Qatar clears path for Sotto to join Gilas Pilipinas in Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers | Inquirer Sports

Qatar clears path for Sotto to join Gilas Pilipinas in Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers

But G League stint gets shrouded in uncertainty
/ 05:20 AM January 29, 2021

Kai Sotto

Gilas Pilipinas hopes Kai Sotto will arrive as soon as possible so he can begin practicing with the national pool. —PHOTO COURTESY OF FIBA

It looks like Kai Sotto will be able to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas after all.

Qatar has volunteered to hold the Group A third window of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in the same time frame as it was originally scheduled in the Philippines, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said on Thursday.


“We are thankful to Fiba (International Basketball Federation) and the Qatar Basketball Federation for all their efforts to make sure that the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers for Group A will push through,” SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement that confirmed an earlier Inquirer report that Doha would shoulder the hosting duties of Group A.


But that wasn’t the only good news.

“The games will be played in the same time frame [but] we’ll be communicating with the Qatar Basketball Federation for the final schedule as there might be necessary adjustments since they are now hosting 12 teams from the original four,” Panlilio added in the statement.

The third window was scheduled from Feb. 18 to 22. And sticking to that time frame meant Sotto will be able to push through with his plans of representing the country, which would be huge considering his decision to join Gilas Pilipinas may have stalled his debut in a US tournament.

Brian Shaw, the former Los Angeles Lakers standout who coaches Sotto at National Basketball Association (NBA) G League squad Ignite, said he isn’t sure if Sotto can rejoin the club as it competes in a bubble tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

“Depending on the timing of everything especially because he’s traveling internationally, the quarantine times can be a lot longer,” Shaw told reporters on Thursday. “We don’t know how that’s going to play out when all is said and done in terms of him coming back and joining the team or not.”

The G League bubble was supposed to be Sotto’s first taste of official competition in the league that serves as a farm system of sorts for the NBA.


Shaw said the team is fully behind Sotto’s decision to join the national pool.

“One of the things [established] before all these guys entered the program was that we weren’t going to hold anybody back,” Shaw said.

However, as a condition of his release to the national program, Sotto has to return to the United States on Feb. 24.

The Inquirer reported that Qatar had volunteered to sub for the country, which scrapped its hosting plans because of pandemic-related travel restrictions. But Qatar, sources initially said, was willing to host the window in March, putting Sotto’s plans in peril.

But with the development, the national program now just has to wait for Sotto to arrive.

“We are hoping he arrives as soon as possible so he can begin joining us in practice and absorb the system,” said coach Jong Uichico, who handled the national team in the second window.

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The last time we spoke we’re experiencing some [issues] on documentation,” Panlilio said. “We hope he can fly as soon as possible.”

TAGS: Gilas Pilipinas, Qatar

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