Now in the midst of the final stretch in the preparations for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, all eyes are on Kai Sotto.
The 7-foot-3 big man will not be able to join Gilas Pilipinas when they begin their practices next Wednesday at the Meralco Gym.
It is also most likely that Sotto will not take part in the week-long bubble training Gilas will have a week later at Inspire Sports Academy. It is also questionable whether he will join the pool in Lithuania.
This as the 21-year-old, second-generation cager is currently in the US, doing private workouts with NBA teams and hoping for an invite to the Summer League which takes place from July 7 to 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In a teaser posted by Radyo5’s Power and Play with Kom Noli Eala for next Saturday’s episode, Sotto stressed that he never declined an invitation to be part of the national team.
“First of all, I never said no to representing the country. I’ve been playing for my country ever since I was fourteen years old,” said Sotto.
Since 2017, Sotto has played for all levels of Gilas.
In the past three years, he even had a total of seven appearances, playing three games in the Asia Cup Qualifiers, two games in the OQT, and two games during Window 4 of the World Cup Qualifiers.
However, Gilas head coach Chot Reyes emphasized that those who would appear in the practices will have a heads up compared to those who will come in late.
But a talent like Sotto will be hard to deny, especially with his wealth of international experience compared to the rest of the roster.
That is why Sotto is vowing that he will be part of the national team once the Summer League ends which will be a full month before the World Cup.
“I don’t think about what other people say about me not wanting to join blah, blah, blah. I’m just focusing on the now and not focus on the other stuff. Yeah, I’ve never said no to playing for my country because that’s been my dream ever since I started playing basketball,” he emphasized.
“My top two dreams are playing in the NBA and represent the country.”