SBP working within health protocols in processing Sotto’s arrival
If not for these extraordinary and testy times, Kai Sotto would’ve been home, training with Gilas Pilipinas pool in its camp in Calamba, Laguna province, in preparation for the Fiba Asia Cup qualifying games late next month.
“We’ve been burning (phone) lines for the past days. If this is just a normal environment for us, he would’ve been in the country probably three days ago,” Ryan Gregorio of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said in former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) chief Noli Eala’s radio show Power and Play on Saturday.
“But what we’re doing is we’re closely coordinating with the (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases). We’re following strict protocols espoused by our country just to make sure that the transmission of the virus will not be rampant,” added the former coach, who now serves as special assistant to SBP president Al Panlilio.
Gregorio said “that is where the delay is happening,” but insists that it’s a relatively small hurdle for what he believes is a special opportunity for the national program.
“Our best and brightest prospect, not just in the local setting, but in the NBA (National Basketball Association) and in the world, Kai Sotto, has willingly raised his hand to play for our country,” he added.
Sotto is expected to reinforce a Gilas squad that will feature a healthy mix of PBA stars and collegiate standouts, similar to the roster fielded in the first window of the tournament.
At 7-foot-3, Sotto will undoubtedly provide size and defensive coverage for the team.
“We’re just waiting for the finality of the logistical requirements for him to be able to arrive in [the Philippines],” Gregorio said, without providing a definite date for Sotto’s arrival.
A total of 20 players will comprise the Gilas Pilipinas pool. Kiefer Ravena, who skippered the squad in the first two games, banners a six-man pro contingent that also features CJ Perez, Justin Chua, mainstays Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario, and newcomer Raul Soyud.
Four players come from the 2019 rookie crop loaned to the program: Isaac Go, twins Mike and Matt Nieto, and Rey Suerte. The collegiate bunch, meanwhile, consists of National Collegiate Athletic Association most valuable player Calvin Oftana, Dave Ildefonso, Will Navarro, brothers Javi and Juan Gomez de Liaño, Justine Baltazar, Kenmark Cariño, yet-to-arrive Dwight Ramos, and prime candidate for naturalization Ange Kouame.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.