Chot Reyes says unlike Jordan Clarkson, Kai Sotto will have to earn his minutes

Jordan Clarkson’s commitment to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup was a very welcome development for the Philippine national basketball team.

And after locking up the Utah Jazz guard, focus now shifts to NBA aspirant Kai Sotto.

Gilas head coach Chot Reyes revealed that the 7-foot-3 big man has already signed up for the upcoming global meet during an interview with CNN Sportsdesk.

Sotto, however, was a no-show at the national team’s most recent practice at the Meralco gym.

“Well, that’s the lone remaining variable now that the Jordan Clarkson variable has been taken cared of, now it’s the Kai Sotto variable,” said Reyes.

“Yes, he is here, he showed up for a couple of practices but today he did not come. His handlers are telling us that he needs to rest because there is an issue with his lower back,” he added.

Sotto’s handlers at Wasserman have repeatedly emphasized that the 21-years-old center is totally committed to playing for his country. All they’re asking for is just a little bit more time for rest and recovery.

“So we’re just pretty much waiting at this point because when our team doctor took a look — functionally and structurally, he did not find anything wrong. But apparently, they took an MRI and we are waiting to get a copy of the results still up to this point so that our doctors can assess,” said a skeptic Reyes.

The cases of Clarkson and Sotto are also two different things according to the 9-time PBA champion mentor.

“My worry with Kai is unlike Jordan who is an NBA player, a very established 20-point scorer in the league, Kai is not, just to be very honest about it,” explained Reyes.

“And I think he will need more time with us, especially in the strength and conditioning part. If he wants to be a big part of the team, he has to come in as soon as possible. We are planning to play him a lot in the China pocket tournament but he has to earn those minutes. If he is not in practice, he might not even play in China,” he added.

With regards to playing time, Clarkson is already assured to get those minutes while Sotto will have to earn it.

“Sayang naman. The entire saga of Kai Sotto is about the lack of playing time. He has always been sitting. He sat in Australia and he is not even getting much playing time in Japan. He didn’t get much playing time in the Summer League. This is his opportunity to get major minutes,” Reyes continued.

“He has to earn it in practice and get into the swing of everything we want to do. We hope it happens sooner rather than later.”

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