Kai Sotto finally shows up during Gilas Pilipinas’ tune-up game against Ateneo

Kai Sotto was present during Gilas’s scrimmage against the ADMU Blue Eagles (FIBA photo)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team finally had some sigh of relief after NBA aspirant Kai Sotto showed up in front of the team last July 21, 2023.

The seven-foot-three center who was fresh from an NBA Summer League stint went to the Moro Lorenzo basketball gym to support Gilas in a staged tune-up game against the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles.

Despite not suiting up for the national team against the defending UAAP champions, Sotto’s presence alone shut down rumors that he will be taking a leave of absence from the Gilas camp to recover after a busy basketball schedule during the past two months.

Before getting tapped by the Orlando Magic to play in Las Vegas, Sotto attended multiple private workouts and was also called up by several NBA teams to train with them during the off-season.

Gilas’ worst fear then came after Sotto didn’t return during the last Summer League game of the Magic due to a back injury.

However, Sotto and his camp assured that he will be remained committed to Gilas and is still a member of the 21-man pool hand-picked by head coach Chot Reyes and the rest of the staff for the upcoming FIBA World Cup.

Up to this date, Reyes and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) are yet to receive a final word from Sotto if when will he rejoin the camp for its intensive practice.

Several days ago, Reyes set a deadline for those players who still failed to show up in the Gilas practices. He revealed that July 25 was the cutoff date for those who wish to travel with the team to another international training camp in China.

Out of the active players in Gilas pool, Jordan Clarkson is the only remaining member who is yet to arrive in the country and join the team camp.

“For anyone to be able to play in China, they have to come to practice at the very least on July 25. That means you have one-week practice lang before China but again we understand naman the situation of the others so we’re willing to bend over naman for that,” Reyes said.

Time is already ticking for Gilas as the FIBA World Cup will already kick off this August 25, which gives them exactly a month of training time left before the main event.