Mendoza: Sotto suspense

All Write

WHEN he is here, he is here. That should be the correct approach in the Kai Sotto case.

Stuck in America while being a member of the Ignite in the NBA's developmental G League, Sotto is the 18-year-old Filipino with the strongest stake yet to make it to the world's No. 1 basketball league before he turns 21.

No surprise if that will happen as the kid is 7-foot-2, a ceiling that is more than perfect for NBA play.

Some news items say Sotto has gained an inch or two. That is no surprise, too, given the fact that he's been in the US for quite some time now. America being the land of the so-called milk and honey, Sotto's nutritious diet there can easily produce growth wonders.

But why is he hogging the local headlines these days?

Sotto is supposed to arrive this week from the US to join Gilas, which is presently training in the "Calambubble" in Laguna for the Fiba Asia Cup third window next month.

Gilas needs to win just one of three games against South Korea and Indonesia in Clark, Pampanga, to make it to the Fiba Asia Cup proper in August in Jakarta.

Two matches pit Gilas against the Koreans on Feb. 18 and Feb. 22, with both matches giving the Koreans a bit of an edge due to their naturalized player in Ricardo Ratliffe, the former Purefoods import in the PBA.

But even without an American reinforcement, Gilas is heavily favored to defeat Indonesia on Feb. 20 and return to the Fiba Asia championships.

And I'm sure Sotto can more than provide the added punch at the middle -- his height being might in this game built for giants.

"I'm heading home soon," said Sotto on his Thursday's Instagram. "I'm excited that I have been given an opportunity to play for Gilas for the coming February window."

Even the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas said it expected Sotto to arrive this week.

Gilas coach Jong Uichico said: "We're excited to see how much he has already improved and what he can bring to the system."

If at all, Sotto being able to play here next month will essentially give us a whiff of what the future holds for Philippine basketball.

His presence will almost overshadow our hunt for that single win-almost a sure hit-to shove us to the main round.


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