The race is on to naturalize Angelo Kouame by the second window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
The papers to turn the 6-foot-11 Ivorian big man into a Filipino are now in the hands of the House of Representatives.
“It’s now in Congress for Kouame, Ange Kouame to be naturalized, and we’re just waiting for it to be finalized,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio during an episode of the Sports Page.
The selection of Kouame over the likes of Justin Brownlee and Chris McCullough for the time-being is a no-brainer.
With just a full month before the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers bubble opens, Gilas Pilipinas need a player who is very familiar with Tab Baldwin’s system.
“Our choice of a naturalized player will obviously complement the kind of team that we have at the moment. Coach Tab would echo this statement as well, that we need a big guy who can really man the slot for us.”
Kouame has been a key cog in Ateneo’s last two championships in the UAAP.
During his second season, he averaged 12.5 points, 11.79 rebounds, and 3.86 blocks per contest.
But it won’t be just Kouame who will be naturalized as the country prepares for the 2023 FIBA World Cup here.
“We’ve got a couple of names also in the situation, and hopefully they’ll also be given an opportunity to be given naturalized citizenship for the Philippines.”
Gilas take on South Korea and Thailand on November 27 and 30, respectively.