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Kai In Town?: Sotto’s Gilas stint still hanging

Kai Sotto will need to undergo continues rehab until August 21, making him doubtful for the coming FIBA World Cup. (Photo from FIBA)

Kai Sotto reportedly arrived in the country following a memorable stint in the National Basketball Association Summer League in Las Vegas. 

But whether he will join Gilas Pilipinas in its preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September is a different story. 

In a message to Daily Tribune on Wednesday afternoon, Sotto’s father — former Philippine Basketball Association player Ervin Sotto — claimed that his son is already in their house in Las Piñas City after campaigning for the Orlando Magic in the Summer League. 

The elder Sotto, however, didn’t delve into details or reveal when they arrived. 

“We’re already at home, and yes, he’s with us,” Ervin said in a short message. 

Ervin’s statement contradicts what the Gilas Pilipinas management and Sotto’s international agent, Wasserman Basketball, have been claiming. 

According to SBP team manager Butch Antonio, the 7-foot-3 Sotto is scheduled to arrive on Thursday, a claim that is similar to what his agent, Tony Ronzone of Wasserman, stressed in his previous statement. But Ronzone stressed that Sotto will not be able to join the Gilas training right away. 

He said the 21-year-old Sotto has yet to come up with a solid commitment to the Gilas program as he still has to recover from a back spasm that he suffered during their last game against the Boston Celtics in the Summer League. 

In fact, Sotto had to go to the locker room to receive treatment before sitting out the remainder of the game, a crucial battle that could have given him a solid chance at becoming the first full-blooded Filipino to play in the NBA. Ronzone said all Sotto needs is rest. 

“Right now, let’s give the kid a break for a few days then we will figure out the next plan. Again, he’s learned a lot. Made Summer League, played well in first action. Only 21,” Ronzone said in an interview with United States-based journalist Homer Sayson. 

Sotto is badly needed by Gilas with barely 36 days left before the World Cup. After all, the pool has been devastated by injuries with Carl Tamayo and Jordan Heading pulling out to recover their respective injuries while reigning Philippine Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson doubtful to make it as his fractured right finger injury reportedly requires six to eight weeks to completely heal. 

From the original 21-man pool, only 16 players led by naturalized players Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame are working out since Gilas reopened its training camp at the Meralco Gym following their stint in Estonia and Lithuania. 

Worse, NBA star Jordan Clarkson has yet to show up despite his earlier commitment to join Gilas at least six weeks before the World Cup. Gilas coach Chot Reyes said negotiations are still ongoing and Antonio will make an announcement in the coming days. Still, Antonio remains hopeful. 

“He should be arriving Thursday,” he told Tribune during the homecoming of Gilas Pilipinas U16 Women squad late Tuesday.


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