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Sports

Sotto joins NBA Rookie Draft

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star
Sotto joins NBA Rookie Draft
Kai Sotto.
ADELAIDE 36ERS

MANILA, Philippines — Will Kai Sotto make history as the first Filipino homegrown player to make it to the NBA?

The 7-foot-3 prodigy took another step towards hopefully realizing his treasured dream in throwing his hat into the 2022 NBA Rookie Draft.

Sotto announced his much-awaited decision yesterday in a heartfelt social media post, making himself available for the draft proceedings on June 23 in Brooklyn, New York.

“I have declared for the 2022 NBA Draft. Please pray for and support me during my quest to fulfill my ultimate dream,” said Sotto, who will turn 20 years old on May 11.

Sotto is coming off a decent stint with the Adelaide 36ers in the Australia National Basketball League, which he thanked for providing him venue to further hone skills and prepare him for his attempt to crack basketball’s grandest stage.

“Thank you, Adelaide. Thank you, Australia. It has been an unforgettable year,” said Sotto, who became the first Pinoy cager in the Land Down Under league last year.

“To the 36ers management, my teammates, my coaching staff and my agent Joel Bell, I am a better man and a better professional player than a year ago because you all took me under your wing and challenged and mentored me to live up to expectations.”

Despite seeing limited action (15.2 minutes), Sotto made his mark in the NBL that served as his international pro league debut with averages of 7.52 points on 50-percent clip, 4.48 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 22 games.

But Australia was not the lone stage where Sotto showed a glimpse of his potential.

Sotto took his talents to the United States in 2019 that attracted interests from US schools led by Kentucky and Auburn as well as overseas programs like Germany’s Alba Berlin, Spain’s Real Madrid, Estudiantes and Barcelona.

He trained with The Skill Factory in Atlanta and ended up committing with Ignite in the NBA G League as a new professional pathway program to the NBA for high school prospects before landing in Australia.

At home, Sotto captured MVP honors for Ateneo High School in the UAAP juniors while anchoring Gilas youth to multiple FIBA Asia podium finishes and World Cup appearances.

Sotto, who debuted with the Gilas seniors team last year, is hoping for these experiences at a very young age paired up with his high ceiling to serve as his best assets in landing an NBA team.

Though Sotto could be the first homegrown Pinoy there, he would be a welcome addition to Fil-American aces Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz and Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets as the country’s proud representatives.

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