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KAI Sotto continues his rehabilitation for his back injury, making him doubtful to see action in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. FIT TWENTY ONE

Kai Sotto’s chances of seeing action for Gilas Pilipinas is getting nil as the rehabilitation for his back injury will not be completed until 21 August, barely four days before the opening salvo of the FIBA Basketball World Cup at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

In a message to Daily Tribune, Sotto’s father in former Philippine Basketball Association stalwart Ervin Sotto admitted that his son still has to undergo rehabilitation to treat the back injury that he suffered in his final game in the National Basketball Association Summer League in Las Vegas.

Erwin said his son needs to complete nine therapy sessions that are scheduled until 21 August. Once his rehabilitation has been completed, then that’s the only time that they can seek medical clearance from their doctors.

In a previous statement, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio stressed that they will not allow Sotto to play unless he presents a medical clearance.

Panlilio said they want to know the extent of his injury before they give him the green light to join Gilas Pilipinas in the biggest and most prestigious basketball spectacle in the world.

But with his father claiming that his son will have to undergo rehabilitation until 21 August, seeing Sotto compete for the Filipinos is getting quite impossible.

“From what I know, he will be finishing his rehab on 21 August,” Sotto said in a Viber message.

“That will be the only time we will know if he will be given clearance (by his doctors).”

Sotto had already signified his intention to play in the World Cup by striking a deal with the federation over a week ago, two days after National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson formally made himself available for Gilas.

He attended Gilas training three times, where he was limited to doing light workouts.

Clarkson, on the other hand, arrived in Manila on Tuesday morning and met with Panlilio and SBP chairman emeritus Manny Pangilinan on Tuesday afternoon. He also joined the Filipinos’ closed-door training session on Wednesday.

Aside from Sotto, also in danger of missing the bus for the World Cup is Scottie Thompson, the versatile playmaker who suffered a finger injury in the final stretch of their European training.

Former Gilas coach Tab Baldwin stressed that injuries should be factored in when preparing for a major international event.

“It’s a tough loss, but there’s hardly ever an international campaign that doesn’t experience some key injuries along the way,” wrote Baldwin via Messenger.

“This is why it will always be important for a national team to be as strong as possible that players are available and keen to suit up for their country.”

With Sotto and Thompson doubtful, the Gilas pool is now down to Clarkson, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Jamie Malonzo, Calvin Oftana, Roger Pogoy, CJ Perez, Chris Newsome, Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena and Rhenz Abando.

AJ Edu, the 6-foot-10 slotman who is making a debut in the men’s program, is also on board and is being favored to grab one of the 12 roster spots following his explosive performances in the 2023 Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament in China recently.

SBP chairperson Sen. Sonny Angara said despite some setbacks, the preparation of Gilas Pilipinas is headed in the right direction.

“Looks like we may be hitting or approaching peak form at the right time,” Angara said in a Viber message.

“We will certainly need to harness all our potentials to succeed against a different level of competition this August.”

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