Angelo Kouame is now a Filipino.
This as the Ateneo senior’s naturalization bill has been put into law by President Rodrigo Duterte, Monday evening.
“The SBP extends our appreciation to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing it into law and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Senator Bong Go for their assistance,” said Samaahng Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio.
“Pre, Filipino ako,” tweeted the 6-foot-10 Kouame, who renounced his Ivorian citizenship to be a Filipino citizen, moments after the announcement made by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
With this, Kouame will be eligible to play for Gilas Pilipinas starting with the Clark window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers from June 16 to 20.
“Koaume will now undergo the final steps required by FIBA before a naturalized player can suit up for a country and 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 Panlilio.
It only took less than two years to complete the naturalization of Kouame.
Kouame, who arrived in the country when he was 18 years old, had Rep. Robbie Puno as his principal sponsor to back House Bill no. 8632.
It was passed last February 16, 2021.
In the senate, Sen. Sonny Angara authored Senate Bill no. 1692 — the upper chamber counterpart of HB no. 8632.
It cleared its third reading on March 15.
“We thank our SBP Chairman, Senator Sonny Angara, along with Senators Joel Villanueva and Richard Gordon for filing the bill in the Senate and our Vice Chairman, Congressman Robbie Puno, for authoring the bill in the House of Representatives,” said Panlilio.
“The SBP thanks all of our allies in both houses whose support has been crucial in pushing this legislation to further strengthen our Gilas Pilipinas Men.”
However, the transmission of the bill from the Senate to Malacanang was delayed for a while due to health and safety protocols.
Kouame had already been training with Gilas for the past few months in anticipation of this moment.
“It’s a great day for Philippine basketball and we’re thankful for the full support of our basketball community,” expressed Panlilio.
“Kami sa SBP ay naniniwalang ika’y lalaban Para sa Bayan. Maligayang pagbati, Kabayang Ange Kouame!”