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Sen. Angara questions classification of Kouame in UAAP once naturalized

Will the University Athletic Association of the Philippines classify Angelo Kouame as a local or still a foreigner after his naturalization?

That was the question of Senator Sonny Angara during the second reading of the Senate bills that will grant the Ivorian Filipino citizenship.

Angara, a product of University of the Philippines, stressed that it would be unfair for the rest of the league if Ateneo obtains another foreign student-athlete slot once Kouame is naturalized.

“As it is, Ateneo is already lording it over with one import and that’s Kouame,” said Angara, who is also the chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

“If they were to get another import, would that not be fair to the rest of the league?”

UAAP rules only classify its student-athletes as either a local or a foreigner. Kouame’s case is extraordinary, though, since he entered Ateneo as a foreigner but will most likely graduate as a Filipino.

For Senator Dick Gordon, Kouame should be “entitled to all the rights and privileges of a citizen.” And this includes being a local in the UAAP.

“I don’t think it will reflect badly on the Ateneo if they have Kouame as a Filipino. In fact, it will give us pride that somebody chose to be a Filipino,” said Gordon, who is a product of Ateneo.

Senate President Tito Sotto then chimed in, saying that beating schools with foreign student-athletes is possible. Just ask his Alma Mater Letran, as the Knights did it twice in the last five NCAA seasons.

Angara then proposed a 10-year residency rule. In his proposal, FSAs must reside in the country for 10 years before being acknowledged as a local in collegiate leagues.

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Usually, FSAs only play in the seniors’ division of the UAAP. Moreover, student-athletes only have five playing years in the league and cannot be older than 25.

Still, the UAAP can set its own rules regarding Kouame and future naturalized Filipinos.

“It would be a shame if we will tilt the scales in favor of one team, which we may be doing,” said Angara.

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