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Kai signs with Adelaide 36ers
Kai Sotto
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Kai signs with Adelaide 36ers

John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - April 22, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Kai Sotto’s trek to the NBA has reached a new stop, and this time he’s heading “Down Under” to play for the renowned Adelaide 36ers club in the National Basketball League (NBL).

The 7-foot-2 Filipino pride, with his management team East West Private led by Patty Scott and agent Joel Bell, yesterday announced the new chapter in his budding career.

Sotto signed a two-year term in the NBL following a foiled stint with Ignite in the G League.

Sotto’s contract includes an option for a third year, starting this 2021-2022 season, under the NBL’s Special Restricted Player rule provision.

“I’m excited and happy and nervous at the same time. It’s mixed reactions for me but what I can promise is to continue developing and improving my game to be ready for the challenges ahead in the NBL,” said Sotto during a press conference organized by SMART.

While playing in Australia, Sotto can provide NBA scouts or even European clubs a glimpse of what he can offer.

Sotto also said he will rejoin Gilas Pilipinas for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Serbia in June and the FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia in August.

SMART and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio and Gilas program director Tab Baldwin lauded Sotto’s commitment to the national team while backing the latter’s upcoming NBL stint with Adelaide.

In the same event, Panlilio and SMART senior vice president Jane Basas named Sotto as the brand’s newest ambassador with upcoming marketing projects and campaigns lined up this year.

The NBL, led by commissioner Jeremy Loeliger, and the 36ers, bannered by general manager Jeff Van Groningen and head coach Conner Henry, welcomed the 18-year-old rising star with open arms and immense excitement.

“We believe we have an outstanding plan for him on the development side. He’s got a really high upside and we see that. We can’t wait to get him here,” said Henry, who cited Sotto’s “great feel for the game” at his young age and height, including range, inside play and passing abilities.

“We are delighted to welcome Kai to the NBL to play with the Adelaide 36ers. The NBL is one of the best leagues in the world and a great league to develop players like Kai who want to take their game to the next level by playing alongside seasoned professional players in a super competitive league,” added Loeliger.

Sotto will continue to train in the United States for now before trooping to Australia in August for the tentative preseason date of the 2021-2022 NBL in October.

The NBL has ascended over the years as one of the new pathways to the NBA after 2020 No. 3 overall pick Lamelo Ball of Charlotte Hornets and 24th pick RJ Hampton of Denver Nuggets played there aside from hot prospect and current Adelaide standout Josh Giddey.

KAI SOTTO
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