Helping keep Ateneo spotless, Kouame earns UAAP Player of the Week nod

MANILA, Philippines – The first round of the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament has been, for the most part, as competitive as it can come.

Yet there was one team that stood out from the rest – defending champion Ateneo.

The Blue Eagles came out of the first round unblemished in 7 games, with their 71-70 win over UST the only game that did not end up in a blowout victory. 

In the middle of that perfection was Angelo Kouame, who once again showed up for the Blue Eagles in their last two games on his way to becoming the Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week.

The commandeering center powered Ateneo to a dominant win over UE, 85-68, and then to a convincing victory in its finals rematch against UP, 89-63.

In those back-to-back games, the Ivorian tower averaged 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds, including 8.5 on the offensive end, as well as 5 blocks – making a legitimate case for MVP in the process.

After the first round, Kouame amassed 81.73 statistical points (SPs), trailing Soulemane Chabi Yo of the Growling Tigers, who emerged the front-runner in the MVP race with 82.71 SPs.

The 6-foot-10 big man, however, is not concerning himself with the top individual award as he keeps his eyes on helping the Blue Eagles win their third straight title.

"I'm just focused on the game because everybody has to do their job. When you do your job, you make the others better," he said.

"It's not just for myself. If I want to run for MVP, I'm not playing for the team and I'm playing for myself. I'm just doing my thing the way I always play."

Kouame edged out teammate Will Navarro, La Salle's Encho Serrano, FEU's Xyrus Torres, and UE's Alex Diakhite for the weekly recognition handed out by writers from print and online covering the league. – Rappler.com