Angelo Kouame is officially a Filipino.
The 23-year old Ateneo big man formally acquired Filipino citizenship after President Rodrigo Duterte signed his naturalization bill into law on Tuesday.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas can now field the 6-foot-10 Kouame as a local for the third window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers which is set in Clark, Pampanga from June 16 to 20.
Kouame, who has been training with the Philippine national team for the past few of months, arrived in the country when he was only 18 years old. His naturalization process took less that two years to complete.
“The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is elated to announce that Angelo Kouame’s Filipino naturalization is now official,” said SBP president Al Panlilio in a statement.
“The SBP extends our appreciation to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing it into law and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Senator Bong Go for their assistance,” he added.
According to federation, Kouame still has to accomplish a few more steps before he can officially play for the country.
He will now be compelled to proclaim an Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines administered by the Bureau of Immigration. He can apply for a Philippine passport afterwards.
Here’s Panlilio’s statement in full:
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is elated to announce that Angelo Kouame’s Filipino naturalization is now official.
The SBP extends our appreciation to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing it into law and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Senator Bong Go for their assistance.
We thank our SBP Chairman, Senator Sonny Angara, along with Senators Joel Villanueva and Richard Gordon for filing the bill in the Senate and our Vice Chairman, Congressman Robbie Puno, for authoring the bill in the House of Representatives.
The SBP thanks all of our allies in both houses whose support has been crucial in pushing this legislation to further strengthen our Gilas Pilipinas Men.
Koaume will now undergo the final steps required by FIBA before a naturalized player can suit up for a country and we are confident that he’ll be able to play during our hosting of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and 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.
Kami sa SBP ay naniniwalang ika’y lalaban Para sa Bayan. Maligayang pagbati, Kabayang Ange Kouame!
‼️ ASPeaks ‼️
Gilas Pilipinas frontcourt Angelo Kouame’s Filipino naturalization is now OFFICIAL‼🇵🇭🏀
— SBP (@officialSBPinc) May 18, 2021