Challenge accepted in the PBA, says Kouame 

Published February 26, 2021, 6:47 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Angelo Kouame isn’t backing down on future challenges he will face when Gilas Pilipinas competes with professional Filipino cagers in the PBA.

Kouame, in a recent episode of The Game on One Sports, said he is looking forward to playing alongside PBA big men like San Miguel star June Mar Fajardo and Ginebra stalwart Japeth Aguilar.

“I like to accept this challenge because there are my ‘kuyas,'” said the 23-year-old Ivorian center. “For me playing against them is something that I think is gonna be challenging for me but I would like to accept this challenge.”

The naturalization process of the Ateneo center is part of Gilas Pilipinas’ long-term program en route to the 2023 FIBA World Cup the country is co-hosting alongside Japan and Indonesia.

And in a recent committee hearing presided by Senator Richard Gordon, Kouame reiterated his desire to represent the Philippines in future tournaments while hoping to suit up for the coronavirus-postponed third window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Doha, Qatar.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) in early February welcomed the idea of the PBA and Commissioner Willie Marcial regarding Gilas’ participation in the 46th PBA Season tentatively set in April.

But the postponement of the FIBA qualifiers cost a huge hit on Gilas’ availability in the league. Prior to the FIBA fiasco, SBP had planned to discuss the invitation further with the PBA once the team arrives in Doha.

It has been a long time since the national team participated in the PBA as Smart Gilas Pilipinas last saw action in the Commissioner’s Cup in 2011.

The Rajko Toroman-led Gilas squad was bannered by former naturalized player Marcus Douthit, Japeth Aguilar, Marcio Lassiter, Mark Barroca, Chris Tiu, JVee Casio, Aldrech Ramos, and Mac Baracael, reaching the semifinals before losing to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

In 1985, the Northern Consolidated Cement (NCC) national team under the helm of late legendary coach Ron Jacobs dominated the Reinforced Conference as a guest team after a four-game sweep of Manila Beer in the finals.