Sotto’s NBA dreams become uncertain

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    SO long, NBA dreams?

    Kai Sotto’s stint with Ignite in the NBA G League will not push through after the league announced late last Tuesday night that Sotto will not rejoin the squad in the bubble season in Orlando, Florida.

    With the G League’s decision, Sotto’s bid to gain an NBA foothold has suddenly become uncertain.

    “NBA G League Ignite and international prospect Kai Sotto of the Philippines today announced the mutual decision that Sotto will not rejoin Ignite,” the league said in a statement.

    “With the team’s permission, Sotto left Ignite in January to train with the Philippines national team at the FIBA Asia Cup qualifying tournament in Qatar before that event was cancelled.”

    The 7-foot-3 big man, signed by Ignite in May last year to help him realize his lofty goal of becoming the first homegrown Filipino to play in the NBA, returned to the Philippines last Feb. 2 to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.

    Sotto and his management group East West Private came under fire for that seemingly ill-advised decision.

    Doha’s hosting of the final window of the qualifiers was canceled due to the outbreak of the new strain of the deadly COVID-19, however.

    While Clark was given back the hosting duties by FIBA, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has yet to get the go-signal from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases.

    With the schedule of the Clark window still to be determined, the SBP also deemed it best for Sotto to leave.

    Sotto, 18, flew back to the US last Feb. 14.

    NBA G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim said a lot of factors brought about by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic led to the league’s decision to shut the door on Sotto.

    “Kai and the team both understood the challenges for him to rejoin Ignite given the current international travel constraints, quarantine times and health and safety protocols,” Abdur-Rahim said.

    “Kai will always be part of the extended Ignite family and we wish him continued success as he pursues his NBA dreams.”

    PBA legend Johnny Abarrientos in the 1990s; now pros Japeth Aguilar, Kiefer Ravena, and Ray Parks Jr., and Paras himself also tried to gain NBA foothold but fell short.

    Sotto left the Philippines in 2019 to train at the Atlanta-based The Skills Factory.

    A former UAAP juniors’ MVP with Ateneo High School, Sotto opted to skip college and turn pro.