MANILA, Philippines -- He has yet to be officially named to the Gilas Pilipinas roster, but Ateneo de Manila University center Ange Kouame is already doing his homework ahead of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers.
Kouame, who hails from the Ivory Coast, is on the brink of becoming a naturalized Filipino. The Senate approved his bid for citizenship in March, and all that's needed is the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte.
While he waits for his naturalization to become official, Kouame has been training with the Philippine national team pool at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
In a report on "The Game," Kouame bared that his preparations include studying the big men of the teams that Gilas will play in the upcoming qualifiers.
In particular, Kouame has been studying two other naturalized players -- South Korea's Ricardo Ratliffe, now known as Ra Gun-ah, and Indonesia's Lester Prosper.
"I've been scouting them… I already played against Ratliffe in the Jones Cup, if you remember," said Kouame, who played in the 2018 William Jones Cup as a member of the Blue Eagles where they finished in fourth place with a 5-3 win-loss record.
"For Prosper, I'm not really sure what type of player [he is]. I've seen a couple of his games in the PBA. So, I mean, I scout them, see their weakness and their strengths," he added.
"It gets me really excited to go up against those guys."
Both Ratliffe and Prosper are familiar to Filipino fans as they've spent time in the PBA as imports. Ratliffe played for the Purefoods franchise in 2016 and 2017, while Prosper suited up for TerraFirma in 2019.
Prosper, 32, made his debut for Indonesia in the November 2020 window of the qualifiers. In his very first game, Prosper put up 19 points, 13 rebounds, and three assists in a 90-76 win over Thailand.
Meanwhile, the 32-year-old Ratliffe has been playing for South Korea since 2018 and was part of the team that played in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China. He has also been called up to play in the upcoming qualifiers that will take place in Clark, Pampanga.
The Philippines will play South Korea twice, on June 16 and 20, and Indonesia on June 18.
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