Angelo Kouame’s mom initially felt disappointed when he told her about his plans to become a Filipino.
“I talked to my mom about that. I think my family will be disappointed because they have plans for me,” he said back in February of 2020.
A year later, Kouame’s family seems to have embraced it.
In fact, the 23-year-old disclosed that his family in the Ivory Coast threw a celebration once the president signed his naturalization papers, Monday evening.
“She was happy because we were on the phone last Tuesday with all of my siblings, and they had like a celebration, their own celebration sharing food and everything. So I was really happy to see that all the family together happy about the news,” he told 2OT x Crossover, presented by SMART.
It was actually Kouame’s ‘Ateneo mom’ Debbie Tan who broke the news to him.
“I was at home when I learned the news from Tita Debbie, and she was the one who greeted me first and said, ‘Ange, congrats! The president has signed your papers!’ And I was like… Sabi ko, ‘Are you serious?’ I thought she was joking me and we started laughing.”
Of course, his second family — the Velosos, headed by dad Raffy and mom Elline — also threw him a small celebration.
“I was super happy and super hyped.”
But now the real work begins for Kouame. He is no longer just an Ateneo Blue Eagle; he is also Gilas Pilipinas’ rock for the next decade.
And his baptism of fire will be next month when Gilas faces South Korea and Indonesia in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, before taking on Serbia and the Dominican Republic in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Despite the tough task ahead of them, Kouame is relishing it. He believes that that experience will only help them come the 2023 World Cup.
“This new generation of players, this new group wants to build something different for this country. So for me, to be able to be part of it is something I really appreciate every single day,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we motivate each other and we gotta bring some more to progress.”
Safe to say, his three moms will be there rooting for him every step of the way.