KAI-vals Series: DLSZ's own towering teen Raven Cortez

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 26, 2018 02:27 PM
KAI-vals Series: DLSZ's own towering teen Raven Cortez
Raven Cortez and Kai Sotto will be going head-to-head for three more years in the UAAP Juniors

It has become some sort of a cliché now that Kai Sotto is not yet done growing.

Indeed, Ateneo de Manila High School’s 7-foot-1, 15-year-old still has three more years to tower over the competition in high school.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the rest of the competition will just take that lying down.

Here, we take a look at the players who are more than capable of challenging Sotto’s dominance – now and even onto the future.

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Ateneo and La Salle have long been the fiercest foes in all of Philippine sports.

In Juniors basketball, however, the Eagles look like they have a leg up on the Archers.

The kids from Katipunan have won two of the last four championships while the boys from Alabang’s last title came in 2008.

And Ateneo High School remains set for the future with towering teen Kai Sotto still eligible to play for three more years.

While Far Eastern University-Diliman and Nazareth School of National University are also still forces to reckon with, Sotto and the Blue Eaglets’ biggest threat may come from their archrival Junior Archers.

That is, if Raven Cortez realizes his potential.

Cortez is the green and white’s own towering teen, standing 6-foot-7 at just 15-years-old.

And just like Sotto, Cortez is not yet done growing. “Tingin ko po, tatangkad pa naman ako,” he said through chuckles.

For now, DLSZ’s pillar is seeing Ateneo’s tower as the barometer for him. “Nakaka-proud pong ma-compare kay Kai kasi si Kai yun e. Nacha-challenge din ako sa kanya kaya nagtatrabaho ako para makasabay ako sa pag-improve niya,” he said.

Of course, Cortez and Sotto know each other very well – not only as rivals, but also as teammates for Batang Gilas in the SEABA a year ago. As the former put it, “Close po kami ni Kai. Kami-kami rin po magkakasama nung Batang Gilas.”

And in the eyes of Cortez, Sotto has undoubtedly improved since then. “Nag-improve po talaga siya lalo na sa height. Nung Batang Gilas, parang magkatangkad lang kami nun e,” he said.

He then continued, “Ngayon, grabe na siya.”

The numbers from UAAP Juniors Season 80 indeed reflected that now, Cortez has some sort of catching up to do to Sotto.

The Junior Archer averaged 11.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.7 blocks, and 1.5 assists while the Blue Eaglet normed 12.9 markers, 11.5 boards, and 3.9 rejections.

For next season, however, Cortez only vows to be better. “Wala pa ako talagang outside shot kaya ide-develop ko na lang this summer. Marami po kaming ups and downs this season, pero sabi lang nila coach na babawi kami next year,” he said.

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Cortez and Sotto will go head-to-head for three more seasons in the UAAP Juniors.

Before that, however, they will team up for Batang Gilas in the 2018 FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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