Photo credit: Angelo Kouame/Facebook
The waiting game is finally over for Angelo Kouame’s naturalization. The 23-year-old Ivorian center is officially a Filipino citizen after his naturalization bill was signed into law this month.
Kouame will now be recognized as a country’s naturalized player for FIBA-sanctioned tournaments. This couldn’t have come at a better time, since Gilas Pilipinas will host the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers next month and fly to Serbia for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July.
Kouame, for his part, confirmed the exciting news with a three-word tweet.
Photo credit: Angelo Kouame/Twitter
Kouame proudly writes, “Pre, Filipino ako,” alongside an emoji of the Philippine flag. The player has always been considered a kababayan in Filipinos’ eyes, especially around the Katipunan area.
The dude practically learned the sport in the Philippines, honing his craft upon joining the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles. Under head coach Tab Baldwin’s guidance, the 6’10” leveled up his game, leading the Blue Eagles to back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019, while also winning Rookie of the Year honors in 2018.
Kouame will be joining the ranks of former Gilas Pilipinas naturalized athletes Marcus Douthit and ex-NBA player Andray Blatche.
His naturalization signals Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ (SBP) desire to prove Jordan Clarkson and Remy Martin’s Filipino citizenship to FIBA, in hopes of allowing them to play for Gilas as locals in the future.
Kouame, meanwhile, is currently inside Spire Academy in Calamba, training alongside his fellow Filipiinos (Yes, naman!) for the qualifiers.
Mabuhay ka, Ange!
Who else should become a naturalized player? Does Angelo Kouame’s Gilas participation help our country in the qualifiers?