Angelo Kouame was part of Gilas’ one-week training camp at Inspire Sports Academy.
And it’s because of two things.
First, of course, is to help out the young team that was set to embark to Manama, Bahrain for a couple of games against Thailand in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
“We worked on Thailand’s tendencies. We know they played a fake zone defense that turned man-to-man in the end. But Coach Jong (Uichico) and Coach Tab (Baldwin) did a great job in preparing us and we can say that the system really works,” shared the 22-year-old Ivorian during an episode of 2OT.
The second was about culture.
“We are trying to ready Ange come February so the important thing we want to do at this point is for him to be part of the system, part of the pool, understand exactly the system that we are trying to implement,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio during another episode 2OT.
“Chemistry will play a big factor and that is why we included him in the pool because it is no secret anyway, might as well utilize him this early as part of our scouting team for example, and be related on how we want to do things.”
The 6-foot-10 big man, who is studying in Ateneo, was not able to join Gilas in Bahrain as his papers for naturalization are still in congress and the senate.
Though the process to turn him Filipino began last February, the idea of it was already brought up to him back in July of 2018 after the William Jones Cup.
“I had to ask for the approval of my mom.
“In the beginning, she was afraid that I’m going to lose my Ivorian citizenship. That’s why I asked permission from my mom. I wanted to see her reaction before making my decision,” said Kouame.
After months of back and forth with his mom, he was able to get her permission.
Now, Kouame is just a few months away from being a full-fledged Filipino. And after watching Gilas’ 93-61 win over Thailand last Friday.
“Who would have thought that I’ll become a Filipino naturalized player? I’m not Filipino from the blood but I already committed myself a hundred-percent to it. I really want to do it. I really want to be a part of it,” said Kouame, who also put on his analyst hat during the episode.
“Coming from an African country, we don’t really get opportunities. I really appreciate people welcoming me.”