Kai Sotto relishes opportunity to learn from PBA champion coach Jong Uichico
Kai Sotto is one of 26 players seeing action in the NBTC All-Star game. Reuben Terrado

KAI Sotto is thankful for the UAAP Season 79 juniors basketball Rookie of the Year award, but the young Ateneo big man would have been happier had the Blue Eaglets won the championship.

The 14-year-old Sotto is proud to see the Blue Eaglets reach the Final Four despite having a young lineup that even took eventual champion Far Eastern University to sudden death.

“Okay lang naman. ‘Yung award na ‘yun, parang reward lang ‘yan sa ginawa mo. Pero sana, champion na lang. Mas maganda pa. ‘Yun ang pinakamagandang award,” said Sotto.

The rewards, though, continue to pour in for Sotto, who was named one of the 26 cagers who will play in the NBTC All-Star Game on March 16 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Sotto will be joined by Ateneo teammate Dave Ildefonso in the North squad, while another Blue Eaglet, SJ Belangel, will play for the South team in the All-Star Game.

“Masaya ako at excited sa gagawin namin,” said the soft-spoken Sotto.

[See Uichico makes brief return to high school basketball as NBTC All-Star coach]

Sotto also looks forward to learn new things from North coach Jong Uichico, a nine-time PBA champion coach with San Miguel, Barangay Ginebra, and Talk ‘N Text.

“Ine-expect ko na maganda ang mangyayari kasi coach siya sa PBA. Ine-expect ko na marami akong matututunan,” said Sotto.

Sotto said he seeks to use the knowledge he will learn in the NBTC All-Star Game to improve his skills for the seasons to come in the UAAP.

“Ipagpapatuloy ko lang ‘yung laro ko at iimprove ko pa ‘yung sarili ko para next year, mas handa pa,” said Sotto.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports