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Knowing that foregoing a Gilas Pilipinas stint would annoy a cage-crazy country, Kai Sotto pleaded for understanding on Thursday when he put personal growth above the national team’s call.
“Playing in the (National Basketball League) is a crucial step in my basketball journey,” he wrote in a lengthy Facebook post when explaining why he would not play for the Nationals in Indonesia’s Fiba Asia Cup next month. “[A]And now that I have fulfilled my qualifying window and (Olympic qualifier) commitments to the national team, I want to focus on playing well for the Adelaide 36ers. ”
Sotto signed with the Aussie club last April, securing another pro stint after screwing up one with the NBA G League’s Ignite roster.
According to the 7-foot-3 teen, he is expected to be in Adelaide on August 1 to “settle in and prepare for preseason activities.”
And by doing that, Sotto said, it’s his way of sticking to his side of the bargain.
“The (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) and my (East-West Private) team have been trying to find the best balance for the team and my personal development.
“And for a while I really hoped that I could join my teammates in Indonesia. But as you all know, I have already committed to join the NBL from the 2021-22 season,” he added.
This more or less explains why Sotto was not with his teammates who have since returned to the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, for another bubble training session.
Gilas Pilipinas will be in action during the King Abdullah Cup in Jordan, which will take place from July 25 to August 3.
There, Tab Baldwin’s fledgling charges will be filed against hosts Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Tunisia for the build-up for the continental meeting beginning August 17.
Sotto played three games for the Gilas crew who won the third and final window of the Asia Cup qualifiers in Pampanga last month. He averaged 9.3 points, seven rebounds and 1.3 blocks and proved to be a constant contributor to the Nationals’ continuing education against top teams in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.
“I know there will be many who will be disappointed with the announcement, but I ask for understanding. I will return to Gilas as a stronger and smarter player after playing in Australia,” said Sotto.
“I will pray for my teammates in the Asian Cup and I will be one of (Gilas’) loudest fans,” he added.
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