The stories Ange Kouame saw on social media about "puso" (the Filipino heart) have now turned into his reality as he debuts as the Philippines' new naturalized player on Wednesday against South Korea.
Kouame said that suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas has him in a jovial mood, but he also remains determined to waste no time making his presence felt in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga.
The Ateneo center will immediately be thrown into the fire against the rival Koreans, where he hopes he and the rest of the team could exemplify the Gilas battle cry.
"I'm pretty excited and I'm just going to give it my all, especially when I see the posts on social media, 'puso' is part of the country. I really want to be a part of it," bared the 6-foot-10 talent in an interview shared by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Monday.
Kouame added that he has been made aware of the fierce battles between the two teams, and hopes that the current squad could replicate the result Gilas got over South Korea in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
"I heard (about) the losses. They actually told me it was here when the Philippines last won (against Korea). It was really a great thing for the people and especially the organization. Yeah, I try to get myself into it too. So yeah, let's run it, let's go," he exclaimed.
After weeks together with his fellow Gilas cadets inside a "bubble" training camp in Calamba, Laguna, the newly naturalized Filipino proudly shared that their chemistry is at an all-time high.
"It was a long camp. We got to know each other better, got to know each other's strengths and weaknesses. It actually worked because now we really know what each of us is capable of on the court," shared Kouame.
"We have good bonding with each other, good chemistry. We're willing to go forward with this game to see how people would test us. I think we're ready to go," he continued.