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    Adelaide 36ers GM assures Kai Sotto availability for Gilas

    Apr 21, 2021

    ADELAIDE 36ers brass were quick to assure the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) of Kai Sotto's availability fo the national team for future international tournaments.

    Adelaide general manager Jeff Van Groningen promised the national federation that the Australian club won't stand in the way of the 7-foot-3 center whenever he is called up by Gilas Pilipinas.

    "We're very aware of Tab [Baldwin]'s national program, the Philippine national program. Just to set some minds at ease about how our club works with the Philippine national program, we're used to this," he said on Wednesday in a roundtable discussion hosted by Smart.

    Sotto has reiterated his commitment to the Gilas Pilipinas program, baring that he will suit up in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade in July, and the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup in Indonesia in August.

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      That's on top of his signing with Adelaide, where he is expected to play for the 2021-22 season of the National Basketball League (NBL).

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      Van Groningen, though, allayed fears of any club versus country row.

      "We have many players within the Australian Boomers national team that are also Adelaide 36ers players. We are used to working with the Fiba windows, we're used to communicating with the coaches, and we know the coaches very well," said the executive, who came in last year after his successful runs as the general manager for several clubs, most notably the Sydney Kings.

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      Among the 36ers who were called up for the Australian national team pool for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics include Isaac Humphries and 18-year-old prospect Josh Giddey.

      Previous Adelaide players who suited up for the Boomers are Australian Hall of Famer Daryl Pearce, Mark Bradtke, Brett Maher, Daniel Johnson, Mitch Creek, and Nathan Sobey.

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        It also helps that Van Groningen has had a good communication line with SBP program director Baldwin, years before the Sotto signing came to be.

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        "In the case of Tab, I've gotten to see him even before Kai Sotto was even thought about for the Adelaide 36ers," he said. "I've known Tab for a long time and both [head coach] Conner [Henry] and I respect Tab greatly. Tab also worked for many years having to balance those needs of club teams around the world with his national programs with New Zealand and the Philippines."

        That's why Van Groningen doesn't see the juggling act as much of a problem.

        "We are very comfortable integrating national team players in our program. If a player is a national team player, it means he's a good player, so we work around it and make sure that both his national club and professional club are respected and we're expecting that to happen in both directions," he said.

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