MANILA, Philippines — The path for Ivorian Angelo Kouame to becoming a Filipino naturalized player gets easier after the House of Representatives approved the proposed bill granting the Ateneo standout citizenship.
The bill seeking to naturalize the 23-year-old Kouame, or House Bill No. 5951, got the nod of the House Committee on Justice on Wednesday, sending it for the next few important steps for it be enacted into a law.
It was the first of the many steps needed for it get a final stamp of approval but it sure was a significant one since Kouame, who helped power the Eagles to a 16-0 UAAP sweep two years ago, would be a vital piece of the Gilas Pilipinas puzzle in future international campaigns.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio lauded the move and thanked Congress for the support.
“Our Gilas Pilipinas men’s team was able to jumpstart our preparations for 2023 with their inspired performance in Manama, Bahrain in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and receiving this good news from the House of Representatives gives our program even more momentum,” said Panlilio.
“We remain hopeful that Kouame will be able to play as a Filipino at the soonest time possible as every FIBA window is an opportunity to build on the future of Philippine basketball,” he added.
Antipolo first district Representative Robbie Puno, who is also vice chair of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, was the principal author of the bill in the Lower House while Senator Sonny Angara, an SBP chair, filed Senate Bill 1982 in the Upper House and is still pending.
Once both Houses give it a go, it will be brought up to President Duterte for final approval.
If it will be eventually enacted into law, Kouame will become the country’s third naturalized cager next to Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche.
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