TOWERING big man Angelo Kouame of Ivory Coast still has three years of eligibility for defending three-time champion Ateneo. One would think that is scary.
Making sure they will have a formidable and deep pool in the future, the Blue Eagles have added guard Kofi Agyei of Ghana and center Joseph Obasa of Nigeria to their program.
“They (Agyei and Obasa) just entered college and will be part of the program,” Ateneo team manager Epok Quimpo told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.
“(The team is doing) online training mostly,” he added.
Both foreign players will have to redshirt and serve the league-required residency before they could suit up for the Eagles after the 6-foot-10 Kouame, one of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas prospects for naturalization, ends his collegiate stint with the squad.
The 6-foot-10 Obasa and the 6-foot-5 Agyei were teammates at club team Nunga Coldstore Basketball in the Tema Basketball League in Ghana, with Agyei also playing other sports such as football and athletics.
Ateneo High School standout Forthsky Padrigao, also a member of the Gilas Pilipinas Youth team, is also expected to move up to the seniors’ squad.
The Eagles of Katipunan annexed their third straight crown last year, sweeping University of Santo Tomas in two games in the finals on their way to a perfect 16-0 season.Ateneo lost star wingman Thirdy Ravena, who is set to play as an import in the Japan B.
League; big man Isaac Go, twins Matt and Mike Nieto, who were picked in the special Gilas draft last December, and shooter Adrian Wong, who was drafted and signed up by Rain or Shine in the pro league.
Aside from Kouame, playmaker SJ Belangel, slotman William Navarro, wingman Gian Mamuyac, and guard Tyler Tio are likely to return and lead Ateneo’s bid to pull off a “four-peat” in the next UAAP cage wars.
Forward Raffy Verano and shooter Jolo Mendoza are expected to return to the Eagles after sitting out last season due to academics.
Ateneo will also parade blue-chip recruits Dwight and Eli Ramos in the league’s 83rd season.
With the health risks and uncertainties brought about by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the UAAP is eyeing to launch its new season, set to be hosted by La Salle, early next year.