Kai Sotto en route to Manila as Gilas prepares for Asia Cup Qualifiers

Published May 31, 2021, 7:59 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Kai Sotto (SBP Images)

Kai Sotto is set to arrive in Manila this Monday night in hopes of joining Gilas Pilipinas in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on June 16 to 20 in a bubble setup in Clark, Pampanga.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), led by its president Al Panlilio, arranged the travel itinerary of the 7-foot-3 Sotto, who is arriving at 9:45 p.m. from Narita, Japan.

“He actually had connecting flights from Connecticut to Dallas in the US, and had a stopover in Narita, then to Manila. He’s traveling by himself for the first time and we have to give it to the guy,” said Ryan Gregorio, Special Assistant to the President of the SBP.

Upon his arrival, Sotto needs to complete the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) requirement of 10-day quarantine at a government-accredited facility, and four more days at home before he can join the national team.

The quarantine period, however, could serve as hindrance to Sotto’s preparation with the national team as he may only rejoin Gilas two days before its first game in the qualifiers.

“Kai has to go through the quarantine protocols as mandated by the government. We have to play it by ear,” said Gregorio.

Gregorio isn’t discounting the possibility of Sotto joining Gilas in the said tournament, but following the government protocols is important at this point due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Gilas takes on South Korea on June 16 and 20, and Indonesia on June 18 in the qualifiers.

The national team is also preparing for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) on June 29 to July 4 in Serbia as the Filipinos face the Dominican Republic and host team Serbia.

Sotto recently signed with the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League in Australia.

In a recent talk with Panlilio and other SBP officials, the 19-year-old Sotto has committed to play for flag and country, and Gregorio said that is the reason why the former Ateneo Blue Eaglet is coming home.

“That’s his commitment. to play for the national team,” said Gregorio.