With or without playing time, expect Kai Sotto to be locked and loaded when Gilas Pilipinas battles Italy in a battle that will make or break their chances in the FIBA Basketball World Cup on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Sotto said he will go out and give his best, knowing that they are already teetering on the brink of elimination in this prestigious 32-nation tournament.
In his first game, the 7-foot-3 Sotto hardly left the bench as he played only 1:13 in their 81-87 setback to the Dominican Republic.
His minutes improved drastically against the bigger, heftier Angola as he played 19:33 minutes in their 70-80 setback that pushed them to the brink.
“I had to analyze what I did inside the court and look into what else I can improve on in the next games. I want to focus on what I can control and would tell myself to do better in the next game,” the 21-year-old Sotto said.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes said the minutes of his wards are based on matchups.
Against the Dominicans, for instance, Reyes used 6-foot-10 AJ Edu heavily as he can match up well in the strength and quickness of three-time National Basketball Association All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns.
On the contrary, Reyes banked on Sotto against the Angolans, who were bannered by 6-foot-10 Bruno Fernando of the Atlanta Hawks.
Sotto, unfortunately, was slapped with two of his four fouls early on that somehow limited his aggressiveness on defense.
“We liked the matchups that we had inside so we felt that even if he had two fouls, we could keep him inside because there was a guy that we felt that Kai could match up well against,” Reyes said.