ONE needs not to question Ange Kouame's unbridled desire to be a Filipino citizen.
After all, the Ivorian center isn't just out there to backstop Gilas Pilipinas for future international competitions, but is also here for the long haul.
"I think Ange is not really here just to play basketball, but he’s really here to make the Philippines his home," said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chairman Sen. Sonny Angara on Wednesday.
"He’s grown up, he has a barkada here, he has friends, he has an organization that cares for him and is really prepared to help him settle. He’s already settled in actually, but to help him settle in permanently."
Angara is the lead proponent of Senate Bill No. 2058, which is seeking to grant naturalization status to the Ateneo slotman.
The bill advanced from the Senate's Committee on Justice and Human Rights and will now have to pass through three readings before it gets submitted to the table of President Rodrigo Duterte.
House Bill No. 8632, the similar bill in the lower house, was approved unanimously, with the House Plenary voting 210-0 last Feb. 16.
For Angara, Kouame gaining Filipino citizenship could only mean bright things for the Philippine national team, all the more that he has already shown what he could do in his time with the Blue Eagles.
"He would be a wonderful addition to our Philippine national team," he said. "We need fresh blood, he's one of the more exciting players in Ateneo and they've been unbeatable with Ange Kouame there in the middle."
"He is a mobile big man who really can defend. The name of the game in basketball now is pick and roll, but this guy can defend the little guys of the pick and roll, keep up on defense with the little guys, and that’s very important in the game of basketball now. That’s why the old immobile centers are being becoming obsolete. The game of basketball has changed so much."
Kouame is seeking naturalization to be included in future competitions of Gilas Pilipinas, all the more that the country is hosting the 2023 Fiba World Cup.
Aside from him, also vying for Filipino citizenship is Spanish forward Bienve Maranon, who likewise is seeking to play for the Philippine Azkals in future football tournaments.
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