AS he begins his career in Australia, Kai Sotto is not losing sight of his end goal.
"The long-term goal is always to make it to the NBA, hopefully next year or the following year. That’s the ultimate dream," he told the NBL media ahead of his first season Down Under.
But the 19-year-old is taking it a step at a time as he aims to make a mark in his rookie season with the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League (NBL).
Sotto knows where his place is with the team. Although he carries the burden of expectations from his Filipino fans, he understands that what matters most is team success over individual goals.
"I’m a rookie so I’ll start with my specialty, which is defense and rim protection," the 7-foot-3 big man said. "Offensively, we’re a good a good team and we share the ball so the offense will come to us naturally."
Doing so, in his view, should also bode well for his personal development.
"Right now, I’m just trying to be the best player that I can be every day. Just trying to be 0.001-percent better every day. Before I sleep at night I just make sure that I did my best to help myself and help other people get better," he said.
And safe to say, his skills are being tested every day in Adelaide.
Sotto is relishing the chance to battle against the other 36ers bigs, led by Daniel Johnson and Isaac Humphries who are expected to earn the starting nods from coach CJ Bruton.
Although Humphries hasn't really trained much, it was Johnson who keeps on giving Sotto tough workouts every practice session they get.
"The best match-up I’ve had on this team is Daniel Johnson. Just guarding Daniel Johnson is a challenge for me every day. You can’t predict what he’s going to do because he can pass, he can shoot, he can post up and he’s got good strength.
"Going to practice and guarding him is a challenge but when we play with each other, now that’s a good feeling. That’s a good sight to see," he said.
Aside from them, Adelaide's frontline will also feature Cameron Bairstow, Todd Withers, and Emmanuel Malou.
Still, Sotto is looking forward to this opportunity to ball out and proudly fly the Philippine flag there in Australia.
“Right now, I’m going to be playing in the NBL and I’m the only Filipino to play here. The performance that I show will reflect on the Philippines so I have to make sure that I play the right way and play my best every time I step on the court," he said.