G League recognizes Kai Sotto as 'great first international player' for Select Team
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on May 18, 2020 12:20 PM
(Photo courtesy of NBA Philippines)
Kai Sotto made quite the noise when he officially announced he was taking his talents to the G League.
Last Thursday, the 7-foot-2, 18-year-old Filipino made it known himself that he was joining the NBA developmental league's Select Team to join forces with Jalen Green.
It was an announcement heard around the world from Philippine media:
"Wrong move"— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) May 15, 2020
"’Di makakapasok ng NBA ‘yan"
"Soft like cotton" pic.twitter.com/bj32GsA6pz
To US media:
And even, apparently, Chinese media:
Kai Sotto and Thirdy Ravena have been prominently featured in one of China's top sports publications! Looks like the Big Red Machine is looking over its shoulder now!https://t.co/8owLP8J3MY— Enzo Flojo (@hoopnut) May 18, 2020
For the G League, though, that reaction was not surprising in the very least. "We weren't totally surprised. We understand how big and popular basketball is in the Philippines and he's on his way to be the first Philippine-born player to be drafted in the NBA - that's a big deal," president Shareef Abdur-Rahim told local media in an online question-and-answer session organized by NBA Philippines.
He then continued, "It's exciting for us that folks in the Philippines will follow us and follow Kai."
According to Abdur-Rahim, those ripple effect are exactly why they made a splash by signing Sotto. As he put it, "We always had a plan that our program will include international players. We're excited to have Kai and we hope he will be an inspiration for younger players to aspire to be in the NBA, in the G League."
He then continued, "We think Kai is a great first international player for our program. Hopefully, this is just the start of attracting other international players."
The Philippines' towering tantalizing talent is, thus far, the only non-American player to set to suit up for the Select Team.
That is just another proof of the greatness he has always had - in the eyes of his longtime backer, at the very least.
"When I first met with Kai and his family, I immediately thought that he was going to be special and it's not because of his height," Ronald Mascarinas, president of Chooks-to-Go which has supported the Sottos for years now, said. "At such a young age, Kai already knew he had a responsibility both to his family and his country. It was his determination to carry the nation's dream of producing an NBA player that made us decide to support him."
Indeed, the longtime backer has no doubt that Sotto will only continue to serve as an inspiration. "Maraming Pilipino ang nangangarap maglaro sa NBA. Hindi iba si Kai so may he continue to be an inspiration to not just Filipinos, but all dreamers all over the world," Mascarinas said.
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