Tab Baldwin excited to see Kai Sotto pursue his NBA dreams
MANILA, Philippines — Coach Tab Baldwin was happy with Kai Sotto’s decision to try his luck in the 2022 NBA Draft.
The Ateneo coach, who mentored the 7-foot-3 center Sotto in his Gilas Pilipinas senior’s team stint in the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers.
“I’m excited for him. I can’t make any qualitative assessment of that. Kai and his people know much better what his standing is with the NBA teams. I’m sure they’ve been in touch with teams,” said Baldwin after Ateneo’s 70-53 victory over Far Eastern University in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament on Thursday.
“I’m like all the rest of Filipinos: just excited for the opportunity that he might get drafted. And if he does, that he gets a real chance to make a roster, and you know, then it would be a dream come true for this basketball-crazy country,” he added.
The Kiwi-American coach believes the 19-year-old’s path, playing in Australia’s National Basketball League for the Adelaide 36ers, was a good place to pursue his NBA dream.
“I’m sure Kai is excited and nervous… But you know, he’s worked really hard. He had a good season in Adelaide, and that was a good place for him to be, I believe,” Baldwin said. “A lot of big men, a lot of talented big men in that league, and he held his own. He had a good season. So I hope it’s the right decision.”
Sotto played 23 games in his first NBL season, averaging 7.6 points on 51-percent field goals including a 39-percent shooting from deep and had 4.5 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 15.2 minutes as Adelaide finished seventh with a 10-18 record.
Baldwin wishes Sotto well as he tries to fulfill his NBA dream. But whatever happens, he and the Ateneo community will be proud of the former Blue Eaglet.
“I can’t make any assessment as to whether it is or not. But you know, we just wish him well. All of us Ateneans, we still believe he’s one of us, and we’re very proud of what he’s accomplished so far,“ Baldwin said. “And (I’m) hopeful that there would be a lot more of his story to be told at the highest level.”
The NBA Rookie Draft is on June 23.