Will Kai suit up for Gilas?

Published June 13, 2021, 8:57 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Kai Sotto

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas said plenty of factors will be determined before Gilas Pilipinas decides on whether to play Kai Sotto as early as the first game of the resumption of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.

Sotto was part of the Gilas contingent that arrived in Clark, Pampanga Sunday, June 13 after spending almost the past two weeks undergoing mandatory quarantine as part of requirements for passengers arriving from abroad.

Ryan Gregorio, SBP’s special assistant to the president, said the availability of Sotto will be discussed with Gilas coach Tab Baldwin before the 12-man lineup for the game against South Korea on Wednesday, June 16 is submitted.

“He will still be evaluated in terms of match fitness,” Gregorio said in a virtual press conference Sunday, June 13 attended by officials led by Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and CEO Vince Dizon and SBP executives Sonny Barrios and Butch Antonio.

“We want to make sure that we are not compromising his health (since) he has not done a lot of basketball in the last few days and we want to immerse him slowly. We want to make sure he knows our defensive scheme of things, our sets on offense, our strategies, our scouting reports and all and on top of it is to build chemistry.

“As to whether we will see him right away, we’ll see. But right, we’re just happy that he is out and he is with the team,” added Gregorio.

The 7-foot-3 Sotto arrived last May 31 after spending most of his time doing individual work in the United States.

Sotto is set for his first senior national team stint that was delayed last February when the scheduled third window in Doha, Qatar was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is interesting to see how Sotto will fare should Gilas decide on including him for all three games of the final window of qualification for the continental tournament.