Ateneo tower Kouame cherishing chance to go toe-to-toe with CEU pillar Diouf
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jun 24, 2019 06:02 PM
Ange Kouame and Maodo Malick Diouf has been the must-see matchup in the 2019 PBA D-League Finals (Photo courtesy of PBA Images)
Cignal-Ateneo bounced back big-time in Game 3 of the 2019 PBA D-League Finals following an upset loss to move one win away from the championship.
At the forefront of that mighty rebound was Ivorian tower Ange Kouame who made his presence felt all over for 10 points, nine blocks, and seven rebounds.
Personally, it was also a bounce back game for the UAAP 81 Rookie of the Year after he got outplayed by CEU counterpart Maodo Malick Diouf in Game 2.
"I just had to come strong from the other game because I was really quiet the last game. I wanted to play better for my teammates," he said.
While Kouame had 14 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks then, he also allowed Diouf to impose his will to the tune of 23 markers, 16 boards, four steals, two rejections, and two assists.
Of course, Blue Eagles mentor Tab Baldwin challenged all of his players, not just their 21-year-old big man, to play better. "Coach told me that defense wasn't really great (in Game 2). He was complaining about all of us - not just me, but everybody," the latter recalled.
And without a doubt, it was Kouame who was the first to answer the call - and in the end of Game 3, the Scorpions' pillar still had a 19-point, 20-rebound double-double, but had to work for all of it.
Through the highs and lows in the series, the Cignal-Ateneo center is only grateful to be matched up opposite one of the best foreign student-athletes in college in Diouf. "He really challenges me. I really like the intensity with him because he's pushing me to learn," he said.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.