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SBP tells Sotto: No clearance, no play

KAI Sotto's chances of playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup remains hanging in the balance. PHOTOGRAPH courtesy of FIBA

Unless he presents a medical clearance, Kai Sotto will not be allowed to see action for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Basketball World Cup that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September.

No less than Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio told Daily Tribune that they are requiring the 7-foot-3 slotman to show proof that he has been cleared to join workout and scrimmages in the final leg of Gilas preparation for the prestigious 32-nation tournament.

Sotto’s chances to join Gilas turned sour when he suffered a back injury in his final game for the Orlando Magic in the National Basketball Association Summer League last month.

Although he reaffirmed his commitment to join the Gilas program, he remains doubtful as he has to complete his rehabilitation sessions before being cleared to see action.

Sotto had decided to seek treatment from his personal doctor — not the doctors of Gilas Pilipinas — and has yet to formally secure a medical clearance.

Panlilio said Sotto already entered into an agreement with them last week but they couldn’t formalize it as they have yet to determine the extent of his injury.

“We were planning to sign him up as early as 24 July and get him involved with Gilas’ training, but we couldn’t do it because we have yet to know the extent of his injury,” Panlilio said.

The federation chief added that Sotto has to be transparent in the extent of his injury.

“I don’t know why there’s so much secrecy in his injury. As a federation, we have to be liable on all the players that are going to play for us, so if there’s no clearance from the doctor, then he cannot play in the World Cup,” Panlilio said. “It’s an SOP (standard operating procedure), not just for us, but also the other teams. Even teams in the NBA do that.”

Panlilio added that Sotto is free to join the Gilas practice anytime he wants, something that he could have done consistently the past weeks.

He was able to attend in three training sessions but was only limited to light shooting and shagging balls for his teammates.

Sotto, however, said he has no problems playing injured as it is something that he had already done in the past.

“Even when I was still in the under-16 and under-18 teams, I was already playing for Gilas and even in the past tournaments, even though I’m injured, I was still playing,” Sotto said. “This situation isn’t new for me.”

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