Short-lived as his stay in the Philippines due to the scrapped FIBA tilt with Gilas Pilipinas, Kai Sotto should have returned to the US earlier than the cancellation announcement.

/ 20 February 2021

Beginning of the year, the Philippines called off hosting for the third and final window of FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers due to COVID travel restrictions and for which Qatar presented to re-host the event but pulled out thereafter due to surging coronavirus cases.

Sotto was supposed to join his NBA Ignite team for the G-League season. However, disregarding the coinciding schedule with Ignite, he chooses to commit to the Philippine National Team in FIBA instead.

From the beginning, Sotto has been definite with his plans to go abroad. And it is commendable to see the young athlete’s commitment and support to the country even if it means that his NBA career can be put into a setback.

Admirable because of the sacrifices he went through for his decision to join Gilas, I regard that he lost a large amount of time to train and play with the Ignite team in a G-League season bubble inside Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

The moment when the Philippines canceled FIBA, Sotto should have reconsidered playing with the US squad instead. The chuck of time waiting for the FIBA to kick start is the number of games wasted to prove his court skills in the NBA.

Returning the favor to Sotto, Officials from Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) helped Sotto to depart the country at the earliest time possible as well as communicating with his handler East-West Private.

Since the strikeout of FIBA, the 7-foot-3 big man is now returning back to the US with the hope of being given a chance to pick up what he had left.

Considering that the NBA G-league campaign started without him and the tight quarantine protocols, it is a protrusive concern whether he will be reuniting with the squad once he gets back to the US. Even Coach Brian Shaw of Ignite team was unsure of his return stating that arrangement was not his call to decide.

NBA Ignite has consecutively won with three beats at the opening of the season. His fellow Filipino Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, and Jarett Jack were consistently showing great results on the court which could lead them to a potential NBA Rookie Draft.

Sotto’s return to the Ignite bench and getting drafted is expected to be bumpy. Not to mention, he has been in a grody ranking – him outside the Top 60 ranking – for the mock drafts at the start of the season.

Although playing with Gilas is equally remarkable, Sotto should have early realized that his NBA dreams more important as Gilas can wait.

Personal or management decisions, judgments are needed to be done thoroughly. Still, it is all a lesson learned for both Sotto and the team involved. After all, it is hard to juggle the schedules of both leagues in the middle of the pandemic plus with an overlapping commitment.