By JONAS TERRADO
Ange Kouame said he relished the opportunity of playing against 7-foot-3 NBA player Boban Marjanovic during Gilas Pilipinas’ 83-76 loss to host Serbia in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.
The Gilas naturalized player said it was a great experience playing against the Dallas Mavericks center despite enduring a difficult battle inside the shaded lane through the contest that saw the Filipino quintet coming so close to pulling off a stunning upset.
“It was super tough,” Kouame said. “I mean, that was a battle for me especially for the other guys because they really helped me a lot especially to keep him off the board so we willed and battled. I mean he’s tall, he’s long, he has a huge wingspan, so getting the rebound defensively and to be able to keep him out of the paint was the biggest problem for me.
“The outcome is what it is and I mean, this is a great learning experience and I’m trying to picture it and get better for the next couple of players like him that I’m gonna play against,” he added.
Kouame had 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in a solid showing for the Ivorian-born Ateneo center despite having to deal with a bruised knee prior to the OQT.
But Kouame also said that there’s still room for improvement since he is far from what he wants to become by the time the Philippines gets to host the FIBA World Cup in 2023.
“Right now, I keep on improving every aspect of my game. Like (Gilas coach Tab Baldwin) said, he wants me to be inside and be a presence outside as well,” Kouame said.
“I mean, we keep learning this is a learning process and I enjoy it so I think two years from now I will be on top.”