Knowing that foregoing a Gilas Pilipinas stint would irk a cage-crazed nation, Kai Sotto on Thursday pleaded for understanding as he put personal growth over national team duty.
“Playing in the (National Basketball League) is a critical step in my basketball journey,” he wrote in a lengthy Facebook post as he explained why he wouldn’t play for the Nationals in the Fiba Asia Cup in Indonesia next month. “[A]nd now that I have fulfilled my qualifier window and (Olympic Qualifying Tournament) commitments to the National Team, I want to focus on playing well for the Adelaide 36ers.”
Sotto signed with the Aussie club last April, securing another pro stint after botching one with the NBA G League’s Ignite selection team.
According to the 7-foot-3 teen, he is expected to be in Adelaide by Aug. 1 to “get settled and start preparing for preseason activities.”
And in so doing, Sotto said, is his way of keeping his side of the bargain.
“The (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) and my (East-West Private) team have been trying to figure out what is the best balance for the team and my personal development.
“And for a while, I was really hoping that I would be able to join my teammates in Indonesia. But as you all know, I already committed to join the NBL starting the 2021-22 season,” he added.
This pretty much explains why Sotto was not with his teammates who have since returned to Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, for another bubble training.
Gilas Pilipinas is scheduled to see action in the King Abdullah Cup in Jordan which will run from July 25 through Aug. 3.
There, Tab Baldwin’s young charges will be going up against host Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Tunisia for its buildup for the continental meet that tips off Aug. 17.
Sotto played three games for the Gilas crew that swept the third and final window of the Asia Cup qualifiers held in Pampanga last month. He averaged 9.3 points, seven rebounds, and 1.3 blocks and proved to be a steady contributor in the Nationals’ continued education against top-flight teams in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.
“I know there will be a lot who will be disappointed with the announcement, but I am asking for understanding. I will return to Gilas a stronger and a smarter player after playing in Australia,” said Sotto.
“I will pray for my teammates in the Asia Cup, and I will be one of (Gilas’) loudest fans,” he added.
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