Gilas Pilipinas’ Ange Kouame is now eligible to see action for his debut in FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Clark following the FIBA’s approval for the 6-foot-10 center’s registration.

/ 14 June 2021

After being naturalized and acquiring his Philippine passport last week, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) announced on Saturday the FIBA’s approval of the registration of Kouame as an official Gilas Pilipinas player.

The approval of the world basketball body means the Ivorian-born center can now suit up for the Gilas pool, and the FIBA’s go signal came at the perfect timing, just four days before the third window of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers (ACQ) at Clark Freeport.

The 6-foot-10 Kouame will take action in the Clark qualifiers, where the Philippines hosts South Korea on June 16 and 20, and Indonesia on June 18.

Tab Baldwin, director of the Gilas Pilipinas men’s program, acknowledged that Kouame, 23, remained a work in progress.

“This decision is consistent with the whole program because it’s a vision to the future,” said Baldwin.

“We’ll try to accomplish short-term goals while we’re really focusing on our long-term objective of forming a Gilas team that can genuinely compete with the Top 10 teams in the world come 2023.”

SBP President Al S. Panlilio also expressed elation with the development as the association remains grateful to everyone who worked hard to make it possible.

“As we’ve always said, the earlier we see Ange wearing a Gilas jersey for an official FIBA game, the better it would be for our program in the long run,” he said.

“We’re thrilled that he’ll get the chance to play in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers here at home and we cannot wait to see him and the rest of the team in action.”

Panlilio also expressed his thanks to the various government agencies who worked to fast-track the naturalization of Kouame.

“We thank our allies from the Bureau of Immigration, Department of Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, Senate, and Office of the President as it was their swift action that led to this important step in our program,” said Panlilio.