By Jerome Lagunzad
Already 7-foot tall at 15 years old, the sky is certainly the limit for Ateneo high school prodigy Kai Sotto after being considered as the future cornerstone of Gilas Pilipinas.
The towering son of former PBA center Ervin Sotto continues to show strong signs of becoming a dominant big man in the future as he’s been serving as the main anchor of the Blue Eaglets’ title drive in the UAAP juniors cage tourney.
Only in his sophomore year, Sotto averages 12.6 points on 53.7 percent shooting on top of 12.6 rebounds and 4.9 blocks in Ateneo’s perfect 8-0 start so far.
“It’s all about hard work,” said Sotto after scoring 11 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks in the Blue Eaglets’ 78-54 drubbing of title contender University of Santo Tomas over the weekend.
Still, there’s plenty of work to do for Sotto, who has already been included by national team coach Chot Reyes in the 23-player list of the Gilas training pool for the FIBA World Cup in 2023 which the country will be hosting.
The gentle giant is eager to live up to lofty to expectations.
“Siyempre happy ako kasi lahat naman ng players sa Pilipinas gusto makasama sa Gilas. Thankful ako sa opportunity na maisama sa pool. Ginagawa ko ‘yun na motivation para may bago pa akong goals in the future. Kailangan ko pa mag work harder para dun,” he said.
But Sotto won’t realize his full potential all by his lonesome. And that’s where Ateneo coach Joe Silva, along with his Blue Eaglets coaching staff, will come into play.
“It makes me proud to be his coach because they recognize his talents at a young age. Of course it’s an honor and a privilege. However, that’s still far away,” said Silva. “We’re telling Kai to take it year by year first. Improve yearly, focus on your studies, focus on what you have to do. He really has to work hard.”
Aside from polishing his prized slotman’s skill set, Silva said it’s also a must for them to keep Sotto’s feet on the ground amid all the hype and hoopla that’s been buzzing around.