KAI Sotto will train in the United States to begin a journey that he hopes would make him the first homegrown Filipino player in the NBA.
Sotto’s father Ervin Sotto bared the news during a send-off ceremony held on Tuesday at the Edsa Shangrila, saying the 7-foot-2 teenager will leave in April to train for two months in an Atlanta facility.
“Ang unang stop namin US para mag-training,” said Ervin, adding the focus will be on strengthening as the 16-year old aims to bulk up before embarking for the rest of the trip.
The elder Sotto said the rest of the itinerary, including a long-planned stint in Europe, has yet to be finalized.
Sotto's dad also said Kai is committed to play for Batang Gilas in the Fiba Under-19 Basketball World Cup in Greece.
The send-off attended by Sotto’s family, relatives, friends, teammates, and coaches was held after the Ateneo big man announced that he will be leaving the Philippines to pursue his NBA dream.
Sotto played for the Blue Eaglets for three seasons, winning the MVP award in his final juniors stint in UAAP Season 81. The former St. Francis of Assisi College-Las Piñas product also won the UAAP finals MVP in Season 80 and the Rookie of the Year in Season 79.
Ervin said it was Kai’s handlers who made the decision to head over to Atlanta for training. The Sotto family recently signed with player agency firm East West Private LLC which will handle the career of Kai from hereon.
“Alam mo naman ‘yung basketball, physical game. Para makipagsabayan siya sa mga malalakas na players, kailangan magstart muna siya ng intensive training para lumakas katawan niya," said Ervin.
Ervin expressed confidence that his son will be able to develop even more with exposure to top-notch training in Atlanta.
“Nandoon naman ‘yung basketball skills niya at basketball IQ sa laro. Para sa akin, as a father niya, at ex-professional basketball player, ang nakikita kong kulang niya is ‘yung pagpapalakas ng katawan, competition, at exposure,” said Ervin.
Ervin said he will be accompanying his son in the US before their entire family will join him for the two-month training.
Ervin said it was not an easy decision for the family on whether to entertain the offers abroad for Kai. The former PBA player said he had to consult a lot of people including family, friends, and even former teammates at St. Francis where he played college as well as in the PBA for advice.
In the end, training abroad was what they believe was what’s the best for Kai.