Kai Sotto oblivious to pressure in the face of giant expectations
Kai Sotto looks composed as he joins Gilas practice for the first time. Jerome Ascano

SCHOOL and the UAAP remain on top of Kai Sotto’s priorities even as vies for a place in the Gilas Pilipinas team that will be formed for the 2023 Fiba World Cup.

The seven-foot Sotto said he can’t commit to attending Gilas' Monday-only practices if there is school work to be done at Ateneo or when he needs to prepare for a game in the UAAP juniors tournament.

"Makakasama ako pag Monday 'pag wala kaming exam or pag wala kaming game the following day," he 15-year-old son of former PBA player Ervin Sotto said.

While he is beginning to get used to such attention, Sotto admitted he still felt a little starstruck playing with the country's finest ballers including Jayson Castro and Calvin Abueva.

"Oo kaunti (starstruck). Siguro lahat naman ng makaka-practice sa kanila may mararamdamang ganun," said the Ateneo juniors standout.

Much is expected from Sotto, who is hands down the tallest player to be tapped for the national team program since EJ Feihl in the nineties.

Still, the teen seemed oblivious to the high expectations.

"Wala naman (pressure). Di ko naman nilalagay sa utak ko yung mga ganun. Focus lang ako sa ginagawa ko," said the mainstay of the Batang Gilas squad.

The teen prodigy didn't disappoint those who watched him in the Gilas tryout on Monday night as he showed his wares during the training supervised by head coach Chot Reyes, throwing two-handed slams here and there. 

Sotto said he hardly struggled in adjusting to the national team's signature dribble-drive offense.

"Oo naman (nakuha yung system). Ikaw naman kung naglalaro ka ng basketball everyday isang tingin mo lang makikita mo na agad yung ginagawa e," he said.

 

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