AMID talks of his eventual move to Europe, Kai Sotto is staying in the present.
And that means, he's back to being a full-time student.
Moments after Sotto and the Ateneo Blue Eaglets lost to Nazareth School in the UAAP Season 81 juniors Finals, the 7-foot-1 prodigy steered clear of talks about his future saying his only focus right now is academics.
"Hindi ko pa alam. Pati ako di ko pa alam kasi focus muna ako na tapusin itong academic school year na ito," he said on Friday. "Challenging din dahil parang finals din. Doon muna ako nagfo-focus muna."
Sotto, 16, did a yeoman job in Game Two of the best-of-three finals, dropping 26 points, 25 rebounds, and four blocks for the Blue Eaglets. But it couldn't stop the Bullpups from taking the title-clinching 64-53 victory.
Offers by teams like Real Madrid surfaced before the season, and those talks gained traction after the lean-framed prodigy set himself head and shoulders over everybody on his way to the MVP award.
Sotto didn't deny that there are international teams interested in taking him under their programs.
"Maraming mga offers talaga. Iba-iba eh. Hindi ko masabi lahat kasi tatay ko ang nakakaalam. Sinasabi na lang nila sa akin kapag malapit na," said Sotto, adding he lets his dad Ervin deal with these offers.
"Pero yun nga, lagi nilang sinasabi sa akin na mag-focus muna dito sa academic school year kasi patapos na eh, sasayangin ko pa ba? Talagang challenging talaga sa akin, pero ibibigay lahat dito. Kung ano man mangyari, 'yun 'yung mangyayari," he said.
Sotto also wasn't spared from ribbing from his own team.
"Alam na rin naman ng teammates ko (yung mga ganoong usapan) dahil talagang sinasabi ni coach Reggie (Varilla) sa kanila, parang nilokoloko na nila ako. Nasanay na yung team sa ganyan at nakikipagbiruan naman sila. Pero wala pa naman yung seryosong usapan at alam ko na kahit ganoon, magtitiwala yung teammates ko sa akin," he said.
Whatever the future may hold for him, Sotto shared that this season will always hold a special place in his heart, even if Ateneo fell short of back-to-back titles.
What he'll treasure the most was the bond he formed with his peers, the teenager said.
"Sobrang grabe yung journey nitong Season 81 kasi sa tatlong seasons ko, ito talaga yung pinakamalapit sa akin dahil doon sa pagmamahal ng teammates ko na binibigay nila sa akin at binibigay ko rin sa kanila.
"Iba eh, parang iba yung bond namin ngayon. Nakita mo talagang united kami," he said. "Malungkot kanina dahil nakikita ko yung mga teammates ko, lalo na yung mga seniors ko na umiiyak dahil mga last year na nila, pero happy ako sa kanila dahil kahit papaano, hindi sila nag-stop lumaban hanggang sa dulo. Lahat kami lumaban para manalo."