Kai only one unaccounted for as Dwight enters gilas bubble
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said it is just ironing out the remaining logistical kinks on Kai Sotto’s trip back to the Philippines.
“As we speak, we are in close coordination with Kai’s management team,” SBP’s Ryan Gregorio told the Inquirer on Monday, referring to East West Private, which handles Sotto’s career and which gave the green light for the 7-foot-3 center’s stint with Gilas Pilipinas for its third window assignment in the Fiba Asia Cup next month.
“We are finalizing the timetable of his arrival in our country,” added the former national coach and champion Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) mentor, who now serves as special assistant to federation president Al Panlilio.
Sotto has a contract with the G-League, which will have its own bubble tournament starting Feb. 6 in Orlando, Florida. Sotto will rejoin his Ignite squad once he ends his stint with the Philippine Five.
He will also serve out the mandatory 14-day quarantine once he returns to the United States.
Sotto is the only member of the 20-man talent pool that SBP assembled who is unaccounted for as Dwight Ramos, easily the best performer for Gilas during the second window in Bahrain, already entered the training bubble in Calamba, Laguna province.
“Dwight has completed his quarantine as prescribed by the [interagency task force’s] guidelines. He is in the bubble now,” Gregorio said.
The Inquirer previously reported that Sotto was scheduled to arrive last week. Gregorio clarified that the delays in Sotto’s arrival are stemming from the strict health protocols which the SBP will adhere to no matter what.
“We’re following strict protocols espoused by our country just to make sure that the transmission of the virus will not be rampant,” Gregorio explained.
The national government extended its travel restrictions on several countries—including the United States, where Sotto is coming from—until Jan. 31 in an effort to mitigate the spread of the new variant of the coronavirus.
“We are scheduled to talk to his team again tonight to arrange all the logistical matters,” Gregorio said. “We are hoping to get a more definitive direction by [Tuesday].”
Sotto, who has been regarded as one of the cornerstones of the national program for 2023 Fiba World Cup scheduled here, is set to join a healthy mix of talents comprised of collegiate standouts, 2019 Gilas draftees and young PBA stars.
From that bunch, a talented cast of coaches led by program director Tab Baldwin, second window coach Jong Uichico, and recently tapped mentors Norman Black, Sandy Arespacochaga and Caloy Garcia will finalize roster that will go up against retooled foes in South Korea and Indonesia.
South Korea, which the Philippines will play twice (Feb. 18 and 22), will be reinforced by Ricardo Ratliffe, now Ra Gun-ah. Indonesia, who the Nationals tackle on Feb 20, will field Lester Prosper, also a former PBA import like Ratliffe. INQ