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    SPIN awardee Kai Sotto keeps feet on ground amid hype and hoopla

    Dec 6, 2018

    KAI Sotto may be on the rise, but he knows how to keep his feet on the ground.

    The 7-foot-1 prodigy is happy to be selected as one of SPIN.ph's Top Sports Heroes of 2018 under the Sportsmen Who Inspire Hope category on Thursday night at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, saying awards serve as his motivation to work harder.

    “Masaya ako na nakakakuha ako ng mga ganitong awards. Ipagpapatuloy ko lang yung mga ginagawa ko kasi 'yung mga awards naman, bigla-bigla na lang dumadating kapag ginagawa mo ‘yung trabaho mo,” Sotto told SPIN.ph.

    “Being named na rising star siyempre karangalan ‘yun para sa akin. Kaya ‘yung bagay na ‘yun pagbubutihin ko pa lalo para mapatunayan ko talaga kung bakit ako rising star,” he added.

    At 16, Sotto has already led the Ateneo Blue Eaglets to a UAAP championship, helped Batang Gilas gain a FIBA U-19 World Cup berth, and even got his dream to be part of the men’s national basketball team pool.

    Basketball fans have been pinning their hopes on Sotto becoming the first Filipino NBA player. But Kai isn't looking that far ahead, saying at this point he just wants to keep enjoying the life of a simple student-athlete.

    “Lagi ko lang ginagawa ‘yung normal na ginagawa ko at saka parang everyday dapat more ‘yung ginagawa ko,” Sotto said.

    “Simula pa lang ng pagpasok ko ng Ateneo, andiyan na ‘yung pressure,” he added. “Kaya sa tingin ko habang patagal ng patagal parang nawawala na sa isip ko. Kaya ‘yun lang gagawin ko lang ‘yung kung anong normal na ginagawa ko.”

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      News that he is being offered to train in Europe under the auspices of top Spanish teams has sparked a national debate, but the teen sensation insisted he never lets public opinion sway his decisions.

      “Hindi ko masyadong binibigyan ng importance ‘yung sinasabi nila kasi hindi nila alam ‘yung totoong nangyayari, hindi nila alam kung ano ba ‘yung nandoon, hindi nila alam kung ano ba talaga ‘yung nandito,” he said.

      “‘Yung naisip lang nila na merong nandoon kaya pumunta ka na doon, pero hindi nila alam kung ano ‘yung nandoon na pagdadaanan ko.”

      The second generation star manages the hype well with the help of his parents, especially his dad, former PBA player Ervin Sotto.

      “Lagi nila akong sinasabihan. Minsan kapag nakaka-affect na sa akin, minsan hindi nila sasabihin or minsan pag tinatanong ko sinasabi nila ng maayos. Parang open lang kami sa isa’t isa kaya magaan yung mga problema para sa akin,” Sotto shared.

      What's important for the Grade 10 student right now are two things: academics and basketball.

      “Bina-balance ko lang talaga yung aral ko sa basketball kasi para sa akin as a 16 year old, ‘yung dalawa lang na ‘yun na talagang priority ko,” the UAAP Season 80 Finals MVP and Mythical Five member said.

      “Kapag nasa school ako kailangan ko mag-aral ng mabuti, kapag nasa court ako kailangan ko lang pagbutihan dahil pag napagbutihan ko doon sa dalawang ‘yun, maraming magandang mangyayari para sa akin.”

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      His ultimate goal?

      “Marami akong goals. Pero siyempre I want to be the best, kasi siyempre halos lahat ng athletes ‘yun ‘yung gusto, ang maging the best,” he said. “Every practice, every game ‘yun ‘yung goal ko na gusto ko maging the best, kailangan ko ipakita kung bakit akoyung the best.”

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