It's official: Ivorian cager Angelo Kouame now a Filipino citizen

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 18) — Ivorian basketball player Angelo Kouame has been granted Filipino citizenship after President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a bill seeking his naturalization, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-10 Kouame will undergo the final steps required by FIBA before a naturalized player can suit up and the SBP is confident that the big man will be able to play in the country's hosting of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers next month and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia in July.

"Although Kouame’s presence is crucial for these two tournaments, having him as an official member of the squad in the upcoming games is an early investment as we build towards the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup," SBP President Al Panlilio said in a statement.

"It’s a great day for Philippine basketball and we’re thankful for the full support of our basketball community," he added.

Kouame is currently with Gilas Pilipinas inside the training bubble at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

The 23-year-old is a two-time UAAP champion with the Ateneo Blue Eagles. He was the first foreign student-athlete to bag the UAAP Rookie of the Year award, achieving the feat in 2018.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Pauline Verzosa contributed to this report.