Pinoys with Kai chasing the NBA dream
MANILA, Philippines — Kai Sotto has the support of an entire nation as he takes the plunge in pursuit of his NBA dream.
The 7-foot-3 Sotto has declared himself for the 2022 NBA draft and his announcement was easily greeted and supported by countrymen who are equally excited about his prospects on basketball’s biggest stage.
“It has been his dream and his plan from the beginning. I am confident that he will get drafted and play in the NBA and that will bode well for Filipino basketball,” said Gilas Pilipinas and the TNT coach Tropang Giga Chot Reyes at The STAR.
“As a basketball-loving country, Filipinos have always dreamed of seeing a homegrown player stepping onto the hard ground of the NBA. Today, we have come one step closer to that achievement, as Kai aims to show the world what Filipino basketball players are made: talent, skill determination and above all, puso,” said PLDT and Smart Chairman and CEO Al Panlilio, who is also the head of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial says Asia’s paid play premier league is thrilled to see 19-year-old Sotto strutting around with the world’s great ballplayers soon.
“I do karangalan in Filipino basketball with Kai’s goal in the draft. Kasama kami among the greatest you love. Kahit anong team siya mapunta, malaking ito sa atin,” he said.
Sotto, 19, who made his debut for the Gilas men’s team in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers last June, has been preparing for his NBA bid with a stint in the NBL in Australia. He averaged 7.6 points on a 51% clip, 4.5 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 15.2 minutes of action in 23 games for the Adelaide 36ers.
“He worked very hard. He had a good season in Adelaide and it was a good place for him, I think. Lots of talented big men in this league and he held his own,” said Ateneo mentor Tab Baldwin, who coached Sotto in three games with Gilas.
But Sotto’s name is yet to be included in the Top 60 mockups of major sports media like USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, CBS and NBC Sports.
He’s 99th in the projected ESPN rankings but still well past the Top 60 which is usually the prospect gauge in a two-round regular.
Sotto hopes to join Fil-Ams Jordan Clarkson of Utah and Jalen Green of Houston to carry the Filipino flag in the NBA. – John Bryan Ulanday