Sotto welcomes physicality, ready to fight for slot
Mark Escarlote on Nov 12, 2018 09:53 PM
Kai Sotto welcomes the physicality of playing and competing against pros for a slot in Team Pilipinas.
Kai Sotto may be the youngest among the 20-man Team Pilipinas pool but the Ateneo de Manila University high school center knows that his ‘kuyas’ won’t go easy on him.
The towering 16-year old cager boldly said that he welcomes the challenge of going up against experienced pros. Even if it means absorbing the physical nature of their game.
“Sana ibigay nila ang lahat nila,” said the lanky 7-foot-1 Sotto. “Dahil siyempre kaya naman ako nandito para maramdaman ‘yung mga bagay na yun. Para ma-experience din kung paano talaga maglaro ‘yung players sa ganitong klaseng level.”
Sotto was one of the 12 players who attended the first practice session of Team Pilipinas, which is preparing for the two home games against Kazakhstan and Iran in the fifth window of the 2019 World Cup Asia Qualifiers.
“Sobrang happy and sobrang excited ko na mag-practice rito and makilala yung mga teammates ko rito and looking forward na maraming matutunan sa kanila,” said Sotto, who already donned the national colors under the Batang Gilas banner.
Sotto was joined another young player in University of the Philippines Ricci Rivero.
Also in attendance were Talk ‘N Text’s Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario, San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos, Rain or Shine’s Beau Belga and Gabe Norwood, Phoenix’s Matthew Wright and Blackwater’s Poy Erram.
Included in the pool are Barangay Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson and Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang and Paul Lee. The six though skipped practice with their teams clashing in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals Game 2.
SMB’s Christian Standhardinger and NorthPort’s Stanley Pringle have yet to arrive for practice as of posting time.
Head coach Yeng Guiao said that Sotto and Rivero have the same equal chance as the pros to secure a spot in the final 12-man lineup.
“Meron, meron (chance). Actually, the reason they’re here is they’re one of the guys with the opportunity to fight for a slot in the 12-man lineup,” said Guiao. “So kahit na sabihin natin na ang basic purpose natin is for their development, who knows?”
“Hindi natin alam baka magpakita sila,” he added. “So I’m not discounting that possibility. It might be a little bit remote but it’s still a possibility.”
For Sotto, getting a call up for the pool is already an honor. Whatever the decision of Guiao come the final cut, the experience will definitely improve Sotto’s game for the future.
“Dream ko na makasama sa talagang team and itong pagsama sa pool. Pero kahit ano man ang kalabasan positive lang ako dahil kahit papaano 16 pa lang naman ako,” said Sotto. “Kahit anong mangyari dito alam ko naman na magandang bagay yun para sa akin. Mag-pray lang ako na kahit anong mangyari magiging successful itong Team Pilipinas.”
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