Kai Zachary Sotto has been dubbed as the future of Philippine basketball. And that’s exactly where he’ll be strutting his wares, at least for the moment.
Ervin Sotto, the former professional journeyman and Kai’s father, told the Inquirer that his 16-year-old son will continue to don the Ateneo Blue Eaglets colors in the UAAP juniors basketball wars.
“He’s with Ateneo,” said Ervin after reports all over social media tagged Sotto as a recruitment target of EuroLeague powerhouse Real Madrid, which reportedly tendered a $1-M (P54.02 million approximately) offer for his son.
Ervin added his family has rejected feelers for Kai to fly abroad and play there, but denied that there was a cash value attached to those offers.
“Those are plain rumors. I don’t know where that amount came from. No money involved. Nothing,” said Ervin, who played backup to brothers Yancy and Ranidel de Ocampo in college and the amateur leagues.
The seven-foot-1 Kai powered the Blue Eaglets to the UAAP junior title over the NU Bullpups last season.
Kai and AJ Edu also formed a formidable combination at the post for Batang Gilas, which booked a berth to the Fiba under-19 World Cup in Greece after reaching the semifinals of the 2018 Under-18 Asian championship in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
It will be the second stint in the World Cup for Sotto, who averaged 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game when the Philippines finished 13th in the 2018 U17 World Cup in Argentina.
The 6-foot-7 Ervin, who became a journeyman after being made 7th overall draft pick by Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdogs (now Magnolia) in the 2004 draft, said the family has already responded to a lot of the offers that came their way.
“The offers are no longer new. Even last year, we’ve already received e-mails from Europe and US,” said Ervin, who played for five ballclubs in the PBA.
Ervin, however, refused to deny nor confirm reports that he’d already met with an international agent regarding an offer to Kai.
Though still lacking in strength and heft, Kai is a star in the making with his ability to run, make jumpers and defend. He is expected to add more inches to his seven-foot frame.