KAI Sotto’s sights are firmly set on becoming the best player that he can be and succeed where other Filipino cagers failed in the past— make it to the NBA.
Whatever it takes.
“My goal is to be the best player that I can be,” Sotto said in a 15-second video posted last Monday night by NBA Philippines.
“I’m trying my best to get drafted next year,” he added.
The 7-foot-3 center is working doubly hard in his coming stint with Ignite in the NBA G League.
Sotto, 18, looks to have the best shot at becoming the first homegrown Filipino to suit up in the NBA owing to the exposure and competition he will gain in the G League.
“When I make it to the NBA, hopefully I’ll make everybody proud,” Sotto said.
The son of former PBA veteran Ervin, Sotto is under the radar on NBA mock Drafts.
In the latest list released by NBA Draft Room, Sotto stood at 65th place, while ESPN ranked him at 99th.
The G League is set to kick off its new season next month in a bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, where the NBA wound up its 2019-2020 season.
“My game plan is to know my role and to be the best at it and to always be there for my coaches and for my teammates,” Sotto said in a separate 50-second clip also posted by NBA Philippines yesterday.
“There’s been a lot of tough days. We’re tired, we’re sore, but we all just push through it and that’s just the beauty of this team, you know, everybody’s just motivated.”
Also part of the pioneering squad are top amateur standouts such as athletic Fil-Am wingman Jalen Green, forward Isaiah Todd, playmaker Daishen Nix, Congolese forward Jonathan Kuminga, NBA veterans Amir Johnson and Bobby Brown, with former NBA champion Brian Shaw calling the shots.
The likes of PBA great Johnny Abarrientos in the 1990s; now pros Japeth Aguilar, Kiefer Ravena, and Ray Parks Jr., and collegiate star Kobe Paras of the University of the Philippines also took a chance in the NBA but fell short.
Sotto left the Philippines in 2019 to train at the Atlanta-based The Skills Factory and was signed up by the select team last May.
A former UAAP juniors’ MVP with Ateneo High School and a Gilas Pilipinas Youth standout, Sotto opted to skip college and take a year off before entering the NBA Draft.
Under the G-League select program’s path, players will be given a chance to play with veterans and be coached by experienced tacticians like Shaw, who is joined by assistant coach Raasheed Abdul-Rahman and athletic trainer Pete Youngman, to provide mentorship throughout the season.
Sotto is only the third Filipino to play in the NBA G-League after Aguilar with the Santa Cruz Warriors in 2012 and Parks with the Texas Legends in 2015-16.