Kai Sotto gets to show what all the fuss about him was about.
Even a rising hotshot from a rival country will find out.
Sotto was one of 12 players who made the final cut for Gilas Pilipinas, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas announced Tuesday, a day before the national team plunges into action in the third window of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers ( ACQ) at Clark Freeport in Pampanga.
There was initial speculation that Sotto would not make the team for the ACQ, due to the tight schedule forced by a required quarantine period that prevented the 7-foot-3 center from joining national group practices until Monday.
But Sotto doesn’t think his lack of pool practice time is a disadvantage.
“I really don’t find anything difficult to achieve or learn,” the 19-year-old sensation said in a Samahang Baksetbol ng Pilipinas video interview released to the media Monday night, right after Sotto recorded his first session. practice with the team.
Joining Sotto on the squad for the team’s first match against Korea (see related story on this page) are naturalized player Ange Kouame, captain Isaac Go and guard Dwight Ramos.
“It is exciting to imagine [that] I can share the court with [Kouame]”Sotto said.
“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. “
In the cut are recent recruits for national coach Tab Baldwin RJ Abarrientos, SJ Belangel and Tamayo, while returning for another tour of duty are Justine Baltazar, Javi Gómez de Liaño, Wll Navarro, Mike Nieto and Jaydee Tungcab.
Gilas Pilipinas only needs one win out of every three matches to qualify for the Asian championship. The Filipinos play fierce rival South Korea twice, topping up a match against Indonesia.
Kouame has said that he is looking forward to finally having a chance to dive into the cage rivalry between the Philippines and Korea, even as a rising Korean star said he is looking forward to sharing the court with Sotto.
Ricardo Ratliffe, the former Phillippine Basketball Association (PBA) importer who represents Korea as its naturalized player, warned Gilas Pilipionas that he should “keep an eye out for Lee Hyun-jung,” a US NCAA Division I swingman. 6-foot-7 from Davidson College, the same school that produced NBA champion and MVP Steph Curry.
Lee, however, is keeping an eye on Sotto.
“Is a star. I just want to play him, ”Lee said.
“I feel like the Philippines have always been a good team. They are great with one-on-one and they like it well in team basketball, ”he said in a separate interview. “So I’m excited about that. I’m looking forward to playing against them. “
Lee Lee, 20, averaged 8.4 points during his rookie year at Davidson. He recently posted 13.5 to go with 4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 22 games played, watching action for nearly 30 minutes per contest.
However, the amount of floor time Sotto will have depends on how much he has cleaned the Baldwin system.
Sotto thinks he understood quite well.
“I think that is one of my strengths is that I learn quickly and I am very quick to adapt. It took me just a couple of days to learn all the defensive systems, plays and schemes of the coach’s (Baldwin) sheet, and everything, ”he continued.
Sotto, who has been training abroad, arrived in Manila on June 1. He went through a government-ordered quarantine for 14 days despite being fully vaccinated and was able to join the Gilas group only last Sunday when the Philippine contingent arrived in Clark Freeport.
Since the beginning of the year, fans have been itching to take a look at the rebuilt Sotto. But a scheduling problem caused by the pandemic ruined his appearance in the NBA G League and his debut with the men’s national team.
He will finally be able to show off his skills as he and Kouame clash with other naturalized big men.
While Ratliffe, now known by his Korean name Ra Gun-a, bolsters Korea, another former PBA importer, Lester Prosper, will top the Indonesian list. INQ
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