KAI Sotto won't be the first homegrown Filipino player to be drafted in the NBA.
The Filipino center, as predicted by most mock drafts, was left unpicked during the 2022 NBA Draft on Friday (Manila time) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Sotto's name was not heard even after 58 players were picked during the two rounds of the annual rookie selection - a disappointing turn of events for the 7-foot-3 center who represented the Philippines' best hope for a homegrown NBA player.
Duke forward Paolo Banchero headlined this batch, going first overall to the Orlando Magic, followed by Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren to the Oklahoma City Thunder at two, and Auburn forward Jabari Smith to the Houston Rockets at three.
Only 58 players were selected in this year's draft after the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat forfeited their second-round picks due to tampering violations.
It was a tough pill to swallow for Sotto who spent the past year in Australia suiting up for the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League (NBL).
However, Sotto tried to shake off the draft letdown as he detailed his next moves, saying he will be passing up on the NBA Summer League to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the coming Fiba windows.
"This is [just a] speed up," said the former Ateneo high school star.
He worked out with eight teams prior to the draft and dealt with a sprained ankle that momentarily derailed his bid to impress coaches and scouts after being left off the Draft Combine.
Despite his best efforts, though, mock drafts have never been kind to the 20-year-old with him absent among the veritable sites' projections.
It ran contrary to the optimism that his camp, led by his agent Joel Bell and handlers at East West Private, flashed when Sotto announced his decision to make the leap -- yet one that proved to be a harbinger of things to come.
Though he went undrafted, Sotto's NBA dreams still ain't over as he becomes an unrestricted free agent who can sign with any team.
On where that journey would lead, Sotto knows only one team: his NBA dream doesn't end with the draft disappointment.
"We didn't get the Plan A but we have a Plan B and it's not gonna stop me," he told News5. "This is not a signal for me to stop but for me to keep going."
We are now on Quento! Download the app to enjoy more articles and videos from SPIN.ph and other Summit Media websites.