Ateneo BJ Andrade and Ange Kouame will lead Ateneo’s campaign in the first-ever World University Basketball Series (WUBS) which starts on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan. UAAP photo

Ateneo vying in WUBS in Japan

August 5, 2022 Theodore P. Jurado 121 views

WHILE other schools are competing in multiple off-season leagues to make up from the absence of tournaments in the past two years, Ateneo, which is determined to return to the UAAP men’s basketball throne later this year, will play again overseas.

The Blue Eagles will participate in the first-ever World University Basketball Series (WUBS), an “invitation-only” event which features the top for Asian university teams, this month in Japan.

The series will be start on Tuesday at the Yoyogi National Stadium Second Gymnasium in Tokyo, where Ateneo will go up against Pelita Harapan of Indonesia, National Chengchi University of Chinese-Taipei and Tokai University of Japan.

“I really feel excited about this competition,” said naturalized center Ange Kouame of the ideal off-season preparation the Eagles needed before UAAP Season 85 in October. “It is a good opportunity for us.”

Kouame, who missed the third and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers last month due to knee injury, is still recovering and hopes to be fit, not only in Ateneo’s international joust but also in the UAAP.

The four teams will compete in a round-robin format across three days to determine the champions.

“Sana makapagpakita at manalo ng mga games,” said Eagles guard BJ Andrade.

Established only this year, the WUBS will empower talents and communities by inspiring emotions and excellence through the power of sports with a focus on equality, empowerment and engagement.

The 18-man squad will leave for Japan on Sunday.

Also, Ateneo introduced a Jared Brown, who committed to play for the Katipunan-based school and is eligible to play in next year’s UAAP tournament.

A product of Westmont, Brown was sad to leave the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school but said he “wanted to become part of something super special” with the Blue Eagles.

“It was kind of a no-brainer because I knew what this opportunity was gonna do for my career. I’m excited to be part of something special even though I have to sit out this year,” said Brown, whose mother is from Quezon City.

Expected to fill the void left by point guard SJ Belangel, who will play in the Korean Basketball League, Brown is ready for the challenge to play in one of the most storied UAAP men’s basketball programs.

“I just want to do whatever it takes to win at the end of the day because that’s all that matters and I want to help my teammates in any way possible,” said Brown. “I want to play for coach Tab (Baldwin). Ateneo has a rich history. I’m super excited to play in front of crazy crowds.”

Brown’s brother-in-law, Kris Rosales, plays for PBA club NLEX and is a close friend of former high school teammate Chris Koon, who will be reunited once he suits up for the Blue Eagles

“Ateneo’s no joke in terms of preparing for the season,” said Brown.