FIBA World Cup

Amid UAAP title chase, rivals Kouame, Quiambao keep Gilas commitment

JR Isaga
Amid UAAP title chase, rivals Kouame, Quiambao keep Gilas commitment

La Salle's Kevin Quiambao and Ateneo's Ange Kouame at the UAAP Season 85 men's basketball tournament

UAAP Season 85 Media Team

UAAP rivals Ange Kouame of Ateneo and Kevin Quiambao of La Salle momentarily set aside mutual hostilities and title aspirations to answer the country's call of duty

MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo star Ange Kouame and La Salle rookie Kevin Quiambao are keeping their commitment to Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign at the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers, both men confirmed on Saturday, November 5, as the UAAP started its two-week break to make way for the fifth window.

Despite both Ateneo and La Salle being in the mix for title contention for the Season 85 men’s basketball tournament, both big men are ready to set aside school pride and rivalries for the country’s call of duty if ever they are selected in the final rosters.

“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 Kouame, the reigning UAAP MVP, after Ateneo’s 68-54 rout of Quiambao’s La Salle.

“I won’t be with my [La Salle] teammates for the entire 11-day break, so I’ll just give my best for Gilas and give my full focus on them for now,” added Quiambao in Filipino.

Kouame and Quiambao are the UAAP’s only representatives in the national team pool after UP star Carl Tamayo begged off on Saturday due to injury management.

If ever the two are chosen, they will likely join a mix of in-prime Japan B. League stars like Dwight Ramos and the Ravena brothers Kiefer and Thirdy, along with top PBA stars like Scottie Thompson, RR Pogoy, and Japeth Aguilar.

“Of course, I’m most excited to see kuya Kiefer, kuya Scottie, and the rest. They are the ones guiding me on the court and correcting my mistakes in practice,” Quiambao continued.

“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. I’m really excited to play with them,” added Kouame.

“For sure, [I want to play with] 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’s so many people that I talk to and I try to learn from.”

The national team will fly out of the country within the week to play in Jordan on November 10 and Saudi Arabia on November 13. – Rappler.com

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