UNIVERSITY of the Philippines needed Ibrahim Ouattara to step up on Saturday following the lopsided defeat against Ateneo on Wednesday and the Fighting Maroons got what they wanted.
After giving up 31 second chance points against the Blue Eagles, the Maroons got back on track and Ouattara played a huge part, dominating the paint with 14 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks in a big win over University of the East.
"I was trying to encourage Ibrahim to be a factor for us and he understood that the last two games, he was trying to adjust," said UP coach Bo Perasol.
"I really thought that with his rebounding today, we were able to settle down on defense unlike how we played against Ateneo when we gave up 31 second chance points," Perasol added.
Ouattara, initially barred from playing this season as the league declared him ineligible before the UAAP board reversed the decision, was glad to deliver after coming up with just two points against Ateneo.
"We really needed to bounce back after our game against Ateneo. We were poor defensively and rebounding. As coach said, we really have to secure those rebounds and limit second chance points to have a chance to win," said Ouattara.
Aside from the rebounds, Ouattara's presence was key when the Maroons went small, and it also allowed Paul Desiderio to take over.
"We were able to get shots. We were able to get Paul open. Most importantly, we really have to secure those rebounds and limit second chance points to have a chance to win," said Perasol.
Perasol said Ouattara's rebounding ability is a key to the Maroons' campaign this season especially with UP having to go up against the likes of La Salle’s Ben Mbala, Adamson’s Papi Sarr and National University’s Issa Gaye.
"We practiced the whole offseason with him. We gained some successes with him that is why it was really hard to accept that he won't be playing initially. But we were able to fight that back and he is here.
"I think we are a lot better with him. I don't think we will be better than a lot of teams as far as personnel. We have a good fighting chance with Ibrahim with us," said Perasol.