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‘We just wrapped up practice in Vegas. The game is on 8 July and I hope to see you there.’

KAI Sotto shoots for a slot in the NBA when he starts playing for the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League. | Photograph courtesy of ORLANDO MAGIC

Kai Sotto will start banging on the doors of the National Basketball Association when the Orlando Magic face the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Summer League on Sunday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Action kicks off at 9:30 a.m. (Manila time) with Sotto expected to go all out to boost his bid to become the first full-blooded Filipino to land a roster spot in the NBA.

But the road to the Summer League wasn’t easy for the 7-foot-3 Sotto.

After getting snubbed in the 2022 NBA Rookie Draft, Sotto returned to the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League in Australia before suiting up for the Hiroshima Dragonflies in the Japan B. League.

Now, he is given a chance to see action in the Summer League, which sideliners believe could be his last opportunity to make it to the NBA.

“We just wrapped up practice in Vegas. The game is on 8 July and I hope to see you there,” said Sotto, who is turning into one of the most popular players in the Magic’s Summer League roster.

Marching to battle as the tallest in the Magic lineup, Sotto will team up with rookies Anthony Black and Jeff Howard, Orlando’s sixth and 11th picks in the recent NBA Draft.

He will be the second Filipino to play in the Summer League after Ray Parks suited up for the Dallas Mavericks in 2015.

But Sotto is facing a huge challenge against the Pistons as he is expected to bang bodies with James Wiseman — the second overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft who won a title with stars like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson with the Golden State Warriors in 2022.

The seven-footer Wiseman averaged 6.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.7 assists with the Warriors and scored a career-high 30 points in Golden State’s 113-143 loss to the Brooklyn Nets last 21 December.

With the Pistons, Wiseman averaged 12.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 24 games despite Detroit dropping to 15th place in the Eastern Conference with a 17-65 win-loss record.

Aside from Wiseman, Sotto will also face 6-foot-11 Jalen Duren, who was taken by the Pistons with the 13th overall pick in the same year that he went undrafted.

The pressure is on Sotto as he needs to deliver a strong performance to land a two-way contract that would see him splitting time with the NBA and the NBA G League.

After the Pistons, Sotto and the Magic will face the Indiana Pacers, the New York Knicks and the Portland Trail Blazers before wrapping up their campaign against another team that has yet to be determined.

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