ANGE Kouame is set to become a naturalized Filipino soon, but if the UAAP considers him as a local in the future, coach Tab Baldwin won't be in favor of Ateneo enlisting another foreign student-athlete.
"I’ve heard the same rumors and we have not discussed it. I don’t know what the UAAP’s view about that is gonna be and I think they will be well within their rights to look at it on an individual basis and judge it on an individual basis," he told Coaches Unfiltered on Thursday.
"But I can tell you that as the coach of the team, I would not and I’m not the only decision-maker, but I would not be looking to add another import player,"
Reports surfaced over the past few weeks of the possibility of Kouame being ruled as a local player, paving the way for the Blue Eagles to enlist another foreigner which could beef up their already potent lineup.
UAAP executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag, in a previous interview, said that the league hasn't discussed those possibilities yet, but acknowledged the unique set-up it brings once Kouame gains Filipino citizenship.
Just last Wednesday, the Justice Committee in Congress unanimously approved House Bill No. 5951 on first reading, the first step in granting the Ivorian center citizenship as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) seeks to make him one of the options for Gilas Pilipinas in future international competitions.
Baldwin, though, isn't one to exploit that loophole if it ever comes up.
"I would not be looking to take advantage of Ange becoming a local just because possibly the rules have not considered that scenario yet," he said.
"For me, I think I would rather our team play on the same basis of every other team, and every other team has one foreign player. And because Ange may legitimately change his nationality, it doesn’t really change the perspective on which he was brought to the country for college basketball, and so I would not be in favor of exploiting that sort of loophole to try and gain more competitive advantage for the team."