ATENEO team manager Epok Quimpo assured the school won't stand in the way of teen basketball prospect Kai Sotto if he decides to hone his game elsewhere.
As talk swirled that Sotto's family is set to take up an offer to join one of a handful of European and US teams interested in the 7-2 teen, Quimpo said Ateneo will support the Blue Eaglets star wherever he ends up playing next.
“We won’t stand in the way. If Kai wants to play in Europe or elsewhere, susuportahan pa namin siya,” said the former Ateneo point guard.
While Sotto's family has clamped up over the last few days, multiple sources bared the 16-year old has played his last game with Ateneo is set to take his act to Europe, the move to come as early as May.
Five teams are in a race to sign Sotto, namely Real Madrid, Barcelona, Baskonia in Spain, Estudiantes (Spanish Club) and Alba, Berlin in Germany. Multiple reports also revealed a couple of US NCAA teams are likewise interested.
Quimpo himself revealed Sotto, discreetly of course, already went to Europe last December.
“Syempre, secret 'yun. Nagpunta na siya sa Europe nung December. Kaunti lang nakaka-alam, hindi namin yun pinaalam. Para walang funfare,” said the longtime Ateneo team manager.
Ateneo seniors' coach Tab Balwin has been adamant that the best way forward for Sotto is to stay put. But Quimpo bared the MVP group which supports the Ateneo basketball program will welcome Sotto's move overseas since it will only benefit the national team, which it also bankrolls.
“Actually mas makakaganda nga sa min 'yan. For us Filipinos particularly, kasi mahahasa si Kai dun and when he comes back to the country, mas potent siya to play for the national team,” he said.
Quimpo, in fact, revealed that Sotto's camp is negotiating one important aspect in his contract.
“Kai wants freedom to play for the national team when he is being called. Yan ang isa sa mahalagang detalye na ini-insist nya sa kanyang package. Yung payagan siya everytime kailangan nyang lumaro for the national team,” he said.
“And we hope, ibigay yun sa kanya kung sino mang team ang luckily makakuha sa kanya,” added the son of former Baliuag, Bulacan vice mayor Cecile Quimpo.