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Tab: Kouame as MVP leader a testament to Ateneo culture

There’s no denying that Ange Kouame has been a force to be reckoned with for Ateneo de Manila University all season long.

After an eventful stint with Gilas Pilipinas as its naturalized player, he didn’t waste any time in using his well-earned experiences with the national team to sustain his fine play in the collegiate ranks.

Despite having a strong case to win the league’s top individual plum, Kouame still chose to put his focus on helping his team nab their fourth straight UAAP crown this season. According to him, his decision to do so is a way of expressing his gratitude to his Ateneo teammates who have stood by his side when he was going through tough times prior to Season 84.

“To be honest with you, I’d rather be a champion than to be MVP,” admitted the 24-year-old big man. “I give credit to my teammates also not just me because I remember before the beginning of the season like I was feeling down from Gilas. The way how they all messaged me to tell me that this is family, you have all the time to come back and be ready for the season.

“This is what motivates me to push myself every single day, especially for this season and I try to do that for them also.”

At the moment, Kouame is the frontrunner in the UAAP MVP race after putting up a total of 180 points, 154 rebounds, 29 blocks, 24 assists, and 14 steals through 14 games played in two rounds of eliminations. Based on Tiebreaker Times’ unofficial count, he is currently topping the league with 69.214 statistical points followed by DLSU’s Justine Baltazar (63 SPs) and UP’s Zavier Lucero (60.929 SPs).

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Without a doubt, Kouame’s dominant showing continues to be a significant factor in the team’s bid to contend for their fourth consecutive title this season. Still, Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin reiterated that winning individual awards is not part of his priority list, especially at this stage of the season.

He also believes that his players think the same way which is why they don’t put too much emphasis on individual accolades and numbers as compared to team success.UAAP-84-MBB-ADMU-vs.-FEU-Tab-Baldwin-0003 Tab: Kouame as MVP leader a testament to Ateneo culture ADMU Basketball News UAAP  - philippine sports news

“I think he’s had a hell of a season but I don’t care about individual awards,” the multi-titled mentor admitted. “I don’t think the players care too much about it. It’s always nice, I guess it’s a validation that you’ve had a good season but the players know whether they get awards or not.

“They know whether they’ve had a good season, they know what there is to improve on.”

More than anything, staying true to their respective roles remains to be the most important thing for the Blue Eagles as they all try to help the team win more games as their campaign progresses. Baldwin also expressed his confidence that Kouame is going to be the first to deflect the credit for being the MVP, should he win the award this season.UAAP-84-Mens-Basketball-Ateneo-vs-FEU-Ateneo-1-scaled Tab: Kouame as MVP leader a testament to Ateneo culture ADMU Basketball News UAAP  - philippine sports news

“Our environment is very, very much a shared environment. We don’t think in terms of what I did or what I have to do other than how that’s gonna impact everybody else. I would echo Ange’s sentiments that if he’s fortunate enough to be named the MVP, that’s a credit to the season he had,” the former Gilas head coach said.

“But the first thing he’s going to do is he’s going to credit the contributions of his teammates to how he played. And I think we all feel that way.”

In true Ateneo fashion, Baldwin claimed that Kouame’s potential MVP award will only be made possible through a collective effort put out by the Blue Eagles. Having that mindset is only a testament to the type of culture that the team has fostered and how it continues to help them achieve the level of success that they aspire to have for themselves this season.

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“We’re not going to let him have the MVP all by himself. We’re all going to take a piece of it home,” he quipped. “It’s just like the championship trophy. If he’s fortunate enough to win that, there’s clear knowledge that everybody in our program contributes to the success of all of us.

“That’s our culture and we’re proud of that culture. We think it contributes to our success so we will continue to speak like that.”

All UAAP games stream live on GigaPlay presented by Yamaha. Download it now on Android or IOS.SMART-x-Yamaha Tab: Kouame as MVP leader a testament to Ateneo culture ADMU Basketball News UAAP  - philippine sports news

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