FIBAWCQs: Kai Sotto most excited to play with Ricci Rivero in first Gilas practice

Philip Matel on Nov 11, 2018 05:28 PM
Kai Sotto most excited to play with Ricci in 1st Gilas play
Kai Sotto says he is most excited to play with Ricci Rivero, who he had played with in previous campaigns for the country before. (Photos courtesy of FIBA)

Kai Sotto, the 16-year-old, 7'1 beanpole of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets is very much excited to play for the Gilas Pilipinas program, this time as a member of the crew that is chosen to represent the country in international play.

Chosen as one of the 20 hopefuls for the 12 slots slated to don the national tricolors in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this Nov. and Dec., the high school phenom beat out mainstays such as Terrence Romeo and naturalized center Andray Blatche for a spot in the practice roster.

But since he had only played for the Batang Gilas before, Sotto says he is most excited to play with Ricci Rivero, who he had played with in previous campaigns for the country before.

However, he clarified he will be like a sponge in absorbing knowledge from the veterans.

"Actually lahat kasi wala naman akong masyadong ka-close na kanila. Siguro si Ricci lang kasi naging teammate kami. Pero yung iba, gusto kong matuto sa kanilang lahat pati yung mga guards kasi tutulungan din naman nila ako," Sotto said to ABS-CBN Sports in an interview.

Furthermore, practicing for the first time in the main Gilas squad is a realization of his lifelong dream to have a chance to represent the country, and though not likely, make the 'Magic 12'.

"Parang dream come true. Tapos yung pangarap ko dati, ngayon ko na nagagawa. Yung mga kasama ko, mga magagaling na PBA players kaya excited ako matuto kay Coach Yeng [Guiao] and sa mga teammates ko."

He will practice with the likes of four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, whom he called Sotto as an image of a son he would like to have, Arwind Santos, one of the best stretch fours of Philippine basketball, and sharpshooters Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot.

Also there in the practice where he could learn are from versatile big man Beau Belga, Christian Standhardinger, Poy Erram, Greg Slaughter, and Troy Rosario.

Sotto also has a plethora of talented guards to work with, among them Jayson Castro, Paul Lee, Stanley Pringle, LA Tenorio, Matthew Wright, Scottie Thompson, and wing Gabe Norwood.

Even though he won't make the final roster, the slot man says just the opportunity of being called is already a blessing, and does not mind if he would be cut from the final lineup.

"Ibibigay ko lang yung best ko kasi kahit di man ako mapili, alam kong tama yung magiging desisyon ni Coach Yeng. Pag kasama ako, sobrang happy ko pero kung hindi, edi happy pa rin ako kasi nakasama ako sa pool."



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