Proudly Filipino
Angelo Kouame

Proudly Filipino

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2021 - 12:00am

Duterte signs Kouame’s naturalization

MANILA, Philippines — Now a certified Filipino, Gilas Pilipinas slotman Angelo Kouame can’t wait to finally play for his “kababayans” in international competitions like next month’s FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Clark.

“I seriously don’t know how to express my emotions right now but I’m proud to be a kababayan,” Kouame said upon receiving news that President Duterte yeterday signed into law the measure granting him Philippine citizenship through Republic Act 11543.

For the Ivorian-born player, work doesn’t stop with becoming Pinoy.

“Let’s keep moving, business ain’t done… Puso!!!” said the 6-foot-10 Ateneo standout, who will provide Gilas with a much-needed boost in the middle with his size and athleticism.

The most immediate task for now is to secure the necessary documents and formalize the 23-year-old’s shift in playing nation.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) hopes to get everything done in time for the June 16-20 Asia Cup Qualifiers and the succeeding FIBA Olympic Qualification Tournament slated June 29-July 4 in Serbia.

“Kouame will now undergo the final steps required by FIBA before a naturalized player can suit up for a country and we are confident that he’ll be able to play during our hosting of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and the FIBA OQT,” SBP president Al Panlilio said.

The SBP chief said Kouame’s naturalization augurs well for the country’s bid to make a strong showing in the basketball showpiece two years from now.

“Although Kouame’s presence is crucial for these two tournaments, having him as an official member of the squad in the upcoming games is an early investment as we build towards the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup,” he said.

Kouame has been training with the youth-laden Gilas pool even while his naturalization was pending in Congress.

Panlilio thanked President Duterte, Executive Sec. Salvador Medialdea, Senators Bong Go, Sonny Angara, Joel Villanueva and Richard Gordon, and Rep. Robbie Puno for paving the way for Kouame’s naturalization.

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