FORTHSKY Padrigao is well aware that Batang Gilas' campaign in the 2019 Fiba Under-19 World Cup may be his final go-run with Kai Sotto for the forseeable future.
And he knows better to treasure the chance if he indeed gets a nod for the youth hoops meet in Greece come June.
"Kung may possibility na magsama kami, why not? Basta magkasama kami, ok lang," the Ateneo guard said.
Padrigao and Sotto have been tightknit from their days with the national youth team, one that they kept in Katipunan as the Blue Eaglets went on a runner-up finish this past UAAP Season 81 juniors' basketball wars.
That's why for Padrigao, treating any bonding time with Sotto differently is a foreign feeling for him.
"Madalas namin gawin na mag-bonding eh. Normal lang sa amin yun. Pero yung may goodbye, wala," he said, with the two fondly going out for Korean barbecue dinners with friends.
As much as Sotto has prepared Ateneo for this imminent announcement, it still pains Padrigao to hear his close friend depart.
"Actually, noong di pa niya sinasabi, tinanggap ko na eh. Pero nung inannounce niya, parang, 'Aalis na pala si Kai.' Actually, hindi na ako sumasama sa kanya eh. Sinasanay ko rin ang sarili ko. Kahit sa ensayo, parang ang liit namin dahil wala si Kai," he said.
Make no mistake, though. Padrigao is happy to see Sotto pursue his NBA dream.
"Masaya ako para sa kanya, na in-announce niya na aalis na siya at ipu-pursue niya yung dream niya. I'm so happy for him," he said, confident that the 7-foot-2 wunderkind will do well as he goes through intensive training in Atlanta before choosing a European club to sign with.
Without Sotto, however, all eyes will be on Padrigao, who averaged 10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 2.3 steals this past year, as he'll now be counted on to lead the Blue Eaglets moving forward.
Padrigao said that Sotto didn't really give him much advice, putting his full trust on him to carry the load for the boys of coach Reggie Varilla.
"Wala naman siyang reminders. Alam ko naman na gusto niya lang yung makakabuti para sa akin at sa teammates ko, so yun lang din ang gagawin ko," he said.