Kai Sotto could see more minutes as the Adelaide 36ers are seriously mulling the possibility of tapping him as part of the starting unit when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Paycom Center in Oklahoma City on Friday morning (Manila time).
Sotto, the 7-foot-2 Filipino sensation, could get a lot of minutes should 36ers head coach CJ Burton opts to rest starting center Daniel Johnson, who suffered an ankle in injury during their 134-124 victory over the Phoenix Suns at the Footprint Center in Arizona last Monday.
Johnson scored 15 points and four rebounds as starter against the Suns while Sotto came off the bench and fired 11 points on 4-of-4 field goal shooting in 18 minutes of play.
Against the Thunder, Sotto is set to bang bodies with 6-foot-8 Australian Josh Giddey, who fired 13 points in their 96-98 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The 36ers defeated 86-81 victory over Atlanta-based club Overtime Elite last Saturday in Phoenix before pulling off a statement win over the Suns against the likes of Deandre Ayton, Bismack Biyombo and Jock Landale while sharing the court with future Hall of Famers Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
Burton liked what he saw from Sotto and encouraged him to give his best in these pocket tournaments to get himself noticed.
He also said the 20-year-old center could follow the path taken by Jack White, an Australian big man who played for Melbourne United from 2020 to 2022 before signing a two-way contract with the Denver Nuggets last July.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I love the kid and I want him to be here. I sent a message to him when he didn’t get drafted that night and I know everyone feels sad for him. But that’s not the only way to the NBA,” Burton said on FOX Sports Australia yesterday.
“Jack White is in the NBA right now and he didn’t get drafted. I know people want to see players going through these certain channels and kicking in these doors but there are many ways to get there now. Right now, it’s about him continuing to grow and put his best foot forward and help us be successful.”
It’s going to be the 36ers’ third game in this preseason series between National Basketball League squads and professional American teams.
Adelaide already won two games so far and is looking to beat the Thunder before flying back to Australia for the 2022-2023 NBL season.
After watching the 36ers dominate the Suns with a barrage of three-pointers, Thunder head coach Mark Daigenault said they are not going to let the Aussie side have its way.
“With the way they played Phoenix, they’re gonna throw a punch. It’ll be a good challenge for us,” Daigenault said.
Giddey, a member of the Australian men’s basketball team, said he is excited to face the 36ers – his former squad.
“Very Excited,” said Giddey, who was part of the 2022 NBA All-Rookie Second Team with Herbert Jones of the New Orleans Pelicans, Chris Duarte of the Indiana Pacers, Bones Hyland of the Nuggets and Ayo Dosunmu of the Chicago Bulls.
“I used to watch the NBL and the NBA games a lot as a kid. They had a big win against Phoenix, we know not to take them lightly.”