It was supposed to be a highly anticipated showdown between high school rivals and Gilas pals Kai Sotto and Carl Tamayo in the B.League, but it turned out that Tamayo did not play for Ryukyu as the Golden Kings spoiled Sotto’s debut for the Hiroshima Dragonflies.
Despite this setback, Sotto remained optimistic about his debut and looked forward to facing Tamayo to close out the elimination round in May.
As Sotto took to the court for the first time in the B.League, all eyes were on him and his much-awaited matchup with Tamayo. However, it was not meant to be as Tamayo was benched by his coach for the game.
Despite this, Sotto put on an impressive display, scoring 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbing two rebounds, three blocks, and a steal in just 19 minutes of play.
Tamayo, who was unable to play in the game, approached Sotto before the match and had a short pep talk with his good friend.
“I was just checking on him, how he was doing. It’s his first time to play in the professional league,” said Sotto who spent the last three years either in the US or in Australia.
“It’s his first time probably away from the Philippines living by himself.”
Sotto also had high praise for Tamayo, expressing his pride in his Gilas teammate and acknowledging his abilities as a player. He was confident that Tamayo would make an immediate impact for Ryukyu once he checks in.
“I’ve been through that and I know how it feels. It’s good to see Carl. We played against each other since high school so it’s good to see him,” he continued.
While the much-awaited showdown between the two Gilas teammates did not happen, Sotto remained optimistic and looked forward to facing Tamayo in May.
He also acknowledged Tamayo’s impressive debut for the Golden Kings in the East Asia Super League Champions Week and was not surprised to see his former high school rival showcasing his talent.
“I didn’t watch the full game. I saw some highlights and I already know how good Carl is. I wasn’t shocked to see his performance and he’s only gonna get better,” said Sotto.
And having seen what Sotto has gone through, Tamayo knows that patience is key to succeeding overseas.
“I’m very happy for Kai. I know he’s a very talented player. I know his capabilities. I’m very proud of him,” said Tamayo.
“I know he really worked hard to be able to play like that right now. I’m proud of Kai. Hopefully, he’ll be doing well for the rest of the season.”