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Kouame, Abarrientos boost Jones Cup-bound Strong Group-Pilipinas

MANILA, Philippines -- Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Ange Kouame and guard RJ Abarrientos have been added to the growing Strong Group-Philippines roster set to fly the flag high in the 43rd William Jones Cup. 

The Philippine representative announced the signing of the two cagers Sunday, hiking its squad to six players with still over a month to go before the annual invitational tourney in Taiwan on July 13 to 21. 

They will join Kiefer Ravena, former PBA champion import Chris McCullough, Jordan Heading at Caelan Tiongson. 

Kouame, the ex-anchor of the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP and Asian Games gold medalist for Gilas, is plying his trade with averages of 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in France as import for the UB Chartres Métropole in Nationale Masculine 1 club. 

The former FEU stalwart Abarrientos, for his part, averaged 7.8 points and 2.4 assists per game in this first season with the Shinshu Brave Warriors in the Japan B. League after transferring from the Korean Basketball League. 

“I'm really, really happy to represent the country again. It's another opportunity for me to win this competition,” said Kouame, who will play in his third Jones Cup after stints with Ateneo and Rain or Shine. 

“I'm very excited because it's my first time on the team, and I'm eager to play with my kuyas and to represent our country again,” beamed Abarrientos. 

“I’m also thankful for the opportunity given to me by SGA. I can't wait to join them and compete on the big stage.”

Strong Group-Philippines will be mentored by Charles Tiu with hopes of getting the job done this time around for the country’s seventh Jones Cup title after a tough runner-up finish in Dubai.