SENATOR Sonny Angara was elated after President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the naturalization bill for Ateneo de Manila University center Ange Kouame.

/ 19 May 2021

Angara, also the chairman of  Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), is optimistic that Kouame will be a big boost for Gilas Pilipinas.

“I, together with the rest of the SBP are excited for Kouame to officially join our Gilas Pilipinas as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers, the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and other tournaments,” Angara said in a statement.

“We are likewise grateful to our counterpart author from the House of Representatives, Cong and SBP Vice Chair Robbie Puno, for his untiring efforts in pushing for this measure’s approval,” he added. 

Angara further said that at 6-feet-10 inches, Kouame will definitely beef up our talented Gilas squad and bring with him the hard work and tenacity that has helped deliver championships to the Ateneo Men’s Basketball team in the UAAP. 

“And with the likes of Kai Sotto and Dwight Ramos also committing to be part of the national squad, I am very optimistic about our chances in future international basketball tournaments,” he stressed.

Angara is the principal author of Senate Bill 1892 on the naturalization of Kouame which is the counterpart of House Bill 8632 filed by SBP Vice Chairman Rep. Robbie Puno.

Kouame hails from the Ivory Coast but has spent the last few years in the Philippines, studying in Ateneo and playing for the Blue Eagles. 

Kouame was the UAAP’s Rookie of the Year in Season 81 and helped Ateneo complete a perfect 16-0 campaign in Season 82. 

According to the SBP, Kouame will now undergo the final steps required by FIBA before a naturalized player can suit up for the country.