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Kouame eyed as PBA import

Ange Kouame is expected to draw interest from PBA teams. (Photo from Jones Cup)

Despite a forgettable stint in the William Jones Cup, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao wants to see one of his imports, Ange Kouame, to play in the Philippine Basketball Association.

In the latest episode of Down To The Wire podcast, the outspoken mentor stressed that Kouame should be given an opportunity to see action in the country’s top professional league.

After powering Ateneo de Manila University to three titles in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, the 6-foot-10 Kouame decided to stay in the country and play as a naturalized player for Gilas Pilipinas in major international tournaments.

The PBA, however, still considers him as a foreign player, making him ineligible to see action in the Philippine Cup.

His only chance is if he suits up as an import, but the league only allows foreigners who are not taller than 6-foot-9 to compete in the Commissioner’s Cup.

“There’s a limitation because Ange is nearly seven-feet tall,” Guiao said during the weekly sports show of DAILY TRIBUNE on Tuesday night.

“There’s no conference for imports with unlimited height. Our tallest (import) should only be 6-foot-9.”

“Even if we want to bring him in as an import, it’s not possible because of our present rule.”

Guiao, a former commissioner of the defunct Philippine Basketball League, said the only way for Kouame to play in the PBA is through handicapping rule.

“A good idea, maybe, is to let Kouame play for the three bottom teams. Perhaps the league can implement no restrictions on the height limit for imports of these teams,” Guiao suggested.

“It’s more like a handicapping.”

“I think it would be a good idea. If you’re in the last three teams, for you to gain a slight advantage, you don’t need to have a height limit for imports, but the rest should follow the 6-foot-9 rule. If you
were to ask me, I’m okay with that.”

The PBA had implemented the handicapping rule in the past in which it allowed bottom teams to field imports of unlimited height while the top-performing squads were limited to smaller reinforcements.

There was even a rule back in 1977 when Mariwasa, a league doormat, was even allowed to bring in an import, Billy Robinson, in an All-Filipino conference.

Robinson eventually led the team to its first and only finals appearance against a formidable Crispa squad.

The handicapping system could work in favor of teams like Terrafirma and Blackwater, which are constantly at the bottom of the standings.

Guiao said if ever the league adopts his suggestion, he expects Kouame to hold his own against equally bigger opponents.

“I think it’s possible, (that he can dominate in the PBA),” Guiao said, referring to the Ivory Coast-born slotman who served as their pillar of strength in the recent Jones Cup.

“If the PBA will have a conference with imports playing at an unlimited height limit, there will be teams that will show interest in him.”

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