Gilas’ Ange Kouame given green light to play at FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers


Posted at Jun 12 2021 04:59 PM | Updated as of Jun 13 2021 01:02 AM

Ange Kouame’s FIBA registration has been approved, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas announced Saturday, thus making the 6-foot-10 center eligible to see action at the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers. 

After being naturalized and acquiring his Philippine passport last week, the last step before Kouame could suit up for Gilas Pilipinas was getting the world basketball body’s approval. 

It won’t be long before local basketball sees how Kouame fits into Gilas’ plans, as he will be rostered in the Clark qualifiers, where the Philippines hosts South Korea on June 16 and 20, and Indonesia on June 18.

Tab Baldwin, director of the Gilas Pilipinas men’s program, acknowledged that Kouame, 23, remained a work in progress. 

“This decision is consistent with the whole program because it’s a vision to the future,” said Baldwin, who coached Kouame at Ateneo. 

“We’ll try to accomplish short-term goals while we’re really focusing on our long-term objective of forming a Gilas team that can genuinely compete with top 10 teams in the world come 2023.”

Baldwin said the Milwaukee Bucks have their scouts “watching” Kouame, but the youthful big man needs to be given a chance to develop. 

“We know the potential is there but potential takes time to evolve and be realized with a lot of hard work and Ange has never been afraid of putting in that hard work,” Baldwin said, adding that pitting Kouame against more experienced opponents would serve him well long term. 

“We are advancing too quickly with him. We’re putting him into the firing line early. But the other side of that is it’s going to pay dividends later on and he’s going to learn a lot from these experiences.”

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