KAI SOTTO BEGS OFF GILAS DUTY IN KING’S CUP, FIBA ASIA CUP; TO GEAR UP FOR ADELAIDE 36ERS ASAP
Gilas Pilipinas’ tallest player Kai Sotto will not suit up for the national team in the King Abdullah Cup in Jordan from July 25 to August 3 and the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup in Indonesia from August 16 to 28.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) confirmed the development on Wednesday, explaining that the Filipino wunderkind’s commitments with the Adelaide 36ers in the Australian National Basketball League (NBL) will keep him away from the Gilas Pilipinas for its upcoming tournaments.
The 7-foot-3 Sotto inked a multi-year deal with Adelaide as he hopes to hone his skills with the team before making another run for the NBA.
“We were told that Kai would be fulfilling his commitments with Adelaide,” said SBP Special Assistant to the President Ryan Gregorio.
“His management team informed us that Kai is bound to join his new team as soon as possible. With this development, we are moving forward with our preparations without Kai.”
Since the start of the FIBA Asia Cup buildup, SBP has had discussions with Sotto’s agency East West Private and Adelaide 36ers with regards to Sotto’s availability, as disclosed by Gilas program director and head coach Tab Baldwin in The Link Podcast.
Baldwin and SBP will now have to focus on finding ways to fill the huge void left by the Filipino center.
“With this development, we are moving forward with our preparations without Kai,” Gregorio said.
Meanwhile, when asked about the possibility of adding new players to take Sotto’s place in training camp, Gregorio answered that there are “no new names at the moment.”
The need to build strong chemistry among old and six new players ahead of the 2021-22 NBL season urged the Adelaide 36ers to call Sotto up as soon as possible.
Joining him is a former member of the Australia squad, Mitch McCarron, who was suited up in the Boomers’ gold medal conquest in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup then moves to 36ers after three years with the reigning NBL champion Melbourne United.
Aside from Sotto and McCarron, among the six new faces for Adelaide are American import Dusty Hannahs and guard Mojave King, who is signed under the league’s Next Stars program.
Adelaide 36ers finished last season’s campaign at the seventh rank with its 13-23 record after its first year under coach Conner Henry.
Still, top producers Isaac Humphries, Sunday Dech, and Daniel Johnson remain with the team as Adelaide looks to start its preseason buildup before the season kickoff in October.
“If a player is a national team player, it means he’s a good player, so we work around it and make sure that both his national club and professional club are respected and we’re expecting that to happen in both directions,” said Adelaide general manager Jeff van Groningen in a previous interview.