Kouame: Bright incident not intentional
MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo's Angelo Kouame was under fire after figuring in an incident that saw UP star Bright Akhuetie crash on the floor and writhe in pain before getting stretchered out due to an apparent left leg injury in the second half of the UAAP Finals opener on Saturday, December 1.
But Kouame quickly defended his side and apologized to the 2018 season MVP.
"People can get mad, cause yeah [we got tangled up], but it wasn't intentional. I wanted to go up but he was in my way. I didn't know what really happened. I'm really sorry about that," said Kouame.
"It's the game of basketball, anything can happen. I’m really sorry about that if that offended people."
The two centers were battling for position at the paint, but Akhuetie planted his foot the wrong way while the Ateneo rookie was about to run up for a screen. Unfortunately, their legs got hooked, which led to Akhuetie tripping on Kouame's leg.
After Akhuetie fell on his left knee, he couldn't get back up, which prompted the medical teams from both Ateneo and University of the Philipines to help stretcher the Nigerian off the court.
Kouame tried to apologize to Akhuetie during the game, but the UP center was brushing him off at the heat of the moment. It was only after the game when the two centers made up, greeting each other with high-fives.
But the incident did not sit well with Paul Desiderio, and later, the UP fans also started jeering and booing Ateneo's Ivorian rookie whenever he had the ball.
Akhuetie, though, surprisingly managed to return to the floor at the 7:04 mark of the 4th quarter.
Team reports said Akhuetie suffered from a hyperextended knee. Although it's not a serious injury, he's expected to do therapy in the next few days.
Kouame receives boos from UP while the Ateneo crowd cheers him on!— Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) December 1, 2018
He splits from the line. 76-72, Ateneo #UAAP81Finals #OneBigUPFight #OneBigFight #OBF #ATINeo #UPFight #16Strong #AtinTo pic.twitter.com/fqlvrwqyNR
Kouame admitted that he was affected by the insults thrown at him, but he tried his best to stay focused on the game.
"It has an impact on me, especially right now. I really feel that," said Kouame after the game.
"I never thought it's gonna happen, but this has happened and I have to accept that and live with that 'cause it's my rookie year. More things are gonna happen and hopefully, I‘ll be ready for that."
The Blue Eagles took the first game of the best-of-three Finals series over the Fighting Maroons, and they look to wrap the series up for their second straight crown on Wednesday, December 5, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com