UAAP Finals: Kouame insists contact with Akhuetie was unintentional
Danine Cruz on Dec 01, 2018 09:15 PM
"[The boos] had an effect on me." -- Ange Kouame
Ateneo de Manila University's Ange Kouame extended his apologies to Bright Akhuetie after the former's contact with the latter caused a hyperextended left knee in the Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 Finals.
UP's Akhuetie fell on one end of the floor after Kouame's hit with 6:31 left in the third quarter. Akhuetie was visibly angry as he kept hitting the floor while curling up in pain. Medical professionals from both teams rushed to Akhuetie's side to give him medical attention. He was eventually brought to the dugout for further assessment.
Moments after the match that saw Ateneo draw first blood in the best-of-three series, 88-79, Kouame shared his side of the story.
"That wasn't intentional. People can get mad 'cause yeah, 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. It's the game of basketball, anything can happen. I'm really sorry about that if that offended people," said the Ivorian rookie.
After icing the affected area, Akhuetie eventually returned to the match with seven minutes left in the final frame. As usual, Kouame was the one guarding him and during their match-up, Kouame said that he said sorry to his fellow big man.
"I apologized to him but he didn't want to understand. I get it, I get his irritation, but it's still basketball. I can't complain about it," Kouame added.
Akhuetie was seen dismissing Kouame during the fourth quarter, but after the final buzzer, both players still shook hands.
"I expect a lot of tough match-ups especially in the next game. I hope I'm gonna be ready for that," said the Rookie-of-the-Year frontrunner.
Due to the sequence that saw a Fighting Maroon hurt, Kouame was at the receiving end of boos from the UP side of the crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena. Every time he went to the free throw line, UP fans were in unison in booing him.
"It had an effect on me. We're all players, but I still had to stay focused on the game. I mean, it has an impact on me, especially right now. I really feel that. 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," he said.
Kouame and the rest of the Blue Eagles will seek for win number two on Wednesday, December 5 to seal their 10th title in the UAAP.
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