Kouame says incident with Akhuetie ‘wasn’t intentional’
Angelo Kouame has had an impressive run in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament in becoming Ateneo’s rock and making a case as one of the league’s best big men.
His high energy pace on both ends of the floor and quiet on court personality made him an easily likeable fellow among the UAAP-watching community until he had an unfortunate incident with University of the Philippines center Bright Akhuetie in Game 1 of the UAAP Finals.
Kouame claimed his collision with Akhuetieat the 6:31 mark of the third quarter that forced UP’s center to hyperextend his left knee was “unintentional.”
“That wasn’t intentional. People can get mad and I understand that, but what happened wasn’t intentional,” said the rookie Kouame. “It’s the game of basketball and anything can happen.”
Akhuetie was able to return to the game in the fourth quarter at the 7:04 mark but it was a lost cause for the Fighting Maroons as the Blue Eagles captured the 88-79 win Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Kouame said he tried apologizing to Akhuetie but he was met with deaf ears.
“I apologized to him but he doesn’t want to understand but I get his reaction,” said Kouame, who averaged 14.7 points and 12.9 rebounds before the finals.
Kouame then, became the target of angry UP crowd while fuming Fighting Maroon supporters hurled unnecessary and vulgar insults on social media.
Ateneo’s big man eventually finished with seven points and 12 rebounds but he admitted that the jeers affected his play.
“It had an effect on me but we’re all players and I have to stay focused on the game. Hopefully, it can help me switch in the coming days, take this out and embrace everything,” said Kouame.
“It has an impact on me right now and I never thought this would happen but it happened. I have to step up and live with that because it’s my rookie year and hopefully I’ll be ready for that.”