Kai Sotto lauds 'tough' Ryukyu import Allen Durham in first B.League showdown | Inquirer Sports

Kai Sotto lauds ‘tough’ Ryukyu import Allen Durham in first B.League showdown

/ 06:33 PM March 09, 2023

Kai Sotto in the Japan B.League debut with Hiroshima. –B.LEAGUE PHOTO

Kai Sotto in the Japan B.League debut with Hiroshima. –B.LEAGUE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Kai Sotto said former PBA import Allen Durham was the toughest player he faced from the Ryukyu Golden Kings during his debut for the Hiroshima Dragonflies in the 2022-23 B.League season.

The 7-foot-3 center had a losing Japan debut as the Dragonflies absorbed an 86-78 loss to the Golden Kings on Wednesday at Okinawa Arena.


Sotto, who used to watch Durham’s game with Meralco when he was young player back in the Philippines, admitted the American import was hard to defend.


“[The] toughest player probably is Durham. He played in the Philippines years ago. I remember I was younger and I watched him play for the Meralco Bolts. I already know how good he is and I was looking forward to playing against him. He was good,” said Sotto, who tallied 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting and had three blocks, two rebounds, and a steal in 19 minutes.

Durham scattered 19 points, four rebounds, five assists, and a steal against Sotto as Ryukyu improved to a 30-9 record.

Sotto also lauded Ryuichi Kishimoto, who led Ryukyu with 20 points and five assists, and Keita Imamura added 14 markers in a game, where he didn’t get the chance to play against former high school rival Carl Tamayo who was benched.

FILE–Ryukyu Golden Kings' import Allen Durham. –RYUKYU PHOTO

FILE–Ryukyu Golden Kings’ import Allen Durham. –RYUKYU PHOTO

“I was surprised they are good. Our coaches said they’re good shooters and they didn’t miss and then the crowd was amazing. The crowd helped them a little bit. They made a lot of tough shots,” he said.

Despite the loss, Sotto still managed to help Hiroshima in limiting center Jack Cooley, who was held to five points on 2-of-6 shooting and committed four fouls but grabbed eight rebounds.

“Jack Cooley was one of the biggest assignments that coach assigned to me. I took that assignment to defend him to guard him and I think we did well,” Sotto said. “They just played better, they shot better so they made a lot of tough shots, which was a key factor why they won the game.”


Sotto also enjoyed the atmosphere in Okinawa,  which is the biggest basketball city in Japan.

“They told me this is probably the best arena in Japan and it looks like an NBA arena, a little bit smaller, but it looks like an NBA arena. The crowd was good and it was a good feeling to play here. I was really happy to play in this arena,” he said.

Sotto vows to be better in Hiroshima’s next game, facing Matthew Wright’s Kyoto Hannaryz next Wednesday.

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He is looking forward to his next game as his teammates make life easier for him to transition from Australia’s National Basketball League to the B.League.

“When the game started it was really different. It really brings more energy and I wanted to give more energy to the team. I think my team is really good they are all good guys it’s easy for me to bond with them. It was a fun game even we didn’t win. But it’s only gonna get better for us,” Sotto said.

TAGS: Allen Durham, Hiroshima Dragonflies, Japan B.League, Kai Sotto, Ryukyu Golden Kings

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