Photo from UAAP

The proposition to naturalize Angelo Kouame and allow him to compete for the Gilas Pilipinas gets closer to finally getting an approval after it passed the second reading in Congress.

Deputy Speaker Roberto V. Puno, who represents Antipolo City, expressed confidence Monday that the Congress will approve the bid of Kouame, a native of Ivory Coast, to represent the country.

“I thank my colleagues for the swift approval on the second reading of House Bill No. 8632, and I anticipate its quick passage on third and final reading shortly,” Puno said in a statement.

“We can say we are definitely much closer to naturalizing yet another star athlete for our national team,” added Puno, who is also the vice chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).

“I am hopeful that Ange Kouame will become a Philippine citizen just in time for the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup as well as the 2023 FIBA World Cup.”

The 6-foot-10 Kouame won Rookie of the Year in the UAAP three years ago as a member of Ateneo’s basketball team, and during the 2019 season he helped the Blue Eagles to a 16-0 sweep on their way to the title.

Kouame, who moved to the Philippines in 2016, has career averages of 12.5 points, 11.79 rebounds, and 3.86 blocks.

If ever Kouame gets the Congress approval, the next step on his naturalization process is for it to get the endorsement of the Senate, then it has to be signed by President Duterte to make it a law.

Aside from Kouame, Puno has been pushing for a pool of naturalized players to be made available for Gilas Pilipinas, pointing to the Internal Regulations of FIBA – the governing body for basketball.

He is referring to a rule that allows a national team to field just one player who has acquired the legal nationality of the country by naturalization or by any other means after having reached the age of 16.

It was also Puno who pushed for the naturalization of Marcus Douthit and former NBA player Andray Blatche.

Source: Manila Bulletin (