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    COLUMN: Kai Sotto uncertain for Gilas Pilipinas in World Cup. Here's why

    Can Kai juggle NBA dream and national duty?
    May 26, 2023
    Kai Sotto Gilas Pilipinas
    Can Kai Sotto juggle his NBA dream and national duty?
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
    spin zone

    CHICAGO -- Kai Sotto's participation in the Utah Jazz mini camp next week is just one of a few workouts that he will attend around the NBA.

    An influential agent who does not represent the 21-year old prospect told SPIN.ph that this series of pivots will ultimately lead to Sotto as "sure" to be in the roster of a Summer League team.

    Unfortunately, as NBA doors now begin to open for Kai, the one that leads to Gilas Pilipinas may have potentially closed, at least when it comes to his engagement in the upcoming FIBA World Cup.

    When asked if Sotto will make himself available for the World Cup, Kai's handlers --- East West Private and Wasserman Sports -- declined to answer, telling me in a text message: "No comment. Focus on today."

    In fairness to Kai's camp, they're not being non-commital or playing hard-to-get here. So much is going on right now that there is neither the time to think ahead nor the certainty of how Sotto's circumstances will play out.

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    But hope lingers.

    "We have high interest in him. We want him in the team," Gilas Pilipinas team manager and Samahang Basketbol Ng Pilipinas (SBP) deputy director general Butch Antonio told me in a telephone interview.

    ULTIMATELY, THOUGH, HE CONCEDED THAT THE DECISION RESTS WITH THE COACHING STAFF.

    And there lies the caveat.

    In a prior interview, Chot Reyes and a high-ranking SBP official both told me that they will welcome Kai in the World Cup only if he joins the team several weeks prior to the event in order for him to practice and develop chemistry with his Gilas teammates.

    If you're wondering why Gilas isn't demanding the same time frame from Jordan Clarkson, the SBPs rationale is that Jordan is the focal point of the offense and a much easier asset to insert in the lineup.

    There is no doubt Kai wants to wear red, white and blue once again. He's done the patriotic duty several times without hesitation.

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    Here's the problem, though.

    NBA camps are in June. Summer League is in July. And the World Cup is in August.

    Unless Reyes' edict changes, there aren't too many weeks Kai can spare for Gilas leading up to August.

    To cut the long story short, Kai's status for the World Cup can be summed up in a word.

    Uncertain.

    IS KAI SOTTO 7'3 OR 7'4?

    Many readers asked SPIN.ph that question after our latest Sotto piece ran.

    Here's the answer. "He is 7-foot-3," said Tony Ronzone of Wasserman Sports, the architect of Kai's ongoing NBA drive.

    And if you're wondering why I've previously written that Kai is 7-foot-4, here's the answer, too.

    Joel Bell, the young center's former agent, told me so. Bell even sent me a text message to make sure that the 7-foot-3 length I penned on an article was rectified to 7-foot-4.

    There you go.

    Finally, to all the bashers out there, I just have two questions:

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    What has Kai Sotto ever done to draw your ire?

    I get it, many of you experts think he does not have the "goods" to make it to the NBA, but why all the hate, the vitriol?

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      As for us here at SPIN.ph, we are not hyping Kai.

      Whether you like it or not, he is a newsmaker and we have an obligation to report his moves.

      Get more of the latest sports news & updates on SPIN.ph

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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