Australia-bound Sotto to still play for Gilas in Olympic qualifiers, FIBA Asia Cup
Kai Sotto

Australia-bound Sotto to still play for Gilas in Olympic qualifiers, FIBA Asia Cup

Luisa Morales (Philstar.com) - April 21, 2021 - 11:34am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:44 p.m.) – Despite his new commitment with Australian team Adelaide 36ers, Kai Sotto will still see action with the national team.

In a press conference with Sotto and Smart on Wednesday, Sotto reaffirmed his commitment to Gilas Pilipinas with promises to play in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the FIBA Asia Cup starting June this year.

The 18-year-old, who has signed a multi-year deal with the 36ers in the National Basketball League (NBL), was set to play for Gilas in the cancelled FIBA Asia Cup third window qualifiers in Doha, Qatar earlier this year.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Inc. (SBP) program director Tab Baldwin said there is no timeline yet on when Sotto would be available for training and preparation for his Gilas stint.

But the Ateneo Blue Eagles mentor welcomed the 18-year-old's commitment to the national team.

"There are a lot of boxes that need to be ticked and in this environment that we are in in the world today with pandemics and quarantines and lockdowns... You just have to know that we're all working towards that and final dates, final decisions, they haven't been made," said Baldwin.

"We're very hopeful that Kai is gonna run out with a great young Gilas basketball team very soon. So, you know, wait for the announcements," he added.

Meanwhile, 36ers General Manager Jeff Van Groningen reassured that the team would be in full support for Sotto's stint with Gilas.

With the NBL being a home to a number of national team players, mostly on the Australia Boomers, the team is already seasoned in dealing with adjustments to accomodate the FIBA calendar.

"Just to set some minds at ease about how our club works in with the Philippine national team program, we are used to this," said Van Groningen.

"We have many players from within the Australian Boomers national team that are also Adelaide 36ers players, so we are used to working within the FIBA windows, we're used to communicate with [national team] coaches," he added.

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