Basketball stalwart Kai Sotto (Maharlika Tv)
Sourced from SBP reports by Cip D.C. Cabrera
PASIG CITY, METRO MANILA — Expressing his misgivings over Kai Sotto’s apparent inconsistency or lack of commitment to join training with Gilas Pilipinas for the national team’s campaign in the FIBA (Fédération Internationale de Basketball) World Cup next year, Samahan ng Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio pointed out that “no one player is bigger than the program—bigger than the Philippine team.”
The 7-foot-2 Sotto, a veteran of the Australian pro league, has yet to tell the SBP of his intent, which does not sit well with the cage leadership under Panlilio: “It’s a common rally—for the country to perform as best as it could on the floor and host the event as best as we could.” “The PBA, the NCAA, and the UAAP, they are all sacrificing for flag and country,” the SBP prexy particularly took note in the ticklish situation.
The powerful San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and Smart/PLDT blocks in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) have already merged in a decision to support the SBP’s strategy of putting up a ‘super team’ and national sports association (NSA) president sees no reason for anyone to hold out.
Panlilio also wants to make it known that the Gilas coaching staff headed by Chot Reyes with Tim Cone by his side will not bend over backward for anyone who won’t give it his 100 percent.
“No one player is bigger than the program,” he reiterated as he made it clear that anyone who cannot be involved from Day 1 when the final preparations start will in no shape or form have a shot at making the team.
“We just want a better understanding of what his plans are. We want a commitment for all three months (leading to the World Cup). Mahirap kung may exemptions,” he made clear.
At most, there will be 24 players named to the training pool for Gilas—a collection of talents that will eat, train and play together for no less than 90 days before the World Cup opens in a year.
Filipino-American Jordan Clarkson named the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s top Sixth Man two seasons ago, has already given the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) the assurance that he will be available when called upon.
His inclusion could either be as a naturalized player or a Filipino, depending on how the appeal to the FIBA goes, and depending, of course, on the final composition of the team which would dictate what needs to be addressed.
Meanwhile, Ange Kouame, who is recovering from a knee injury, is listed as a naturalized player for Gilas and Panlilio said they are considering the idea of enlisting another one to give the coaching staff more options and a fallback in case one is injured.
“This is the biggest sporting event next year and we last hosted it in 1978 (and) we may never see this happen again in our lifetime, so the thing to do is give it our best shot. There are no ifs and buts about it,” the SBP chief concluded. (ai/mtvn)