Kouame, Ildefonso, out for Gilas Pilipinas due to injuries

Ange Kouame (left) and Dave Ildefonso will not be with Gilas in Korea. (FIBA/Dave Ildefonso Instagram via cnnphilippines.com)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team suffered another major blow.

With a few days left before the national team will fly to Korea for a pair of friendly games, Gilas will have to make major adjustments to their roster again after Ateneo Blue Eagles’ superstar center Ange Kouame will not join the trip after suffering a partial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear and a meniscal sprain.

Another star that will join Kouame on the sidelines is his Ateneo teammate swingman Dave Ildefonso who is currently nursing an ankle injury according to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).

Kouame, one of the more experienced players in the pool since getting selected as a member of the young cadet squad, is Gilas’ starting center and became the country’s naturalized player for the international hoops stints.

Meanwhile, Ildefonso is already a long-time member of the national team program since his Batang Gilas days and proved to be one of the most exciting small forwards in the UAAP.

This will be another setback for the national team as they are looking to bounce back after having its 13-year streak of winning the gold medal in the SEA Games broken after the team was upset by the revitalized Indonesian squad during the gold medal match.

The Filipino hoopers will only have one day left before flying to Korea as part of their preparations for the upcoming third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.

With Kouame and Ildefonso’s absence, the SBP and their coaching staff headed by Nenad Vucinic have yet to decide if they will look for replacements or will stick with a 10-man rotation against the Koreans.

Kiefer Ravena, Dwight Ramos, Rhenz Abando, Kevin Quiambao, RJ Abarrientos, SJ Belangel, Geo Chiu, Dave Ildefonso, Ange Kouame, LeBron Lopez, Will Navarro, and Carl Tamayo will lead the Gilas pack.