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With 36ers, Sotto free to render Gilas duties
Kai Sotto
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With 36ers, Sotto free to render Gilas duties

John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - April 23, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino wunderkind Kai Sotto’s upcoming trip to “Down Under” to play for the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League is more than just a new beginning.

It’s a double jackpot as the 36ers management is in full support of his desire to render duties to Gilas Pilipinas.

Adelaide general manager Jeff Van Groningen said both the 36ers and the NBL work closely with the FIBA calendar, making it smooth to incorporate players who are committed to their national team responsibilities like Sotto with Gilas.

“We are very comfortable integrating national team players in our program. If a player is a national team player, it means he’s a good player, so we work around it and make sure that both his national club and professional club are respected and we’re expecting that to happen in both directions,” Groningen said.

Along with his Adelaide signing for two years starting this 2021-2022 season with an option for a third year, Sotto on Wednesday re-affirmed his commitment to Gilas in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), the FIBA Asia Cup and future tournaments.

Groningen sees no problem with that especially with his familiarity and respect for Gilas program director Tab Baldwin, who previously coached in the New Zealand NBL and NZ national team.

As for Sotto’s NBA path, 36ers coach Conner Henry vowed to leave no stone unturned like what they are doing to 18-year-old NBA prospect and Australia Boomers national team member Josh Giddey.

“Kai’s got skillsets that will continue to develop. He’s played some at the G League level and he understands the pace and the physicality of it – all of which translates to our club here in the NBL,” beamed Henry, the 2014 NBA D-League Coach of the Year.

KAI SOTTO
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