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Sotto on NBA’s radar screen

Kai Sotto is right on track to achieving his dream of playing in the National Basketball Association, NBA Asia Managing Director Ramez Sheikh said in a roundtable discussion on Wednesday.

Sheikh admits the league has been keeping an eye on the 7-3 Sotto and his journey remains on the NBA’s radar screen.

“We are so excited about Kai’s journey so far,” said Sheik, who used to serve as NBA vice-president and General Manager of Global Content and Media Distribution.

Already in his second season with the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League in Australia, Sotto has been averaging 4.5 points, 4.29 rebounds and 0.43 assists per outing.

“He’s playing in the NBL with the Adelaide 36ers and he’s been part of our ecosystem,” Sheikh said.

“He featured in our Basketball Without Borders in All-Star in 2020 so we had our eye on Kai for a while,” he added.

Sotto has been participating in NBA events since 2015 when he joined the Jr. NBA program and participated in the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp during NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago in February 2020.

He was supposed to link up with now-Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green at the NBA G League with Ignite last year but after returning to the Philippines for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, Sotto was unable to rejoin due to the league’s strict health and safety protocols at that time.

He then went on to join the 36ers instead where he averaged 7.52 points, 4.48 rebounds, and 0.52 assists.

In 2022, he participated in the NBA Rookie Draft but wasn’t called.

He later did workouts with the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Sacramento Kings, and the Indiana Pacers but still wound up unsigned.

A pair of pre-season games followed when he donned the 36ers jersey against the Phoenix Suns and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Against the Suns, Sotto, 20, fired 11 points, grabbed two boards and an assist in 18 minutes of play as the Australian club shocked the Suns, 134-124 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix.

Still, Sheikh cautioned that he is not speaking from a coaching standpoint but is upbeat that Sotto is doing fine in honing his skills.

“I’m not a coach and I can’t speak for the teams but for any talent that’s looking to make it into the NBA, the advice is to do the work, pay attention to your craft and I think Kai is on that journey,” Sheikh said.

“We’re excited for him and we wish him the best of luck.”

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