Dwight Ramos, Ange Kouame rue cancelled Korea games
MANILA, Philippines–Ange Kouame and Dwight Ramos were two key cogs in Gilas Pilipinas’ last two Fiba triumphs over old tormentor South Korea, and naturally, both were bracing for a vengeful outing by the visitors in this World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
But the global health crisis scrubbed a pair of rematches. COVID-19 virtually decimated the visiting delegation, prompting Korea’s national federation to pull out of the window of games here, even despite a risk of forfeiture and possibly missing the global meet altogether.
“I was really excited about these upcoming games. I know they’re gonna come for us cause we won in the last window,” said Kouame, the Ivory Coast native who was made Filipino by way of naturalization in May of last year.
Ramos, for his part, felt doubly disappointed. He has yet to experience playing a Fiba game before a home crowd, much less inside an iconic venue. Taking on a fancied foe while ticking off those boxes, would have been perfect for the big guard.
“I was really looking forward to it. I never really got a chance to play in front of a crowd. This is my first time playing here in Araneta and I was really excited to play against Korea,” he said.
The Philippines was supposed to play the Koreans twice on top of the matches against India and New Zealand.
The pandemic may have snuffed another must-see basketball, but not the pair’s resolve.
“Obviously, we prepared for four games,” Kouame said. “[But] we have to accept that.”
“[We] still (have) the same mindset,” he went on.
Ramos, who had been a picture of efficiency for Gilas in Fiba games, said the Filipinos actually now have a bigger reason to do well.
“With the games being reduced to only two games, it makes every game more important because we only have two this window,” he said.
“We have to make sure that we put up a good fight and try to get wins in both of those games.”