WILL the UAAP allow Ateneo, or other schools, to tap another import once it gets a naturalized player, like in the case of Blue Eagles center Ange Kouame?
Ateneo athletic director and Board of Managing Directors member Emmanuel Fernandez told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday the league has been discussing that gray area since last year.
“Mayroon ng pinag-uusapan sa UAAP na possible lumabas ang cases like kay Kouame, matagal na kaming nag-uusap as early as siguro last quarter of last year. So, we’re crafting something. . . kung nakita ni Sen. Angara, nakita na namin, napansin na iyon,” Fernandez said.
“It’s not something new. Napag-uusapan na iyan and we’re crafting (a ruling) just to make sure na no university can take advantage of it,” he added.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chairman and Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara questioned during the senate second reading last Tuesday if Kouame will still be classified as a foreigner or a local player if and when he gets naturalized.
“As it is, Ateneo is already lording it over with one import and that’s Kouame,” Angara, who is the principal author of Senate Bill No. 1892, said.
“If they were to get another import, would that not be fair to the rest of the league?”
The 6-foot-10 Kouame, a native of Ivory Coast, averaged 12.5 points and 11.5 rebounds for the Blue Eagles in 2019 when Ateneo bagged its third straight crown via a perfect 16-0 season.
A former Rookie of the Year awardee in 2018, the towering Kouame is still eligible to play for the Eagles for three more years.
Fernandez, who served as president of the UAAP 82nd season, said Kouame will be a local.
“Technically speaking, kapag ginawa siyang naturalized, Filipino na siya and sa rules ng UAAP, wala pa namang rules na kagaya sa PBA na ipinagbabawal ang naturalized. Sa PBA kasi, bawal ang naturalized,” Fernandez said.