Gilas ’naturalized player Angelo Kouame considers his debut game against South Korea to be the toughest he has had in his young basketball career. (FIBA)

The Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Angelo Kouame finally made his much-anticipated debut against South Korea and received rave reviews for his steady play and solid presence in the shady alley with a buzzing three-pointer, the 23-year-old said it was the most challenging game that he’s ever played in.

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“It was the toughest game of my entire career, but I expect there will be more games like this,” said Kouame. “It’s an experience that we have to learn from and keep moving.” In the fire against a Korean troop who wanted to avenge their defeat against the Philippines when the two last met in 2013, Kouame and the Gilas were burned early when they fell even down by 17 points. However, Kouame said they kept their cool and held together despite Korea’s early onslaught. “We were actually focused. Whatever the outcome, we’d stick together. In my first international match, I was surprised how it went, how tough it was, ”said Kouame. “As the game progressed, we had to improvise and go with the flow.” Kouame finished the game with twelve points, three triples, six rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot. However, he almost cost Gilas the game when he missed a free throw that gave them a four-point lead. That eventually resulted in Korea scoring a triple, tying the game at 78: all. “I missed the free throw so I thought if we lost this game it would be my fault,” said Kouame. “But coach Tab (Baldwin) briefly reminded me not to think about the last game. It’s the next game that matters so I focused on what would happen next. ”The next game, they say, was history when Belangel put in an unlikely three to give Gilas the win. (JNP)

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