ATENEO center Ange Kouame’s bid to become a Filipino got a big boost yesterday after the Senate committee on justice approved Senate Bill No. 1892 granting Filipino citizenship to the Ivory Coast native.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Chairman and Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, the bill’s author, is convinced Kouame could spell the big difference for the Philippine five.
“We need fresh blood, he’s one of the more exciting players in Ateneo and they’ve been unbeatable with Ange Kouame there in the middle. He would be a wonderful addition to our Philippine national team Gilas Pilipinas,”
“Angelo Kouame is a mobile big man. He can really defend. He can even defend the much smaller guard on the pick and roll and that’s very important now in the game of basketball,” he added.
Last Feb. 16, the House of Representatives unanimously approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 8632 authored by deputy speaker Robbie Puno of the 1st district of Antipolo via a 210-0-0 vote.
The towering 6-foot-10 Kouame was part of the Gilas Pilipinas training pool for the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
Also getting the senate committee level approval was SB No. 1391, filed by Sen. Miguel Zubiri, seeking to naturalize United City FC’s Spanish striker Bienvenido Marañon for the Philippine Azkals.
Should the Filipino dribblers clinch a finals berth, the SBP is eyeing to field in Kouame in the FIBA Asia Cup in August in Indonesia.
President Duterte has the final say on the naturalization bids of Kouame and Marañon.
Kouame averaged 12.5 points and 11.5 rebounds for the Blue Eagles in 2019 when Ateneo bagged its third straight crown via a 16-0 season.
A former Rookie of the Year awardee in 2018, Kouame is eligible to play for the Eagles for three more years.