The big show: Ra Gun-A, Ange Kouame excited for SoKor-PH showdown

Jun 16, 2021
Right: Fiba

ROUGHLY three years ago, the Korea-Philippines match in the 2018 Jones Cup saw a showdown between veteran Ricardo Ratliffe and young big man Ange Kouame.

At the time, the Ateneo Blue Eagles held aloft the country's flag on the hardcourt.

Ratliffe, now known after his naturalization as Ra Gun-A, dished a massive 16 points and seven rebounds in the first half to set the tone for Korea, which eventually won at 90-73.

As much as he took delight at the win, he couldn't help but notice the Ivorian big man who made 10 points, 16 rebounds, two blocks, and a steal for the Philippines.

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    Now, the two will face each other again on Wednesday night for the third window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers, with both vividly remembering that Taiwan duel.

    During their media scrum upon arrival in the country, Ra shared that he’s looking forward to facing Kouame again.

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    "It's been years," he said. "He's been putting in weight, he's been studying teams and studying our team, so I look forward to play against [Gilas] and see how much they improved since then."

    Hours before their match, as both teams vie to book a ticket to Indonesia for the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup, the Ateneo big man returned the favor.

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    He, too, is eager to again meet the 32-year-old on the court.

    Kouame, who’ll be making his Gilas debut after his own naturalization happened last month, has a high regard for the veteran’s overseas experiences, and looks forward to picking up what he can from it.

    “Yeah, I feel the same [about him],” he said. “I’m excited to go against him because he has a lot of experience internationally.”

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