KAI Sotto’s move to try his luck in the NBA G-League is a welcome one but also left the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas uneasy.
No less than SBP chief Al Panlilio yesterday admitted this, saying he does not know now if the 7-foot-2 center would still be available for the Gilas Pilipinas program.
“We’re still assuming he will be available for Gilas,” said Panlilio. “He has consistently told us that he will be available, but this… we really do not know what will happen next.”
Main concern for Panlilio is the scheduling conflicts that could arise now that Sotto has decided to skip college and join the G-League program.
“It will now all depend on the G-League schedule,” said Panlilio. “What could happen is that he will be like Andray (Blatche), with whom we had a lot of scheduling conflicts because of his (other) commitments.”
The Philippines is co-hosting the next FIBA World Cup from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10, 2023 along with Japan and Indonesia and the SBP has been in the process of forming a competitive squad made up mostly of professional players.
To whip that Gilas team, of which Sotto and fellow frontliner AJ Edu are practical shoo-ins, into world-caliber shape numerous training camps and foreign tournament participation are needed but could cross paths with Sotto’s G-League schedule.
“And as you know, when you prepare the national team for big international tournaments, time [together with the team] is very important,” Panlilio pointed out.
Sotto has previously stated that while pursuing his NBA dream he would like to represent the country in international competitions.
The communication lines between the SBP and Sotto have been open since Sotto went to the US last year and before he signed up with East West, a management group that also handles Blatche.
Panlilio said that the SBP has had to go through Sotto’s US representatives now.
“There’s a layer now between us and Kai,” said Panlilio . “That’s why we never had an idea that he already signed with the G-League. We weren’t consulted and we only found that out through media reports.”
Still, Panlilio wants to continue reaching out to Sotto to clarify the latter’s plans, if those are still in sync with the SBP’s.
At the same time, Panlilio stated he is elated for Sotto should his move to the G-League bears fruits.
“If he progresses… I will be very happy for him,” said Panlilio. “And if he does go on to make the NBA, then that would be a momentous occasion for our country.”