Can Sotto make it in time for FIBA qualifier?


    THE question on Kai Sotto’s commitment to suit for Gilas Pilipinas in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and whether it has the blessing of the NBA G League have been answered.

    He’s cleared and good to go.

    There’s just one problem gnawing at his coming stint with Gilas: will he make it in time?

    “We’ve been in touch with his management team, of course, led by Ms. Chao Espaldon representing East West Private, the management team of Kai Sotto. We’ve been burning the lines for the past four or five days. If this is just a normal environment for us, he would have been in the country probably three days (ago),” Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio said last Saturday on Radyo5 92.3 News FM’s Power and Play program hosted by former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala.

    “But what we’re doing is we’re closely coordinating with the IATF. We’re following strict protocols espoused by our country just to make sure the transmission of the virus will not be rampant. That is where the delay is happening,” he added.

    The 7-foot-3 center announced last Jan. 21 that he will play for Gilas and skip his debut for the pioneering Ignite squad in the NBA G League next month.

    Sotto, 18, is working doubly hard in the US in his bid to become the first homegrown Filipino to gain NBA foothold.

    Gregorio said the SBP is keeping its fingers crossed that Sotto will arrive in the country soon.

    “Sa madaling salita, ang tinitignan na lang natin is medyo strict kasi iyong protocol natin. Initially, there was a fourteen-day protocol na talagang sinasabi natin it is absolute. Hindi talaga nagbigay ng kumbaga shortcut iyong IATF, which we very much understand,” Gregorio said.

    “Now, may nakita tayong news na lumabas na limang araw na lang, so may liwanag ang ating horizon.”

    While admitting time is fast running out, Gregorio said the national team training pool and Sotto, if and when he arrives, would make good use of the cards dealt with them.

    “This is what I learned in basketball – no time is enough. But the most important thing is getting on board, getting ready, understanding it even if you’re just on the sidelines, and also start working within team concepts. Again, mas maganda sana kung mas maaga, but narito na tayo. Ang sinasabi lang natin sana makarating na, tapos iyong mga unknown, problemahin na lang natin kapag dumating na sila,” he said.

    “The thing with us is we’re not looking back. We’re always looking forward to it. We’re seeing and taking advantage of what is presented in front of us and just preparing so hard for the best.”