Kai Sotto says Hiroshima stint in won’t hinder his Gilas commitment
MANILA, Philippines — Kai Sotto stressed his stint with the Hiroshima Dragonflies in the Japan B.League will not affect his commitment to Gilas Pilipinas.
The 7-foot-3 center missed the last Fiba World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers window as he decided to focus on his new club team, playing for two months in Japan as part of his path to reviving his NBA dream.
But Sotto, who played for the Adelaide 36ers for two National Basketball League seasons in Australia, said that his brief Japan stint won’t hinder his national team duty.
“I don’t think so, because, as I said, we gotta say, it’s the second half of the season already, the season will end probably in May,” Sotto said during his introductory press conference on Thursday.
“I don’t think it will hinder my national team commitment,” he added.
After ending their qualifiers campaign with a 91-90 loss to Jordan last Monday at Philippine Arena, national team coach Chot Reyes said they may search for a tall naturalized player following Sotto’s unavailability in the final window.
“We are not ruling out the possibility of even going out and looking for another 6-10, 6-11 guy,” Reyes said. “With all the uncertainty surrounding the Kai Sotto situation, if he is not going to make himself available, I think we have to think about that as well. I mean, that’s just part of all the planning on our plate right now.”
“You can’t just come and show up and be on the team, right? Doesn’t matter who you are. You have to be able to be part of the preparation. So that’s part of it. It’s not just being available two weeks before and all that. It’s not gonna happen,” he added.
The national team will try to redeem itself in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia in May before it starts its full preparation for the 2023 World Cup in August.
When Sotto was asked when he will return to the country to join Gilas Pilipinas, he said it still depends as his main focus for now is helping the Dragonflies, who hold a 28-10 record in the 2022-23 season.
“As I said it depends. Right now, I’m just focused on these next three months with the team, help this team make the playoffs, clinch the championship,” Sotto said. “And whatever happens after that, happens.”