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Sports

Kai hopeful he’ll hear his name called

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star
Kai hopeful heâll hear his name called
Kai Sotto.
Instagram / Kai Sotto

MANILA, Philippines — It’s the moment of truth for local pride Kai Sotto who hopes to etch history for the Philippines in the highly anticipated 2022 NBA Rookie Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

With the entire Philippine archipelago behind him, Sotto is hoping to get his name called to the podium and become the first-ever Filipino homegrown draftee in the NBA.

The proceedings start at 8 a.m. (Manila time) with Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Duke’s Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren tipped as the top selections.

Sotto is unfazed by the odds after solid workouts with the Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers.

“Now, I’m getting closer to my dream and our dream. I’m really thankful for their (Filipino fans) support and those I don’t take for granted,” said Sotto in the interview posted by the Pacers.

“If I make it to the NBA, I’ll be the first Filipino and my dream is to help others get here too,” he added, pointing to his versatility, height, perimeter touch, shot blocking and passing ability as his best assets.

The the 7-foot-3 Sotto threw his hat into the NBA draft sweepstakes after his stint with the Adelaide 36ers in the Australia National Basketball League.

(NBL) and Ignite in the NBA G League.

He also showed his wares for both the Gilas Pilipinas youth and men’s teams in different international tournaments with the NBA as his ultimate destination.

Reaching that goal, however, will not be a walk in the park as the 20-year-old Pinoy was not included in multiple mock drafts by international sports outlets ahead of the draft.

Only Sports Illustrated, which listed him at No. 49 last month, has Sotto on the radar for the draft that will go two rounds for 30 teams.

Should Sotto realize his dream, he would join Filipino-American stalwarts Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz and Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets as the Philippine representatives in the NBA.

Other Fil-American hopefuls in this year’s class are Rutgers’ Ron Harper Jr. and Kansas’ Remy Martin.

KAI SOTTO

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