Determined Kai Sotto leaving no stone unturned to fulfill NBA dream

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WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 25: Kai Sotto of the 36ers warms up ahead of the round 13 NBL match between Illawarra Hawks and Adelaide 36ers at WIN Entertainment Centre on February 25, 2022, in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)
WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 25: Kai Sotto of the 36ers warms up ahead of the round 13 NBL match between Illawarra Hawks and Adelaide 36ers at WIN Entertainment Centre on February 25, 2022, in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

With the 2022 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft happening on Thursday (June 23 - US time, Friday - Manila time), Kai Sotto pushes through with his pre-draft workout tour with the Indiana Pacers.

Among 76 draft hopefuls who were invited to the NBA Draft Combine last May, where players took part in drills and interviews among other activities, Sotto was left-out of the list. Despite this, he pushed through with his workout tour, catching the attention of 11 other basketball teams, including the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, and the Sacramento Kings. The latter was also where Filipino-Americans Ron Harper, Jr. and Remy Martin worked-out.

While Raymond Townsend was credited for being the first player of Filipino lineage to join the NBA, the 7-foot-2 player will be the first-ever full-blooded Filipino to be drafted if he succeeds.

“[...] I’m getting closer to my dream and to [the Filipinos’] dream. But yeah, it’s been fun. It’s a lot of attention, but I think I’m really thankful for all their support and [for] those I don’t take for granted. [...] My dream is to help others to get here, too,” Sotto said in a post-workout interview posted by the Pacers.

A separate report from the NBA also quoted Sotto, saying that he wanted to inspire Filipino athletes once he succeeds.

“The biggest goal for me is to make it to the NBA. But when I look at the bigger picture, I want to make it to the NBA to serve as an example and inspiration to the younger players, younger athletes back home in the Philippines. If they can say that if Kai can make it, so can I, that’s a dream come true,” he said.

Prior to his journey, Sotto played a single season in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) for the Adelaide 36ers. There, he garnered an average of 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds, as well as shooting 50% from the field (depending on the game level, a ranking over 50% is generally accepted as good).

Sotto continued in the Pacers video that his experiences in the NBL helped him with the workouts, saying “just the experience, hanging around with the guys, and learning from everybody, starting from my staff, to my teammates, to my coaches, and to my opponents. The whole year was a really fun experience. [I] really learned a lot, and [it] really helped me develop and improve as a player.”

Determined to prove how effective of a player he is on the court, Sotto vowed to “give his best” in the process.

“[I] just hope to show teams what I can do and what I can offer to the team and how good of a player and a teammate I am. And I’m just a very thankful guy. I just really appreciate all the opportunities that are given to me. And if I get a chance to be on an NBA team, I [will] give my best and everything I have,” Sotto promised.

Sports Illustrated has projected homegrown Filipino basketball talent as the 49th overall pick by the Sacramento Kings.

Meanwhile, Tim Cone follows the footsteps of Jimmy Alapag in the NBA after the Miami Heat tapped the Barangay Ginebra San Migueal coach as one of its assistants in the Summer League.

Reuben Pio Martinez is a news writer who covers stories on various communities and scientific matters. He regularly tunes in to local happenings. The views expressed are his own.

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