Kai Sotto eyes championship for Hiroshima in Japan B.League

Kai Sotto hopes to bring the Hiroshima Dragonflies to the playoffs and ultimately, to a championship bid. (Photo from Japan B.League)

Kai Sotto looked settled right as he makes his debut with the Hiroshima Dragonflies in Japan B.League.

The 7-foot-3 center, who signed with fifth-seed Hiroshima after his two-year stint in Australia’s National Basketball League, is looking to bring the team to the playoffs and ultimately to a championship bid. 

After failing to qualify for the playoffs with the Adelaide 36ers, Sotto immediately had a discussion with his agents about keeping himself competitive on a high-level playing field and there was Hiroshima, which was raring to make a finals appearance with the Filipino import in tow. 

“I was very excited, I was really looking forward to coming here and when I arrived here, I saw the team, I saw my teammates and coaches, and I was really comfortable. I was really happy to meet everybody and the chemistry is good and I’m just happy I could be where I can play competitive basketball and help my team win, Hiroshima’s a winning team, so I just wanna contribute what I can to help this team win more and bring them to the playoffs and the championship,” said Sotto during his online introductory press conference on Thursday, March 2. 

Getting acquainted with the team while racing against time, Sotto focuses on working on his defensive game and earning the trust of his teammates by showing how reliable he is on the court.  

“The chemistry’s good and when I first came to practice, I had a lot of switches and the coach was emphasizing that the offense was good, but we gotta continue working on our defense and rebounds. So I think for me that’s a good time for me to step in and try my best to contribute in that area and defensively try to show my teammates that they can have the confidence to rely on me when I’m out the court,” added Sotto. 

Standing at a record of 28-10, the Dragonflies are seeking to overtake the Ryukyu Golden Kings (29-9) when B.League returns after nearly a four-month break to give way to the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. 

Interestingly, it will be both Sotto and Ryukyu’s newly signed Carl Tamayo’s debut in Japan B.League on March 8 where an exciting matchup awaits that dates back to their juniors career. 

Tamayo, who struck a two-year deal with Ryukyu after also two years in the UAAP, is just as happy to be with a winning team, playing with the same goal as his old teammate and foe. 

“It’s good to see him again because in high school we were kind of rivals and now we’re both professionals at a young age. It’s just a good feeling to have,” said Sotto. 

After the prized big man’s short commitment to Hiroshima in hopes to breathe life once more into his NBA dreams, Sotto missed out on the Philippines’ final window in the World Cup. 

Still, Sotto doesn’t think it will affect his Gilas duty come the World Cup this August but stressed that the next two months will be his priority. 

“Right now, I’m just focused on the next three months with this team, help the team make the playoffs, win the championship and whatever happens after that, happens. I’ll be here two, three months, I’m just gonna give it my all. We’ll see,” he said.