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    Kai Sotto immediately makes presence felt in Team Pilipinas debut

    Nov 25, 2018
    PHOTO: Dante Peralta

    KAI Sotto played his first-ever tuneup game for Team Pilipinas on Sunday against Lebanon - and wasted no time trying to make an impact.

    After missing tuneup games against Jordan and practices due to academics, Sotto finally suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in the team’s fourth and final tune-up game before the fifth window of the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers.

    Sotto immediately made his presence felt when he tried to dunk on Lebanon center Ater Majok. The 7-foot-2 teenager was fouled with 4:07 left in the third quarter and calmly sank both free throws before being replaced immediately.

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    The Philippines, however, lost the match, 71-60, and fell to 1-3 (win-loss) in their tuneup games ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 and Iran on Dec. 3.

    Sotto, who scored two points in almost five minutes of play, said he was glad to finally get a rare opportunity to play against professional players even in a tune-up environment.

    “Sobrang saya na nakuha ko ‘yung opportunity na makapaglaro. Kahit ‘yung oras na nasa loob ako ng court, parang sa pangarap ko ginagawa ko lang ‘yun,” said Sotto.

    The Ateneo Blue Eaglets center, who played in a UAAP juniors match hours before the tune-up match, rued the missed dunk against Majok.

    “Sayang. Naisip ko sayang kasi parang ‘yun na ‘yung chance ko,” said Sotto.

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    Sotto, though, said he later got a few words of encouragement as well as pointers from the Lebanon big man.

    “Sabi niya, mas mahaba daw ako sa kanya. Kapag hindi ako mag-stay low, dun siya nagkakaroon ng advantage sa akin,” said Sotto.

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      PHOTO: Dante Peralta
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