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Jainaba Konateh starts to adjust to life at NU, in PH

Jainaba Konateh finally demonstrated why she could follow in the footsteps of National University legends Jack Animam and Rhena Itesi in the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Basketball Tournament.

The 19-year-old Gambian center, who averaged 4.6 points and 4.0 rebounds in the first round, produced 14 points, seven rebounds, and three steals in NU’s 84-74 victory over Ateneo de Manila University last Wednesday.

It was a sign that Konateh was finally adjusting to life in the Philippines. It also showed that she has a huge upside, which may cause problems for the Lady Bulldogs’ opponents in the long run.

“I played as a big man. My team helped me, as well as my coach. I want to say thank you to my coach, Aris Dimaunahan, and my team,” she said.

“It’s okay. The competition is very tough, but it’s okay. My coach tells me every day, ‘Don’t stop, go hard after I play.’”

Dimaunahan stated after the Lady Bulldogs’ victory over the Blue Eagles that he was proud of how Konateh held her own against MVP candidate Kacey dela Rosa and Nigerian center Sarah Makanjuola.

Makanjuola, in particular, was limited to just nine points, eight rebounds, and four steals. This was a far cry from her first-round averages of 10.14 points and 10.71 rebounds.

Konateh putting up a fine performance on both ends of the floor this early bodes well since, presumably, she will be with NU for four more years after this season.UAAP-85-Womens-Basketball-NU-vs.-ADMU-Jainaba-Konateh-05560 Jainaba Konateh starts to adjust to life at NU, in PH Basketball News NU UAAP  - philippine sports news

“Again, our foreign athlete is young, probably one of the youngest. She’s only 19. This is the first time she’s out of her country. She’s enjoying our journey with her being our player,” said Dimaunahan.

“She’s learning how our system works. It’s still a work in progress with her and us. It’s a two-way street for us and her in terms of developing her as a formidable big guy in the league.”

Generally speaking, adjusting to life as a rookie in the UAAP is a tough endeavor. It is doubly hard for Konateh since English is not her native language but French. She not only has to improve as a player but also get used to a different culture from her own.

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The good thing, though, is that she has the demeanor to be a sponge to her teammates and coaches.

“Dahil roommate ko siya, alam ko yung struggle niya pagdating sa big man kasi malaki talaga yung part niya sa team,” said Tin Cayabyab, who led NU against Ateneo with 18 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

“Nakikita namin na nakakapag-adjust na siya, nakakapag-adapt na siya sa kung paano lumaro yung team namin dahil, yun nga, first year pa lang niya ngayon, pero nandun pa rin yung natututo pa siya. Gusto pa niyang matutunan yung ibang bagay.”

UAAP-85-Womens-Basketball-NU-vs.-ADMU-Jainaba-Konateh-05569 Jainaba Konateh starts to adjust to life at NU, in PH Basketball News NU UAAP  - philippine sports newsAfter facing Dela Rosa and Makanjuola, Konateh will next compete against Far Eastern University’s Congolese center Josee Kaputu in their teams’ clash this Saturday.

NU dominated FEU 95-58 in the two squads’ first-round clash back on October 4, but Kaputu performed well and beyond Konateh during that game. Kaputu produced 27 points, 11 rebounds, and four steals in close to 35 minutes of action, while Konateh only mustered five points, six rebounds, and three steals in nearly 19 minutes on the floor.

It will no doubt be interesting to see if Konateh can perform considerably better against Kaputu in their second-round faceoff.

“We’ll have that matchup on our next game with her against Kaputu, who’s a very prolific scorer, good person, bait na bata, plays with a lot of heart,” said Dimaunahan.

“Her jumpshot is almost automatic so hopefully, we’ll have a little bit of that only. We’re looking forward for her to match up against Kaputu again.”

Written By

Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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