Lebanon's Majok on young Kai Sotto: "NBA's not a given"

Paul Lintag on Nov 26, 2018 01:22 PM
Lebanon's Majok on young Kai Sotto:
Kai shared the court briefly against Ater Majok and the Lebanese powerhouse was impressed with what he saw up close. (photo from Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas on Facebook)

Many are looking at Kai Sotto as the can't-miss future of Philippine basketball.

It's hard to argue given Kai's near unprecedented combination of size, skill, age, and potential.

Many are also looking at the 16-year-old Ateneo high school star as the Philippines' best bet to have a homegrown Filipino play in the NBA.

It's pretty hard to argue against those people too given Sotto's current talent trajectory and overwhelming opportunities to grow.

Still, Kai has a long way to go, and at 16-years young, he has plenty to work on.

Regardless, the future is looking bright for Sotto, and he earned another believer Sunday after Gilas Pilipinas faced off against Lebanon for the second of two tune-up games.

Kai shared the court briefly against Ater Majok and the Lebanese powerhouse was impressed with what he saw up close.

"I knew he's young but I didn't know he's in high school," Majok said on Kai.

"He's gonna be something special, the Philippines has a bright talent ahead of them," he added.

Asked about Sotto's potential to make it to the NBA, the 6'10" Majok was very frank about the 7'2" Kai.

Majok was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. He played for the Lakers' Summer League team in 2012 and for the Los Angeles D-Fenders a couple of seasons later.

Clearly, getting to the NBA and staying there are two different things as Majok found out and the veteran anchor of Lebanon's national team believes that Kai can do both.

"You know, NBA's not a given," Majok said on Sotto.

"If he works hard, I'm pretty sure he's gonna be there. [But the NBA] now is about run, jump, and shoot. So he looks like a guy who has characteristics for it too. He should be okay," he added.

During Sunday's clash between the Philippines and Lebanon, Majok was seen talking to Kai multiple times, especially after Sotto tried to dunk on him during one possession in the third quarter.

Majok believes that Kai should have played for more than half a quarter in the tune-up but he understands that it was a coaching decision to give Sotto limited minutes.

Still, just like everyone else, the Lebanese center believes that Kai going up against older and stronger players will great accelerate his development.

"I think he should’ve played more. Get more game experience. Especially during games like this. But that’s the coach’s decision. I think he should play more, play more with grown men so he could understand and know his level of strength and know what he needs to work on," Majok said on Sotto.

"That’s what I did. I played with grown men. That helped me a lot to grow at a young age," he added.

As for Kai himself, he knows that all of these experiences now are helping him prepare for his eventual NBA chase.

He's clearly targeting the big leagues, at least he wants a shot at it, and the work has already begun.

"Kailan pa ba ako mag-start? Kung kailan 18 or 19 ako? Too late na yun," Sotto said.

"Importante yung oras. So habang may time ako ngayon, start na ako mag-improve para pagdating ng takdang panahon, ready na ako," he added.



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