|Ange Kouame was held to just five points against New Zealand as he might also need to keep his emotions in check. FIBA/Paul Ryan Tan|
QUEZON CITY—Ange Kouame was a non-factor for Gilas Pilipinas on Sunday night against New Zealand in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Credit that to the Tall Blacks' intimidating defense on him.
Rob Loe and Tom Vodanovich joined forces in frustrating the 6-foot-11 Ateneo center, holding him to just five points, four rebounds, one block, and one steal in 26 minutes of action.
Loe and Kouame even had some verbal tussles throughout the game that hurt the latter's cause further.
With Kouame's offense already suffering, it also spilled to the defensive end as Vodanovich and Loe each tallied double-doubles.
But for Coach Pero Cameron, the Tall Blacks' successful stifling of Kouame is their showcase of respecting what Kouame could bring to the table.
"He's a tremendous athlete, and I think he's a young center coming through and he's doing well. He's a very good rim protector," Cameron said after his team's 88-63 win.
[Related Story: NZ obliterates Gilas, nears sweep of WCQ QC window]
Cameron's game plan on Kouame was simple: keep him away from pick-and-pop situations.
"It's just a different dynamic marking a pick-and-pop guy, and then just to continuously put him in those actions is hard," Cameron bared.
With only a few successful screen games for the night, Kouame was forced to do more post moves, which helped Loe defend him more.
Kouame was held to just four shots all game long, and with the emotions sinking in too, Coach Chot Reyes to rely on TNT bigs Poy Erram and Kelly Williams for most of the second half, where New Zealand pulled away for good.
"I'm sure they exploited most of it. With Rob as your guard, it's possible," Cameron further said.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno