MANILA, Philippines – La Salle star forward Kevin Quiambao is set to replace former Ateneo anchor Ange Kouame just three days before Strong Group Realty kicks off its 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship campaign, head coach Charles Tiu confirmed on Tuesday, January 24.
Assuming all goes well with his last-minute visa approval, Quiambao will provide a much-needed interior presence that Kouame could have given in a perimeter-heavy team led by former NBA players Nick Young, Renaldo Balkman, and Shabazz Muhammad.
Strong Group will make its debut on Friday, January 27, 11 pm (Manila time) against the UAE National Team.
Kouame, who is coming off a successful UAAP sendoff with the Ateneo dynasty, was put out of commission with dengue just as Strong Group was in its final stages of preparation for the Dubai tilt.
Pressed for time, Tiu even took to Twitter to crowdsource some possible replacements, and replies included names like Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Henry Galinato, Michael Phillips, and Andray Blatche.
Newly-naturalized Filipino Justin Brownlee swung by to watch a Strong Group tuneup game and could have also been a great option, but he is currently tied to his duties with the PBA’s Barangay Ginebra and the Gilas Pilipinas national team.
Quiambao now joins in the front court his La Salle predecessor Justine Baltazar, current NCAA MVP Will Gozum, and new UP star recruit LeBron Lopez.
Jerom Lastimosa, JD Cagulangan, BJ Andrade, Migs Oczon, Inand Fornillos, and Sedrick Barefield make up the rest of the highly-talented pocket tournament squad. – Rappler.com