Gilas bigs Kouame, Tamayo to play vs Serbia

Angelo Kouame (left) and Carl Tamsyo (Fiba photos)

Naturalized player Ange Kouame and Carl Tamayo are expected to play Gilas Pilipinas’ opening match in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament against host Serbia on Thursday, July 1 Manila time.

Gilas coach Tab Baldwin made this assurance after the conditions of Kouame and Tamayo improved after sustaining injuries prior to their departure from Pampanga where they won the final three games of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and battling China to a 79-all tie.

Kouame suffered a knee bruise against China while Tamayo sprained his ankle during Gilas’ 76-51 rout of Indonesia in the continental qualifiers.

“They’re very much on the road to recovery. They’ll both play,” Baldwin said in the web program Hoops Life which aired Tuesday, June 29. “Both are not 100 percent, but I think they’re good enough and I think that we’ll be able to use them, we’ll be able to rely on them and I think they’ll give their best.

“If there’s any reduction in their effectiveness, I don’t think it will be very much,” added Baldwin.

Having the 6-foot-10 Kouame on the floor will be crucial for Gilas as he and Kai Sotto, among others, hope to hold their own in the paint against taller and heftier players from Serbia.

Kouame averaged 10.0 points and 6.7 rebounds during the qualification matches back home.

Tamayo registered 8.0 points and 2.5 rebounds highlighted by a 10-point output in Gilas’ 84-81 victory over South Korea in the first meeting, but his stint in the qualifiers ended when he stepped on the foot of Arki Wisnu while going for the rebound during the fourth quarter against Indonesia.