Gilas pool eager to have Sotto in bubble
The national pool is eager to have Kai Sotto in the training bubble, something that is getting closer to reality after the 7-foot-3 teenager announced on social media that he is excited to have “an opportunity to play” for Gilas Pilipinas in the third window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers.
“We’re excited to see how much he has already improved and what he can bring to the system,” Jong Uichico, one of the national coaches handling the training of the Gilas pool in Laguna province, said on Thursday.
Sotto posted a video entry on Instagram on Thursday morning saying: “I’m heading home soon. I’m excited that I have been given an opportunity to play for Gilas for the coming February window.”
The Inquirer earlier reported that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) expects Sotto to arrive within the week.
It wasn’t clear yet how Sotto cleared his schedule with his G League squad Ignite, which is set to join a tournament of the National Basketball Association’s developmental league in a bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. It can be recalled that Ignite coach Brian Shaw said last December that he hadn’t heard of Sotto’s plans to suit up for the national squad yet.
Gilas Pilipinas will play three games in the third window, two against South Korea and one against Indonesia in a qualifying cell that starts on Feb. 18. In the United States, meanwhile, all 18 G League teams are scheduled to enter the bubble by Jan. 26 for physicals ahead of the tournament that begins on Feb. 8.
How quickly Sotto will adapt to the system of the national pool will certainly be put to a test. The team has already been practicing for 10 days as of Thursday, absorbing a system that has shown a lot of promise in the second window, which produced a pair of sterling routs against Thailand.
The national squad needs just one win to qualify for the continental championship slated in August this year in Indonesia.
The Inquirer has reached out to Maria Espaldon, chief operating officer of East-West Private, a firm that represents Sotto and several prospects in the United States for comment and clarity. Espaldon has yet to reply as of press time.
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