Kai Sotto thrilled as Gilas Pilipinas starts to gain size boost | Inquirer Sports
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Kai Sotto thrilled as Gilas Pilipinas starts to gain size boost

/ 05:18 PM June 16, 2021
Kai Sotto in his Gilas Pilipinas debut.

Kai Sotto in his Gilas Pilipinas debut. FIBA ASIA PHOTO

MAILA, Philippines–Kai Sotto’s excitement stems not only from long awaited debut with Gilas Pilipinas.

Like many within the national cage program, he is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed over the fact that the Philippines now has a towering triumvirate it can build for its future, something that has perennially eluded this basketball-crazed country for decades.

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Sotto will finally know how it feels like playing alongside one of the young big men being groomed as Gilas’ cornerstones when he and Angelo Kouame lead a youthful squad in the ongoing Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers.

Gilas Pilipinas plays South Korea on Wednesday.

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“It’s exciting just to imagine (that) I can share the court with (Kouame),” the 7-foot-3 teen prospect said in a Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas video interview released to media outlets on Monday night.

“(And) not only with Ange. There are also really good tall players—Geo Chiu, Carl Tamayo, and AJ Edu who is not yet here. I’m really excited to play with them again.”

Kouame, 23, and Edu, 21, are both listed as 6-foot-10. Chiu and Tamayo, both 20 years of age, stand at 6-foot-8.

The improvement in Gilas’ ceiling has gotten a lot of previous national coaches excited, including Norman Black, who mentored the national team in the 1994 Asian Games and the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.

“You can’t go wrong with height. We (other coaches) have been saying that for years,” he told the Inquirer in an earlier interview.

“With Kouame, Kai and AJ, we’re not only big, but we’re also huge now,” Black said. “We have the shooters we can surround our big guys with. We also have the playmakers for them.”

Edu, who is currently in the United States playing Division I basketball, said all of the excitement is valid.

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“Height, in basketball, makes a huge difference. It’s been a kind of an issue in previous Philippine teams,” the 6-foot-11 Filipino-Nigerian said in a previous episode of SportsIQ.

“It’s [no longer going to] be an issue going forward with this team and that’s what people are excited about the most,” said Edu.

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