Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilio has assured that the federation will always welcome Kai Sotto and that Gilas Pilipinas will always be a platform for the young player to showcase his talents in various international competitions.
Panlilio issued a statement Wednesday as news broke out Tuesday night regarding the mutual agreement of the NBA G League and Sotto to call off the latter’s bid to rejoin his team.
“We welcomed him with open arms because he’ll always have a home with us at the SBP,” said Panlilio.
“The same is true for any Filipino basketball player chasing their dreams on the international stage. Whatever may happen to their respective paths, they can always be sure that the SBP will be there to provide them a stage where they could perform for their Filipino fans.”
Sotto has been included to the Ignite squad, composed of top high school players in the US that skipped college and now plays in the G League as a path towards their dream of playing in the NBA.
Fil-Am Jalen Green, a teammate of the 7-foot-3 Sotto at Ignite, is currently doing well in the G League.
Prior to the start of the tournament, Sotto asked permission to leave the team and participate in the preparation of Gilas Pilipinas for the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers here.
The 19-year-old Sotto arrived in early February, but as he was finishing his quarantine period for COVID-19 protocol, the country cancelled its hosting due to health security.
Qatar came in to stage the event in Doha, but begged off eventually due to the same health reasons.
As the country agreed to be the host again of the said tournament, Sotto decided to leave for the US last February 14 in hopes of rejoining Ignite.
But, after missing several games, both camps decided to part ways.
Panlilio believes that Sotto will continue to fight for his dream and make it to the NBA.
“Although we are saddened with the recent announcement that he will no longer be rejoining Ignite in the NBA G League, we still wish Kai all the best and we will support him in any way we can,” said Panlilio.
“Even at his young age, Kai has shown amazing grit and determination to pursue his dreams and we have complete trust that he’ll do us proud.”