MAKING it as part of the 23-man pool recently drawn by coach Chot Reyes for the 2023 Fiba World Cup brings young big man Kai Sotto closer to his dream.
While he is a regular fixture ar Batang Gilas, Sotto, who is already listed at 7-2 at age 15, said making the Gilas men's lineup for the 2023 showpiece which the Philippines will co-host will be a dream come true.
“Isa sa mga goals ko yun at papaghirapan ko yun na makapasok ako sa team,” said the lanky Ateneo Blue Eaglets center, who is the youngest player to be included by Reyes in the pool.
Aside from Sotto, also on the list are Kobe Paras, Thirdy Ravena, Paul Desiderio, Matt Nieto, Robert Bolick, Fil-Nigerian AJ Edu, CJ Perez, Juan Gomez de Liano, James Tuffin, Jeo Ambohot, JJ Alejandro, Joshua Sinclair, Arvin Tolentino, Javee Mocon, Isaac Go, Abu Tratter, Kenmark Carino, Will Gozum, and Karl Vincent Tamayo.
Completing the pool are Fil-foreigners Remy Martin, Dwight Ramos, and Troy Rike.
While Reyes stressed the list is ‘by no means final,’ Sotto admitted being surprised a bit by his inclusion.
“Hindi naman sa nagulat, pero kahit konti nakaka-surprise pa rin na makita ako sa pool,” he said. “Pero siyempre, thankful ako na nakasama ako (sa pool). Maaasahan ninyo na pagtatrabahuhan ko yan.”
Sotto said he hasn’t personally talked to Reyes yet on how things will be done in the Gilas pool. And with still five years to go before the World Cup, the son of former PBA player Ervin Sotto said a lot of things are bound to change.
“Five years pa naman yun, so wala pang nararamdaman na pressure,” he said. “Mapagtrabahuhan pa natin yun ng maayos.”
The elder Sotto did admit that his son is still a work in progress.
“Madami pa siya kailangang ma-improve, kaya ako lagi kong sinasabi sa kanya, huwag kang makuntento sa mga ginagawa mo, sa mga nilalaro mo,” said the 36-year-old Sotto, a first round pick in the 2004 PBA draft who previously played with Purefoods (Magnolia), Shell, Barangay Ginebra, Air21, Alaska, and Petron.
And unlike his son, Ervin admitted being surprised by Reyes’ decision to draft Kai as part of Gilas’ pool for the 2023 World Cup.
“Lahat ng nangyayari kay Kai talagang nasu-surprise ako, kahit nung maliit pa talaga siya,” said the 6-foot-7 Sotto patriarch, who works as NLEX’s skills coach for big men under Yeng Guiao.
“Yung transition sa basketball career niya sobrang bilis, so we just take it is a blessing sa kanya and sa family namin.”