Basketball wunderkind Kai Sotto has made it to the Gilas Pilipinas delegation headed for the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers at Angeles University Foundation this Wednesday (June 16) night.
The 12-man team arrived in Clark two days ago and has been staying inside a bubble getting ready to face-off with archrival South Korea, whom they’ll clash with at 6 p.m. tonight.
Sotto’s inclusion into the final 12 was announced yesterday (June 15) by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), a day before the start of the tournament. It will be his debut game for the Gilas Pilipinas team.
According to Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin, the 19-year-old was thrilled when told that he’ll be officially part of the team.
“We already told Kai that he will be part of the team and he was really thrilled,” he shared.
Although this was the case, Baldwin admitted that they did hesitate if Sotto was a right fit for the team, however, the 7-foot-3 player proved that he can perform side by side with other senior players.
“Naturally, we were worried about how much of [his earlier training with us] will stay with him but the coaching staff was pleased to find out that he has great retention of information,” Baldwin explained
“There is a solid foundation of knowledge from his past experience with us that helped him process the new information we introduced since then,” he added.
Besides Sotto, four other players will make their Gilas Pilipinas seniors team debut – SJ Belangel, RJ Abarrientos, Carl Tamayo, and newly-naturalized player Angelo Kouame.
Justine Baltazar, Javi Gomez de Liaño, William Navarro, Mike Nieto, Dwight Ramos, Jaydee Tungcab, and team captain Isaac Go will complete the Philippines’ representatives to the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers.
The game will air live on TV5 and One Sports and can be streamed on gigafest.smart.
Here’s the 12-man roster of Gilas Pilipinas!
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Image credit: Gilas Pilipinas’ Official Facebook Page