Kai Sotto
Sotto skipping Mighty Sports’ Dubai campaign
John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Mighty Sports-Philippines took a hit even before leaving the country for UAE with a notice that Filipino teen tower prodigy Kai Sotto will not be able to make it with the team for the 31st Dubai International Tournament this week.

The team announced the development yesterday, saying that the 7-foot-2 wunderkind has informed the team of his sudden pull-out due to logistical and scheduling issues. 

But even with Sotto out, the Philippine representative remains confident of a good showing with a hybrid squad of veteran and young guns at helm in its Dubai campaign set Jan. 23-Feb 1. 

The team leaves for the UAE mega-city this morning with a mission of surpassing its bronze-medal finish last edition and becoming the first non-Middle Eastern to win the annual invitational tourney among the best Asian ball clubs. 

Minus Sotto, ex-Gilas Pilipinas naturalized Andray Blatche, resident import Renaldo Balkman, and national team cadets Thirdy Ravena, Dave Ildefonso, Jamie Malonzo, Juan and Javi Gomez De Liano have been tasked to spearhead the Philippine bet’s championship goal.

Isaac Go, the no. 1 draft selection in the recent PBA special draft, has also been added to the squad with other young guns like Jarell Lim, Joaqui Manuel and Mikey Williams. 

Coach Charles Tiu also has veteran presence at his disposal led by Gab Banal, Joseph Yeo and Rain or Shine big man Beau Belga with added reinforcements Jelan Kendrick and McKenzie Moore to complete the roster of the Alex Wongchuking-owned franchise that is backed by Creative Pacific of Bong Cuevas, Go For Gold, Oriental Game and Gatorade. 

Mighty Sports’ title bid goes through the UAE national team, Al-Itihad of Syria, Rades of Tunisia and Beirut of Sports Club in Group B.

Group A, meanwhile, has reigning titlist Al Riyadi and Hoops Club from Lebanon, Syria’s Al Wathba, Morocco’s Sala, Egypt’s Alexandria and American University of Dubai.

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