Kai Sotto sees playing against NBA players during Fiba World Cup as a ‘blessing’
MANILA, Philippines—In a span of just three days, Gilas Pilipinas’ young center Kai Sotto had his mettle tested by players from the NBA.
The Philippines, though, remains winless after dropping its assignments against the Dominican Republic and Angola in Group A of the 2023 Fiba World Cup but Sotto still found silver linings despite the situation.
One of them was the experience of playing alongside and against NBA players like fellow Gilas Pilipinas player Jordan Clarkson, Dominican Karl-Anthony Towns and Angolan Bruno Fernando.
“You can see from KAT to JC (Clarkson), just how great NBA players are. They’re not just NBA players but they’re really good so you’d have to respect their skills and how they bring their teams,” Sotto said after their 80-70 loss to Angola on Sunday at Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s a blessing for me to play with Jordan and play against those [NBA] guys.”
Sotto was unable to do much against Towns on Friday as he was only used for a minute and 13 seconds but he definitely showed his skills against Fernando’s Angola.
In almost 20 minutes of play, the former Adelaide 36er tallied eight points and six rebounds while also limiting Fernando to 54.5 percent shooting (6-for-11) for 14 markers.
Despite a commendable matchup with Fernando, however, Sotto said there is still lots of work to be done on the road to improvement.
“[There’s] still a lot of mistakes and a lot of room for improvement. After all, there’s no such thing as a perfect game so I’ll be rewatching the game but I’m proud of everybody’s effort and fightback,” said the 7-foot-2 big man.
“We fell short but still, the fight was there.”
Sotto and Gilas look to do the unthinkable and stun Italy by 13 points to advance to the second round of the World Cup on Tuesday at Araneta Coliseum.