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HERE COMES KAI | World Cup-bound Sotto bracing for NBA?

KAI Sotto is back in practice for Gilas Pilipinas | Photograph courtesy of FIBA

With his stint in the FIBA Basketball World Cup already in the bag, Kai Sotto is now targeting the next big thing: A spot in the National Basketball Association.

Sotto’s father, Ervin, revealed to Daily Tribune that his son’s management group, Wasserman Media Group, will make a major announcement either this week or next week to reveal what’s next for the 7-foot-3 Filipino rising star.

Ervin refused to spill further details but he made a cryptic post on social media on Sunday, saying “purple and gold.”

“There’s an announcement to be made by Wasserman anytime this week or next week,” the elder Sotto said, refusing to reveal if he was referring to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA or the Sydney Kings in the National Basketball League in his post on social media.

Making it to the NBA has been Sotto’s ultimate dream.

After a stellar high school career at Ateneo de Manila University, Sotto skipped college to train with Ignite, a fledgling team in the G League that aims to provide a pathway for young players who want to make it to the NBA.

But his bid to become the first homegrown Filipino in the NBA fizzled out when he failed to see action for Ignite in the G League.

Instead, he found himself playing for the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL before signing up with Hiroshima Dragonflies in the Japan B. League.

He saw action for the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League last month but his stint was marred with frustration as he sat out their first three games before wrapping up his campaign against the Boston Celtics with a back injury.

Sotto is still in the middle of a one-year contract with the Dragonflies, but it stipulates that the club will release him should he get a call-up in the NBA.

But before thinking about the NBA, Sotto has an important mission to accomplish, which is helping the Filipinos earn a spot in the Paris Olympics next year through the World Cup.

SBP president Al Panlilio said Gilas Pilipinas can’t wait to have Sotto on board.

“That’s good news,” said Panlilio, who confirmed that Sotto’s doctor already reached out to the physicians of Gilas regarding his medical clearance.

“We’re looking forward to him competing in the friendlies and getting ready for the FIBA World Cup.”

Although Sotto had already started practicing, the SBP chief believes that he still has a lot of catching up to do as Gilas compete in three friendly matches against Ivory Coast on 18 August, Montenegro on 20 August and Mexico on 21 August.

“He was working hard, but you could tell that he was getting tired at some point and that’s the area he needs to work on,” Panlilio said during the special session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Meralco Theater in Pasig City on Tuesday.

With Sotto’s inclusion, a total of 16 players, including naturalized player Jordan Clarkson, have been working out with Gilas.

Panlilio said Gilas coach Chot Reyes bis set to name the final roster on 23 August, two days before the prestigious event fires off at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

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