Angelo Kouame (STAR/ File)
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has set the wheels in motion for the naturalization process of Gilas Pilipinas prospect Angelo Kouame.
Kouame hurdled the first step in the Senate side yesterday with the Committee on Justice and Human Rights approving Senate Bills 1892 and 2058 seeking his naturalization.
This came a week after the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading the measure granting Philippine citizenship to the Ivorian-born center.
The 6-foot-10 Kouame is being groomed to take over from aging Andray Blatche as Gilas’ reinforcement in major tournaments including the FIBA Asia Cup later this year and the 2023 FIBA World Cup the country is co-hosting.
“Andray Blatche has hit the peak of his career, we need some fresh blood and Ange Kouame really provides that,” Sen. Sonny Angara, author of SB 1892, said during yesterday’s panel hearing.
“He’s one of the most exciting players in Ateneo, and Ateneo is really unbeatable with him there in the middle. So he would be a wonderful addition to our Philippine national team,” added Angara, who’s also the chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
A similar measure intended for Spanish football player Bienvenido Marañon also gained the nod of the committee chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon. Azkals prospect Marañon, whose naturalization (SB 1391) is sponsored by Sen. Miguel Zubiri, even sang the Lupang Hinirang to the committee members’ satisfaction.
The Kouame and Marañon bills next await the committee report before going to second reading. – Paolo Romero
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