Kai Sotto short spell in Gilas loss due to foul trouble, unfavorable matchups–Chot Reyes
BOCAUE—To the surprise of many, Gilas Pilipinas big man Kai Sotto hardly played in the Philippines’ 87-81 loss to the Dominican Republic in the 2023 Fiba World Cup on Friday night at Philippine Arena here.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes, however, was quick to clear the air.
“I’m sure a lot of people are going to wonder why, but between sitting AJ (Edu) and June Mar (Fajardo), there were just no opportunities and the matchups just didn’t favor Kai,” Reyes said.
Sotto, who plays for the Hiroshima Dragonflies in the Japan B.League, only saw action for a minute and 13 seconds and missed his only attempt–a 3-pointer–from the field.
The 21-year-old Sotto’s brief appearance was also due to the two quick fouls he picked up, prompting Reyes to reinsert AJ Edu.
“Kai picked up two quick fouls so we had to get him out right away. We couldn’t get him back in because AJ Edu was playing a great game. That’s the reason he’s here (post-game conference),” said Reyes.
“If we get him (Kai) in, the other guy we had to sit was June Mar Fajardo.”
June Mar Fajardo and Edu made it hard for Reyes to sit them for long stretches after holding their ground against the Dominicans’ frontcourt led by NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns.
Fajardo backstopped Jordan Clarkson, who finished with a game-high 28 points, with 16 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and seven rebounds while Edu collected seven points, five rebounds and two blocks in his debut for the Philippine men’s national team.
Reyes, though, assured Sotto will see more playing time in Gilas’ next games against Angola and Italy in the group phase.
“In the next game and the game after, we should be able to see more of him.”
Gilas and Angola go for their first win when they face off on Sunday at Araneta Coliseum.