Ateneo Blue Eagles star Angelo Kouame is one step closer to donning the Gilas Pilipinas colors after a House committee passed the bill granting him his Philippine citizenship.
On Wednesday, December 2, the panel approved House Bill (HB) No. 5951 that would make the 22-year-old from Ivory Coast a naturalized Filipino.
This means the bill will soon be sponsored in the House plenary, where it must go through its 2nd and 3rd reading approvals before successfully hurdling the lower chamber.
Kouame’s naturalization would only be finalized once the House and the Senate both approve their respective versions of the bill on final reading. It will then be transmitted to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
Antipolo 1st District Representative and Deputy Speaker Roberto “Robbie” Puno thanked the justice panel for approving his bill.
He heaped praises on Kouame, who may soon become the youngest player in the country’s pool of naturalized players.
“He’s just turning 23 years old before the end of the year, but no one can doubt the immense talent of Kouame, as shown in the recent 16-0 sweep of the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the recent UAAP season,” said Puno in a statement.
“I am hopeful that he will bring the same level of intensity as a member of Gilas Pilipinas. We just need to provide him with better opportunities to defend the Philippines internationally,” added the vice chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
Towering at 6-foot-10, Kouame averaged 12.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 1.4 assists in UAAP Season 82, which was vital to Ateno’s 16-0 sweep and three-peat title romp.
Before Kouame, Congress previously granted Philippine citizenship to Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche, who both contributed to the development of the national team. – Rappler.com