SBP rushing to arrange Kai’s return flight to US

Published February 13, 2021, 1:32 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Kai Sotto
Filipino basketball prodigy Kai Sotto (Photo from FIBA)

Kai Sotto won’t be joining Gilas Pilipinas in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers which will now be held in Clark, Pampanga.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas director for operations Butch Antonio confirmed plans to have Sotto fly back to the United States as soon as possible in order to play for the G League in the NBA G League bubble in Florida.

The hosting of the final phase of the continental qualifiers was handed back to the Philippines after Doha opted out of staging the games due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Qatar.

But that quick turnaround won’t mean that the 7-foot-3 youngster will also be there to don the national colors.

“Right now the plan is to have him back,” Antonio said in the Power and Play program of former PBA commissioner Noli Eala. “Nag-pullout na siya sa bubble and he has to continue his quarantine in his residence.

“We’re working with him and his group in the US to make sure there is time for him to join his team at makasali siya sa team niya na Ignite. Hopefully by next week, maayos natin yun,” added Antonio.

The 18-year-old has been on quarantine ever since he arrived in the country earlier this month to reinforce Gilas for the qualifiers.

His arrival meant that Sotto had to skip the early part of the Ignite’s campaign in the G League bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex inside Walt Disney World.

Read: Team Ignite coach doubtful of Kai Sotto’s availability for G League season

Sans Sotto, the Ignite won their first two games of the G League season, defeating the Santa Cruz Warriors (109-104) and Oklahoma City Blue (109-103).

Antonio commended Sotto for reiterating his commitment to play for Sotto even before the recent events took place.

“We have to remember that even before all of these things happened, he made it clear that every time, basta kailangan siya ng ating bayan, di niya tatanggihan at di niya tatalikuran ang kanyang obligasyon para i-represent ang ating bayan with the national team which is very commendable as far as how we should look at Kai,” he said.

“It may be a setback for his Ignite career, understandably so, but ang dapat tignan ng tao dito is it is really a sacrifice. And you have to give it to him, yung kanyang commitment, natuloy yung Doha o hindi, he’s here and he made sure na yung kanyang promise, tinutupad niya.”