PHILIPPINE basketball prodigy Kai Sotto is expected to be back in the country by Monday night, hopefully to join Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers at Clark.
A source said the 7-3 teen prodigy was spotted taking a Japan Airlines flight to Narita at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport on Monday morning, Manila time.
Barring any delays, Sotto, who is traveling alone, is expected to arrive at around 10 p.m. Monday night.
The 19-year old, who is committed to play for the Adelaide Tigers in the Australian pro league, had to undergo an RT-PCR test in the US, especially since the flight will be making a stopover in Japan.
However, another source bared his stint with the all-cadets Gilas side in the Clark bubble isn't cast in stone since quarantine protocols may deny him enough time to train with the team.
A source from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said Sotto may no longer be called to join the Gilas cadets in the Inspire Sports Academy bubble in Calamba, Laguna “so as not to distract the build-up’.
“Malabo pa kasi pagdating n'ya d'yan sa Pilipinas, may mandatory 14-day quarantine siya, kasama na yung swab on the seventh day,” said the source. “Technically yung 14 days nya matatapos 'yun ng June 14,’ he added.
The Fiba Asia Cup, which will see Gilas play arch-rival Korea twice and Indonesia once, is set from June 16-20. Gilas needs one win to secure a berth in the tournament proper which Indonesia will host in August.
SBP program director Tab Baldwin previously said Sotto, ideally, needs a significant amount of time for preparation when it joins Gilas in tournaments.
If he can't play in the Clark bubble, Sotto for sure will be backstopping the Gilas team that will compete in the final Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia on June 29.
The Philippines will need Sotto’s height in the OQT as the Gilas squad will be pitted against Dominican Republic and host Serbia in Group A while Group B is comprised of Puerto Rico, Italy and Senegal.
The Top 4 finishers in thar tournament will be given the final Tokyo Olympic slots.