of the day, it’s something I love to do, playing basketball. If they call me, I will represent the country for sure,” said the reigning UAAP MVP after posting 11 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks, and three steals in Ateneo’s 68-54 victory over La Salle on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-10 big man said he’s fit to play for the country despite the grueling schedule of the Blue Eagles’ campaign in the UAAP.
“Pretty good. For now, I’m still talking to the doctors if I should get surgery at the end of the season. But it will depend on how things go and how I feel at the end of the season. You’ll never know,” said Kouame, who averaged 5.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games played in the Asian Qualifiers.
The 24-year-old Kouame is just excited to play with PBA players, especially Japeth Aguilar, who has taken him under his wing.
“I’m really excited, especially during practice lately. To be able to see them, I was able to learn much from them too. It keeps me going because I’m trying to be like them, a professional one day,” he said. “For sure, kuya Japeth. He’s been with the team for a long time so I ask around everybody, also Chris [Newsome] when he was still part of the team. Right now, I don’t know if he’s still gonna play but there are so many people that I talk to and I try to learn from.”
If given a spot, Kouame is determined to help Gilas sweep the upcoming window and he thinks it’s achievable.
“This is good because we’re really hungry. We’ve seen the lineup, I think everybody deserves to be there. So I think it’s possible to get the sweep,” he said.
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