MANILA – Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ (SBP) program director for Gilas Pilipinas Men Tab Baldwin said the national sports association for basketball is exerting its efforts to bring in seven-foot-two beanpole Kai Sotto to the national team as soon as the February window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
“We are going to get him in… but there are still discussions ongoing,” Baldwin said on Thursday night.
His remarks came after Sotto, in a pre-recorded video shown during the online press conference between FIBA and SBP announcing Smart Telecommunications as FIBA’s newest global partner, announced that he is committing to Gilas Men’s senior team.
“I’m officially joining Gilas, the Philippine national team,” said Sotto, who first played for Gilas Youth’s under-17 and under-19 teams.
Sotto is currently part of the NBA G-League’s professional pathway program also known as Ignite alongside fellow National Basketball Training Center alumnus Jalen Green.
Ignite finally got to play on Wednesday (Philippine Time) with Sotto contributing five points, five rebounds, and two blocks, but the team lost to a group of G-League veterans, 107-113.
Sotto’s availability for the February window depends on Ignite’s January and February schedules and on whether the G-League clears him to return to the Philippines.
While the uncertainty remains, Baldwin remains optimistic that Sotto will eventually make the flight back.
“Everybody is hopeful–all the fans, coaches, and his teammates. We all can’t wait to welcome Kai back into the Gilas fold and take the next step forward toward 2023 with him,” Baldwin said.
Sotto is being groomed to become a key player for Gilas Men as they co-host the 2023 FIBA World Cup with Japan and Indonesia.
“I’m really looking forward na makasama uli ang aking mga former teammates and mga PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) players na iniidolo ko dati pa (to reunite with my former teammates and the PBA players I idolize ever since),” he said. (PNA)