THE third time’s the charm for 6-9 high school phenom Kai Zachary Sotto after he was finally named to the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA All-Star Team.
In his last attempt before he turns 14 next month, the soft-spoken Sotto from St. Francis of Assisi School was not only part of 10 boys and five girls who comprised a team of the best high school basketball players in the country, he was also given the National Training Camp MVP award.
“Masaya po. Pinaghirapan ko po ito. Pinaghandaan ko po ito. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa opportunity na nakuha ko po yung award na ito,” said the 13-year-old son of former PBA player Ervin Sotto.
“Sobrang saya ko po. Isa po ito sa mga pangarap ko. Yung opportunity nandito na so binigay ko na yung best ko,” he told reporters during an interview.
When asked if he has committed to play for a particular school in the coming school year, Kai said, “Wala pa po akong sure na school pero my family prefers Ateneo.”
Asked if his newfound fame has affected him, Sotto shrugged off the attention, “Gini-give ko yung best ko, meron malas, meron swerte. Normal pa rin. (I’ll just) be good! Sakto lang. I just want to play basketball. Yun ang focus ko lagi.”
Thousands of participants took part in regional training camps in Baguio City, Davao, Cebu and Makati in a search that culminated with the National Training Camp Jr. NBA / Jr. WNBA National Training Camp held at the Music Hall of the Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
Literally standing out among the other players, Sotto also took everyone’s notice because of his humble and respectful nature.
“Napakahilig ko po sa basketball kaya lahat po ng opportunity lagi kong kinukuha.”
Aside from the STAR Values taught by the Jr. NBA coaches, Kai said his dad gave him basketball advice and the reminder “to work hard and always pray to the Lord.”
New Orleans Pelicans guard Norris Cole and former Minnesota Lynx player Taj told him to keep on playing hard, be aggressive and develop his skills.
When SPIN.ph asked Kai who his favorite player is, he asked us, “Ilan po?”
For NBA legends, Kai said he looks up to Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon while for active players he admits he is a fan of New York Knicks rookie big man Kristaps Porzingis.
“Gusto ko si Kristaps kasi hindi siya from USA, ang tangkad niya,” he explained.
He also admits being a fan of San Miguel Beerman June Mar Fajardo.
“Yung strength niya sa loob. Yung play niya sa teammates niya.”