By WAYLON GALVEZ
Just hours after President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the documents, naturalized Filipino Angelo Kouame quickly turned to Twitter to express his short but meaningful message.
“Pre, Filipino ako!”
Since the 6-foot-10 Kouame posted the tweet with an emogi of the Philippine flag using his account @kouameamgelo1 before noon, it already received nearly 7,000 likes, almost 1,000 retweets and more than 100 comments from fellow players and fans.
The 23-year-old Kouame is the third foreign player to be naturalized to play for Gilas Pilipinas in 10 years, and first since the naturalization of American Andrey Blatche back in May of 2014.
Prior to that, Marcus Douthit – also an American – was granted naturalization in March 2011.
Both players suited up for the national team.
Douthit was with the original Smart Gilas Pilipinas in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship hosted by Wuhan in China and the 2014 Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea.
As for Blatche, he was with the Philippine Team during the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, the FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China, the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament here, and the 2019 World Cup in China.
Kouame, a native of Ivory Coast, is with the Gilas training pool preparing for three important tournaments this year, including the country’s hosting of Window 3 of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga, the OQT for the Tokyo Olympics in Belgrade, Serbia and the Vietnam SEA Games this November.
All these tournaments are in preparation for the 2023 FIBA World Cup the Philippines would co-host with Japan and Indonesia, with the country being the main venue for the knockout matches.