Kouame stood up to 'older brother' Akhuetie in UAAP Finals

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 06, 2018 01:05 PM
Kouame stood up to 'older brother' Akhuetie in UAAP Finals
Ivorian Rookie of the Year Ange Kouame did not back down up against Nigerian Season MVP Bright Akhuetie.

Ateneo de Manila University’s Ange Kouame and the University of the Philippines Bright Akhuetie got to know one another a little too well in Game 1 of the UAAP 81 Finals.

In the third quarter their match-up last Saturday, Kouame and Akhuetie got into contact with one another and the latter fell to the floor, clutching his left knee.

Akhuetie had to be stretchered out of the court and into the locker room, but ultimately returned to the court.

Kouame, meanwhile, became the recipient of resounding boos from the maroon and white crowd for the remainder of the game.

Afterwards, the Blue Eagles’ Ivorian tower only admitted that the boos got to him.

Just a day later, it was revealed that it was Akhuetie himself who went out of his way to soothe the worries of Kouame. “We’re all good. He’s my boy,” the former was quoted as saying.

And so, come Game 2 last Wednesday, the two foreign student-athletes were, indeed, all good.

Without a doubt, Akhuetie’s gesture only helped Kouame get back into his groove. Asked about their online interaction, the latter answered, “That was kind of a motivation for me. Bright is like an older brother to me because we are both from Africa and we understand each other.”

He then continued, “So when he texted me, I was like, ‘Hey, I’m really sorry for what happened.’ He told me to just go play my game and don’t mind the crowd because these things happen.”

For sure, the Ateneo’s rookie reinforcement only heeded the call of the Fighting Maroons’ Nigerian powerhouse, posting a monster 22-point, 20-rebound double-double in his team’s title-clinching win.

For all of that, head coach Tab Baldwin is nothing but satisfied with Kouame. “After Game 1, I asked the team for a redemption game because I wasn’t happy with our defense and today, certainly, Ange had a redemption game. I thought he was outstanding tonight,” he shared.

That is even truer as the 19-year-old had to do all of that up against Akhuetie, the Season MVP. “He didn’t take for granted that he was the tallest guy out there, he worked extremely hard, and when you’re going up against a guy like Bright who’s clever and extremely strong, it’s not easy. And still, I thought he had a great game today,” Coach Tab said.

For his part, Kouame said he just gave his all for the blue and white. As he put it, “I gave my best out there. That was for the team and the community.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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