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Sports

Kai eyed by Asian NBA investors

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Kai eyed by Asian NBA investors
Joe Betancourt.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — A syndicate of Asian investors is bidding to purchase an undisclosed NBA franchise and former Charlotte Hornets international scout Joe Betancourt, who attempted to bring Johnny Abarrientos to the NBA in 1997, said yesterday the deal is close to a wrap. Betancourt is at the forefront of the negotiations, bringing together investors from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and India. He is in line to become the NBA team’s managing partner with a 10 percent ownership on a $270 million investment.

Betancourt said when the deal is finalized, he will make sure Kai Sotto is invited for a tryout. “For over a year, I’ve been working to buy an NBA franchise with a big investor from India and Middle East partners,” he said. “If all goes as expected, we’ll bring Kai in for a tryout to make up for Abarrientos. I believe the Australia experience is good for Kai. We feel the NBA deal will happen in a matter of a short time. I expect to be active as a managing partner and that will give me leeway to make decisions such as the Kai option.”

Betancourt, a former Saudi Arabia and Mexico national coach, said he keeps tabs on basketball developments in the Philippines. “I watched most of the FIBA Asia Cup games on TV,” said Betancourt, a financial genius who has made millions participating in IPOs. “I have a lot of respect for coach Chot Reyes. He’ll get it together. If Chot gets both Jordan Clarkson and Kai, look out as they can definitely enhance Gilas big time.”

Aside from closing the NBA deal, Betancourt is busy setting up a Mexico-based foundation called Instituto del Basquetbol with operations in Chihuahua, Playa del Carmen, Monterrey and Puerto Vallarta Huatulco. “We’ll focus on organizing youth and senior basketball camps all over the world with top coaches,” he said. “I’ve contacted Chot to join us and I plan to also invite Tim Cone. We’re building a Hall of Fame in Chihuahua to honor Mexican basketball legends like Manuel Raga and Eduardo Najera. We’ll provide players with playing options that are otherwise not available to them. I want Mexico and the US to have access to coaches like Tim and Chot to explain the importance and impact of basketball in the Philippines just like I saw it in 1997 when I met Chot and Tim.”

KAI SOTTO

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