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    Kai Sotto can't wait to team up with rival turned pal Jalen Green

    May 16, 2020
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    FROM opponents to friends to now, teammates.

    That's the progression of Kai Sotto's relationship with Jalen Green as the two set out to play together in the NBA G League select team.

    It was just two years ago when the two first crossed paths in the 2018 National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) National Finals.

    Sotto was still representing Ateneo in the national high school basketball championship, while Green was part of FilAm Sports USA, a collection of American high school standouts with Filipino descent.

    Their lone meeting was limited to the NBTC Division I All-Star Game, where Green posterized Sotto as he put on a show at Mall of Asia Arena.

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    The following year, their respective teams met again with Green doling out much of the same punishment on Sotto, putting him on the highlight reel anew with a thunderous jam. FilAm Sports manhandled Ateneo in the quarterfinals of the 2019 offing.

    Sotto shared that he really didn't lose sleep over the incident, but rather found a bit of an annoyance with how his dad Ervin continuously ribbed him about it.

    "Ang di ko in-expect na mangyari is yung tatay ko, linoloko ako lagi simula pag-alis ko ng MOA Arena. Mas nainis ako sa dad ko sa nangyari," he said during a special online conference set up by his camp East West Private.

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      Fast forward over a year later and Sotto won't really have to deal with that ignominy from Green as they join forces in the new NBA G League select team.

      Green was the first to commit to the trailblazing professional path last month, while Sotto made his decision official just last Thursday, being the first international signee of the program.

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      This early, Sotto, a former UAAP Juniors MVP, is excited about the prospect of teaming up with his friend Green, the 2018 Fiba Under-17 World Cup MVP.

      "I'm really excited to play with Jalen Green because I got to play against him. In both games, I lost so I just can't wait to play with a great player like him, share the basketball court with him, and learn from him," he said.

      They will be forming the core of the squad together with fellow top recruits Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix.

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      Though Sotto acknowledges the reputation Green holds being the top high school recruit in the US, he said that he won't hesitate to take the last shot if his moment comes.

      "It depends on the coach," said the 7-foot-2 wunderkind, chuckling, "But if the ball goes to me, I'll take the last shot."

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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