Angelo Kouame admits that he’s feeling the pressure of trying to succeed as naturalized player of Gilas Pilipinas like those who previously held those roles.
But Kouame, whose naturalization was signed into law by President Duterte earlier this week, also said that he’s embracing the challenge of meeting expectations after Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche were able to enjoy success during their time donning the Gilas jersey.
“I actually feel the pressure, but it depends on whether I put myself on people’s thought or I play the way I always play,” the 6-foot-10 Kouame said when he guested the 2OT program Thursday, May 20.
“If people believe in my potential, I have to believe in my potential too and go with the flow. I don’t really wanna try to compare myself to the kuyas. I’ll try to go with the flow and may God help me in this way,” added the Ateneo center.
Kouame needs to complete some requirements so he can officially be eligible to play for Gilas in next month’s FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Pampanga and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia.
The Ivorian-born Kouame is the third player in the Gilas era to be naturalized after Douthit and Blatche.
Douthit played for Gilas in the 2011 and 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, the latter resulting in a spot to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
Blatche made his debut in that same World Cup before appearing for the Philippines in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, 2016 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, 2017 FIBA Asia Cup and the 2019 World Cup.
The 23-year-old has been taking part in the recent Gilas training bubbles at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna in anticipation of having to play a prominent role for a team that will have an all-amateur squad for the Asia Cup Qualifiers and OQT.
“I believe that with this group of young players we can accomplish a lot because they really want to be a part of it. Let’s see like a new generation player, like a new group who wants to build something different about this country,” he said.
“So for me to be able to be part of it is something I really appreciate every single day whenever we start practice and at the end of the practice because at the end of the day, we motivate each other and we gotta bring some more to progress,” added Kouame.