MANILA, Philippines — Ange Kouame will have to follow up on some big names as a naturalized player of Gilas Pilipinas with the likes of Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche coming before him.
But the Ivorian big man, who just received his Filipino citizenship earlier this week, is taking the expectations and pressure of being part of the Nationals in stride.
"I actually feel the pressure, but it depends on [me] whether I put myself on people's thoughts or I play the way I always play," Kouame told 2OT on Thursday.
"They (Filipinos) believe in my potential so I have to believe in my potential too and go with the flow," he added.
The two-time UAAP Champion is expected to have a big impact with Gilas Pilipinas, with no less than former national team coach Rajko Toroman foreseeing a significant role for Kouame in growing the team's competitiveness.
But while Douthit and Blatche's journeys with the national team are definitely good role models to follow, Kouame is seeking to make his own mark and play the way that he wants to play.
Rather than putting himself at odds with his predecessors, the 23-year-old will be seeking to just play his role in the team and to make Gilas better with his skills.
"I don't really want to try to compare myself to mga 'kuyas'," Kouame said of Douthit, Blatche.
"I'll [just] try to go with the flow and may God help me in this way," he concluded.
Kouame is expected to make his first trip as part of Gilas Pilipinas in the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and Olympic Qualifying Tournaments coming in June, pending the remaining requirements he needs to be eligible per FIBA regulations.
Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com