Mendoza: Sotto shifts but saves love for Gilas

Al Mendoza
·2 min read

From the US to Australia.

That’s the latest on Kai Sotto, our 7-foot-3 trellis bidding to become the first Filipino to enter the NBA.

Sotto will suit up for the Adelaide 36rs in the National Basketball League, Australia’s answer to the NBA. His last stint was in the NBA’s farm league. I’m sure he has learned a thing or two there to fill up his knowledge chest of the game we all love.

It’s all very fine, this shift to Australia. It is another step towards Sotto’s aim of strengthening both his physical and mental faculties that are basic platforms for a skyscraper with potential for greatness like Kai.

“This will be a huge challenge for me, especially I’m all about playing at the next level,” said Sotto. “I have to get stronger. That’s really the number one thing that has been keeping me from playing at a higher level. I need to be stronger and play more athletic. Once I’ve gained the right strength and speed, everything will be easier to play at that higher level.”

That’s all very true. In the Australian league, Sotto will be battling professionals with a mental toughness and well-built bodies ready to bang him at every opportunity.

At 19, Sotto is at an age where his development must really be strictly monitored and marshaled with care and science.

Basketball has evolved through the years that it has now been broken down to so many factors, likened to a new insect caught in the wild that needs to be dissected for proper evaluation of its true worth.

Let us always throw our support behind Sotto, our very own, the brightest prospect to barge into the NBA.

And again, the good thing about Sotto is, he always has Gilas in his heart and mind. He promised to still play for Gilas in the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in Jakarta and the Olympic eliminations in Serbia, both in June.

As basketball chief, Al Panlilio, said: “Kai is always welcome in the Gilas program...he has been with us since Batang Gilas for Smart and since his Ateneo days.”

It is rare for us to see a homegrown cager grow sky-high like Kai. It is rarer for us to see one so young and yet so devoted to helping the cause of flag and country. Bow.