Ateneo center Angelo Kouame officially gained his Filipino citizenship as his naturalization bill was signed into law, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) announced on Tuesday.

/ 20 May 2021

“I seriously don’t know how to express my emotions right now but I’m proud to be a kababayan,” Kouame said.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No.11543, granting Kouame Filipino citizenship allowing him to join the Philippine national men’s basketball team.

The 6-foot-10 cager was from the Ivory Coast but spent his last few years in the country, where he studied at Ateneo de Manila University and played for the Blue Eagles.

Kouame has been training with the Gilas Pilipinas pool since November, however, he will be needing to fulfill FIBA’s other requirements for naturalized players before he can don the national colors on the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“We are confident that he’ll be able to play during our hosting of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia,” said SBP president Al Panlilio.

“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 added.

Now being officially a kababayan, Kouame is filled with gratitude and extends his appreciation for all the people who made this possible.

“Thanks to all the people that were part of this process helping in the up and down. Thank you Lord for the opportunity given and let’s keep moving, business ain’t done. Puso!,” he said.