Cone sees Kouame complementing Brownlee
The Manila Times
TIM Cone sees no problem playing naturalized players Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame together when Gilas Pilipinas begins its gold medal quest in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China on September 26 against Bahrain. Having served the national team since 2021, Cone said the 6-foot-10 Ivorian-Filipino slotman can do so many things on the court. “He complements Justin very, very well because he’s a guy who can set a big screen, is a dominant rebounder, something we feel we lack (from the FIBA World Cup),” Cone said in an interview with PlayitRight TV recently. Kouame is fresh off a stint in the 42nd William Jones Cup where he was loaned to Rain or Shine as its import. Last December, Kouame concluded his collegiate career by winning his third UAAP men’s basketball title after leading Ateneo past rival University of the Philippines in the finals en route to winning the Finals Most Valuable Player. With this latest Gilas squad, Kouame will be adding more muscle and inside presence considering that Cone also included Calvin Abueva, Jason Perkins and Moala Tautuaa into the national team. Of course, barring any hitches on the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ appeal to the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee for Abueva and Perkins to be allowed as last-minute replacements, Cone feels Gilas now has a team that can compete against bigger Asian opponents due to their ability to control the boards. And while the PBA veteran forwards like Abueva can bring in rebounding, Cone noted that Kouame also adds versatility as the team will try to make some defensive switches when the need arises. But Ange is also a switchable big, defensively. He can switch to (guarding) small players, and he can change the way we defend,” observed the American mentor. The Gilas interim coach also doesn’t see a problem for Kouame to share the court with six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo. “Ange can also complement with June Mar, because he’s not the guy who can score like June Mar, but he can run the floor, set solid screens, and that’s what we really need for Justin,” he added. Gilas is currently in a closeddoor training at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna. The national team will face Meralco in a scrimmage game on Tuesday.