Ange Kouame on stand-by as Gilas' naturalized player for FIBA ACQ if Justin Brownlee's suspension gets longer

Ange Kouame could be Gilas' naturalized player for the February window as they still await FIBA's decision on Justin Brownlee. PSC-POC Media Pool (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Ange Kouame could take the place of Justin Brownlee as Gilas Pilipinas' naturalized player for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers February window.

According to head coach Tim Cone, Gilas could fly Kouame in from Chartres, France as soon as possible if Brownlee's suspension takes longer than they initially thought.

"We do have Ange Kouame who is in France and could come over and play with us if it looks like Justin's suspension will go longer," Cone said in an interview with One News' The Big Story on Tuesday night.

Gilas is hoping, though, that Brownlee, who tested positive for a prohibited substance after winning the gold medal in the Asian Games last October, will just be suspended for three months.

Cone previously said FIBA could hand its final verdict on Brownlee's case this week, and if the suspension would just be a short one added by its retroactivity, Brownlee could make it in time for the February window.

"We're optimistic that we'll hear [from FIBA] within the next few days, and we're optimistic that through the grapevines, he could very well be available for us. That's the plan at this point," Cone continued.

Gilas opens its bid to qualify for next year's FIBA Asia Cup with a road game against Hong Kong on Feb. 22 and a home stand against Chinese Taipei on Feb. 25 at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

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