The naturalization papers of Gilas Pilipinas recruit Angelo Kouame and Azkals player Bienve Marañon were both approved on the third and final reading of the Senate on Monday, March 15.
It took just 20 days for the Senate to approve the two bills, which initially got the approval from Congress on House Bill No. 8632 for Kouame and House Bill No. 8632 for Marañon.
The papers have to be signed into law by President Duterte, similar to what happened to former Gilas Pilipinas naturalized players Marcus Douthit and Andrey Blatzhe, who both played important roles for the national team.
The approval of Senate on Kouame’s naturalization helps his bid to play for the Philippines in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in June here, and in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Indonesia the month after.
“Kouame is primed to make a significant contribution to Philippine basketball,” said Senator Sonny Angara, the principal author of Senate Bill 1892. “He is ready to play for the national team.”
“More importantly, he is more than willing to represent our country.”
Angara said that Kouame, who is from Ivory Coast, is confident that his stint with Gilas Pilipinas under project director Tab Baldwin and coach Jong Uichico will only improve his skills.
Aside from the two events, Gilas is also preparing for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which the country will co-host with Japan and Indonesia. The 6-foot-10 Kouame is already in the training pool of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas under its president Al Panlilio.
As for Marañon, who is from Spain, he is expected play for the Azkals in the AFC Challenge Cup.