SBP hopes for ‘positive response’ from Kai Sotto for Gilas’ World Cup stint
MANILA, Philippines — The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is convincing Kai Sotto for Gilas Pilipinas’ historic hosting of the Fiba World Cup 2023.
SBP spokesperson and executive director Sonny Barrios believes the 7-foot-3 center wants to play for the country but they are still in talks with the teenager’s camp.
“I think Kai really wants to play for Gilas. We still are talking to him,” said the official in Filipino during his guesting at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
“I hope we will receive a positive response from Kai Sotto’s camp.”
Barrios hopes Kai’s father and former PBA player, Ervin, would convince his son to play for the country just like how Marlou Aquino’s dad convinced the 6-foot-9 big man to prioritize the national team back then.
“I hope Sir Erwin Sotto would convince his son. Because his NBA (dream) will always be there. Playing for Gilas in the World Cup, in front of the Filipino fans, is a rare opportunity,” he said.
The SBP previously said that they are looking to field the 20-year-old in the upcoming windows, 32nd Southeast Asian Games next year, and the World Cup 2023.
Sotto’s name was not mentioned when SBP unveiled the members of the Gilas Pilipinas pool, led by NBA star Jordan Clarkson, for its matches against Lebanon on August 25 and against Saudi Arabia on Aug. 29.
Sotto recently announced that he is returning to the Adelaide 36ers for another Australia’s National Basketball League season after he went undrafted in the 2022 NBA Rookie Draft.
AJ EDU, TOO
The Filipino basketball prodigy was instrumental in Gilas Pilipinas’ Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers campaign and Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament last year.
Barrios said the Philippines needs Sotto in the World Cup since the naturalized player slot will likely go to Clarkson, replacing center Ange Kouame. Besides Sotto, SBP is eyeing June Mar Fajardo and Filipino-Nigerian AJ Edu, who is still recovering from an injury.
“AJ Edu is a good player. But the problem is his injury is recurring. Let’s pray for his full recovery,” he said.
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