By NIKOLE JAVIER
Ange Kouame’s UAAP mission is over, full recovery is up next.
Kouame, who led Ateneo back to the throne following a thrilling 75-68 victory over University of the Philippines last Dec. 19, is headed to undergo surgery for a partial ACL tear and meniscal sprain he sustained just six months ago.
The 25-year-old Kouame played through an injury and braved the pain to end his collegiate career in the most fitting way — as a champion.
Kouame put the finishing touches to his UAAP career with a solid performance after averaging 17.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg and 3.0 bpg in the best-of-three finals series.
“Me? Surgery . I’ll get surgery. And the rest, I’ll leave it to God. Only God has answers. I’m going home tonight and it’s still gonna hurt. I can barely walk properly. That’s a part of it. I like the process. I enjoy the game. I don’t see myself staying away from the game. What’s gonna happen is gonna happen,” said Kouame who also bagged the Finals Most Valuable Player award.
The 6-foot-11 center also had to beg off from his national duties as a naturalized player for Gilas Pilipinas in the third and fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Despite missing a lot of practices this season due to his injury, Kouame would deem his final year with Ateneo the “best season that I’ve ever had in my life.”
But while the credit doesn’t get past the Ateneo big man for his finals performance, Kouame would also like to share the glory with the “Buffalos”, their unnoticed bench players that put just as much hard work and effort into their championship fight, if not more.
“It’s not about Ange Kouame. It’s about the whole team. It comes to the bench players cause they really give their hearts during practices. And I missed a lot of practices during this season cause of my knee. So, props to them for making us better and this is where we right now cause of them. And I’m really thankful for those kinds of teammates that willing to give their hearts and leave the minutes out just for them to be able to make the people better. It’s about the whole team, it’s about the Buffalos,” added Kouame.