‘Happiest’ Kai Sotto dedicates Finals MVP award to teammates
Kai Sotto was the “one of the happiest” people in the Philippines Friday night.
And for good reason after his Ateneo Blue Eaglets captured the UAAP Season 80 juniors’ basketball championship where he was named the Finals’ Most Valuable Player.
“I’m so happy because we won a championship. How can you not be happy with that?” he said.
Sotto unfurled seven of his 19 points in the fourth period, none bigger than his go-ahead putback with 25.3 seconds remaining to give the Blue Eaglets the 60-58 lead, all crucial in helping their side eke out the 63-58 victory over the NU Bullpups on Friday.
It was a fitting ending to Ateneo’s awe-inspiring fightback after falling behind by six, 54-48, with 4:18 left to play. Sotto and lead playmaker SJ Belangel teamed up in staging the pivotal 10-0 run to swing the momentum back to the Blue Eaglets, 58-54 with 1:37 remaining.
“Coach Joe told us that it’s the Finals and it’s all about who wants it more. We saw NU was giving its all and we felt that we were lacking in effort in Game 2. So in Game 3, we really prioritized our effort because we really wanted to win,” he said.
Aside from his scoring in the foul-plagued outing, Sotto also got things done on the defensive end as he grabbed 13 rebounds and three blocks which easily allowed him to be honored as the Finals MVP.
But the 15-year-old knew that he couldn’t have done it without the help of his fellow Blue Eaglets, calling the whole roster as he was given the trophy after the game.
“This is for all my teammates. I wouldn’t have gotten the Finals MVP if not for my coaches and teammates,” he said. “This is all for them.”
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