Kai Sotto flying home to join Gilas Pilipinas

Published January 21, 2021, 11:22 AM

by Jonas Terrado

Kai Sotto (Photo from FIBA)

Kai Sotto announced Thursday that he will suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in next month’s final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers inside the Pampanga bubble.

The 7-foot-3 youngster said he’s thrilled with the opportunity of donning the national team jersey in the senior level while also trying to help Gilas formalize its entry in the continental competitions slated mid-August in Indonesia.

“I’m heading home soon,” Sotto said on his Instagram account. “Sobrang excited ako sa binigay na opportunity na makapaglaro sa Gilas ngayong February window. 

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng mga sumusuporta at naniniwala sa aking pangarap para sa bayan sa tamang panahon na makapaglaro sa NBA. I’m very blessed to have my supporters and I won’t let you down,” added the 18-year-old native of Las Pinas City.

Read: Kai Sotto is now 7-foot-3

In deciding to play for Gilas, Sotto will be forced to miss the start of the NBA G League season for the G League Ignite.

The G-League season starts Feb. 8 also under a bubble setup at the Walt Disney World Complex in Orlando, with the Ignite being one of the 18 participating teams.

There were initial concerns that the announcement of the G League schedule several weeks ago may have jeopardized Sotto’s Gilas stint. But Sotto’s decision may have allayed fears of his possible absence.

His presence should serve as a big boost for Gilas as it hopes for more firepower in the upcoming window.

Gilas is scheduled to play a pair of games against bitter rival South Korea and one against Indonesia in the window that will be held at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.

The Philippines will have a mix of PBA and amateur cagers for the bubble, with majority of them currently in the midst of their bubble training at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

Read: Gilas starts training bubble in Laguna

PBA players already in Calamba are NLEX’s Kiefer Ravena, Terrafirma’s CJ Perez and Phoenix Super LPG’s Justin Chua while TNT’s RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario and NLEX’s Raul Soyud are scheduled to enter Friday.

Isaac Go, Juan Gomez de Liano, Dwight Ramos and Matt Nieto are among the amateurs who are also training at Inspire.