‘Smart’ Kai Sotto impresses coach in Gilas win
Kai Sotto made his much-awaited preseason debut and the Gilas cadets escaped University of the East, 63-61, for a rare win in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup Tuesday night.
Sotto was the center of attention and did not disappoint with a couple of dunks and blocks to finish with five points, three rebounds and two blocks, making the most out of his 13 minutes of action.
The 7-foot Sotto may not have produced eye-catching numbers, but his stats did not show how big of a role he played for the young Nationals.
“Isn’t it great to be a 7-footer. Aside from his frail body, I think he’s a smart player. He knows what’s happening. For a 17-year-old, I think he knows what’s happening and that’s surprising,” said Gilas coach Jong Uichico after his squad’s second win in seven games.
“He played the whole fourth quarter and most of the fourth quarter he did not make a mistake mentally. Physically, maybe but mentally I did not see him make a mental mistake,” he added. “So I think he’s a smart player and the only thing he’s lacking is the physical attributes and he’s such a young player.”
Abu Tratter led Gilas with 13 points while also doing the dirty work while Juan Gomez De Liaño sank the go-ahead layup with 1:03 left to end up with five points, 10 rebounds and four assists, including a pair of lob passes to his fellow Fighting Maroon Ricci Rivero.
Gomez De Liaño completed a 13-0 run as the Red Warriors were held to just four points in the final frame.
Rivero did a little bit of everything, collecting eight points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks.
UE guard Alvin Pasaol led all scorers with 22 points but shot 7-of-28 from the field. The Warriors slipped to 1-2.