Mendoza: Don’t cry for Kai

·2 min read

It will happen sooner than you expect. No hurry. Don’t cry for Kai—for now.

Even Kai Sotto knows that. His father, Ervin, too. The dream lives on. That should be the template.

The NBA is a massive basketball challenge teeming with talent. You need to be exceedingly endowed to catch the eye of your prospects from the starting blocks.

Oh, yes, Kai is 7-foot-3. But it’s not enough that you have the height. While it’s true that not many are not as tall as Kai, height nowadays doesn’t make you an automatic choice in the NBA, the world’s No. 1 league hands down.

At first glance, Kai should be a cinch for a slot at any of the 30 teams in the 76-year-old NBA playing 82 regular games per season.

But, seemingly, at 20 years of age, Kai hasn’t gained the potential for greatness. N’yet.

Oh, well, it can be said that, in a sense, Kai was also a victim of Covid-19. The pandemic sort of slowed down his growth. The lockdowns during the virtual two-year standoff stupendously stunted the development of his skills. The polishing of our so-called diamond in the rough got blunted brutally I should say.

But, honestly, if you ask me, Kai should have been picked in the recent NBA Draft.

The potential is there.

He has height. He has the age. He has the passion for the game.

He is a work in progress. Give the kid two years and, who knows, he might yet transform into a 22-year-old mean machine?

Even a three-year investment on him wouldn’t be a waste, I believe.

Look, Yao Ming, the 7-foot-5 “Ming Dynasty” from China, did not immediately shine after he got drafted in 2002 by the Houston Rockets. It took him a bit of time before his potential could bloom, averaging 19 points and nine rebounds per game when he retired in 2011 at age 30 due to injuries. An eight-time All-Star, Yao made it to the Hall of Fame in 2016 alongside Shaq O’Neal and Allen Iverson.

What they missed in snubbing Kai is the kid’s marketing side. The Filipino community in the US is so huge and strategically spread all across the land, easily making Kai, a true-blue Pinoy, a magnet for NBA’s global growth platform.

In short, isn’t Kai Sotto a possible Yao Ming in the making—another pure pride from Asia?

No surrender, Kai. Your time will come.

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