In the coming days, Angelo Kouame will take an oath of allegiance to the Philippine flag and country.
This is because President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law on Tuesday the naturalization bill making the 23-year-old Ivorian cager Kouame a Filipino citizen.
The process to make Kouame a Filipino began after Sen. Sonny Angara, who is also the chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, sponsored Senate Bill 1892 on Kouame’s naturalization two years ago.
“I’m super hyped right now. I’m screaming everywhere around the house right now. I’m proud, just proud to be a kababayan!” said Kouame in a twitter message.
After he takes his oath of allegiance before the Bureau of Immigration, Kouame will then be able to apply for a Philippine passport.
The 6’10” Kouame is then expected to be able to suit up, train and play for the Gilas Pilipinas national men’s basketball team.
“We thank President Duterte for signing into law the naturalization bill for Ange Kouame. I, together with the rest of the SBP are excited for Kouame to officially join our Gilas Pilipinas as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers, the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and other tournaments,” said Angara in a statement.
Kouame is suiting up for Gilas when they see action in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, which will be hosted by the Philippines next month.
After that, Kouame will also play for the national team in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia.
“Although Kouame’s presence is crucial for these two tournaments, having him as an official member of the squad in the upcoming games is an early investment as we build towards the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. It’s a great day for Philippine basketball and we’re thankful for the full support of our basketball community,” said SBP president Alfredo Panlilio.
The House of Representatives unanimously approved its version of the bill naturalizing Kouame last Feb. 16, while the Senate followed suit a month later.
Kouame is the latest foreign national naturalized following Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche, who were once anchors of the Gilas Pilipinas team.
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