MAILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto’s excitement comes not just from his long-awaited debut with Gilas Pilipinas.
Like many within the national cage program, he has bright eyes and a bushy tail from the fact that the Philippines now has an awe-inspiring triumvirate that he can build for his future, something that has perennially eluded this basketball-crazed country for decades.
Sotto will finally know how it feels to play alongside one of the young greats who are being groomed as Gilas’ cornerstones as he and Angelo Kouame lead a youth team in the ongoing Fiba Asian Cup qualifiers.
Gilas Pilipinas plays South Korea on Wednesday.
“It’s exciting just to imagine (that) I can share the court with (Kouame),” the 7-foot-3 teen prospect said in a Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas video interview released to the media Monday night.
“(And) not just with Ange. There are also really good tall players: Geo Chiu, Carl Tamayo and AJ Edu, who is not here yet. I’m very excited to be playing with them again. “
Kouame, 23, and Edu, 21, are listed as 6-foot-10. Chiu and Tamayo, both 20, are 6-foot-8.
Gilas’ roof upgrade has thrilled many former national coaches, including Norman Black, who was the mentor to the national team at the 1994 Asian Games and the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.
“You can’t go wrong with the height. We (other coaches) have been saying that for years, ”he told the Inquirer in an earlier interview.
“With Kouame, Kai and AJ, we are not only great, but we are also great now,” said Black. “We have the shooters that we can surround our greats with. We also have playmakers for them. “
Edu, who is currently in the United States playing First Division basketball, said all the excitement is valid.
“Height, in basketball, makes a big difference. It’s been kind of a problem with previous Filipino teams, ”the 6-foot-11 Filipino-Nigerian said on a previous episode of SportsIQ.
“His [no longer going to] It will be a problem in the future with this team and that is what people are most excited about, ”said Edu.
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