AT 7-foot-3, Kai Sotto can hardly be missed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Tuesday night.
The young NBA Filipino prospect finally arrived from the U.S. after a long flight as he gears up in joining the Gilas Pilipinas men’s team for the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers two weeks from now in Doha, Qatar.
Accompanied by his father, former PBA player Ervin Sotto, the lanky 18-year-old member of the NBA G-League Ignite, disembarked at the airport at about 10 p.m. aboard All Nippon Airways from Narita, Japan.
His arrival also serves as a homecoming after training in the U.S the past two years in pursuit of living his dream of becoming the first pure Filipino to ever play in the NBA.
As protocol for arriving passengers, Sotto underwent RT-PCR testing and will have to undergo a five-day quarantine before he gets to join the rest of the Gilas Pilipinas training pool currently holed up at the Calamba bubble inside the Inspire Sports Academy.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al S. Panlilio said Sotto will have at least one week of training with the national team before it leaves for Doha, Qatar for the final window of the qualifiers set Feb. 18 to 22.
“He’s ready to join the bubble as soon as possible after his quarantine period,” said Panlilio.
Gilas Pilipinas, which is on top in Group A with a 3-0 slate, will be playing South Korea (2-0) twice on Feb. 18 and 22, and Indonesia (1-2) on Feb. 20.
The Filipinos just need to win one of their remaining games in order to secure a berth in the FIBA Asia Cup tournament proper this August in Jakarta, Indonesia.
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