Kouame, TNT core make up Gilas crew for upcoming Fiba window | Inquirer Sports
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SHOT IN THE ARM

Kouame, TNT core make up Gilas crew for upcoming Fiba window

/ 05:15 AM February 03, 2022
Angelo Kouame inside Gilas Pilipinas' training camp.

Ange Kouame (photo above) is being eyed to bolster a TNT core for the World Cup qualifiers. — SBP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–A bumpy road awaits Chot Reyes in his return to Gilas Pilipinas, considering the manpower woes and the little window he is given to put together a capable roster.

But he may just have found a timely shot in the arm.

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The Inquirer learned on Wednesday that Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is in the process of reeling in Ange Kouame, the Ivory Coast native who was made Filipino in May of last year.

“We are working with Ateneo regarding Ange,” Butch Antonio, who rejoins Reyes in the national cage program, said in a short message.

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Kouame, a 6-foot-11 center with high IQ and tireless motor, was one of the top performers for the young squad coached by Tab Baldwin during the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark Freeport and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia also last year.

Tabbing Kouame is the closest thing that Reyes and the national federation could do with regards to sustaining the strides made by Baldwin, as a glut of those young talents is currently unavailable for the showcase set Feb. 24 to 28 at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

Dwight Ramos, the big guard who was also a picture of efficiency in Gilas’ last two campaigns, is currently playing in the B.League in Japan.

Chot Reyes (right) is also busy preparing his TNT squad for the PBA Governors’ Cup. —PBA IMAGES

Returning national team coach Chot Reyes —PBA IMAGES

Reyes intends to use the core of his TNT roster for the window and has sought the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) assistance in preparing.

“We met virtually earlier this morning and he said he’ll be going with a hybrid kind of lineup for the upcoming Fiba games,” PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said over the phone also on Wednesday.

“Chot said he didn’t want to be a burden and disrupt the league so he’s going to use the core of his own TNT squad and inject it [with] Gilas players,” he went on.

The league chief said the move will also plunge TNT into a punishing schedule once the Governors’ Cup resumes, allowing Reyes to gain some valuable days to prepare for the Fiba stretch.

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The Tropang Giga currently has eight players with national team experience, namely Jayson Castro, Carl Bryan Cruz, Poy Erram, Roger Pogoy, Ryan Reyes, Troy Rosario, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Kelly Williams.

Aside from Kouame, another possible young gun who could be plucked by Reyes is former University of the Philippines guard Juan Gomez de Liaño.

In PBA news, Marcial said the PBA has finally secured the Big Dome for its resumption. The stalled Governors’ Cup is set to play all of its games there, except for the weeks where the iconic arena hosts the Fiba matches.

Also, Chris Banchero has signed up with Meralco after opting not to renew with Phoenix Super LPG.

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TAGS: Ange Kouame, Basketball, Gilas Pilipinas, TNT, World Cup
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