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Puno seeks naturalization of Ateneo cager Kouame for 2023 FIBA WC

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

A measure seeking to grant Filipino citizenship to Ateneo Blue Eagles’ 6-foot-11 center Angelo Kouame was recently filed in the House of Representatives.

House Deputy Speaker Roberto Puno, who recently filed House Bill No. 5951, said the 20-year old Ivory Coast national Kouame “would be an excellent addition to the roster of the Philippine national team for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.”

Puno said he was “marveled” with Kouame’s performance that helped clinch a 16-0 sweep for the Blue Eagles in the 82nd Season of the UAAP.

FIBA Internal Regulations allows one naturalized player in a national basketball team, a rule which Puno said many member countries used to their advantage.

To date, the Philippines has so far only fielded two naturalized players Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche, the latter naturalized by Congress just in time for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

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.

“Such a resource would be useful because we would be able to match what we need to win from a roster of naturalized players. The choice would never be just one player. We could have Mr. Kouame and many other promising athletes there, ready to be assigned to a match as needed,” he added.

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