KAI SOTTO JOINS GILAS IN CLARK BUBBLE BUT PLAYING STATUS REMAINS UNCERTAIN
Kai Sotto has finally joined Gilas Pilipinas in time for the third window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers but is not guaranteed to be playing in Gilas’ games, says Ryan Gregorio.
As Gilas and South Korea are the first teams to arrive in the tournament bubble, the 7-foot-4 wunderkind reunited the Philippine squad when they arrived at Quest Hotel on Sunday afternoon.
“We’re hoping that he’ll be able to play with the rest of the team.,” Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio averred.
However, Gregorio revealed that Sotto may or may not be playing for any of Gilas’ games, especially after only recently finishing his 14-day quarantine.
“He is still evaluated in terms of match fitness, based on my discussion with coach Tab Baldwin,” Gregorio added.
“We want to make sure that we are not compromising his health. He has not done a lot basketball in the last few days and we want to immerse him slowly. We want to make sure knows the defensive scheme of things. Our concepts on offense and our strategies and our scouting and all. Of course on the top of it is building chemistry,” he propounded.
Joining Sotto in the bubble are newly naturalized player Angelo Kouame, Dwight Ramos, Isaac Go, Javi Gomez de Liano, Justine Baltazar, Mike Nieto, William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, Carl Tamayo, Jordan Heading, Lebron Lopez, RJ Abarrientos, Geo Chiu, SJ Belangel, and Tzaddy Rangel.
The national team will be up against Korea first on Wednesday, followed by Indonesia on Friday, then ending its campaign next Sunday with another game against Korea.
The Philippines only need one win in Group A to formally qualify for the continental tilt in August in Indonesia.
But as of now, the 19-year-old Sotto is not guaranteed to be activated for any Gilas’ games, with SBP fully aware that it can make lineup changes for all three games.
“As to whether we will see him right away, I will give a more definite answer in the next two days. But we’re happy that he’s out and with the team,” Gregorio averred.
“We’re really going to have a hard time hiding a 7-3 guy, but that is why exactly we’re really excited to have him in his Gilas Pilipinas team,” he ended.