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    Will Ateneo be allowed to field a new import alongside a naturalized Ange Kouame?

    Nov 21, 2020

    CAN Ateneo have two foreign players in its roster once Ange Kouame secures his Filipino eligibility?

    For the UAAP's part, the league would rather cross the bridge once they get there.

    UAAP executive director Rebo Saguisag remains non-committal on the potential development which will greatly benefit the Blue Eagles when the Ivorian center becomes a naturalized Filipino.

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    Kouame's case for citizenship is already in the Congress, with SBP vice-chairman and Antipolo First District Rep. Robbie Puno filing House Bill 5951 last January 21 while SBP chairman Sen. Sonny Angara authoring Senate Bill 1892 last October 22. Both bills remain pending in both houses.

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    "What makes the situation of Mr. Kouame different, if granted, is it’s an act of Congress," Saguisag told Radyo5's Power and Play with Noli Eala.

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      "It’s opposed to the other types of re-acquisition of citizenship, and/or naturalization na judicial or administrative na medyo mas stringent ang requirements."

      The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has groomed Kouame, the UAAP Season 81 Rookie of the Year, as a key cog for the national team pool in the buildup to the 2023 Fiba World Cup.

      The Ivorian was included in the Gilas pool for the November window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers, although he's already been ruled out from seeing action in the bubble in Manama, Bahrain next week.

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      The SBP is hoping to Kouame will be naturalized in time for the third window of qualifiers in February 2021.

      "At the very least, alam natin na may konting distinction ito sa ibang precedents before," he said.

      Right now, though, Saguisag is choosing to remain on the side of caution.

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      "Until and when it comes, hindi pa siya ma-address," he said. "Baka iba ang sitwasyon kasi after all, ang spirit na tinitignan natin dito is fair play. We'll see."

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