Padrigao, Chiu, Tamayo throw support to pal Sotto

Forthsky Padrigao, Geo Chiu, and Carl Tamayo, some of the close friends and former teammates of Kai Sotto, have showed their full support for their pal's NBA pursuit.

Carl Tamayo, Kai Sotto, and Geo Chiu (FIBA)

Padrigao and Chiu shared a tight bond with Sotto as teammates in the Ateneo Blue Eaglets.

The 19-year-old Sotto was named Finals Most Valuable Player for leading the Blue Eaglets to a championship in Season 80.

The following season, the Las Pinas City native earned the MVP honors but it was his rival-turned-friend Tamayo who earned the Finals MVP award by steering the Nazareth School of National University Bullpups for their first in two years against the Blue Eaglets.

Except for Padrigao and Chiu, who moved up to seniors squad Blue Eagles, the four cagers have generally taken different paths with Tamayo transferring to the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons and Sotto taking his young basketball career to the United States and then to Australia.

Now that Sotto has declared for the 2022 NBA Draft, his support system has grown bigger not only with his personal circle of friends but the whole Filipino nation.

"Excited ako kay Kai, excited ako for him kasi alam ko, alam namin kung ano 'yong pinagdaanan ni Kai and 'yong hirap niya para maabot 'yong dream niya," said Padrigao. "Nandito lang naman kami lagi for him, suporta lang kami lagi."

Padrigao just cannot contain his excitement to the point that this will be the first time for him to watch the NBA Draft in its entirety.

The same goes for Chiu, recalling their Gilas Youth days from competing in the SEABA to multiple FIBA tournaments.

"Ang layo ng pinagsamahan namin so parang kilalang kilala namin 'yong siya and 'yong mga things na kaya niyang gawin," said Chiu, who was Sotto's partner in the paint in the Blue Eaglets. "Naging teammate ko rin siya recently and grabe rin 'yong improvement niya."

To their surprise though, they were totally clueless that Sotto is already back in the Philippines after his stint with the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL.

Padrigao and Chiu had a phone call with Sotto just days ago but no basketball talk or anything of some sort were brought up.

Both of them just learned the news Thursday morning before Ateneo’s 70-53 drubbing of Far Eastern University at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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Meanwhile, Tamayo, for his part, is more than proud that Sotto has been donning the country's colors even before his declaration for the NBA Draft.

"Tinatayo niya talaga 'yong bandera ng Pilipinas," said Tamayo, wishing Sotto nothing but the best for his next chapter.

The UP star rookie also urged Filipinos to support Sotto's decision: "Let's be happy with Kai and then suporta lang."