Antipolo Rep. Robbie Puno on Monday urged the House of Representatives to naturalize the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ Ivorian center Angelo Kouame.
Puno has filed House Bill No. 5951 which seeks to grant Philippine citizenship to Kouame, stating that the 20-year-old Ivorian center would be an excellent addition to the roster of the Philippine national team for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“We marveled at his performance that helped clinch a 16-0 sweep for the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the 82nd Season of the UAAP. Mr. Kouame may have had little knowledge of basketball before he came to our shores, but we cannot deny the immense potential he has shown by now,” said the lawmaker.
FIBA Internal Regulations allows one naturalized player in a national basketball team, a rule which Puno said many member countries use to their advantage.
To date, the Philippines has so far only fielded two naturalized players in Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche.
Puno maintained that in order to boost the national team’s chances at victory in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, a pool of naturalized players must be in place.
“This pool of players would be valuable to our national team because the team would have more naturalized players to field in the case of injuries,” said the lawmaker.