Kai Sotto playing for Gilas Pilipinas is a solid lineup for the upcoming third window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup coming February next year but the decision should be barred by the 18-year-old prodigy, says program director Tab Baldwin.

/ 10 December 2020

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) program director Baldwin acknowledged that there will be hurdles taking in Sotto to play for the national team.

But for Baldwin, it is not whether the 7-foot-2 stalwart should be playing or not, but the real question is whether Gilas Pilipinas is Sotto’s endgame. 

“I think that issue is in Kai’s court,” Baldwin shared on Coaches Unfiltered.

“Obviously, we will welcome Kai anytime he’s available. We look forward to them being with the team as much as possible. But that decision is I think with Kai and his team of people and where they see Gilas and his development and how much they see Gilas as an endgame for them or whether the NBA is the only endgame that they are pursuing,” he said.

“Everything becomes subservient to that,” he continued.

Furthermore, Baldwin also shared their conversation with him and Sotto before flying to the States two years ago.

“I remember talking with Kai and he always said that he loves to represent his country so hopefully it’s going to happen and hopefully it’s going to happen more often than not,” bared Baldwin.

“But we just live in a world today where there are tug of wards going on for many players… On the one hand I feel sorry for them that they have this scenarios in their lives but on the other hand, you have to say that what they’ve done is they created more options for themselves professionally,” he added.

But during an interview in May, Sotto already acknowledged that there may be conflicts on his responsibilities with the G-League and with the schedule of the national team.

“Depende pa rin sa schedule and sa mga magiging plans ko sa G League. It depends,” Sotto said at the time.

Meanwhile, Baldwin, together with the SBP, will hardly compose and perfect its solid line-up for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. 

“We’re not gonna select a team that is the most talented group of players, we’re gonna select the best team and part of becoming the best team is becoming part of the environment and learning the skills and learning the cohesion with the other players,” he said.

“So, it’s not a situation where at the last minute I’m gonna say this player is available and that player is available, and let’s just take the best ones,” he added.