Smart to support Kai Sotto in NBA bid
Kai Sotto CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is joining the bid of longtime Smart ambassador Kai Sotto to become the first local Filipino to be drafted into the NBA on June 23.
The pledge of support comes after the 19-year-old former ‘Batang Gilas’ and member of the men’s national team training pool for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 announced that he had decided to submit his name for the 2022 NBA draft.
“As a basketball-loving country, Filipinos have always dreamed of seeing a homegrown player set foot on the hard court in the NBA. Today, we came one step closer to achieving that as Kai aims to show the world what Filipino basketball players are all about: talent, skill, determination, and above all, PUSO,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT and Smart President and CEO.
“As an advocate for Filipino sports and basketball, it’s an honor for us at Smart to be part of Kai’s journey. From his college days at Ateneo and when he adapted for Batang Gilas in 2017 to ‘now we have always known that Kai’s NBA dream has always been bigger than himself, and we fully support his attempt to achieve it and inspire our nation,’ added Panlilio, who also sits as as Chairman of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and MVP Sports Foundation, and Chairman of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Local Organizing Committee.
Last year, Smart welcomed Sotto as a brand ambassador, as he represents and inspires young people to live big and pursue their passion for sports. Harnessing the power of social media and mobile technology, Sotto enthusiastically shares his basketball journey with his hundreds of thousands of followers who look to him for inspiration and motivation.
Sotto, who has always been open about his NBA dream, spent the last year in the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia playing center for the Adelaide 36ers.
In an Instagram post on April 28, Sotto thanked his family and supporters before announcing his intention to enter his name in the highly anticipated 2022 draft as the NBA successfully returned to normal in its 75th year since the pandemic: “I declared for the 2022 NBA Draft. Please pray for me and support me in my quest to achieve my ultimate dream.”
He added: “Thank you, Adelaide! Thank you, Australia. It’s been a year to remember. I’m a better man and a better professional player because you all took me under your wing and mentored me. [I could not have gotten to this] point of [my] journey without the support of my many coaches, trainers, sponsors, media and army of bloggers. I hope to personally thank you all one day.”