Ange Kouame’s performance served as the silver lining for Ateneo De Manila University during its Game One loss in the UAAP Season 84 Men’s Basketball Finals.
He came out with 18 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and two steals in 30:23 minutes of action. In Game Two, Kouame had another dominant performance and showed why he was hailed as the best player in the league this season.
The naturalized Filipino anchored the comeback bid of the defending champions after putting up a near triple-double performance of 14 points, 14 rebounds, and eight blocks. He also produced an assist and a steal which allowed the Blue Eagles to escape with a 69-66 victory to force a deciding Game Three against the Fighting Maroons.
After pulling off a nail-biting win, Kouame claimed that simply playing his brand of basketball and enjoying the moment with his teammates on the floor led him to have a solid performance on Wednesday evening.
“I was trying to stay in the moment, just let the game come to me and enjoy the process at the same time,” he shared. “It was really fun to be out there and being there with my teammates, enjoy the moment like the moment where we know the feeling where the pressure is on us.
“I was just out there doing the thing that I usually do — just play basketball and enjoy the moment.”
Prior to tip-off, the 6-foot-11 center was officially named the league MVP after garnering 69.214 statistical points (SPs) with his averages of 12.86 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.07 blocks, 1.71 assists, and 1.0 steals in the elimination round. He was the first Atenean to win the top individual plum since Kiefer Ravena did in Season 75.
For Kouame, ending his MVP campaign with a championship isn’t exactly the motivation that he has in mind at the moment. Instead, he just wants to leave it out all on the floor and do whatever he can to help end the collegiate careers of Tyler Tio, Gian Mamuyac, and BJ Andrade on a golden note.
“I don’t think I wanted more than my teammates so for me, it didn’t really matter at the moment,” Kouame admitted.
“Like I said, I talked to them before the game like it won’t be joyful like I’m in the corner and feel like I’m an MVP ‘cause it’s not on my mindset. Like I said, them and I went through a lot so I really want to enjoy this last moment with them.”