MANILA, Philippines — Kai Sotto explained his decision to skip Gilas Pilipinas duties for the FIBA Asia Cup, vowing to sport national colors anew after his commitment with Adelaide 36ers in the Australia National Basketball League (NBL).
The 7-foot-3 wunderkind said that while he wanted to re-join the national team for the Asian meet slated Aug.17-29 in Indonesia, he is already set for NBL duties with a scheduled trip to Australia on Aug. 1.
“Babalik ho ako sa Gilas na mas malakas at mas maraming natutunan sa aking paglalaro sa Australia. Ipagdadasal ko po ang mga kasamahan ko para sa Asia Cup and I will be one of their loudest fans,” he said.
Sotto signed with Adelaide last April, taking a detour for his NBA dream after a brief stint with Ignite in the G League.
Though he will not be able to reinforce Gilas this time, the 19-year-old star has already fulfilled two national duties with solid stints in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Pampanga and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia last month.
Sotto averaged 9.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists in Gilas’ sweep of the Asia Cup Qualifiers. He then normed 9.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 steals in the OQT.
It served as his seniors debut after anchoring the Gilas youth team to numerous FIBA Asia Championship podium finishes and World Cup appearances.
In Australia, Sotto is eyeing to make a good account for his ultimate dream of becoming the first Filipino homegrown cager in the NBA.