UAAP: Uncertain future awaits Ateneo minus Ange Kouame, other key cogs
MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo faces an uncertain future without three key players next year.
Blue Eagles coach Tab Baldwin admitted he is not yet sure what to expect heading into next season without Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso and BJ Andrade.
“I don’t know. Many of them are underclassmen. They have more eligibility. We have a lot of recruits coming in next year, so you know, in our program, we don’t play around with the truth,” said Baldwin after the Blue Eagles reclaimed the title after a 75-68 win over University of the Philippines in Game 3.
“And the truth is if you wanna be a Blue Eagle next year, you gotta fight for your spot,” he added.
Ateneo will have huge holes to fill next season with Kouame, Andrade and Ildefonso having exhausted all their playing years.
“I can’t imagine coaching without Ange Kouame. I’ll wake up tomorrow and Ange won’t be on my team,” said Baldwin.
The naturalized center was hailed Finals MVP after averaging 17.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks in the championship series.
Ildefonso, who is heading to play overseas, and Andrade normed 12.0 points and 9.5 points, respectively, in their final season with Ateneo.
“They’ll all play professionally. I think that you might see very diverse paths for them. Ange, of course, can’t play in the PBA, but he’s gonna be good enough to play as an import,” said the champion coach.
Fortunately for the Blue Eagles, they will welcome three major recruits in Mason Amos, Jared Brown and Albert Opeña Jr. who will play alongside key mainstays Kai Ballungay, Chris Koon and Mythical Five member Forthsky Padrigao.
Padrigao is expected to be the focal point of Ateneo next year. He averaged 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.3 steals in Season 85.