In just a few days or months, Angelo Kouame will become a Filipino through naturalization.
Antipolo City 1st District representative Robbie Puno has filed House Bill No. 5951, which seeks to grant Philippine citizenship to Kouame last January.
Last October 22, Senator Sonny Angara has also filed Senate Bill 1892 — the counterpart of Puno’s bill.
But just like his soon-to-be predecessors Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche, the 6-foot-11 center will not be allowed to join the PBA since the league is only open to players who have a Filipino bloodline.
That won’t be the case in the UAAP.
The league’s constitution classifies its student-athletes as either Filipino citizens or foreigners.
So when the 20-year-old becomes a Filipino, he will no longer be classified as a foreign student-athlete.
This is not something new for the league and Ateneo itself.
Back in 2004, Cassie Tioseco was an FSA since she only had a Canadian passport with her. A year later, the 5-foot-11 forward — who ended up winning two UAAP MVP trophies — became Filipino.
A current case is incoming third-year Blue Eagle Tyler Tio. Despite being born in Manila, he was considered a Canadian since both his dad Jaime and mom Tessie were citizens of Canada. The 5-foot-11 guard was naturalized in May of 2017.
Since each varsity team in the UAAP is allowed to have one FSA, the league will allow Ateneo to recruit a new one when Kouame becomes Filipino.
Currently waiting in residency are 20-year-old Ghanan Kofi Agyei and 21-year-old Nigerian Joseph Obasa. Agyei is 6-foot-5, while Obasa stands at 6-foot-10.
But there may not be another FSA for the Blue Eagles, who are chasing a fourth straight title.
As one scout put it, “It will be hard for anyone to crack the Season 83 lineup of Ateneo. There are too many good players there.”
Kouame still has three more years of eligibility.